2023 NRPA Directors School Information

Thank you for your interest in Directors School! 

The NRPA Directors School is an exclusive two-year professional development opportunity that prepares new and potential park and recreation directors to be effective leaders. Students who complete the program will leave with the knowledge and confidence to navigate emerging challenges, improve operations, and maximize positive impact on their communities. 

Please note: There are still several Year 2 spots open--apply ASAP! Prospective Year 1 students are welcome to apply at any time, but due to the large number of qualified year one applicants, all Year 1 applicants who apply at this point will be waitlisted. Scholarship applications are closed.

Who should attend?
Current park and recreation directors, assistant/deputy directors, or other mid-level managers working towards a park and recreation director position. The content covered in the program is designed specifically to address the needs of professionals who either became a director within the past two years or anticipate becoming a director within the next two years.  

How to Apply
Applications for Directors School are rolling and first-come, first serve. Students will be notified of their acceptance status via email approximately 1-2 weeks after submitting their application.

Directors School 2023 Total Cost
Members (including deposit): $3,045
Non-member (including deposit): $3,245

Cost includes tuition, lodging, and meals (one dinner is not covered). Travel is not included.

Apply now!

Please reach out to education@NRPA.org with any questions!

Thank you to The Toro Company for their generous support of Directors School.


Dates & Timeline

  • Rolling applications open: December 2022. Students to pay a deposit upon acceptance to confirm intention to attend. 
  • Deadline to complete application and be eligible for a scholarship: March 31, 2023 
  • Attendees notified of scholarship awards: Early May
  • Deadline for attendees to accept scholarships: Early May
  • Payment confirmation period begins (attendee submits payment and/or confirms intent to pay): May 2023 
  • Payment receipt deadline: May 31, 2023. Please contact NRPA for questions regarding this date.

Directors School 2023 will run from Sunday, August 13 through Thursday, August 17, 2023 at the Hyatt Lodge Oak Brook, located at 2815 Jorie Blvd, Oak Brook, IL.

Scholarship Opportunities

There are multiple scholarship options available for potential Directors School students. Please note that you must apply for Directors School and complete the scholarship portion of the application by March 31, 2023 in order to be considered for a scholarship.

NRPA Directors School Edroy Jenkins Scholarship

The NRPA Edroy Jenkins Scholarship is awarded annually to two or more continuing education students who have successfully completed the first year of NRPA Directors School and need financial assistance to attend their second year. The scholarship covers tuition, which is $975 (or partial tuition — based on the amount of funds raised in the current cycle) for two or more second-year students to attend NRPA Directors School.   

The scholarship was created in 2010 by NRPA Directors School students in attendance at Directors School. They held a fundraiser to support second-year students with tuition assistance beginning in 2012. Subsequently, each Directors School second-year class has organized a fundraiser for the ongoing support of the scholarship. The scholarship is overseen by a nonprofit board consisting of past graduates of the NRPA Directors School. It was named in honor of Edroy Jenkins, who exemplified the spirit and ambition the scholarship intends to perpetuate and honor. Edroy Jenkin was from a remote area in New Jersey that did not pay for training or attending conferences. He showed his commitment to professional development by taking a second job for the sole purpose of paying to attend NRPA Directors School and used his only vacation during those two years to attend. This scholarship honors and hopes to further his long-standing determination to leadership development in the parks and recreation community.  


Eligible applicants include individuals who have registered and been accepted to attend the second year of NRPA Directors School, a record of pursuing professional development in field of the parks and recreation, future leadership goals and objectives in the parks and recreation community, and a need for financial assistance to attend.  

Specific eligibility criteria include:  

  • Successfully completed the first year of NRPA Directors School  
  • Registered and accepted to attend the second year of NRPA Directors School 

American Parks & Recreation Foundation: 2023 John C. Potts Leadership Development Scholarship

The American Parks & Recreation Foundation (Foundation) is sponsoring scholarships to cover tuition only ($975) for two first-year students at the 2023 NRPA Directors School. Nominations are being accepted for the 2023 “Pottsie” Leadership Development Scholarships, which honors the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration’s (Academy) former Executive Director, John C. Potts. Your nomination must be supported by a current member of the Academy or by a Directors School graduate. Eligible applicants must be a current member of NRPA. 

The scholarship is intended to support assistant/deputy directors and mid-level managers who desire to be agency directors. Applicants should have demonstrated leadership potential within their organizations toward their goal of being an agency director.  

Scholarship awards will prioritize candidates:               

  • from a minority population or underrepresented group in the parks and recreation profession 
  • from a park agency that cannot pay a candidate’s tuition without a scholarship 

The Toro Company Scholarship

Student scholarships. which cover tuition only ($975) are available through the generosity of The Toro Company and The Toro Foundation.   



  • Applicant must be a current director, assistant/deputy director or mid-level manager being groomed for director of a park and recreation agency, municipal agency or nonprofit. 

Successful Applicants will 

  • Demonstrate a strong commitment to improving operations and maximizing positive impacts on communities. 
  • Describe how the training will contribute to providing improved communities for underserved populations*. 

*Underserved Populations Definition - For the purpose of this application, an underserved community refers to vulnerable populations, including community of color, ethnic minorities, new Americans, LGBTQ+ individuals, individuals with physical or cognitive disabilities, low-income, rural, tribal, and indigenous populations that may be disproportionately experiencing degraded environmental quality, poor health outcomes, high stress, and/or social isolation. 

Code of Conduct

Review the NRPA Directors School Code of Conduct

NRPA is dedicated to providing a safe, productive, and welcoming environment for all school participants including, but not limited to, attendees, speakers, volunteers, NRPA staff members, service providers and all others involved. School participants are expected to abide by this Code of Conduct throughout all NRPA live events, virtual events, webinars, and across NRPA blogs, online forums, and social media.

NRPA has zero-tolerance for any form of discrimination or harassment, including but not limited to sexual harassment by participants or our staff members at our events. If you notice that someone else is being subject to unacceptable behavior, or have any other concerns, please notify a school organizer as soon as possible. The NRPA team will be available to assist those experiencing unacceptable behavior so that all participants feel safe for the duration of Directors School. Unacceptable Behavior is defined as:

  • Harassment, intimidation, or discrimination in any form
  • Verbal abuse of any attendee, speaker, volunteer, exhibitor, NRPA staff member, service provider or other event guest
  • Examples of verbal abuse include, but are not limited to, verbal comments related to race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, religion and national origin; inappropriate use of nudity and/or sexual images in public spaces and in presentations; and threatening or stalking any attendee, speaker, volunteer, exhibitor, NRPA staff member, service provider or other event guest
  • Disruption of presentations during sessions or at other events organized by NRPA throughout Directors School (All participants must comply with instructions given by the faculty or staff)
  • Presentations and messages should not contain promotional materials, special offers, job offers, product announcements or solicitation for services - NRPA reserves the right to remove such messages and to ban sources of those solicitations
  • Participants should not copy or take screen shots of Q&A or any chat room activity that takes place in the virtual space

If a participant engages in harassing behavior, whether in person or virtually, NRPA reserves the right to take any action deemed necessary and appropriate including the immediate removal of participants from the event without warning or refund. Breaches of this Code of Conduct may result in disqualification from participating in future live and virtual events and from engagement across NRPA blogs, online forums, and social media channels.