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1.  Quotes on the purpose and results of The Vail Agenda:

The National Park Service has a phenomenally dedicated work force, some of the nation’s most treasured resources under its management, and widespread support from the American public. At the same time, however, it suffers from declining morale, an increasingly diffuse set of park units and programs that it is mandated to manage, serious fiscal constraints, and personnel and organizational structures that often impede its performance.


To address these and related issues of critical importance to the national park system, the Service initiated an intensive review of its responsibilities and prospects. This process was undertaken in cooperation with other leading institutions concerned with management of the national park system. The central focus of the process was the 75th Anniversary Symposium ‘Our National Parks: Challenges and Strategies for the 21st Century,’ which was held in Vail, Colorado in October, 1991. This event brought together nearly 700 experts and interested parties from inside and outside the Service to consider the future of the national park system.


Reform and rejuvenation of the National Park System must begin with leadership that is capable of enunciating and implementing clear and compelling goals for parks policy and NPS management.


To fully meet the challenge of this vision (described elsewhere in the agenda) in the coming decades, the National Park Service will need uncommon clarity in its policies and compelling leadership in its management.

2.  Members of the workgroup who developed the initial concepts for the leadership seminars were:

Superintendent Art Eck, Santa Monica Mountains
Superintendent Fred Fagergren, Bryce Canyon
Assistant Superintendent Hal Grovert, Yosemite
Superintendent Mike Hill, Petersburg
Evelyn Sheehan, North Atlantic Support Office, personnel
Assistant Superintendent Garry Traynham, Indiana Dunes
Superintendent Bill Wade, Shenandoah (now retired)
Connie Waldron, Yosemite payroll office
Chief of Science and Resource Management
Meg Weesner, Saguaro
Chief of Interpretation Phil Zichterman, Curecanti /Black Canyon

3.  The five original provisions for the leadership seminars were:

1.  Approximately 125 seminars would be conducted for the estimated 3,500 NPS supervisors.

2.  Seminars would be facilitated by 10 teams of two people, each an experienced and credible NPS leader. One would be a GS-13-15 and one a GS 9-12. Diversity, in all facets, was deemed essential. Each team would be facilitate about twelve seminars.

3.  The seminars would be built on the underlying premise that the benefits would accrue not only to those attending but, indirectly, to those who could not attend.

4.  The seminars would include a 360 profiling instrument similar to that recommended by the NPS management succession task force.

5.  The facilitators were to be selected by early March 1995 and a facilitator’s seminar was to be conducted in April 1995.

4.  Changes that occurred between initial authorization of the program in February 1995 and completion of the facilitators seminar in September 1995:

  • Partly because of limited encouragement from senior leadership in the NPS, the number of GS 13-15 facilitators (originally intended to make up 50% of each team) were few. This caused a change in the structure of the facilitation teams, resulting in eight teams of four.
  • The seminar was made mandatory for all NPS supervisors, leaders, and managers. This created negative perceptions, and resistance to the seminars broadened throughout the organization. This placed additional stress on the facilitator teams. Team members, as volunteers, had limited experience in dealing with this resistance.
  • Due to limited funding, a decision was made to only partially fund the program centrally; a tuition of $500 per participant was instituted. Gil Lusk appeared before the National Leadership Council on November 2, 1995, and presented the final recommendations of the training task force’s Employee Training and Development Strategy. At that time, he attempted to secure centralized funding for the seminars and eliminate the need for tuition, but he was unsuccessful.

 

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