The board will support the work of NRPA and provide mission-based leadership, strategic governance and fiduciary oversight. While day-to-day operations are led by NRPA’s President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), the Board-CEO relationship is a partnership, and the appropriate involvement of the board is both critical and expected. Specific Board Member responsibilities include but are not limited to the following:

  • Support the association’s charitable mission and purpose.
  • Review financial statements to ensure that the organization is fiscally responsible and adheres to the association’s tax-exempt status requirements.
  • Assist in the development of the association’s strategic plan.
  • Lead and support fundraising campaigns and events.
  • Represent the association to the public, the media, and to other like-minded organizations.
  • Adopt positions on critical issues and national legislation when appropriate.
  • Assess the organization’s performance based on agreed upon performance metrics.
  • Consider NRPA among their top philanthropic priorities and make annual gifts that reflect that priority.
  • Recruit new board members that will help further the association’s mission and/or strategic plan. 

Structure and Qualifications

The governance structure of NRPA has its roots in the original merger of the five organizations that made up the association in 1965. Through the years, the governance structure has been modified to ensure the association is well poised to achieve its mission.

Today NRPA is governed by a 15-30 member Board of Directors, comprised of both Advocate and Professional members, with Advocate members making up at least fifty percent of the Board. The two members are:

  • Professional Member: A professional member of the National Association is an individual who is employed by or retired from a government agency operating parks and recreation assets and programs at the local, state or national level.
  • Advocate Member: An advocate member of the National Association is an individual who supports, contributes to, and advocates for the field of park and recreation, but is not someone who is in the "Professional" category. These individuals include but are not limited to volunteers; planners and developers; architects; landscape architects; public health and health care workers and providers; and working or retired professionals from like-minded non-profit organizations and other environments; and elected or appointed officials.

All Directors shall be members in good standing of the National Association during their term of office. No Director shall receive any compensation for serving on the Board of Directors or any committee thereof. Once elected to the Board of Directors, individuals shall keep their original designation (Professional or Advocate) through the entirety of their tenure on the Board, including any subsequent terms, despite any change in title or occupation.


  • NRPA member in good standing or willing to join the Association.
  • Willingness to bring appropriate contacts and resources to the Board of Directors.
  • Time, energy and commitment to attend and participate fully in governing board responsibilities, including meetings, conference calls and electronic media.
  • Demonstrate advocacy in parks, recreation, conservation, health and wellness and community resources.
  • Uphold and advance the mission of NRPA.
  • Completion of recognized certification and/or requisite experience if a professional in the field of parks, recreation, or related fields.
  • Interest in expanding the impact and influence of NRPA to members, potential members and to the public at large.
  • Demonstrate leadership in those areas of interest to NRPA and its members or in comparable fields.
  • Ability to see "the big picture" of the organization and respect the boundary between management and governance.

Additional Qualifications

  • Professional experience with executive leadership, accomplishments in business, government, philanthropy, or the nonprofit sector
  • Savvy diplomatic skills and a natural affinity for cultivating relationships and persuading, convening, facilitating and building consensus among diverse individuals
  • The ability to work across different cultures and display emotional intelligence and cultural competency
  • Funding capabilities and/or ability to bring new connections to NRPA
  • Personal qualities of integrity, credibility and a passion for improving lives and communities through parks and recreation

Recruitment Priorities

The Board of Directors recruitment priorities evolve based on the needs of the organization and the composition of the Board at any given time. To receive more information on the current recruitment priorities for the Board of Directors, please reach out to


Board Terms and Time Commitment

Elected board members will serve a three-year term and are eligible for re-election by the board to serve a second term. Appointed board members are asked to serve a two-year term by the Chair.

Board members will attend all board meetings with the understanding that personal and/or professional circumstances may arise. They will actively participate in board meeting discussions and committee work and read meeting materials in advance of the meetings.

There is a minimum of four board meetings a year. At least two will be in-person meetings and two will be teleconferences. The fall meeting is generally held the day before the NRPA Annual Conference (2023 Dallas) to support full board participation in the NRPA Annual Conference. The spring meeting is often held at NRPA headquarters in Ashburn, Virginia. The chair may seek an additional in-person board meeting with the agreement of the board. Board members are responsible for their own travel expenses.

*Subject to change as needed

Board Committees

Board members will serve on one of the five Board committees (Executive, Governance, Finance, Fund Development and Advocacy). Committees may meet virtually once a month, or on an as-needed basis.

Executive Committee (elected and appointed positions)

Purpose: To act on behalf of the Board of Directors to expedite decisions between meetings of the full Board of Directors. The Executive Committee shall have all of the authority of the Board of Directors, except for those matters that are reserved to the full Board of Directors in NRPA Bylaws Article V, Section 1. The committee shall perform an annual review and report on the Chief Executive Officer’s performance. The Committee is comprised of four officer positions (Chair, Past Chair [Chair’s 1st year] or Chair-elect [Chair’s 2nd year], Secretary and Treasurer) and two at-large members, appointed by the Chair of the Board. 

Governance Committee

Purpose: To review the structure of the Board and its effectiveness in governing the association and to identify, recruit and nominate board members. The committee will also review proposed bylaw changes and assist in running the annual board self-assessment, board orientation and retreats. The Secretary serves as chair of this committee. 

Finance Committee

Purpose: To act as the fiduciary body relating to all financial affairs of the NRPA. Included in its mission is the continued improvement of the budget process, the budget document and the audit report. Additionally, the committee shall establish appropriate investment guidelines for the Association’s funds and accounts and will monitor and evaluate the investments and procedures. Further, the committee, through staff, will prepare the annual budget of the Association for approval by the Board of Directors, receive and examine all audit reports, and report to the Board of Directors such reports. The Treasurer serves as chair of this committee.

Fund Development Committee

Purpose: Helps the Board carry out its due diligence function related to assuring fiscal health through philanthropy and fund development. Partners with staff to institutionalize the philanthropic process within the Board and its individual members, assuring a donor-centered organization. 

Advocacy Committee

Purpose: To assure national recognition of the National Association as the nation’s leading advocate for progressive public policies, legislation and investments for recreation and parks; to assure that the BOD, leadership and the general membership are informed relative to national issues that impact or influence public recreation and park systems and services; and to assure conveyance of a consistent NRPA message regarding advocacy on behalf of parks and recreation. Desired qualifications are strong personal interest in civic activities, public issues, policy development, and advocacy. Number of Members: as needed. Committee is comprised of both Directors and non-directors. 

Appointments to Committees

  • Continuing and new board members will be solicited for assignment priorities.
  • The NRPA Chair-elect will appoint chairs and members to the Board of Directors committees prior to the NRPA Annual Conference.
  • Committee placement terms are for one year, beginning at the Conference and ending before the next Conference.
  • Members may be asked to serve more than one year on a specific committee, but to encourage inclusivity and diversity a rotating committee membership is preferred.

Board Member "Letter of Agreement"

The following represents the pledge each board members makes upon joining the NRPA Board:

As a board member of the National Recreation and Park Association, I am fully committed to the mission and have pledged to help carry it out. I understand that my duties and responsibilities include the following:

  1. I will help determine and support the national association’s mission, purposes and strategic plan.
  2. I will ensure fiduciary responsibility of the Association. This includes the review and approval of the annual budget, authorization and review of the annual audit of the official financial records of the association.
  3. I know my legal responsibilities for this organization as a member of the board and will take an active part in establishing and overseeing the organization’s policies and programs.
  4. I will act in accordance with the bylaws and operating principles outlined in the handbook and understand that I am morally responsible, as a member of the board, for the health and well-being of this organization.
  5. I will enhance the organization’s public standing by clearly articulating the organization’s mission, accomplishments, and goals, as well as garnering support.
  6. I will make an annual gift to the Association commensurate with my top tier philanthropic priorities with the realization of the leadership role the board must play in fund development.
  7. I will actively participate in fundraising in whatever ways are best suited for me and agreed on with those in charge of the organization’s fundraising. These may include individual solicitations, undertaking special events, introducing staff to my contacts, and the like. I am making a good faith agreement to do my best and to help raise as much money as I can.
  8. I will prepare for and attend board meetings, be available for phone consultation, and serve on at least one committee as needed.
  9. I will encourage, cultivate, mentor and recommend future board members and leaders for the association.
  10. I will support the Chief Executive Officer and share my expertise with the Association.
  11. I will not wait to be asked to serve the board or the organization but rather actively look for ways to provide my expertise, skills or resources.
  12. I will reflect each year on the specific ways that I can help the board/organization.

complete the Board application form

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