Online Courses

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We know that today's park and recreation professionals want to reach their professional goals through education that fits their lifestyles, whether through classroom training, conference education events or fully online. NRPA supports the membership by providing an array of online learning opportunities. Tailored educational courses are offered in the following areas:

If you wish to view and search a full listing of our online learning offerings, please check out the online learning catalog.

Current Courses

  • 2019 NRPA Live Complete Conference Package

    Contains 28 Product(s)

    The 2019 NRPA Live complete package (1.8 CEUs) includes all three days of live streaming with a total of nine full education sessions and five speed sessions. This package also includes access to recordings of an additional nine full education sessions and five speed sessions. These recorded sessions will be available following the live streamed event.

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    The 2019 NRPA Live complete package (1.8 CEUs) includes all three days of live streaming with a total of nine full education sessions and five speed sessions. This package also includes access to recordings of an additional nine full education sessions and five speed sessions. These recorded sessions will be available following the live streamed event.

    View the sessions included in this event under the Content tab.

  • Parks and Recreation Supporting Mental Health Challenges

    Contains 3 Component(s), Includes Credits

    The session will provide an overview of mental health issues facing us as a society, increase awareness of the myriad of disorders that exist, and how the park and recreation industry can play a role in providing support to mental health agencies, mental health professionals, and individuals who suffer from mental illness, as well as those who want to maintain good mental health.

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    Mental illness in the United States has become pervasive, with individuals suffering from many disorders. There are opportunities for practitioners in our field to support mental health challenges that many individuals face every day. The session will provide an overview of mental health issues facing us as a society, increase awareness of the myriad of disorders that exist, and how the park and recreation industry can play a role in providing support to mental health agencies, mental health professionals, and individuals who suffer from mental illness, as well as those who want to maintain good mental health.

    It is a well known fact that exercise can improve physical health. Research also suggests that exercise is beneficial for mental health. New research reveals a clear link between well-being and immersion in nature. The session will explore examples of agencies from around the country that are doing their part to create better mental health in their communities.


    Session Length: 1.25 Hours

    Credit: 0.1


    NRPA Education online learning content is accessible for 180 days from the date of your registration.  The learning content is available for registration for three years from the date of origination.

    April Chambers

    Vice President, National Alliance for Mental Illness

    First Vice President on the Board of Directors for the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI). Also certified instructor for one of NAMI’s programs called Ending the Silence. This is a course for high school and college students encouraging them to talk about their thoughts and struggles. 

    Barbara Heller

    President, Heller and Heller Consulting, LLC

    Barbara Heller is President of Heller and Heller Consulting, LLC, a management consulting firm specializing in state and local government, primarily in the parks and recreation industry.  Her areas of specialty include: strategic planning, master planning, service quality assessments, operational/organizational reviews, leadership development, facilitation of public input processes, and staff training with clients all over the United States.

    She has additional consulting experience with Sasaki Associates and PROS Consulting and has been performing client focused consulting engagements for 10 years.

    Previous to consulting experience, Barbara spent over 30 years working at the local government level with a variety of park systems.   She was the Executive Director of the Naperville Park District in Naperville, Illinois and the Executive Director of the Elk Grove, Illinois Park District. Heller has held other positions with municipal government organizations in Arlington, TX, Montgomery County, MD and Prince William County, VA.  All of her experience has been with park systems.

    Her education background includes a master’s degree in public administration from the American University in Washington, D.C. and a bachelor’s degree from the Pennsylvania State University.  

  • NRPA Directors School 2019

    Contains 32 Component(s), Includes Credits

    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. The 2019 school will be held August 18-22. Register Today!

    Directors School LogoThe 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 face emerging challenges, improve operations and maximize positive impact on their communities.

    August 18-22, 2019

    Hyatt Lodge Oak Brook, Illinois

    2019 Schedule

    Year One Students

    Year one students must first apply, then register for the school.

    Apply For Year One

    Year Two Students

    Only students who have completed year one can register for year two.

    Register For Year Two

    Scholarship Opportunities

    Toro Scholarships

    ToroFive $975 year-one student and five $975 year-two student scholarships are available through the generosity of The Toro Company and The Toro Foundation. Applications will be accepted until June 14, 2019. Notifications will be made by June 21. 2019.

    Apply Now

    John C. Potts Scholarships

    The AIPE/American Academy Foundation will be accepting applications for the John C. Potts Leadership Development Scholarship for the 2020 Directors School in the Spring of 2020.

     

    Key Subjects Covered

    Leadership Development           

    • Building a Responsive Team
    • Leadership for Diversity and Cultural Awareness
    • Developing a new generation of park and recreation directors
    • Creating a High-Performance Agency
    • Community Leadership

    Strategy              

    • Creating a Strategy Focused Organization
    • Creating a Data Driven Organization
    • Going from Information to Inspiration    

    Budget and Finance       

    • Business Management Strategies for Financial Stability
    • Philanthropic Funding for Capital Projects and Programming
    • Developing Capital Improvements Programs and Financing
    • Developing Financial Plans and Solutions
    • Leveraging Outside Plans and Solutions

    Directors Role in the Political Environment        

    • Navigating Successfully in a Political Environment
    • Building Resilient Communities
    • Director's Role in Advocacy
    • Directors Role in Community Development
    • Conservation

    Responding to Changing Communities 

    • Responding to Community Needs
    • Environmental Sustainability and Climate
    • Crisis Management
    • Three Pillars Defining the Future
    • Innovation and Creativity
    • Parks and Recreation as a Partner in Community Health

     

    Who Should Attend?

    This two-year program is perfect for

    • Current park or recreation directors;
    • Current park or recreation assistant/deputy directors; and
    • Mid-level managers being groomed for a park and recreation director position.

     

    What Do Graduates Say?

    “To reach my goal to become a P&R Director and compete in the ultra-competitive recruitment process, I needed every edge possible. Directors School helped me gain that edge. It provided me basic knowledge and tools to use, demonstrated to the hiring City Manager that I was dedicated to the industry and gave me the confidence to share my skills at the highest level. If it’s your desire to become a P&R Director, you should be at this school.” --former participant

    “This has been an awesome and wonderful experience. I only wish I had attended sooner. The classmates, instructors, accommodations and observers were great. The diversity of the school is an invaluable asset as practices, views, philosophies, differences, and commonalities are all brought together for the enrichment of all. My spark is now a healthy flame that is burning bright and hot and my aim is to re-light the flame in those I manage and lead in hopes of motivating in spite of our challenges. Thank you NRPA for a wonderful experience.” --former participant

    “The expertise offered during Directors School is exceptional and the networking opportunity is invaluable.” --former participant

    For more information about the program content, contact customer service at customerservice@nrpa.org

    CANCELLATION POLICY: A cancellation fee of $100 will be charged for cancellation at any time up to 30 days prior to the school. No refunds will be offered for cancellation requests received after July 26, 2019 except in cases of military deployment, or medical emergency, which must be documented. If documented, a registration credit will be applied towards the 2020 Directors School registration fees.  


    Jesús Aguirre

    Superintendent, Seattle Parks and Recreation

    Jesús Aguirre has served as the Superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation since June 2015. Aguirre began his career as a middle school science teacher in Los Angeles in the 1990s and most recently, served as the State Superintendent of Education for the District of Columbia. Prior to that role, Aguirre served as the director of the District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation. Aguirre is a proud father of three children attending public schools. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from the University of Texas at Austin and an MBA from the WP Carey School of Business at the Arizona State University.

    Bobbi Nance

    President, Recreation Results

    Bobbi Nance is the founder of Recreation Results where she helps teams find value in their data, capitalize on trends, implement strategy, and push innovative thinking to increase their impact in the communities where they work. Bobbi's presented hundreds of workshops across North America all focused on breaking down complex topics and sharing practical approaches to putting them to use.

    Carolyn McKnight, CPRP

    President and CEO, Eagle Methods, LLC

    Most recently served as the CEO of the Baton Rouge Parks and Recreation Department. Served over 26 years in various governmental and non-profit entities. Served as Executive General Manager for the Business Development and Procurement Services, Director of Fleet and Facilities Services, Assistant Department Director of Park and Recreation and Interim Director of Aviation for the City of Dallas, Texas. She managed financial affairs for large and mid-size units ranging from $55 million to $170 million-dollars.

    Barbara Heller

    President, Heller and Heller Consulting, LLC

    Barbara Heller is President of Heller and Heller Consulting, LLC, a management consulting firm specializing in state and local government, primarily in the parks and recreation industry.  Her areas of specialty include: strategic planning, master planning, service quality assessments, operational/organizational reviews, leadership development, facilitation of public input processes, and staff training with clients all over the United States.

    She has additional consulting experience with Sasaki Associates and PROS Consulting and has been performing client focused consulting engagements for 10 years.

    Previous to consulting experience, Barbara spent over 30 years working at the local government level with a variety of park systems.   She was the Executive Director of the Naperville Park District in Naperville, Illinois and the Executive Director of the Elk Grove, Illinois Park District. Heller has held other positions with municipal government organizations in Arlington, TX, Montgomery County, MD and Prince William County, VA.  All of her experience has been with park systems.

    Her education background includes a master’s degree in public administration from the American University in Washington, D.C. and a bachelor’s degree from the Pennsylvania State University.  

    Michael Kirschman

    City of Virginia Beach Parks & Recreation Department

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    Dr. Ana Alvarez

    Deputy General Manager, East Bay Regional Park District

    Ana M. Alvarez serves as the Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the East Bay Regional Park District, the largest local park agency in the United States with 25 million visitors per year in the San Francisco Bay Area. She leads cross-disciplinary efforts in planning for a new generation of parklands, strategic organizational adaptation and climate resiliency.  Ana contributes to the local, state and national conversations on the role of parks today in addressing complex issues. Her professional accomplishments epitomize proactive and meaningful civic engagement, community building based on public’s trust and sustainability planning based on science, which she believes are paramount for the vibrancy of healthy communities. 

    Janet Bartnik, CPRP

    Director of Parks and Recreation, Liberty Parks and Recreation

    Early in her tenure in Liberty, Janet Bartnik displayed her talent for developing innovative partnerships by engaging four community partners in a project to study and strategically plan to address childhood obesity through a Healthy Communities Research Group project. She has worked with the Liberty Park Board to develop a new vision, mission, and capital project plan for the Department and has worked with the Liberty Parks and Recreation Charitable Fund to receive public charity status.

    For a decade prior to joining Liberty's team, Bartnik was the Director in Raymore, MO, a fast-growing community of 15,000 south of Kansas City. Janet has been aggressive in seeking alternative strategies for funding, land acquisition, and had developed a recreation program for Raymore which had previously only had parks.

    Janet's commitment to the field of Parks and Recreation is evident in her involvement with a wide range of professional associations. She has served the profession in the following capacities:

    • MPRA – President 2011-12, Board Member, Study and Research Chair, Long Range Planning Committee, Leadership Development Institute Charter Regent
    • NRPA – Administrators Network Chair 2015-16, Annual Conference Program Committee 2016-present
    • American Academy for Parks and Recreation Administration member
    • Board of Regents, Rocky Mountain Revenue and Management School for 5 years, Chair in 2012
    • Lyle B Beaver Leadership Development Institute Board of Regents
    • Member of the Council on Accreditation for Parks, Recreation, and Tourism and campus visitor

    Bartnik holds a B.S. in Exercise Science and an M.S. in Sport Management from Virginia Tech University.

    Seth Hendler-Voss, RLA

    Director, Prince William County Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism

    Seth Hendler-Voss is the Parks and Recreation Director for Prince William County, Virginia. Hendler-Voss came to Prince William County from Canton, NC, where he served as the Town Manager. While there, he led several successful parks and recreation initiatives and community development programs, raised more than $3 million in private donations and grants, and obtained a $350,000 grant from the North Carolina Parks and Recreation Trust Fund. Previously, Hendler-Voss worked as the Principal Landscape Architect and then the Planning and Development Manager for the City of Asheville's Parks and Recreation Department. Before that, he worked as the Principal Landscape Architect for the City of Atlanta's Office of Park Design.

    Mark J. Maciha, Ed.D.

    Director, Park Ranger Training Program

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    Lemuel P. Randolph

    Director, Parks and Recreation Department, Arlington, TX

    Lemuel Randolph came to Arlington in 2014 from the City of McKinney where he served as the Director of Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces. With a total of 20 years of experience directing municipal parks and recreation departments, Randolph has also worked for the cities of Missouri City, Sugar Land and San Bernardino.

    Randolph was named parks director in McKinney in 2007. Under his leadership, the city opened the first phase of Bonnie Wenk Park, featuring the city's first dog park, hike-and-bike trails, a 30,000-square-foot skate park. He also supervised an agreement with Plano Sports Authority to create a 90,000-square-foot recreation building at Gabe Nesbitt Community Park.

    Other accomplishments include the acquisition of more than 550 acres for future city parks and the development of 12 neighborhood parks, while at the City of McKinney.

    Dirk Richwine

    CAPRA Commissioner, NRPA Directors School Director

    Philip Silva, PhD

    Manager of Continuing Education and Evaluation, Institute of Urban Parks Central Parks Conservancy

    Dr. Philip Silva is an environmental researcher, advocate, and educator based in Brooklyn, NY. Philip is the co-founder of TreeKIT, an initiative helping city dwellers measure, map, and collaboratively manage urban forests. He also works with Farming Concrete on efforts to help community gardeners throughout the world measure all the good things happening in their gardens. He is an essayist and podcast producer at The Nature of Cities, a website publishing original content on cities as ecological spaces, and he consults as a program evaluator for various urban agriculture initiatives in Brooklyn.

    Philip has worked with many of New York City’s most celebrated environmental stewardship organizations, including Sustainable South Bronx, the Southern Bronx River Watershed Alliance, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Just Food, New York Restoration Project, Gowanus Canal Conservancy, and Trees New York. He is a Senior Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program and a certified practitioner of Dialogue Education.

    A native of the City of Newark who grew up on the Jersey Shore, Philip is passionate about the history, ecology, and industrial landscape of the New York Harbor Region. Philip holds a Ph.D. in Natural Resources from Cornell University and a masters degree in Urban Policy Analysis and Management from The New School, where he currently serves as a part-time lecturer.

    Maura E. Lout

    Executive Director, Institute for Urban Parks Central Park Conservancy

    Ms. Lout oversees the Institute’s work to provide thought leadership and professional development programming to urban park professionals. Prior to joining the Conservancy, she developed and managed strategy and programming for a variety of organizations, including The Nature Conservancy, The Museum of the City of New York and New Yorkers for Parks.

    Kevin Roth, PhD

    Vice President of Professional Development, Research and Technology, National Recreation and Park Association

    Kevin A. Roth is NRPA's Vice President of Professional Development, Research and Technology. Kevin leads the research team in its mission to create valuable data and metrics that enhance park and recreation agency performance and make the case for increased and more stable agency funding. Kevin also guides the development of innovative in-person and online educational offerings for professionals that advance parks and recreation in their communities. He also oversees the team delivering IT and web services to the association.

    Kevin has served in research and leadership functions in the nonprofit association space for more than two decades, including overseeing both research and IT at the Association for Financial Professionals for 13 years and conducting survey research at the National Association of Realtors for four years. Kevin has a Ph.D. in Economics from George Washington University and a BA in Economics from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

    Josh Yavelberg, PhD

    Director of Professional Development; National Recreation and Park Association

    Josh Yavelberg, Ph.D., is the Director of Professional Development for NRPA. His background has been in design and higher education, where he completed his degree from George Mason University. Josh focuses his attention toward developing education utilizing contemporary adult learning theories. Josh is highly interested in ePortfolios, educational games, and increasing engagement in lifelong learning aligned with individual career pathways.

  • NRPA Splash Pad Certificate: Planning

    Contains 3 Component(s), Includes Credits

    As a part of NRPA's Splash Pad Certificate, Planning helps you to define your community needs and expected benefits, assess proposed sites to ensure proper placement, outline a site plan and create a budget plan for design and ongoing maintenance costs for splash pad features.

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    Planning

    As a part of NRPA's Splash Pad Certificate, Planning helps you to define your community needs and expected benefits, assess proposed sites to ensure proper placement, outline a site plan and create a budget plan for design and ongoing maintenance costs for splash pad features. This course provides a directed exploration of the planning process as an agency considers the option of a splash pad feature for a park.
    After completion of this course, you should be able to:

    • Define community needs and expected benefits;
    • Assess proposed site to ensure proper placement;
    • Outline a site plan; and
    • Create budget plans for design and ongoing maintenance costs

    The certificate includes four online courses, each focused on key areas of the implementation and operation of splash pad facilities. To receive your Splash Pad Certificate, you must complete each of the four courses. While anyone may sign up for this planning course, you must be currently AFO or CPO certified to enroll for the Operations and Maintenance courses within this certificate program.

  • NRPA Splash Pad Certificate: Design

    Contains 3 Component(s), Includes Credits

    As part of NRPA's Splash Pad Certificate, the Design course will help you to demonstrate knowledge of current safety standards, select appropriate elements based on site plans, and identify other site considerations for splash pad features.

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    Design

    As a part of NRPA's Splash Pad Certificate, the Design course will help you to demonstrate knowledge of current safety standards, select appropriate elements based on site plans, and identify other site considerations for splash pad features.

    The certificate includes four online courses, each focused on key areas of the implementation and operation of splash pad facilities. To receive your Splash Pad Certificate, you must complete each of the four courses. While anyone may sign up for this planning course, you must be currently AFO or CPO certified to enroll for the Operations and Maintenance and Repair courses within this certificate program.

  • NRPA Splash Pad Certificate: Operations

    Contains 3 Component(s), Includes Credits

    As part of NRPA's Splash Pad Certificate, the Operations course will help you identify liabilities, create a risk management plan, implement management and safety practices and identify potential programming and rental opportunities for splash pad features.

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    Operations

    As a part of NRPA's Splash Pad Certificate,the Operations course will help you identify liabilities, create a risk management plan, implement management and safety practices and identify potential programming and rental opportunities for splash pad features.

    You must be currently AFO or CPO certified to enroll in this course. 

    The certificate includes four online courses, each focused on key areas of the implementation and operation of splash pad facilities. To receive your Splash Pad Certificate, you must complete each of the four courses. 

  • NRPA Splash Pad Certificate: Maintenance

    Contains 3 Component(s), Includes Credits

    As part of NRPA's Splash Pad Certificate, the Maintenance course will help you to form knowledge of maintenance techniques and identify and implement appropriate repairs for splash pad features.

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    Maintenance

    As a part of NRPA's Splash Pad Certificate,the Maintenance course will help you to form knowledge of maintenance techniques and identify and implement appropriate repairs for splash pad features.

    You must be currently AFO or CPO certified to enroll in this course. 

    The certificate includes four online courses, each focused on key areas of the implementation and operation of splash pad facilities. To receive your Splash Pad Certificate, you must complete each of the four courses. 

  • NRPA Splash Pad Certificate

    Contains 4 Product(s)

    NRPA’s Splash Pad Certificate Program is designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to create and implement a water play recreation area for your agency and community. By completing this online certificate program, you will gain the expertise necessary to plan, design, operate and maintain a splash pad facility.

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    NRPA’s Splash Pad Certificate Program is designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to create and implement a water play recreation area for your agency and community. By completing this online certificate program, you will gain the expertise necessary to plan, design, operate and maintain a splash pad facility.

    The program includes four online courses, each focused on key areas of the implementation and operation of splash pad facilities. To receive your Splash Pad Certificate and 1.2 CEUs, you must complete each of the four courses. Each course will be available individually, but you must be currently AFO or CPO certified to enroll for the Operations and Maintenance and Repair courses. 

    Eligibility

    To complete all courses in this certificate program you must hold a current AFO  or CPO Certification. You can take the Planning and Design course without these certifications but will not be able to take the Operations and Maintenance courses without providing proof of your certification.

    Who Should Enroll?

    Pool Operators, Maintenance Staff, Pool Managers, Park and Recreation Directors, Health Code Inspectors, Building Inspectors or anyone responsible for maintaining water play recreation areas.

    Courses

    Planning

    Define your community needs and expected benefits, assess proposed sites to ensure proper placement, outline a site plan and create a budget plan for design and ongoing maintenance costs. Learn More

    Design

    Demonstrate knowledge of current safety standards, select appropriate elements based on site plan and identify site considerations. Learn More

    Operations

    Identify liabilities, create a Risk Management plan, implement management and safety practices and identify potential programming and rental opportunities. (Prerequisite: AFO or CPO certification) Learn More

    Maintenance

    Demonstrate knowledge of maintenance techniques and identify and implement appropriate repairs. (Prerequisite: AFO or CPO certification) Learn More


  • Marketing and Communications: Implementation

    Contains 3 Component(s), Includes Credits

    Through this course you will form an understanding of the various development and distribution channels and an overview of creative strategy that are available to meet your marketing and agency needs.

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    Part of NRPA's Marketing and Communications Certificate, this implementation course takes a deeper dive into a part of the strategic marketing plan describing tactical directions for marketing. Through this course you will form an understanding of the various development and distribution channels and an overview of creative strategy that are available to meet your marketing and agency needs. You will be able to take away from this course a strategy and a toolkit for tactically delivering your message. 

  • Marketing and Communications: Evaluation

    Contains 3 Component(s), Includes Credits

    Through this course you will form an understanding of methods for evaluating, reporting, and improving marketing and communication at your agency.

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     An extremely important step to the marketing and communications cycle is closing the loop by reporting on results based on planned objectives. By defining key performance indicators that appropriately measure marketing reach, you will be able to provide the necessary data to inform future marketing and agency practices. Part of NRPA's Marketing and Communications Certificate, this course will look at defining key performance indicators mapped to the 4Ps of marketing that align with defined predefined expectations. The course also describes and provides thought exercises on how to close the marketing cycle with proper evaluation and reporting. 

  • Marketing and Communications: Strategic Planning

    Contains 3 Component(s), Includes Credits

    The goal of this course will to work through the development of a communications plan that aligns strategically through measurable outcomes aligned with assessed need and the mission, vision, and values of the agency and industry.

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    Part of NRPA's Marketing and Communications Certificate, This course will discuss the nature of strategic planning when marketing in parks and recreation. The goal of this course will to work through the development of a communications plan that aligns strategically through measurable outcomes aligned with assessed need and the mission, vision, and values of the agency and industry. Case studies will be discussed throughout to demonstrate how these concepts have been applied successfully. 

  • "What's Past is Prologue": The Déjà Vu Health Case for Urban Parks in the US and the UK

    Contains 4 Component(s), Includes Credits

    Parks are an integral part of city infrastructure. This session explains six strategies that are relevant to positioning parks for improving health and wellness while securing influential champions.

    imageOne of the forces which led to parks becoming an integral part of cities' infrastructure in the mid and late nineteenth century in the USA was a wide-spread perception that they attributed to alleviating disease contagion and epidemics. Six strategies will be explained that were effective in this successful movement that appear to have relevance to today's context. Four of them relate to positioning parks so parks are recognized as a component to be included in the multifaceted effort to address the obesity epidemic: conceptual alignment, cost effectiveness, associative positioning, and psychological positioning. The other two pertain to the tactical use of science to support advocacy and the need to secure influential champions.

    John Crompton

    Distinguished Professor & Mayor Pro Tem, City of College Station

    Biographical Profile

  • Shaping Space for Civic Life: The pivotal role of parks

    Contains 4 Component(s), Includes Credits

    This session will introduce the Assembly initiative and its evidence-based approach to shaping community design, with an emphasis on parks and open space. Panelists will reflect on historic and emerging research that points to the connection between the built environment and civic participation, and share a range of project examples that seek to enhance civic life through design interventions.

    imageCommunities across the United States face concerning trends related to civic life, including distrust, low voter turnout, and growing social and economic divides. Public space professionals, civic leaders, and community residents alike are interested in re-building trust, revitalizing neighborhoods, and supporting interaction among diverse groups. Promising initiatives are emerging across the country to transform lagging public spaces into dynamic, welcoming, and celebrated ones. In light of these trends, the Center for Active Design has launched “Assembly: Shaping Space for Civic Life,” a pioneering initiative to leverage place-based design as a tool to enhance civic engagement. The Assembly initiative has surfaced groundbreaking information, including quantifiable civic life metrics, as well as causal findings demonstrating that design elements do indeed impact civic perceptions. This session will introduce the Assembly initiative and its evidence-based approach to shaping community design, with an emphasis on parks and open space. Panelists will reflect on historic and emerging research that points to the connection between the built environment and civic participation, and share a range of project examples that seek to enhance civic life through design interventions. Conversations will leave participants with a better understanding of practical strategies for shaping parks through design, programming, and maintenance practices that can enhance civic life in their own communities.

    Jennifer Mahar

    Senior Director of Civic Initiatives at Fairmount Park Conservancy

    Jennifer joined the Fairmount Park Conservancy, non-profit champion of Philadelphia's 10,000 park system, in 2012.   As Senior Director of Civic Initiatives, Jennifer helps oversee 'Reimagining the Civic Commons' - an innovative, collaborative network of public space organizations in Philadelphia. Together, the collective demonstrates ways that civic assets can be connected as an integrated system and how they can be developed to foster talent, opportunity and engagement.   In addition, we partner with leading researchers to experiment with programmatic and design interventions that will help us inform how citizens access civic assets.  Jennifer oversees the Neighborhood Parks Stewardship Program, a unique partnership with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and our network of 100 volunteer park friend groups.  Together we organize, resource and celebrate our wonderful city parks and the volunteers who advocate for them.

    Maria Nardi

    Director, Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation, and Open Spaces

    Maria Nardi was appointed Director for Miami Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department (PROS) effective August 1, 2017. Ms. Nardi is responsible for one the most diverse and largest park systems in the country.  She oversees Planning and Development, Park Stewardship Operations and Administration of a system that includes over 270 park properties, over 13,000 acres of park land comprised of active and passive parks, as well as protected, environmentally sensitive properties, serving 2.7 million residents and approximately 1.4 million residents for the unincorporated area.  They include the Deering Estate at Cutler, Zoo Miami, managing over 26,000 acres of Natural Areas Conservation and Management (NAM), Golf Enterprise, 14 miles of Beaches, Agriculture Extension, Causeways, 260 miles of roadways, Disabilities Services, Marina Enterprise, and multiple Operating Regions.  

     Ms. Nardi is committed to public service and the enhancement of the community’s health, happiness and prosperity through the implementation of the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department’s Planning and Design Excellence, Health and Fitness and Conservation Pillars. She has worked in the public sector 20 years where her vision for a sustainable and resilient community focuses on the premise that every great community has a great park system.

     Ms. Nardi oversees the implementation of the Parks and Public Space Masterplan to transform Miami Dade into a more economically, socially, and environmentally vibrant community through a system of parks, public spaces, natural and historic areas connected by greenways/blueways and complete streets designed as linear parks.  Her vision includes the role of parks and public spaces in shaping cities; the emerging evidence-based science of health and the built environment; and the creation of equitable, resilient communities through parks and public space.  

    Ms. Nardi is a sought-out speaker on issues related to the role of parks and public space in the development of cities. The Parks Masterplan and Recreation Program has been recognized by the White House and the National Park and Recreation Association as a national model for transforming communities. Among other accolades, she holds invited membership on the highly selective International Women’s Forum and is an appointed member of the Board of Directors of City Parks Alliance, the only independent, nationwide membership organization solely dedicated to urban parks. She has been recognized for her work with the International Progressive Architecture Urban Design Award, the University of Miami Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Architecture Profession, the Harvard Honor Award for Excellence in the Study of Landscape Architecture, The Mayor’s Woman Pioneer Award, and the Miami AIA Leadership in Government Award.


    Suzanne Nienaber

    Partnerships Director, Center for Active Design

    I'm an urban planner and facilitator striving to shape healthier, more engaged communities. As the partnerships director at the Center for Active Design (CfAD) I help people collaborate across sectors to elevate physical, mental, social, and civic well-being in their projects, and inspire transformative community change. Our work draws upon scholarly research and bridges a wide range of disciplines — embracing everything from urban planning and architecture to public health, political science, real estate development, facilities management, and more.

    I lead a range of initiatives at CfAD, including Assembly, our pioneering effort to understand how place-based design informs civic engagement objectives such as trust, participation in public life, and stewardship. Through this initiative we’re convening expert advisors, undertaking original research, and synthesizing findings on the relationship between place-based design and civic life.

  • Conducting a Successful Grant Search to Fund Your Project

    Contains 4 Component(s), Includes Credits

    This overview will help take the mystery out of grant searches, highlighting several online tools, searches, and techniques you can use to help locate grants, plus share a few tips from funders on key metrics that can either elevate or kill your chances!

    imageSometimes finding the right grant can be more challenging than writing the application. How do I align with a funder? How do I find funders that are interested in my type of recreation project? What are the tricks to getting my application to the top of the pile? How do I know whether to write a full application? This overview will help take the mystery out of grant searches, highlighting several online tools, searches, and techniques you can use to help locate grants, plus share a few tips from funders on key metrics that can either elevate or kill your chances!

    Anne-Marie Spencer

    Corporate Vice President of Marketing & Communications, PlayCore

    Anne-Marie leads the marketing and communications effort for PlayCore, including serving as a company spokesperson and overseeing advertising, media, and communications across play and recreation brands. She has notably published over 50 positioning articles in major national magazines and publications on research-based best practices in play and recreation. She has presented at seminars across the world on a variety of topics related to advocating for quality play and recreation spaces and programs.

  • Grantmaking Success: A Conversation with Funders

    Contains 4 Component(s), Includes Credits

    This panel of various funders will discuss application processes, evaluation criteria, the importance of measurable outcomes, and strategies to ensure project success throughout the project period. This session will help identify the keys to your fundraising success!

    imageWhether it is capital funding for a new senior center, a mini-grant for a garden, or a simple request for donations of craft supplies, the challenges around fundraising are often the same. How to find the right funder? How to write a winning funding request with few resources? How to successfully measure outcomes? But the funders perspective isn’t that easy either. During this session, hear directly from funders on their funding preferences and strategies to select winning projects. This panel of various funders will discuss application processes, evaluation criteria, the importance of measurable outcomes, and strategies to ensure project success throughout the project period. This session will help identify the keys to your fundraising success!

    Rebecca Wickline (Moderator)

    Vice President of Partnerships & Business Development, National Recreation and Park Association

    Rebecca joined NRPA in 2009 and serves as the vice president of partnerships and business development. In her role, Rebecca establishes and guides the strategic philanthropic fund raising goals of the organization.

    Prior to her NRPA role, Rebecca served as Managing Director at Hayes & Associates for five years, a fund raising consulting firm that raises $10 million annually for non-profit organizations. Rebecca has almost 15 years of fundraising experience and has raised more than $25 million for organizations such as the American Red Cross, March of Dimes, USO, Fisher House, National Immigration Forum, Mile High Youth Corps, and many more. Rebecca received her Bachelor's degree and Masters of Business Administration from Ohio University.

    Elizabeth Krause

    St. David's Foundation

    Elizabeth Krause leads the St. David’s Foundation’s community investments in five areas.  In opportunities to be active, she works to increase park equity and community engagement.  In women’s health, she works to ensure that healthy women are the cornerstone of healthy families, communities, and economies.  In dental health, she works to overcome cost barriers to dental care while promoting prevention.  In access to healthy food, she works to improve the goodness and kid appeal of school food, while increasing the availability of affordable, fresh food in communities.  In health insurance enrollment and use, she supports maximizing the enrollment of low income people in the public and private coverage programs for which they are eligible, while helping them to use their benefits.  Elizabeth represents St. David’s Foundation on several local, state, and national multi-stakeholder initiatives and affinity groups.  

    Elizabeth previously spent 11 years with the Connecticut Health Foundation (CT Health) where she started as a program officer and completed her tenure as Vice President of Policy and Communications.  Elizabeth built CT Health’s disparities and equity portfolio, laying the groundwork for the adoption of health equity as the CT Health’s central focus in 2013.  Elizabeth led community-based coverage and health reform efforts, contributing to a significant drop in Connecticut’s uninsured rate.  She seeded an independent health equity policy advocacy organization and paved the way for the inclusion of community health workers in the state’s movement toward value based care.  She additionally oversaw a body of children’s oral health policy work.  Elizabeth started her career with the Public Health Prevention Service of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  While with the CDC, she completed a rotation with the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, helping states fulfill traumatic brain injury registry functions.  She got her first taste of philanthropy on rotation with the CDC Foundation where she facilitated public-private partnerships in mobile mammography and emergency preparedness.  On field assignment at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, she was instrumental in starting up the state’s Office of Health Equity.  She also served temporary assignments with the CDC Global AIDS Program in Rwanda.

    Elizabeth holds a bachelors degree from Smith and a masters degree from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health

    Lisa Herber

    Grants Coordinator, Indiana DNR Division of Outdoor Recreation

    Lisa has worked in the natural resources and environmental consulting fields for 20 years.  She has a Bachelor of Science in Forestry, Majoring in Wildlife Management, from Purdue University.  She has worked in state government for 9 years and for the past 3 years has been working for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Outdoor Recreation, as a Grants Coordinator.

    Lisa is currently responsible for administering multiple grant projects for parks and outdoor recreation from 4 state and federal programs; providing technical assistance to grant seekers, grant recipients and the general public; representing the division on committees; and coordinating with other government agencies, not-for-profit organizations and advisory boards.

    Lisa enjoys hiking, backpacking, kayaking, gardening and photography in her spare time. She is very active in her local community and is the KIB Adopt-A-Block Captain for her neighborhood block. She is a member of the Indiana Park and Recreation Association, on the Board of Directors for the Purdue Ag Alumni Association, and a Red Cross Volunteer. 

    Jennifer Mahar

    Senior Director of Civic Initiatives at Fairmount Park Conservancy

    Jennifer joined the Fairmount Park Conservancy, non-profit champion of Philadelphia's 10,000 park system, in 2012.   As Senior Director of Civic Initiatives, Jennifer helps oversee 'Reimagining the Civic Commons' - an innovative, collaborative network of public space organizations in Philadelphia. Together, the collective demonstrates ways that civic assets can be connected as an integrated system and how they can be developed to foster talent, opportunity and engagement.   In addition, we partner with leading researchers to experiment with programmatic and design interventions that will help us inform how citizens access civic assets.  Jennifer oversees the Neighborhood Parks Stewardship Program, a unique partnership with Philadelphia Parks & Recreation and our network of 100 volunteer park friend groups.  Together we organize, resource and celebrate our wonderful city parks and the volunteers who advocate for them.