A board of directors governs the National Recreation and Park Association. The board is responsible for the formulation of policies that control and direct the affairs of the association. Board members serve three-year terms. Officers of the board are elected annually. Board members are representative of the NRPA membership, which includes professional and advocate leaders in the park, recreation, and conservation movement; park and recreation agencies and organizations representing the public, private, voluntary, commercial, and industrial sectors; firms supplying park and recreation products and services; and individuals and civic groups interested in the park, recreation, and conservation field.

Updated as of October 26, 2020

Officers and Executive Committee

  • Open or CloseChair: Michael P. Kelly

    Chicago Park District (Chicago, IL)

    Michael Kelly
    Michael P. Kelly is the general superintendent and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Chicago Park District and serves as the chair-elect for the NRPA Board of Directors. He was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel on October 22, 2011. The Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners confirmed that appointment on Wednesday, November 9, 2011. He recently served as the treasurer of the NRPA Board of Directors.

    Prior to his appointment, Kelly served as the Chicago Park District’s chief operating officer where, since 2007, he worked to provide executive management in areas such as park operations, capital construction, repairs and maintenance, landscape services, security and other contract services pertinent to the operations of the park district.

    Kelly earned a J.D. from DePaul College of Law in Chicago, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio.

  • Open or ClosePast Chair: Jack Kardys

    J. Kardys Strategies (Hollywood, FL)

    Jack Kardys

    Jack Kardys recently retired as the director of the nationally accredited and Gold Medal award-winning Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department (MDPROS), one of the largest and most diverse park systems in the United States. A 38-year park professional, Kardys has earned dozens of awards that recognize his extraordinary leadership and achievements. With Kardys’ guidance, the MDPROS master plan established the blueprint for improving the quality of life in Miami through a system of great parks, public spaces, natural and cultural areas connected by great greenways, blueways, trails and complete streets.

    Kardys is a resident of Key Largo, the past president of the Florida Recreation and Park Association, an associate with PROS Consulting and the president of J Kardys Strategies, LLC, which develops and implements innovative park and public realm strategies for building healthy and sustainable communities.

  • Open or CloseXavier D. Urrutia

    Alamo Colleges District (San Antonio, TX)

    Xavier D. Urrutia
    Xavier D. Urrutia currently holds the position of chief of staff to the chancellor for the Alamo Colleges District which consists of five independently accredited colleges and seven workforce centers and is the largest provider of post-secondary education and training in south Texas.

    A native of San Antonio, Texas, Urrutia formerly served as the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation director from June 2008 to July 2019 where his municipal government career spanned more than 23 years including positions as an interim assistant city manager and interim director for Animal Care Services, as well as assistant director for solid waste management and, prior to that, in the department of human services.

    Urrutia holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Trinity University and is a member of the International Hispanic Network, and Leadership San Antonio Class 37.

  • Open or CloseNonet Sykes

    Atlanta Beltline, Inc. (Atlanta, GA)

    Nonet Sykes

    Nonet T. Sykes is the first chief equity and inclusion officer for the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) and, as such, leads the development and implementation of ABI’s comprehensive equity and inclusion vision, strategy and action plan. As a member of the executive team, Sykes leads an organization-wide effort to operationalize ABI’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, and to implement strategies that stabilize communities, increase housing affordability, spur job creation and ensure economic opportunity.

    Sykes was previously director of racial equity and inclusion at the Annie E. Casey Foundation where she led the organization’s equity and inclusion strategies and invested resources to identify, implement and promote the most effective approaches to increase equitable opportunities and outcomes for children, families and communities of color. Sykes’ 20 plus years of experience spans the areas of racial equity and inclusion, community and economic development, strategic leadership, nonprofit capacity building and change management.

    Sykes also serves on the board of directors for the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative.

    Sykes is a certified professional diversity coach and holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, a Master of Public Administration from the University of Baltimore, and a Certificate in Organizational Consulting and Change Leadership from Georgetown University.

     

  • Open or CloseAt-Large: Carolyn McKnight-Fredd, CPRP

    Eagle Methods Management Consulting (Dallas, TX)

    Carolyn McKnight, CPRP
    Carolyn McKnight, CPRP recently retired as the superintendent for recreation and park commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge (BREC). McKnight serves as the secretary of the NRPA Board of Directors. Over her 32-year career in parks and recreation, she has garnered several awards, including the Governor of Texas Lone Star Land Steward Award (2007), the Baton Rouge Influential Women in Business (2013) and the National Distinguished Professional Award (2016).

    McKnight serves with a group of city leaders on the Mayor of New Orleans’ Healthy Baton Rouge Task Force and helped protect and preserve 800 acres of parkland; organizing and implementing the Community Healthy Fair, which involved more than 50 agencies, businesses and professional agencies serving more than 32,000 participants; successfully linking BREC’s 10-year strategic plan with 28 different organizations to achieve critical outcomes over the next 10 years; and leveraging more than $200 million in public-private and public-public funding support.

    McKnight, who serves on the National Gold Medal Committee, has also served in a number of roles for NRPA, including as CAPRA accreditation commissioner, committee chair for the NRPA Baltimore Maryland Conference Education Program (2008), NRPA/North Carolina State University Board Supervisors’ Management School instructor (2006 to 2012) and chair of that board (2011 to 2012), Directors School instructor (2009 to 2013 and present), chair of the Ethnic Minority Society (2007) and Mentoring Program Leader (2013 to present). She received the Exemplary Service Citation from the NRPA Board of Trustees in 2008 and has also been an American Academy of Park and Recreation Administrators Fellow since then.

  • Open or CloseMichael Abbaté, FASLA, LEED AP

    Abbaté Designs (Portland, OR)

    Mike Abbaté
    Mike Abbaté, principal of Abbaté Designs, is a landscape architect with 30 years of experience in both the public and private sectors. In 1997, he co-founded GreenWorks, an award-winning landscape architecture and environmental design consulting firm, recognized for its sustainable design philosophy. Previously Abbaté served as the director of Portland Parks and Recreation and has led initiatives to fund new parks in deficient areas of Portland, Oregon, to increase equity and inclusion in the bureau, and to promote ecological sustainability in land management practices. The city of Portland received the prestigious Gold Medal award from NRPA as the best parks system in the United States while under Abbaté’s leadership.

    Abbaté graduated magna cum laude from Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in landscape architecture. He is a registered landscape architect in Oregon, certified nationally through the Council of Landscape Architects Registration Board, and a LEED™-accredited professional. He is the author of Gardening Eden, published by Random House.

  • Open or ClosePresident & Chief Executive Officer: Kristine Stratton, Ex Officio
    Kristine Stratton
    Kristine Stratton is the president and chief executive officer of the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). In her role, she is responsible for the nearly $20 million national organization that works to ensure that all people have access to parks for health, conservation and recreation. NRPA is the national voice for the protection and creation of local parks, harnessing the passion and power of its more than 60,000 members and the millions of individuals they serve.

    NRPA partners with foundations, federal agencies and corporations that recognize the critical role of parks in creating healthy and sustainable communities. The organization grants millions of dollars each year to its members to implement programs that have measurable objectives, such as increasing equitable park access, reducing obesity, increasing physical activity, saving wildlife, connecting children to nature and implementing green infrastructure in communities nationwide. Access to quality parks and recreation is a critical component to an individual’s success and to strong communities, and NRPA focuses on underserved communities to give everyone access to a great park.

    A staunch advocate for environmental conservation and equity issues, Stratton believes strongly in NRPA’s mission. Before coming to NRPA, Stratton was the senior vice president of operations at Earthjustice, a nonprofit public interest organization dedicated to litigating environmental issues. Prior to that, she served as the executive director of Waterkeeper Alliance in New York, New York, and before that she was vice president of operations at the Conservation Law Foundation in Boston, Massachusetts. She also served in several administrative and senior management roles at WGBH Educational Foundation, a public broadcasting station, in Boston, Massachusetts. Stratton holds a Master of Arts degree in environmental policy and planning from Tufts University and a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Boston University.


Directors

  • Open or CloseMichael Abbaté, FASLA, LEED AP

    Abbaté Designs (Portland, OR)

    Mike Abbaté
    Mike Abbaté, principal of Abbaté Designs, is a landscape architect with 30 years of experience in both the public and private sectors. In 1997, he co-founded GreenWorks, an award-winning landscape architecture and environmental design consulting firm, recognized for its sustainable design philosophy. Previously Abbaté served as the director of Portland Parks and Recreation and has led initiatives to fund new parks in deficient areas of Portland, Oregon, to increase equity and inclusion in the bureau, and to promote ecological sustainability in land management practices. The city of Portland received the prestigious Gold Medal award from NRPA as the best parks system in the United States while under Abbaté’s leadership.

    Abbaté graduated magna cum laude from Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in landscape architecture. He is a registered landscape architect in Oregon, certified nationally through the Council of Landscape Architects Registration Board, and a LEED™-accredited professional. He is the author of Gardening Eden, published by Random House.

  • Open or CloseKathy Abbott

    Boston Harbor Now (Boston, MA)

    Kathy Abbott Board of Directors

    Kathy Abbott is the first president and CEO of Boston Harbor Now, an organization that partners with public agencies, community leaders, businesses and other nonprofits to realize Boston Harbor’s potential to benefit the city and region. Upon assuming this role, Abbott has come full circle since beginning her career in college on the Harbor Islands as a park ranger to currently leading Boston Harbor Now. She is responsible for working with the board and staff to create a welcoming and resilient harbor that benefits everyone in the Greater Boston region. Abbott has a history of leading change through public and nonprofit organizations, including advancing statewide park planning, management and land conservation, educating students and impacting resource-based economies in primarily developing countries through applied environmental studies, creating a new national park through a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership in Boston Harbor, creating and managing a statewide park system, increasing funding for public parks in Massachusetts, and growing the impact of the only year-round botanic garden in New England. She asserts that she has never done this work alone and credits great teams and collaborations for her success.

    Abbott has worked locally and globally and volunteered nationally to advance the interests of urban parks as the co-chair of the City Parks Alliance. Her experience as an executive and entrepreneur in government and nonprofits uniquely qualifies her to build upon the successes of the current waterfront renaissance. Her proudest accomplishments have come as a volunteer working with kids throughout her career, as a former foster mother and now as a proud mom of a 30-year-old daughter. In 2016, she was named one of Boston’s Power 50 by the Boston Business Journal, and in 2018, was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Boston by Boston Magazine. She received her degrees from the Stockbridge School of Agriculture at University of Massachusetts Amherst and Harvard University.

  • Open or CloseJesús Aguirre, CPRE

    Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation (Seattle, WA)

    Jesus Aguirre
    Jesús Aguirre is superintendent of Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation. He also serves as the treasurer of the NRPA Board of Directors. Previously, he was agency director for the District of Columbia Department of Parks and Recreation and the state superintendent of education for the District of Columbia. He serves on the board of directors of the Children and Nature Network as well as the Seattle Aquarium and Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo.

    Jesús has a master's degree from Arizona State University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Texas at Austin. He is an avid park user and a Certified Parks and Recreation Executive (CPRE).

  • Open or CloseJose Felix Diaz

    Ballard Partners (Miami, FL)

    Jose Diaz
    Jose Felix Diaz is an executive vice-president at Ballard Partners in Miami. He is a government attorney who specializes in complex matters involving federal, state and local government approvals for clients ranging from individuals, nonprofit organizations and entities throughout South Florida and beyond. Diaz has also been a Florida state representative and serves as a board member and ambassador for various nonprofit groups including the South Florida National Parks Trust and the Zoo Miami Foundation. He has received numerous awards for his leadership and service.

    Diaz holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Miami, a juris doctorate from Columbia Law School and a certificate in energy planning and policy from the University of Idaho.

     

  • Open or CloseVictor Dover

    Dover, Kohl & Partners Town Planning (Miami, FL)

    Victor Dover
    For 30 years, Dover has been designing walkable, sustainable development. His work spans five continents and ranges from revitalizing historic downtowns to retrofitting suburbia. Dover and his firm devised award-winning neighborhoods like I’On in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, and Glenwood Park in Atlanta, Georgia. His projects also include Plan El Paso (Texas), hailed as “America’s Best Smart Growth Plan,” and Arlington, Virginia’s Columbia Pike revitalization. His many downtown projects include South Miami’s downtown renaissance and the plan for downtown Richmond, Virginia. He is presently at work on the plan for downtown Oakland, California. Victor is a fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners. He served as the national chair of the Congress for the New Urbanism from 2010 to 2012. He was instrumental in founding and setting the educational curriculum for the National Charrette Institute and the Form-Based Codes Institute, both leading think tanks. He’s also an avid bike commuter and a five-time Ironman triathlete.

     

  • Open or CloseAngelou Ezeilo

    Greening Youth Foundation (Atlanta, GA)

    Angelou Ezeilou Board of Directors

    Angelou Ezeilo is the founder and CEO of the Greening Youth Foundation.

    Ezeilo’s love for the environment stretches far back to when she was a little girl who had the chance to escape the dense urban streets of Jersey City, New Jersey, to summer in upstate New York.

    After a brief stint of practicing law, it was through her work as a legal specialist for the New Jersey State Agriculture and Development Committee that Ezeilo embarked upon a career as an environmentalist.

    She further honed her skills as a project manager for The Trust for Public Land (TPL) in both its New Jersey and Georgia offices. In her position, Ezeilo acquired land for preservation and worked on the New York/New Jersey Highlands Program, Parks for People-Newark, the New York/New Jersey Harbor Program in New Jersey, the Atlanta BeltLine and the 20 County Regional Greenspace Initiative in Georgia. While at TPL, Ezeilo realized the disconnect between the land that was being preserved and the education of people about that preservation — particularly as it related to our next generation. This was the impetus for the Greening Youth Foundation. As a woman and minority-founded and led nonprofit, Ezeilo is at the helm of a movement to provide environmental and wellness education and career pathways to a diverse young generation, both in the United States and in countries throughout Africa.

    Ezeilo was elected as an Ashoka Fellow in 2016 for her work at the Greening Youth Foundation, where she remains the CEO today. The Greening Youth Foundation is cultivating a generation of youth of color to be stewards of our land and natural resources, ultimately shifting the demographics of the environment conservation movement.

    Ezeilo is a graduate of Spelman College, Georgia. She received her Juris Doctorate in law from the University of Florida, College of Law. Ezeilo is a member of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights' Women's Solidarity Society and Georgia Audubon boards; advisory board member for Outdoor Afro, The Million Mile Greenway, Inc., Keeping It Wild, Inc., and Rachel's Network; and most recently the author of “Engage, Connect, Protect: Empowering Diverse Youth as Environmental Leaders."

    Ezeilo is a lover of cultural dance, hiking and birds; and, good avocado toast! As recent empty-nesters, Ezeilo and her husband of 25 years, split their time between Atlanta, Georgia, and Lagos, Nigeria.

  • Open or CloseRichard Gulley

    San Diego Parks and Recreation (San Diego, CA)

    Richard GulleyRichard Gulley is a member of the San Diego Parks and Recreation Board. A native of Louisiana, Gulley received his Bachelor of Science from Louisiana State University and earned a Master of Business Administration from Loyola University. He is the current treasurer and past chair of San Diego Zoo Global, a nonprofit organization that manages the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. In addition, Gulley serves as a board member of the National Marine Mammal Foundation and the Torrey Pines Conservancy, and Director’s Council for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
  • Open or CloseJack Kardys

    J. Kardys Strategies (Miami, FL)

    Jack Kardys

    Jack Kardys recently retired as the director of the nationally accredited and Gold Medal award-winning Miami-Dade Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department (MDPROS), one of the largest and most diverse park systems in the United States. A 38-year park professional, Kardys has earned dozens of awards that recognize his extraordinary leadership and achievements. With Kardys’ guidance, the MDPROS master plan established the blueprint for improving the quality of life in Miami through a system of great parks, public spaces, natural and cultural areas connected by great greenways, blueways, trails and complete streets.

    Kardys is a resident of Key Largo, the past president of the Florida Recreation and Park Association, an associate with PROS Consulting and the president of J Kardys Strategies, LLC, which develops and implements innovative park and public realm strategies for building healthy and sustainable communities.

  • Open or CloseMichael P. Kelly

    Chicago Park District (Chicago, IL)

    Michael Kelly

    Michael P. Kelly is the general superintendent and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Chicago Park District and serves as the chair-elect for the NRPA Board of Directors. He was appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel on October 22, 2011. The Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners confirmed that appointment on Wednesday, November 9, 2011. He recently served as the treasurer of the NRPA Board of Directors.

    Prior to his appointment, Kelly served as the Chicago Park District’s chief operating officer where, since 2007, he worked to provide executive management in areas such as park operations, capital construction, repairs and maintenance, landscape services, security and other contract services pertinent to the operations of the park district.

    Kelly earned a J.D. from DePaul College of Law in Chicago, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio.

     

  • Open or CloseKaren Bates Kress

    Park Advocate (Emigrant, MT)

    Karen Kress
    Karen Bates Kress, former president of the Yellowstone Park Foundation, has 40 years of experience in nonprofit management and resource development. Previously, Kress served as the secretary of the NRPA Board of Directors. She has worked for The Nature Conservancy, the National Parks and Conservation Association, the American Farmland Trust, the National Wildlife Federation and had her own consulting business.

    Kress has served on many nonprofit boards, including the Greater Washington, D.C. Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Potomac Conservancy, American Rivers, GLOBE and the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation. She has served on Allegheny College’s Alumni Council and chaired a regional campaign committee. She is also a member of the Council of Trustees for the Montana Land Reliance.

    Kress has a bachelor’s degree in English literature and a master’s degree in English history.

  • Open or CloseSusie Kuruvilla

    Gurnee Park District (Gurnee, Illinois)

    Susie Kuruvilla Board of Directors

    Susie Kuruvilla entered the park district world in 1997 as the superintendent of business services for Gurnee Park District in Illinois. In 2006, she was promoted as the executive director. Kuruvilla is a certified public accountant and has worked in the private sector and in a municipality previously.

    In 2010, the district won the National Gold Medal Award under Kuruvilla’s leadership. The district also achieved the Distinguished Accreditation Agency Award from the Illinois Association of Park Districts (IAPD) in 2010 and 2015. In 2013, Kuruvilla led the acquisition of a 75,000-square-foot Gold’s Gym facility and converted it into a park district-owned fitness facility named FitNation.

    Kuruvilla spearheaded a movement in Gurnee, named “GO Gurnee,” inspired by the message delivered by former U.S. Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, at the 2015 NRPA Annual Conference. GO Gurnee encourages people to walk 30 minutes each day. The movement became so successful that it has been modeled in 25 other communities throughout Lake County in the past three years through a partnership with the Lake County Health Department.

    Under Kuruvilla’s leadership, the Gurnee Park District has thrived financially while maintaining the standard of excellence in customer service. 

    Kuruvilla has served on various boards and committees and made many contributions to the field of parks and recreation over the past 20 years. She has served on the finance committees for IAPD, as well as the Park District Risk Management Agency (PDRMA). She currently serves as the chairperson for the PDRMA Health Benefits Committee and recently joined the board of directors for HR Source, a human resources (HR) association that provides HR-related consultation for public and private organizations including many park districts. Kuruvilla is an active member on the Joint Legislative Committee led by IAPD.

    Kuruvilla is a member of the local Exchange Club and Healthy Community Healthy Youth, a local organization focused on the health and well-being of young adults in the community. At a national level, Kuruvilla has served as a judge for the National Gold Medal Award for the past five years finishing her term as head judge in 2019.

    Kuruvilla has accomplished much during her tenure in the field. She has excelled at balancing work and play and aspires to give back to the parks and recreation field at a local, state and national level. She holds a strong desire to impact lives by expanding parks and recreational opportunities and improving quality of life for all.

  • Open or CloseJoanna Lombard

    University of Miami School of Architecture (Miami, FL)

    Joanna Lombard
    Joanna Lombard, AIA, LEED AP, is a professor at the University of Miami School of Architecture with a joint appointment in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the Miller School of Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Tulane University and a Master of Architecture from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. At UM, she is a founding member of the Built-Environment Behavior & Health Research Group with funded projects in the area of neighborhood design and health, currently studying the impacts of streetscape-greening on Miami-Dade Medicare beneficiaries. Co-leader of one of the eleven university-based teams selected as charter members of the American Institute of Architects Design & Health Research Consortium, she is author and co-author of articles, book chapters, and books, and she links research and design through advising on strategies for healthy communities. She has worked with colleagues at UM’s Abess Center, Georgetown, and Harvard Universities to organize a colloquium on climate migration (February 2018). In 2018, she was a member of the RWJF Evidence for Action: Culture of Health delegation to the One Water Summit. With colleagues from U.Minnesota and Portland State, she convened a discussion group on climate migration at the AIA 2018 Collaborative Research Summit, and locally, she developed and taught a 3-day workshop for the CLEO/Van Alen Institute Climate Design Lab and is continuing work with The Nature Conservancy to advance the Miami Cities Program’s Allapattah: Resilient Health District + Wagner Creek Greenspace Project.
  • Open or CloseCarolyn McKnight, CPRP

    Eagle Methods Management Consulting (Dallas, TX)

    Carolyn McKnight, CPRP
    Carolyn McKnight, CPRP recently retired as the superintendent for recreation and park commission for the Parish of East Baton Rouge (BREC). McKnight serves as the secretary of the NRPA Board of Directors. Over her 32-year career in parks and recreation, she has garnered several awards, including the Governor of Texas Lone Star Land Steward Award (2007), the Baton Rouge Influential Women in Business (2013) and the National Distinguished Professional Award (2016).

    McKnight serves with a group of city leaders on the Mayor of New Orleans’ Healthy Baton Rouge Task Force and helped protect and preserve 800 acres of parkland; organizing and implementing the Community Healthy Fair, which involved more than 50 agencies, businesses and professional agencies serving more than 32,000 participants; successfully linking BREC’s 10-year strategic plan with 28 different organizations to achieve critical outcomes over the next 10 years; and leveraging more than $200 million in public-private and public-public funding support.

    McKnight, who serves on the National Gold Medal Committee, has also served in a number of roles for NRPA, including as CAPRA accreditation commissioner, committee chair for the NRPA Baltimore Maryland Conference Education Program (2008), NRPA/North Carolina State University Board Supervisors’ Management School instructor (2006 to 2012) and chair of that board (2011-2012), Directors School instructor (2009-2013 and present), chair of the Ethnic Minority Society (2007) and Mentoring Program Leader (2013 - present). She received the Exemplary Service Citation from the NRPA Board of Trustees in 2008 and has also been an American Academy of Park and Recreation Administrators Fellow since then.

  • Open or CloseJoshua Medeiros, Ed. D, CPRP, AFO

    City of Bristol Parks, Recreation, Youth and Community Services (Bristol, CT)

    Joshua Medeiros

    Joshua Medeiros is superintendent of parks, recreation, youth and community services for the City of Bristol. Dr. Medeiros has been involved in the field of parks and recreation for 15 years, the past 10 in leadership positions across several municipalities. He specializes in recreation programming, aquatics, capital project management, leadership and organizational change and has developed hundreds of programs and events throughout his career, generated millions of dollars in department revenues, and overseen numerous major park projects. He also serves as an adjunct professor at Southern Connecticut State University in the Department of Recreation, Tourism and Sport Management, and his most recent scholarly work included a qualitative study examining reports of Connecticut recreation professionals on best practices for aquatics management.

  • Open or CloseIan Proud

    Bucknell University Small Business Development Center (Lewisburg, PA)

    Ian Proud
    Ian Proud has helped lead nonprofit organizations for 30 years, with a specific interest in change management and adding value as the community around them evolves. He is engineering innovation manager for the Bucknell University Small Business Development Center. Previously, he worked as market research and inclusive play manager at Playworld Systems and began the company’s inclusive play initiative, culminating in the Inclusive Play Design Guide, a manufacturer-neutral inspirational and educational resource to get everyone, regardless of ability, playing on the playground. He championed the development of the nation’s first electronic outdoor play product and led the creation of a leading outdoor exercise product line for seniors.

    Proud received a Master in Business Administration from Loyola University in Maryland, and he has taught undergraduate and graduate product design, marketing and creativity courses.

  • Open or CloseNonet Sykes

    Atlanta Beltline, Inc. (Atlanta, GA)

    Nonet Sykes

    Nonet T. Sykes is the first chief equity and inclusion officer for the Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. (ABI) and, as such, leads the development and implementation of ABI’s comprehensive equity and inclusion vision, strategy and action plan. As a member of the executive team, Sykes leads an organization-wide effort to operationalize ABI’s commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion, and to implement strategies that stabilize communities, increase housing affordability, spur job creation and ensure economic opportunity.

    Sykes was previously director of racial equity and inclusion at the Annie E. Casey Foundation where she led the organization’s equity and inclusion strategies and invested resources to identify, implement and promote the most effective approaches to increase equitable opportunities and outcomes for children, families and communities of color. Sykes’ 20 plus years of experience spans the areas of racial equity and inclusion, community and economic development, strategic leadership, nonprofit capacity building and change management.

    Sykes also serves on the board of directors for the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative.

    Sykes is a certified professional diversity coach and holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, a Master of Public Administration from the University of Baltimore, and a Certificate in Organizational Consulting and Change Leadership from Georgetown University.

     

  • Open or CloseXavier D. Urrutia

    Alamo Colleges District (San Antonio, TX)

    Xavier D. Urrutia
    Xavier D. Urrutia currently holds the position of chief of staff to the chancellor for the Alamo Colleges District which consists of five independently accredited colleges and seven workforce centers and is the largest provider of post-secondary education and training in south Texas.

    A native of San Antonio, Texas, Urrutia formerly served as the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation director from June 2008 to July 2019 where his municipal government career spanned more than 23 years including positions as an interim assistant city manager and interim director for Animal Care Services, as well as assistant director for solid waste management and, prior to that, in the department of human services.

    Urrutia holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Trinity University and is a member of the International Hispanic Network, and Leadership San Antonio Class 37.

  • Open or CloseMonica Hobbs Vinluan

    Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Ashburn, VA)

    Monica Vinluan Board of Directors

    Monica Hobbs Vinluan joined the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) in 2015 as a senior program officer. She has been a passionate, professional advocate for health promotion and a distinguished government relations professional on a variety of health and well-being issues for two decades. Through her work at the foundation, Vinluan strives to ensure that all children in the United States have a healthy start. She views her role as “bringing new strategies and approaches to helping make sure all children get the nutritious foods and drinks they need to learn, grow and thrive.”

    Previously, Vinluan served as director of the Healthier Communities Initiatives for the YMCA of the USA, which catalyzed community- and state-level leadership teams to put in place strategies and policies that enabled people to make healthy choices. The Healthier Communities Initiatives — funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, RWJF and a host of other funders — created nearly 250 community teams and enacted 39,000 policy changes in advocating for physical activity, healthy eating and health equity policy strategies.

    Vinluan’s experience also includes serving as a senior policy associate with the National Recreation and Park Association. She has worked with the National Women’s Law Center, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the National Association of Child Advocates and in the office of former U.S. Senator Charles Robb of Virginia.

    Vinluan earned her Juris Doctorate at the American University Washington College of Law and her Bachelor of Arts in political science from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). She was the recipient of the Sandra P. Grasso Scholarship for her commitment to advancing social justice and feminism, and also was honored for her work in opening the Women’s Center at Virginia Tech.

    Born in Virginia, Vinluan currently resides there with her husband and two children. She enjoys “just about any out-of-doors activities,” including hiking, camping and attending her children’s numerous sports activities.

  • Open or CloseLakita Watson

    Richland County Recreation Commission (Columbia, SC)

    Lakita Watson Board of Directors

    Lakita Watson is executive director of the Richland County Recreation Commission. She is a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional (CPRP) with more than 20 years of experience in recreation program planning, staff development, capital project implementation and strategic planning. During her time as the director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Suffolk (Virginia) Department of Parks and Recreation, the agency thrived achieving national accreditation and received several local, state and national awards for facilities and programs. Under her leadership, Watson planned and implemented $25 million capital projects increasing the park system’s facilities by 45 percent.

    Watson’s work has been recognized on the state and national level where she has served as president of the Virginia Recreation and Parks Society and a Diversity Scholar for the National Recreation and Parks Association. Watson was recently selected as fellow for the American Academy for Parks and Recreation Administration and is a regent for the National Revenue

    Management and Development School. In addition to her work with mentoring young professionals, Watson serves on the advisory committee for GP RED, which is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to fully recognize and expand research, education and resource development activities for community “quality of life” agencies.

    The Virginia native currently holds the chair seat for the National Recreation and Parks Ethnic Minority Society and is past chair of the National Recreation and Parks Association’s Leadership Development Network. She also founded the Women in Parks and Recreation Facebook group, which boasts more than 7,000 members after less than a year of recruitment.

    Watson attended Norfolk State University where she earned her bachelor's degree in social work. She is finishing a master's degree in public administration from Liberty University. She lives in Richland County, South Carolina, with her three children.

  • Open or CloseGreg A. Weitzel, MS, CPRP

    Department of Parks and Recreation (City of Las Vegas, NV)

    Greg Weitzel

    Greg A. Weitzel has 20-plus years of experience in the field, having served as department director of parks and recreation for cities of various population sizes on the East Coast and Pacific Northwest. He currently serves as director of parks and recreation, City of Las Vegas. Weitzel also serves as an ambassador and lead playground installer for Kids Around the World. He served for more than 10 years on the Pennsylvania Recreation and Park Society Governmental Affairs Committee and ended his tenure as chairman and was instrumental in helping to save more than $600 million in key funding from elimination in the state budget.

     

  • Open or ClosePhilip Wu, M.D.

    (retired) Kaiser Permanente Northwest Region (Portland, OR)

    Phillip Wu

    Dr. Philip Wu, a retired pediatric obesity specialist from Kaiser Permanente Northwest Region, has been a pediatrician with Kaiser since 1997. His special interests include obesity prevention in children and promoting healthy living for families. He is currently working on broadening the scope of healthcare to include collaboration with community organizations/businesses in addressing healthcare disparities.

    Dr. Wu serves on several community boards, including the Northwest Health Foundation, Oregon Oral Health Coalition, Outside In, The Intertwine Alliance and Oregon Environmental Council. He has an interest in transportation as a “social determinant” and has participated on the transportation committee of the Westside Economic Alliance, the Washington County Transportation Futures Study project and Oregon Department of Transportation’s Transportation Options Policy Advisory Committee. He recently concluded two years of service on Metro’s Equity Strategy Advisory Committee.

    He received a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and completed his residency at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington. Dr. Wu and his partner enjoy walking, hiking and simply being in nature.

     


Life Trustees

  • Open or CloseView List

    Beverly D. Chrisman
    Lexington, SC

    Anne S. Close
    Fort Mill, SC

    James H. Evans
    New York, NY

    Rosemary Hall Evans
    Sugar Hill, NH

    Earl T. Groves
    Gastonia, NC

    Charles E. Hartsoe, Ph.D.
    Richmond, VA

    Kathryn A. Porter
    Mendham, NJ

    Perry J. Segura
    New Iberia, LA

    R. Dean Tice
    Round Hill, VA

    Eugene A. Young, CPRP
    Baton Rouge, LA


NRPA Senior Staff

  • Open or CloseVP of Membership & Certification: Julie Boland, CPRE

    Julie Boland joined NRPA in 2008 and serves as the Vice President of Membership and Certification.  In this role, Boland develops and oversees the association’s membership and certification initiatives. She received her Bachelors of Science in Forestry from Purdue University and has been working in the field of parks and recreation since 2000. Prior to her time with NRPA, she served as the Parks Director for the City of Crown Point, Indiana. She is a Certified Park and Recreation Executive (CPRE) from the National Recreation and Park Association and a Certified Association Executive (CAE) from the American Society of Association Executives.

  • Open or CloseVP of Operations & Chief Financial Officer: Brenda Camacho

    Brenda Camacho is NRPA's Vice President of Operations and Chief Financial Officer. In this role Camacho is responsible for all long-range financial matters and administrative objectives, policies, programs and practices of the organization. In addition, she oversees operations and conference teams. She is also the lead staff member for the Finance Committee of the Board of Directors.

    Camacho has an extensive background in nonprofit financial and operations management; including overseeing facilities and IT functions for multi-facility organizations, leading roles in multi-million dollar capital projects, and leading implementations of CRM and General Ledger systems. Over the last two decades, she has worked with several organizations in growth mode and has been pivotal in aligning the infrastructure teams to meet the demands of the rest of the organization. Her accounting background and management skills lend themselves well in leading finance teams. She received her B.S. in Accounting from the University of Phoenix and her Masters in Accounting from Nova Southeastern University.

    In 2015, Camacho was recognized by the Washington Business Journal as a CFO of the Year awardee.

  • Open or CloseVP of Public Policy & Advocacy: Elvis Cordova

    A seasoned executive with over 15 years of experience developing and implementing solutions for some of the most significant and high-profile challenges facing the U.S. public sector, Mr. Cordova is a proven manager and strategist, adept at building and managing coalitions, and communicating effectively to diverse stakeholders.

    Mr. Cordova was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve in various leadership roles at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He also served on the White House Task Force for Puerto Rico, focusing on building public-private partnerships. Mr. Cordova was a Presidential Management Fellow at the Farm Credit Administration and at the U.S. Department of Energy where his work encompassed alternative energy, economic development, financial services, and congressional and public affairs.

    Outside of the federal government, his positions include Vice President of Public Relations at Tzolkin Media Inc., management analyst for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, and consultant for the United Nations where he focused on trade development strategies for emerging markets. Mr. Cordova began his career as a financial analyst at the Harvard Management Company.

    He is a recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Graduate Fellowship, holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Northeastern University.

  • Open or CloseVP of Programs & Partnerships: Kellie May

    Kellie May joined NRPA in 2010 and serves as the Vice President of Programs and Partnerships. In her role, May oversees the strategic direction of NRPA’s philanthropic programs and initiatives, including working to establish new relationships with partners and donors. Previously, she served as NRPA’s Director of Health and Wellness and has a demonstrated background in helping local park and recreation agencies implement strategies to improve healthy eating and increase physical activity.

    Prior to joining NRPA, May worked at SHAPE America, previously the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance where she worked to increase physical activity for young children. She has more than ten years of experience managing health and physical activity programs and has a Master’s degree from George Washington University.

  • Open or CloseVP of Communications & Chief Marketing Officer: Gina Mullins-Cohen

    Gina Mullins-Cohen serves as NRPA's Vice President of Communications and Chief Marketing Officer. Mullins-Cohen brings with her over 18 years of communication and publication management experience. She has launched and managed numerous publications in several diverse industries, as well as owned and directed a media-communications firm.

    As founder of Eclipse Media Partners, LLC, in 2010, a full-service media, communications and publishing company specializing in community publications, online content and events, Mullins-Cohen was able to work with and report on the achievements within park systems in Southern California. Prior to Eclipse Media Partners, she held the post of executive vice president of Electronic Retailing Association (ERA) where she oversaw the communications, publishing and education divisions.

    Numerous publications and branding campaigns have been the recipient of awards under Mullins-Cohen's direction. Her consumer publication, Edible Orange County, was the recipient of the James Beard Foundation Award for Best Publication - 2011. Her work in B2B publishing and communications has been the recipient of four Maggie Awards from the Western Publishing Association.

  • Open or CloseVP of Research, Evaluation & Technology: Kevin A. Roth

    Kevin A. Roth serves as NRPA's Vice President of Research, Evaluation & Technology. Roth 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. He 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.

    Roth 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. He has a Ph.D. in Economics from George Washington University and a BA in Economics from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

  • Open or CloseVP of Education & Chief Equity Officer: Autumn Saxton-Ross

    Autumn Saxton-Ross, PhD, a DC resident and mom of two, will join the National Recreation and Park Association in September as Vice President of Education & Chief Equity Officer, after having served as Mid-Atlantic Regional Director and Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Lead for NatureBridge. In that role she oversaw programs at Prince William Forest and Shenandoah National Parks in Virginia. NatureBridge is the largest residential environmental education partner of the National Park Service, and its mission is to connect young people to the wonder and science of the natural world, igniting self-discovery, and inspiring stewardship of the planet. Through its overnight, hands on programs, NatureBridge connects children to themselves and others.

    In her previous position as the Program Director for Place-based Initiatives at the National Collaborative for Health Equity, she worked to encourage the use of policy and environmental change as a solution to health inequities, focusing on communities of color. She managed the Kellogg funded PLACE MATTERS initiative – a national learning laboratory that builds the capacity of local leaders to identify and address the social, economic, and environmental conditions that shape health, opportunities and resources and promotes innovative strategies to address those conditions in order to create a national health equity movement.

    Previously, she has been the Physical Activity, Nutrition and Obesity (PANO) Specialist for the DC Department of Health and the Assistant Director for Health in Parks for Washington Parks & People. In those positions, she focused on environmental and policy approaches to healthy eating and active living and promoting the natural connection between parks, recreation and health. Prior to receiving her doctorate, she was the Health and Wellness Coordinator for both Montgomery County and DC Recreation departments, taught Women’s Health for Howard University and was an Elementary Physical Education and Health teacher for DC Public Schools.

    With degrees in sociology, health education, and exercise science, her research, academic and professional interests are on the social and physical environment and their influences on physical activity, opportunity and resources, specifically in Black and urban populations, and the health benefits of parks and green spaces. Her life’s work is improving the health of communities through engagement, activity, education, exposure and opportunity, truly believing that a healthy life is lived better outdoors.



Do You Have a Question for the NRPA Board?

If you have a question for the NRPA Board of Directors, please feel free to submit your question.



News Stories

4.15.21Top Story

Volunteers help clean up parks during April

4.15.21Around the Country

Mo. city parks provide work for people who are homeless

4.15.21Around the Country

Reservations reopen at some Ore. state parks