Urban Park Leadership Program

The Urban Park Leadership Program brings together senior-level urban park professionals for an experience of learning, network building, and creative problem solving. Designed, facilitated, and hosted by the Central Park Conservancy Institute for Urban Parks, the Urban Park Leadership Program comprises in-person and web-based professional development experiences covering a range of topics relevant to urban park leadership and management.

Participants engage in a series of online and in-person learning experiences while in the program:

Online Videoconference Program Orientation
An orientation videoconferencing meeting where participants meet the facilitators and each other for the first time.

Online Session One: Introducing the Field of Urban Park Management
Seven-week introductory online session.

In-Person Session in NYC: Leadership in Urban Parks
Week-long in-person collaborative learning experience in New York City.

Online Session Two: Advanced Topics in Urban Park Management
Four-week session of advanced online learning.

During this period, participants engage in webinars and supplementary phone-based coaching, along with working in small teams to complete a mini capstone research project. Includes a selection of webinars and one-on-one coaching sessions. 

Capstone Research Presentations [Videoconference]
A capstone research project.

Participants are encouraged to attend the National Recreation and Parks Association annual conference (in Orlando, FL) to connect with a wider world of park professionals before the program culminates in December with web-based presentations of their capstone mini-research projects. 


The program fee is $2,250 per person, excluding travel and lodging for the in-person session. The registration fee includes: 

  • Attendance at all program activities
  • Breakfast, lunch, and snack breaks on each day of the program
  • All optional evening activities, including an evening cocktail reception and dinner
  • All online and printed program materials 
  • … and much more. 

The Central Park Conservancy Institute for Urban Parks, through generous support from its donors, offers a limited number of economic hardship grants to applicants from qualifying organizations and agencies. Grants are awarded on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the Institute.

How to Apply

Applications are now closed for the 2020 Urban Park Leadership Program. Check back here in Fall of 2020 for updates on the 2021 program.

Admissions Criteria

We seek executive, senior, and upper-level urban park managers who are:

  • Affiliated with a newly formed (less than 5 years) private (i.e. non-profit) partner of a public-private park partnership; OR
  • New to a position within an established private partner of a public-private park partnership; OR
  • Affiliated with the public partner of an existing or future public private park partnership; OR
  • Administrators / senior-level staff members at public open space agencies; OR
  • Trustees of existing public-private park partnerships, friends-of groups, or volunteer groups 

The Urban Park Leadership Program is a partnership between the Central Park Conservancy and the Office of Professional Education and Workplace Learning at the CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS). Home to the first fully online degree programs at the City University of New York, the CUNY SPS provides online and on campus programs that meet the needs of adults who are looking to finish a bachelor’s degree, earn a master’s degree or certificate in a specialized field, advance in the workplace, or change careers. of their choosing.