Julie Bearden

Director of Campus Recreation at Harper College

Serving as the Director of Campus Recreation at Harper College, Ms. Bearden is responsible for the operations of a 130,000SF Health and Recreation Center scheduled to open August 2018. Julie and her staff will be responsible to create quality programs and services for the campus community. Additionally this newly formed campus recreation department will develop partnerships with building tenants - Palatine Park District and Northwest Community Healthcare. Previously, Julie served as the Senior Asst. Director - Fitness & Wellness at Moraine Valley Community College since its opening in March 2014. At MVCC, she was responsible for supervising a professional work team in the areas of fitness/wellness including group fitness, personal training and instructional programs. She had direct oversight for a significant part-time staff including community and student employees that provided fitness floor and group swim services. She facilitated the MVCC Risk Management Team and played an active role in risk management policy and training. She was a liaison with several college and community partnerships including MVCC Wellness Coordinator and NovaCare Physical Therapy. Previously, she worked for 15 years in medically-based wellness centers in the suburbs of Chicago. Julie is currently completing her Masters in Applied Exercise Science at Concordia University Chicago (completion date summer 2018).
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B.S. Kinesiology (University of Illinois at Chicago)

ATRIC, Aquatic Therapy and Rehabilitation Institute

Aquatics Group Exercise Instructor, Aquatic Exercise Association

Professional Rescuer CPR and AED, Basic First Aid,& Basic Water Rescue, American Red Cross

Group Exercise Instructor, Moms In Motion

Personal Trainer, National Academy of Sports Medicine

TRX® Suspension Training Certificate

National Women’s History Month – Julie Bearden

Picture this: You have been in your professional role for 5 years and it has come to the point that you are ready for a new challenge. Unfortunately, there is no room for growth at your current institution. What do you do? Typically, you would start looking outside of your institution for opportunities, but, not at CENTERS.

When CENTERS opens a new site, or has positions available at current sites, we look internally first to see if anyone has interest in applying and could fulfill the role. We pride ourselves on providing those opportunities to the current staff first to ensure they are being challenged, gaining experience, and provided professional growth though a new position. This is all stemmed from the Site Administration Pathway in our Career Pathways Program.

Julie Bearden, Director at CENTERS, LLC @ Harper College, is a prime example of this. Julie started at Moraine Valley Community College in 2013 and assisted with the opening of the facility in 2014 as the Assistant Director of Fitness and Wellness and was later promoted to Senior Assistant Director. But in 2017 when the opportunity presented itself, Julie put her name in the ring for the possibility of being the Director at CENTERS new location, Harper College. With her knowledge of community colleges, and experience in aquatics, Julie was a perfect fit for this role. She has been the Director now for just over 3 years.

Can you talk about how the CENTERS Culture with POI [Program of Innovation], our commitment to Better is Better, our Quest for X, and cross-site collaboration opportunities helps motivate you to continue learning and growing within the CENTERS organization?

The connection between the sites whether through POI, Quest for X or cross-site collaboration is one of the key attributes of our CENTERS culture. The sharing of ideas and wisdom not only benefit the receiver, but the provider benefits as well. We get stronger as a team and the team extends beyond your individual site. The feeling is similar to being part of a family even though we are spread across the nation.

What women inspire you, and which of CENTERS’ core values/attributes do they exemplify most?

Inspiration is bountiful when it comes to women, both on a personal and professional level, as choices and opportunities have expanded. Women that balance professional goals and demands, while balancing personal needs of self and family inspire me. The exciting part to me is there is no template, so each woman can create a lifestyle that works for her. Related to CENTERS’s core values, I would say Continuous Learning & Development best exemplifies the qualities I appreciate in women. I see us getting stronger and wiser each year, which makes maturing something to look forward to.

How do you feel having strong and respected female leaders in the company attracts women and minority talent to the company?

It helps attract women and minority talents to CENTERS because recruits see themselves in us. Our teams, whether professional or student, need to reflect the diversity in our schools, states and nation.

How does working for CENTERS help you overcome common challenges and inefficiencies that campus recreation professionals that work outside the company live with?

It is the benefit of the team approach… lots of talent on the bench. Whether from the corporate office with HR and IT support, another site with similar facilities or a professional with experience in a particular field, expertise is only an email or phone call away.

What are the most important competencies that younger female professionals need to acquire to become the next generation of leaders in the industry?

Very simply, be honest, accept responsibilities for your mistakes, elevate the people around you and work hard.

Name a female employee on your staff who has broken barriers or set new standards in the industry.

Given that I have a complete female team at this time, I am inspired by all of them for different reasons. Each of them have their strengths, so we work together to support each other, the site and the CENTERS Culture.

It has been great to see the impact you have made at both sites, Julie. Thank you for everything you have done at CENTERS and leading the “Fab Four” at Harper.