NRPA’s New Government Affairs Manager

March 28, 2024, Department, by Christian Miller

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Advocating for parks and recreation nationwide

NRPA is always looking to provide value to its members. As more challenges and opportunities present themselves on Capitol Hill, NRPA is working to represent our members as effectively as possible. NRPA expanded its public policy and advocacy department, creating the new roles of government affairs manager and government affairs specialist. The government affairs manager will engage stakeholders on Capitol Hill and expand NRPA’s footprint in Washington, D.C., while the government affairs specialist will engage federal agencies and keep members up to date on federal-funding opportunities.

As a result of the expansion, I am happy to introduce myself. I’m Christian Miller, NRPA’s new government affairs manager. I’ve worked in government affairs since graduating from George Washington University in 2019. Previously, I worked for GIFFORDS, the gun safety advocacy group founded by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. I also have experience working in healthcare advocacy for patient groups and medical professional societies. I am excited to use my advocacy skills to advance NRPA’s critical mission and excited to return to working in the park and recreation field, which I first experienced as a teenage summer employee.

During the summer of 2014, as a 17-year-old, I was tasked with maintaining the community gardens in Montclair, New Jersey. That summer, I spent nearly every day outside working with the staff of the Montclair Parks Department, digging, weeding and doing whatever else needed to be done. Through that experience, I developed a love for civic engagement that I carry today, which brought me to a career in government affairs. I look forward to telling the stories of people who have helped me build that passion — park and recreation professionals precisely like you. I relish the opportunity to support your critical work and advocate for parks and recreation on Capitol Hill.

Growing Influence

Expanding the public policy and advocacy department will allow NRPA to better engage with Congress and further our legislative priorities. One of our top priorities in the 118th Congress is the passage of the Outdoors for All Act (S. 448/H.R. 1065). This critical piece of legislation is being led in the House of Representatives by Rep. Nanette Díaz Barragán (D-CA-44) and Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH-10); in the Senate, Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) lead it. The Outdoors for All Act would codify the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Program (ORLP). Established by Congress in 2014, ORLP aims to support the development of new outdoor recreation spaces across the United States.

This landmark program already has supported successful programs in 50 communities nationwide. However, the ORLP is not a permanent program. The Outdoors for All Act seeks to remedy this and provide the program with funding well into the future. The bill also reformulates the existing ORLP program to allow more communities, particularly smaller and rural communities, to apply for the program. At NRPA, we believe that all should have access to recreation space nationwide, and it is crucial that the Outdoors for All Act pass in the 118th Congress.

Prioritizing Parks and Recreation

The Outdoors for All Act is far from our only priority in this Congress. NRPA government affairs staff are hard at work engaging with lawmakers and stakeholders on various issues relevant to park and recreation professionals and their communities. This includes work on the Land and Water Conservation Fund state assistance program to ensure it receives the funding needed to support our communities. We are working on increasing funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to support green infrastructure projects happening in local parks nationwide. NRPA also supports youth mentoring and child nutrition programs that our agencies rely on. While these are just some of the policy issues we’re tackling at NRPA, they provide a good snapshot of our work. We proudly serve as the voice of park and recreation professionals on Capitol Hill.

Christian Miller is Government Affairs Manager at NRPA.