Program Director

Program Director
Organization City Parks Alliance
Location Washington, DC
Job Type Full Time
Application Deadline

Salary Range: $95,000 – $115,000

City Parks Alliance is the only independent, nationwide membership organization solely dedicated to urban parks. The mission of the City Parks Alliance is to engage, educate and nurture a broad-based constituency to support the creation, revitalization and sustainability of parks and green spaces that contribute to more vibrant and equitable cities.

City Parks Alliance leads and serves the community of diverse organizations that encompass the parks and recreation world, from neighborhood groups to government agencies, championing high quality urban parks throughout the nation. City Parks Alliance is vital to sound public policy and citizen engagement that recognizes city parks as an integral part of forming strong, vibrant, equitable cities that nurture their communities and local economies. Our vision is that everyone in urban America will have access to the benefits of parks, recreational opportunities, and green spaces. 

City Parks Alliance believes that parks and recreation services play a critical role in advancing racial equity. Equity is about fairness: Full and equal access to opportunities, power and resources so all people may thrive and prosper regardless of demographics. Equity is embedded in all of CPA’s work, from our approach to curating our conferences and selection of speakers and community based stories, to our research focus on creating more equitable city-wide systems, to our advocacy efforts to increase investment in urban parks and recreation in neighborhoods of greatest need.  We continue to learn and grow as an organization to broaden cultural, racial, and ethnic perspectives on our board and staff.  See our organizational values and statement on racial equity and justice for more about our commitment to advance these principles.  


Position Description

We seek a Program Director to oversee and provide comprehensive strategic direction to City Parks Alliance’s work as a convener, connector, and curator of leading edge information, positioning parks for 21st century urban needs.  The Program Director will lead CPA’s program direction to solidify CPA’s city-building focus with information, tools, and training for our membership network on how park and recreation systems can be integrated into city systems to:

  • improve public health through green space and recreation opportunities,
  • build environmental resiliency,
  • create transportation options,
  • strengthen economic vibrancy and job creation,
  • support human well-being at all ages, and 
  • contribute to community healing, wholeness, and resilience


The Program Director will oversee a portfolio of programs, content, and research to showcase leading edge ideas, promote innovative practices, and connect CPA’s members. The Program Director curates the biennial Greater & Greener conference; leads the program team to deliver a range of in-person and virtual learning opportunities; and provides strategic direction for research projects. 

Greater & Greener is the leading international conference for urban park leaders, city planning and design professionals, public officials, advocates, funders, and local change-makers to explore the role of parks and recreation in addressing some of the biggest equity challenges facing 21st century cities. The highly curated and interactive program offers indoor and outdoor sessions, workshops, and tours that facilitate an honest dialogue around community-based solutions, opportunities for cross-sector and peer-to-peer networking, and tools for building successful park partnerships. Future conferences will take place in Philadelphia in June 2022 and in Seattle in June 2024.  See for more information. 

Our members are at the core of our work. City Parks Alliance enhances member capacity building by offering a range of opportunities for learning and sharing. These include on-line resources such as the Equitable Funding Hub, the ParkXChange resource library, and case studies; peer-to-peer conversations and webinars; city tours; and virtual and in-person partnership workshops. These programs build on and complement each other to elevate local stories, best practices, policies, and agreements to strengthen our membership network.  Park study tours have been scheduled for Austin in November 2021 and St. Louis in September 2022.

City Parks Alliance and partners are documenting the many benefits of parks and greenspace to equitable, healthy, resilient, and economically competitive cities. Our research agenda explores the critical emerging issues cities face, and we work with economists, engineers, policy experts, advocates, and practitioners with a focus on delivering practical solutions for cities and their residents. Recent past research partnerships have included Georgia Institute of Technology, RAND Corporation, Urban Institute, and Groundwork USA. We focus on a research topic every two years, which is then showcased at the Greater & Greener conference. 

The Program Director reports to the Executive Director and oversees the Senior Program Manager, Program Manager, and Conference Event Coordinator; works closely with the communications, membership, and development teams; and provides staff leadership to the board Conference and Research Committee.


Key Areas of Responsibility

Conference (35% in conference year, 15% in non-conference year)

  • Curates all content and program design for a four-day biennial conference to ensure a maximum learning experience
  • Leads Board Conference and Research Committee in development of conference themes and tracks
  • Oversees process for national call for speaker proposals; oversees selection of national review panel and review process; supervises the speaker outreach and preparation process
  • Produces all content descriptions; supports marketing and promotion of conference
  • Coordinates with host city working group on development of mobile workshops and tours to align with conference tracks and inclusion of local voices 
  • Works with Conference Event Coordinator on planning and logistics to ensure alignment and coordination with program content
  • Oversees project revenue and expense budget to ensure the program meets programmatic and financial goals
  • Analyzes trends from conference to incorporate leading edge ideas across CPA programs and messaging
  • Works with Conference Event Coordinator on future host city selection process


Research (20% in non-conference year)

  • Works with Conference & Research Committee to develop strategic focus for research efforts to create more equitable city-wide systems
  • Provides strategic guidance to research agenda and manages research partnerships 
  • Works with communications team and consultants to analyze and showcase research results and translate into practice through an Emerging Issues Paper or other formats


Peer-to-Peer Conversations (15%)

  • Provides strategic guidance to co-chairs and Program Manager on content and format 
  • Facilitates or supports moderators on effective facilitation
  • Guides Program Manager on marketing efforts


Park Study Tours (10% in non-conference years)

  • Oversees national selection process of host city
  • Works with host committee to develop themes and identify sites that illustrate themes
  • Guides Program Manager on planning, marketing, and logistics efforts


Workshops (10%)

  • Advises Senior Program Manager on strategy, content, speakers, and process
  • Guides development of virtual and in-person workshop curriculum and format
  • Serves as co-workshop leader and provides support to Senior Program Manager during workshops


Webinars (5%)

  • Advises Senior Program Manager on annual themes, topics, and speaker selection


Fundraising and Grant Management (15%)

  • Works with development staff to draft proposals and support fundraising efforts
  • Develops content for grant reports
  • Participates in meetings with funders
  • Manages restricted grant budgets 


Administration and Program Evaluation (10%)

  • Lead and review program team
  • Manage evaluation framework to measure program impact


Qualifications and Skills

  • Deep knowledge of or background working with communities on urban parks and recreation; additional knowledge of urban design/planning, urban systems, community development, environmental justice, or in the urban environmental field preferred
  • Personal and professional commitment to equity
  • Curatorial experience on conferences or other large scale educational events
  • Background in educational programming, including on-line learning best practices and knowledge-sharing trends
  • Strategic thinker to link and leverage program content across various platforms
  • Experience managing research partnerships
  • Strong facilitation skills
  • Strong planning, process, and project management skills
  • Excellent writing and communications skills
  • Effective leadership skills to mentor and guide staff 
  • Friendly and professional demeanor; excellent interpersonal skills; flexibility; sense of humor; ability to work independently yet collaboratively within a small but growing organization
  • Strong Microsoft Office, Google Apps, Dropbox skills; knowledge of online learning, content management, and project management platforms; comfort learning new software
  • Ability to travel 
  • Minimum of 12 years’ experience 
  • Bachelor’s degree; advanced degree or equivalent experience preferred


City Parks Alliance is committed to building a culturally, ethnically, and racially diverse staff and is an equal opportunity employer.  We strongly encourage people of color to apply.

Application Process:

Please submit resume, cover letter, and three references in one pdf with subject line “Program Director Application” to [email protected]


Applications considered on a rolling basis; we aim to complete the hiring process by early October 2021


  • 15 days/year of paid vacation
  • 10 paid holidays annually
  • Up to 12 days of paid sick leave per year
  • Health/vision/dental insurance
  • Short term disability
  • Workers compensation
  • Tax deferred annuity plan: Eligibility to join CPA plan with employee contributions upon hire, employer contribution begins after two years of full-time employment
  • Flexible schedule 
  • City Parks Alliance is located at 1777 Church Street, NW, Washington, DC, but work continues to be conducted remotely during the pandemic.  We offer options for a combined remote and in-person balance but are meeting in-person at the office on a monthly basis.