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 face emerging challenges, improve operations and maximize positive impact on their communities.

Beginning in 2018, Directors School features an updated curriculum and a new location, at the beautiful Hyatt Lodge in Oak Brook, Illinois. These changes ensure that students receive the best possible education and experience. 

August 16-20, 2020

Hyatt Lodge
Oak Brook, Illinois


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




All Inclusive Cost Per Year

(Includes tuition, five hotel nights and most meals)

NRPA Member - $2,650

Non-Member* - $2,850

*Includes one year of NRPA membership


Scholarship Opportunities

Toro Scholarships

ToroFive $975 year-one student and five $975 year-two student scholarships were available through the generosity of The Toro Company and The Toro Foundation. Applications were accepted until June 14, 2019. Applications for the 2020 Directors School will be accepted in May of 2020. 


John C. Potts Scholarships

The AIPE/American Academy Foundation will be accepting applications for the John C. Potts Leadership Development Scholarship for the 2020 Directors School in the Spring of 2020.


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


Who Should Attend?

This two-year program is perfect for

  • Current park or recreation directors;
  • Current park or recreation assistant/deputy directors; and
  • Mid-level managers being groomed for a park and recreation director position.


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

For more information about the program content, contact customer service at

CANCELLATION POLICY: A cancellation fee of $100 will be charged for cancellation at any time up to 30 days prior to the school.

Event Photos:

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