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Wilmington’s New Parks & Rec Director, Ivy Ortman

Parks and Recreation facilities play a pivotal role in enriching the quality of life within communities. From providing spaces of leisure to promoting physical and mental well-being, these amenities serve as focal points for social interaction and community engagement. In recent years, Wilmington has experienced the significant positive impacts of a vibrant Parks and Recreation Department. Through unwavering dedication, the Parks Department has led various initiatives aimed at improving accessibility, sustainability, and inclusivity within our community. One notable recent addition is the splash pad situated within Denver Park, which was added in 2017, and has been a wonderful activity for children and families during summer months.

As Wilmington transitions into a new phase, we extend a warm welcome to Ivy Ortman, who will build upon the solid foundation established by previous members, as well as create new possibilities for our community. Ivy brings a wealth of experience from the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department and the Army Reserves that has shaped her into the remarkable woman that she is today.

Infamously known as “super aunt”, Ivy and her five siblings were raised Mormon, an upbringing she credits for instilling great qualities within her, though she is no longer practicing. Reflecting on her principles, she emphasizes the importance of treating others with kindness and respect, irrespective of creed. Her actions throughout her life attest to her commitment to these beliefs, underscoring her dedication to fostering inclusivity and community cohesion.

In her formative years, Ivy actively participated in various sports, garnering accolades such as All-American recognition in basketball and softball. Transitioning to Logan High School during her senior year was a strategic move driven by both the school’s renowned athletic program and her prior engagement with the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU). It was during this time that she encountered Wilmington for the first time. She explained, “It’s a funny story actually, the only time I’ve ever been in Wilmington [previous to receiving her current position] was for the state finals for that sweet 16 in 1997. We played at Wilmington College against Vandalia.” Securing a full scholarship to West Virginia State during her promising senior year allowed Ivy to excel further in basketball, softball, and volleyball.

However, she eventually discerned that her aspirations aligned elsewhere. Because of this, she decided to return to Ohio, where she worked her way into a full-time position with the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department while simultaneously taking classes at Columbus State College. This position helped her gain insight and experience in managing children and adults with diverse needs. She exclaimed that “kids need stimulation elsewhere. They’re not always getting the parenting they should, and the rec center is an outlet.”

In 2008, while still employed as a recreation leader at Columbus Parks and Recreation, Ivy enlisted in the Army Reserves as a Combat Medic. She explained, “After I bought my own home the economy plummeted, and out of fear of losing my job because I had low seniority [with the city recreation department], I joined the military which was offering bonuses and financial security. This turned into a lifetime career in the Reserves.” During her time in service, she obtained an EMT Certification and went through extensive training in Trauma Care. She stated, “We were poking each other with IVs every day… we would [even] do it on moving trucks.” After six years as a Combat Medic, she transitioned to Physical Therapy and went through an additional eight months of training. This was when she began to gain more in-depth and hands-on experience programming for senior citizens.

After a few years of employment, she was promoted to physical therapy at the Parks and Rec department due to her military background. “I basically became an expert on modifying exercise [for individuals with a variety of needs] with my exercise science degree and my physical therapy training in the military.” She continues by stating, “You can’t really have a bad day because you have people who are missing limbs, who have had strokes, who have M.S., who have spinal cord injuries… How can I have a bad day when these people are working on their wellness, going through all these steps, and I’m already there? It changes your view on things. These people have to work so hard to do basic things that we take for granted. They’re doing more with less, and I see their struggles… It has humbled me a lot.”

In 2018, ten years after her enlistment, Ivy acquired an additional military job in the hopes of seeking a promotion and was sent on a deployment to the Middle East. She was placed in Kuwait and Qatar with a Signal Unit, which she recalls as a unique deployment. “We had to take training before we went there to have some understanding of the culture and things that you need to respect that we wouldn’t think of.” 

Once home from deployment, she continued to serve. She states, “In the Army, you are sent to Leadership Training and courses because you are put in leadership positions your whole career. I spent most of my life leading soldiers, programs, classes, events, camps, activities, training, and sports.” Ivy honorably and faithfully retired from the Army Reserves on January 27th, 2024, after sixteen years of service. Ivy’s extensive background in sports, coaching, medical trauma training, exercise science, anatomy, physiology, kinesiology, recreational programming, modification of activities and exercise, event planning, public service, and more makes her a valuable and versatile asset. 

In 2023, Ivy married her “favorite person ever” and moved to Beavercreek. This, alongside some disappointments with the City of Columbus, led her to search for a job that would provide her room for continual growth and challenges after twenty-three years of employment under the Columbus Parks and Recreation Department. This led her to accept the City of Wilmington Parks and Recreation Director position in 2024.

Ivy will test for her Recreations and Parks Professional Certification (CPRP) in May of this year. This national certification proves knowledge and experience within parks and recreation. Additionally, she will soon have a playground and a pesticide certification. Ivy brings a unique perspective to the parks and rec for this community.

Her commitment to the betterment of herself through continued education proves her dedication and the endless potential that she brings to Wilmington’s Parks and Recreation Department. Once adjusted to her new role, Ivy mentioned the possibilities of exploring grants that would enable our community to receive a new indoor recreation facility, which would allow for new sports and recreation opportunities. We look forward to seeing the plans she has for this community, and we thank her for her service.



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