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Urban Park Leadership Program
Senior Trails Program Manager, Natural Areas Conservancy, New York, NY
What drew you to the field of urban park management? What is the most gratifying aspect of your job?
Supporting both people and the environment has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. Working in parks, and in public spaces generally, is a great way to marry those two passions. Parks are spaces to connect with one another and reflect on ourselves, while also supporting local ecology and climate resiliency. The most gratifying aspect of my job as a senior trails program manager is knowing how many people are impacted by our trail work due to the population density of NYC and the growing desire to be in nature.
Why did you choose the Urban Park Leadership Program, offered by the Central Park Conservancy and the CUNY School of Professional Studies?
I know that I want to continue working in parks for years to come. I chose the program because I wanted to learn about the different aspects of working in parks, and not just the components that I am already familiar with through previous positions. I also wanted to learn from others in the program about how they might deal with challenges similar to those that I face in my work.
What is the most significant impact you will have on your park as a result of applying what you have gained from this program?
I used my capstone project to start a public education campaign about the health benefits of parks. We hired a CUNY intern to help us get the ball rolling on this project. She created a report which looks specifically at NYC and health disparities and how they relate to park access.
Tell us about your experience with completing the Leadership Program as a fully online experience.
The online experience allowed for more flexibility, which created more room for learning. However, it was hard to do many Zooms in a row during the weeks when we had courses.
How did you balance participating in the Leadership Program with the priorities of your career and personal life?
It felt naturally balanced for me.
What was your favorite unit in the program? Why?
The capstone and also the leadership portion. It was very interesting to learn more about my style of leadership, both its benefits and drawbacks.
Please share how the experience of preparing and presenting your Capstone presentation at the end of the course helped you apply what you learned from the Leadership program.
I got a lot of feedback on my capstone from my colleagues at my organization, which I think was the most helpful part of this assignment. I was able to talk through the needs and even some specifics with people on staff who would be directly impacted by the work. This made the final project more robust and also ignited a conversation about the goals and strategies of the project within the organization.
What advice would you offer someone who is considering applying for the Urban Park Leadership Program?
I would start thinking about a capstone project very early on so that you can see how it might fit into the different modules of the course.