IAAPA Awards Honor Industry Leaders
by Juanita Chavarro Arias
IAAPA recognized the 2019 IAAPA Service Award recipients and the 2019 IAAPA Young Professional of the Year Award winner during Wednesday’s GM and Owners’ Breakfast. The IAAPA Service Awards honor individuals for their outstanding contributions to the global attractions industry, and the IAAPA Young Professional of the Year Award honors a member under the age of 35 who demonstrates a dedication to the industry through strong leadership, teamwork, and integrity.
IAAPA Lifetime Service Award Winner
The IAAPA Lifetime Service Award recognizes a member individual’s consistent and long-term achievements serving the association and the global attractions industry. Greg O’Neill, company director of Leisure and Amusement Services Ltd. in Queensland, Australia, bought his first amusement ride at age 15 and has been a longstanding champion of the attractions industry throughout Australia and around the world. He was instrumental in the formation of the Australian Amusement, Leisure, and Recreation Association (AALARA). His service to IAAPA includes serving on the IAAPA Board of Directors and several IAAPA Asia-Pacific and global committees.
IAAPA Outstanding Service Award Winner
The IAAPA Outstanding Service Award is presented in recognition of a member individual who works to foster the spirit of goodwill, professionalism, and higher levels of performance within the industry. Geoff Chutter, president and CEO of WhiteWater in British Columbia, Canada, is a longtime attractions industry veteran whose involvement in IAAPA spans more than three decades. In 1981, Chutter opened WhiteWater Waterslide park in Penticton, Canada, and began manufacturing his own water slides. As an industry pioneer, his strategic vision diversified WhiteWater’s product range to cover a variety of water park rides. Under Chutter’s leadership, WhiteWater has been committed to safety and continues to play key roles in IAAPA and ASTM International Committees.
Ash Smart, ICAE
IAAPA Meritorious Service Award Winner
The IAAPA Meritorious Service Award is presented in recognition of a member individual’s service to advancing IAAPA’s mission by promoting safe operations, global development, professional growth, and commercial success of the attractions industry. Ash Smart, ICAE, deputy managing and financial director of Harbour Park in Littlehampton, United Kingdom, has been instrumental in the creation of IAAPA’s global young professionals programs. As chair, Smart played a key role in the expansion of the IAAPA Young Professionals Subcommittee, and in 2015, he established the IAAPA Young Professional of the Year Award. Smart has also been a moderator and speaker at many IAAPA events and served on several IAAPA Committees.
IAAPA Young Professional of the Year Award Winner
Michael Browning, CEO and founder of Urban Air Adventure Park in Dallas, Texas, United States, created the Urban Air concept nine years ago, and today under its successful franchise model, it has more than 200 locations across the U.S. He also founded “The Chosen Ones Birthday Wish Program,” which donates birthday parties at Urban Air locations to homeless children. Browning serves on the IAAPA Family Entertainment Center (FEC) Committee and frequently contributes as a panelist and speaker at industry events.