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.

Who Should Apply?
Current park and recreation directors, assistant/deputy directors, or mid-level managers working towards a park and recreation director position.

For more information about program content, contact 

2024 Application and Registration Information

Learn more and apply!

Please note that as of September 15, 2023, Year 1 is officially sold out! Any Year 1 applicants after 9/15 will be waitlisted. Scholarship applications for both years will be open through October 31, 2023.

Attending Directors School in March? Click here for information about travel and logistics!

Thank you to The Toro Company for being generous sponsors.


Key Subjects Covered

Year 1
-Diversity and Cultural Awareness
-Economic Benefits of Parks and Recreation
-Facility Operations Strategy
-Qualities of Effective Leadership
-Creating a Data Driven Organization
-Director's Role in Community Development
-Human Capital Management
-Master & Strategic Planning
-Park Planning and Development
-Responding to Community Needs

Year 2
-Crisis & Risk Management
-Developing a High Performance Culture
-Developing Capital Improvement Plans
-Fundraising in Parks and Recreation
-Healthy Partnerships
-Building Political Capital through Advocacy
-Climate Resilient Communities
-Business Management for Financial Sustainability
-Impactful Marketing and Communications
-Driving Creativity and Innovation at your Organization

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