ALEXANDRIA, VA -- The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions has named James "Chip" Cleary president and chief executive. He assumes the top staff position of the worldwide amusement trade association on April 4.
Cleary, who has been involved with IAAPA for the past 15 years, succeeds Charlie Bray, who vacated the top post on Dec. 4. Susan Mosedale, the association's executive vice-president, is overseeing IAAPA business as interim chief operating officer during the transition.
A 30-year veteran of the attractions industry, Cleary began his career in 1978 at Adventureland Amusement Park in Farmingdale, NY, where he worked his way up to vice-president. In 1991, he supervised the design and construction of Splish Splash waterpark on Long Island, served as its president until 1999 and sold the park to Palace Entertainment in 1999. Cleary joined Palace's executive team. Splish Splash is consistently rated one of the top U.S. waterparks.
When Spain's Parques Reunidos acquired Palace in 2007, Cleary was named senior vice-president and oversaw the company's U.S. waterparks expansion. In 2008, Connecticut's Lake Compounce was added to the group.
Cleary served on numerous IAAPA committees since the mid-1990s. He led the team that produced the Kickoff Event at IAAPA Attractions Expo for the past four years, served two terms on the board of directors and was elected third vice-chairman in 2007. The new chief executive also served as second- and first-vice chairman in 2008 and 2009, respectively, and was chairman of the board in 2010.
Cleary is a past chairman of the board for the Amusement Council of the New York State Hotel Motel Association and has served on the boards for the Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Miller Place Civic Association.
"Chip's proven leadership acumen, diverse and extensive experience in the attractions industry, and his years of service as an active volunteer and leader within IAAPA make him ideally qualified to lead the association as president and CEO," said IAAPA chairman Bob Rippy. "Chip will use his knowledge of our industry and his passion for the success of our members to elevate the products and services we offer around the world."