• Opening General Session


    Opening General Session

    The opening session is the one time a year when thousands of park and recreation professionals convene for inspiring, thought provoking information on the field. This year, you heard from the top leaders in parks and recreation as well as industry experts and got your conference week started right. With the 50th Anniversary here, be prepared for some fun too!

    Immediately following the opening session on Tuesday, Keynote speaker Gil Penalosa was available in the exhibit hall Learning Lab – Engage (Booth 2051) starting at 10:45 a.m. Delegates were able to visit one-on-one with Gil to gain insights from him for their community as well as ask questions based on his keynote presentation. It was a great opportunity to speak with one of the foremost thought leaders in parks and recreation.



    Keynote Background

    Gil Penalosa

    Gil Penalosa, MBA, PhDhc


    Gil Penalosa is passionate about cities for all people. Gil advises decision makers and communities on how to create vibrant cities and healthy communities for everyone regardless of social, economic or ethnic background. His focus is on the design and use of parks and streets as great public places, as well as sustainable mobility: walking, cycling and public transit.

    Gil is Founder and Chair of the Board of the successful Canadian non-profit organization 8-80 Cities. The organization was created based on a simple philosophy; if you create a great city for an 8 year old and an 80 year old, you will create a successful city for all people.

    An accomplished and inspirational speaker with a unique blend of pragmatism and passion, Gil’s leadership and advice is sought out by many cities and organizations, giving him the opportunity to work in more than 180 different cities across six continents.

    As former Commissioner of Parks, Sport and Recreation for the City of Bogota, Colombia, Gil was an integral part of the city’s much celebrated transformation of public space and sustainable mobility during the late 1990s. Gil’s team also initiated the “new Ciclovia”— a program that sees over 1 million people walk, run, skate and bike along 121 kilometers of Bogotá’s city roads every Sunday, and today is internationally recognized and emulated.

    Gil holds an MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, where he recently was selected as one of the “100 Most Inspirational Alumni” in the school’s history. In 2014 Gil received a Doctorate Honoris Causa from the Faculty of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning at the prominent University of Sweden SLU.