Leadership for Change

The world has changed profoundly in the century since the establishment of the National Park Service. The Agency continues to evolve and issues facing our parks have become more diverse and complex. The Institute works with the NPS leadership programs and initiatives, academia, and partners on providing practitioners with 21st century knowledge and skills that foster collaborative, adaptive, and resilient leadership.

Highlighted Programs

Superintendents Leadership Roundtable group at Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral
Superintendents Leadership Roundtable group at Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral
NPS Photo

Superintendents Leadership Roundtable (SLR)

2023 SLR is in full bloom. And this year feels like one of our strongest yet. The SLR program is a leadership development training based on peer-support, designed for Superintendents to come together and share their experiences as park leaders. Being a superintendent can be an isolating job. The SLR program provides the support NPS leaders need to build healthy work and park spaces. NPS continues to face wicked issues with Climate Change, retirement waves, the health crisis, hiring challenges, and cultural unrest. The SLR program provides superintendents an opportunity to collaborate with leaders facing similar challenges. The open and honest dialogue that superintendents have in their cohorts is unlike any other space. This is the heart of the SLR program – supporting leadership growth and uplifting each other.

SLR participants are supported in the process of open communication and problem investigation through the guidance of professional leadership facilitators. SLR facilitators foster the development of strategies to address park challenges through sharing resources and ideas. This creates a program that enhances leadership, supports problem-solving, and strengthens parks.

Another core component of the SLR program is the Place Based Experience. This year (2023) all 11 SLR cohorts will be meeting in-person for the first time since the pandemic. The Place Based topics range from Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) to storytelling and music. With these themes in mind, superintendents will be traveling across the country. They will learn from organizations, institutions, or communities and share the knowledge they’ve gained back to their parks. SLR participants will be meeting with the following organizations:

  • The Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C. - Meeting with the senior leadership team and touring the National Museum of African American History.

  • PBS/Austin City Limits and the Economic Development Department, Austin, TX - Exploring the connections between storytelling and music, and how the city supports local artists and musicians.

  • City Managers and local nonprofits in Durango, CO - Learning about water and energy issues in the west, tribal relations, and DEIA strategy.

These place-based experiences add to the richness of the SLR program, as well as facilitate a superintendent's growth - by supporting new ideas, building inspiration, and learning new lessons.

Wilson's Promontory Parks Victoria Couple standing on rock overlooking water
Wilson's Promontory Parks Victoria

Parks Victoria

The International Park Managers Roundtable Pilot

The US National Park Service (NPS) Stewardship Institute, the NPS Office of International Affairs, and Parks Victoria in Australia partnered to pilot an International Park Managers Roundtable. Building on the foundation of the Superintendents Leadership Roundtable and the Learning from Our Colleagues Abroad program, we developed a program that integrates the shared programmatic principles of peer engagement and fostering strong learning communities into a virtual roundtable experience for park managers. Now in its second year, the pilot is designed to provide a small cohort of NPS superintendents and Parks Victoria district managers with a high-level community of practice that supports individual leadership development, peer-to-peer coaching, and opportunities for deep insights, creativity, and inspiration. The pilot is currently being evaluated in order to learn how participation has impacted park managers and for potential program improvements. We hope that this model can serve as a framework for more international engagement among protected areas managers to build stronger connections and foster learning across the globe.

Last updated: February 28, 2023