National Parks Institute

Executive Leadership Seminar


The University of California at Merced, with help from the Great Valley Center, and the National Park Service created the National Parks Institute Executive Leadership Seminar, an intensive 12-day workshop on leadership, innovation and organizational renewal, designed specifically for leaders in park and protected area management. Participants learn to lead strategic change by anticipating change, reinvigorating their organizations, and incorporating innovative thinking into their management. A practical framework will be applied to real-world case studies and take-home action plans. The Golden Gate Institute in San Francisco, UC Merced and Yosemite National Park are used as field laboratories for discussion and learning.

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2012 Seminar

Photo of National Parks Institute class visiting YosemiteThe third National Parks Institute, held April 17-28, 2012, brought together 27 leaders in park and protected area management, including 11 leaders from countries around the world.  Under the theme of “Leading Strategic Change”, participants tackled topics ranging from the affects of climate change on national parks to exploring how to build value to the park visit experience in order to compete for scarce resources. Class members left with fresh strategic planning and leadership skills, gained a broader understanding of some of the complex issues faced by their colleagues, and established a network of new contacts.  Read more in May 18 blog post.

A key element in the design of the seminar was the journey participants took during the program.  The course began at the Institute at the Golden Gate in San Francisco, proceeded to UC Merced, and finished in Yosemite National Park.  Through this journey, the seminar drew upon the resources and expertise unique to each location.

2011 Seminar

Twenty seven executives in park and protected area management from around the world attended the second National Parks Institute in  2011.  A highlight of last year’s seminar were lectures presented by Pulitzer Prize-winning ecologist and author E. O. Wilson and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.

Press Release on 2011 NPI:
National Parks, Reserved Lands the Focus of Leadership Seminar (03/09/11, UC Merced)

2010 Seminar

In May 2010 NPI graduated its inaugural class. Participants included 15 U.S. National Park Service leaders and 11 international participants from Australia, Bahamas, Bhutan, Chile, China, Germany, Kenya, Lebanon, Netherlands Antilles, New Zealand, and Paraguay. The seminar focused on leadership, innovation, and organizational renewal. Among the highlights of this first class was a presentation given by former President Jimmy Carter on the creation of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.