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.

August 14-18, 2022
Oak Brook, Illinois


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

All-Inclusive Cost

Pricing includes tuition, five hotel nights and most meals.

NRPA member: $2,675
Nonmember: $2,875

Year One Students

Year one is no longer accepting applications. 


Year Two Students

Only students who have completed year one can register for year two.

Register Now





Scholarship Opportunities

Toro Scholarships

Toro LogoStudent scholarships are available through the generosity of The Toro Company and The Toro Foundation.

Applications were due March 3, 2022.


John C. Potts (“Pottsie”) Leadership Development Scholarship

The American Parks & Recreation Foundation will provide two John C. Potts Leadership Development Scholarships for the 2022 NRPA Directors School. The scholarships will cover tuition only. "Pottsie" scholarships are awarded to aspiring agency/department directors who have demonstrated leadership potential in their organizations. The American Parks & Recreation Foundation gives strong consideration to candidates from agencies that lack the financial resources to apply to Year One of the Directors School. However, the agency must commit to financially support the scholarship winner to attend Year Two of the Directors School. 

"The American Parks & Recreation Foundation is committed to investing in the professional development of emerging parks and recreation leaders. The John C. Potts Leadership Development Scholarship provides an opportunity for aspiring leaders to learn and grow at NRPA's Directors School," Mark Young, American Parks & Recreation Foundation President. 

Applications were due March 25, 2022.


Edroy Jenkins Scholarship

The Edroy Jenkins Scholarship was started in 2010 by current students and began distributing scholarships to Year 2 students in 2012. Each year the 2nd year class takes the lead in organizing a fundraiser for the scholarship. A nonprofit board consisting of past Director’s School graduates oversees the program. 

The Edroy Jenkins Scholarship Board is pleased to provide two Year 2 Scholarships for 2022 NRPA Directors School.

Applications were due February 1, 2022.



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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Sponsored by Toro