Women in Leisure Services (WILS) is a national organization for women working in the delivery of recreation in municipal, military, private, and commericial settings. A network of chapters serves administrators, supervisors, educators, therapists, armed forces professionals, and consultants throughout the country.
The organization was founded in 1935 as Chi Kappa Rho by Helen I. Pontius, a recreation professional in Los Angeles, California. The original name was derived from three Greek letters XKP symbolizing Character, Knowledge, and Recreation.
To provide a forum for women in leisure and community services to exchange ideas and enrich their professional skills
To develop programs related to professional growth and personal development
To create a support system for recognition and advancement of members of the organization
To foster friendships, self-enrichment, and networking for professional assistance
WILS’ leadership includes a National Board stewarding the mission and extending the organization’s reach and voice. The National Board consists of 5 elected officers as well as delegates selected by each of the local chapters, providing a connection between each chapter.
2018-2019 National Board
City of El Cajon, California
City of Cypress, California
Melody Valenzuela, Alpha Chapter
Christy McBride, Delta Chapter
Ashley Wysocki, Gamma Chapter
Ann Mosack, Zeta Chapter
Lisa Sheppard, Chi Chapter
Strong women then. Strong women today.
Chi Kappa Rho was created from the mind of one woman with a great idea. She believed that women engaged professionally in the various fields of recreation could come together to promote unity of purpose, high standards of achievement, and a better understanding and appreciation of related endeavors for the attainment of professional goals. Such a group could also provide an opportunity to foster friendship and sociability, stimulate mutual helpfulness and loyalty, and provide professional services.
In 1935, Helen I. Pontius, shared her idea with several women at a Los Angeles Playgrounds Department Recreation Directors meeting. In 1936, Alpha, the first Los Angeles chapter, was chartered, and Chi Kappa Rho became a reality. The organization grew slowly within California between 1935 and 1967. The first National Board was established in 1964, and in 1975, the organization became a California non-profit corporation.
In 1991, the membership voted to officially change the name of the organization from Chi Kappa Rho to Women in Leisure Services, Chi Kappa Rho, Inc. In this 21st century, WILS continues to evolve – always looking for new ways to support and develop leaders in our field.