The IAAPA Service Awards honor exceptional members who dedicate themselves to the attractions industry and IAAPA.Without these individuals, we would not be where we are today—a thriving global industry, excited about its future.

Awards Criteria

IAAPA has three service awards each with its own criteria. If you know anyone who exemplifies these qualities, contact Karen Secker for more information at

Lifetime Service Award: IAAPA's highest honor. Winners of this award have served IAAPA and the industry for over 20 years. We're looking for nominees with these characteristics:
  • Devoted her/his own time to both IAAPA and the attractions industry for more than 20 years
  • Held numerous volunteer positions with both IAAPA and other nonprofit organizations
  • A leader and visionary
  • Provides guidance and support to others
  • Passionate attractions professional

Outstanding Service Award: recognizes service to the attractions industry. Winners of this award are:

  • Subject matter experts; your “go-to” person when you need answers
  • Leaders who elevate and mentor others
  • Dedicated to the attractions profession
  • Committed to positive change to improve industry standards

Meritorious Service Award: recognizes dedicated IAAPA volunteers. IAAPA would not exist without its devoted members. We want to award those who:

  • Give their time and expertise to fellow IAAPA members
  • Enthusiasticly volunteer; past winners have typically held more than one volunteer position with IAAPA such as show ambassador, committee member/chair, presenter at events or webinars, authored articles/books to name a few. Past winners have also held volunteer positions with other nonprofit organizations
  • Coach and encourage others to improve the industry through volunteerism
  • Drive the success of IAAPA’s programs and initiatives
  • Support IAAPA's mission to "serve the membership by promoting safe operations, global development, professional growth, and commercial success of the amusement parks and attractions industry".
Send your completed nomination form to Karen Secker at

Learn about all of IAAPA's awards here

Tips for a Successful Nomination

  • Double check that you’ve completed the form and included all supporting documents. Incomplete applications will not be accepted.
  • Describe your nominee and her/his achievements as if you’re presenting the award to that person. We use the application when developing the awards presentation.
  • Make your nominee stand out with specific details about her/his contributions. The more detail the better.
  • Refer to the awards criteria when completing the application. We use these criteria to judge our nominees.
  • Remember – service awards are given in recognition of an individual’s service to the industry and/or IAAPA, not personal commercial success.

Want to know more? Check out our past winners!

Want to know more? Check out our past winners.

2017 IAAPA Lifetime Service Award Honoree James "Chip" Cleary

A 35-year attractions industry veteran, James “Chip” Cleary, ICAE, of Europa-Park in Rust, Germany, has played an integral role at attractions worldwide.  He has been an active volunteer with IAAPA, leading and serving on many committees. In addition, Cleary served two terms on the IAAPA Board of Directors and was chairman of the board in 2010. Cleary also led the association as president and CEO from 2011 to 2013.

2017 IAAPA Outstanding Service Award Honoree Ken Whiting

Ken Whiting, ICAE, of Whiting’s Foods in Santa Cruz, California, United States, is a trusted and respected leader in the food and beverage industry and has been involved with IAAPA for more than four decades. He has served on five IAAPA committees and is currently the head of the faculty for IAAPA Institute for Attractions Managers. In 2017, Whiting was elected to the IAAPA Board of Directors.

2017 IAAPA Meritorious Service Award Honoree Matt Heller

Matt Heller, ICAE, of Performance Optimist Consulting in Maitland, Florida, United States, is a 25-year veteran of the attractions industry. He has volunteered with IAAPA for more than a decade. In addition, Heller’s involvement with the IAAPA Show Ambassador program for IAAPA Attractions Expo has inspired and positively influenced the next generation of amusement industry professionals.