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 Attend?

  • Current park and recreation directors
  • Current park and recreation assistant/deputy directors
  • Mid-level managers working towards a park and recreation director position

2020 NRPA Virtual Directors School

August 14 – September 1, 2020

The 2020 Virtual Directors School will be delivered online over the course of two-and-a-half weeks. Students will participate in both simultaneous and non-simultaneous course facilitation and will have the opportunity to engage in optional office hours with instructors and other social interactions.


NRPA member: $487
Nonmember: $525


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




A 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 within 30 days of the beginning of the school.


Scholarship Opportunities

Toro Scholarships


Ten year-one student scholarships and ten year-two student scholarships are available through the generosity of The Toro Company and The Toro Foundation. Applications will be accepted until July 7, 2020. Notifications will be made by July 15, 2020.

Apply Now


Friday, August 14: 1 p.m. – 2 p.m. ET

Monday, August 17: 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET

Tuesday, August 18: 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. ET (4 p.m. – 5 p.m. ET optional)

Wednesday, August 19: 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET

Thursday, August 20: 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET

Friday, August 21: 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. ET (3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m. ET optional)

Monday, August 24: 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET

Tuesday, August 25: 1 p.m. – 5 p.m. ET (4 p.m. – 5 p.m. ET optional)

Wednesday, August 26: 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET

Thursday, August 27: 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET (3 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET optional)

Friday, August 28: 1 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. ET


Monday, August 31: 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. ET

Tuesday, September 1: 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. ET

*The current schedule is subject to change.

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


  • 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


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

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