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Agenda and Curriculum

The NPI seminar agenda grows over time, but begins with a basic framework that ensures coverage of our leadership learning objectives. The course approach is to create a learning blend of academic thought leaders and researchers, with practitioners actually working in parks, mixed with field excursions that, taken together, create a learning experience that includes all the senses and is retained for the life of a career. Our aim is to ensure that the material learned may be practically applied in the most demanding real-world settings. This is why participants work on a case problem they bring from their home park, using the tools they learn in the seminar - to make sure there is a problem-solving reality check and opportunity for discussion during the seminar experience. At the end of the course, participants leave with a network of alumni friends as well as the teaching team, who are accessible as consulting colleagues from a globally scaled neighborhood. The agenda below represents that framework as of the fall of 2019 and will evolve between now and April.

You can review the full working roadmap from the 2019 Park Leadership Seminar.




12 PM Seminar Check-in
All sessions in the Mission Blue except the Monday evening reception in Surfbird

1 PM: Orientation

Steve Shackelton – Executive Director, Gallo Management Program, University of California, Merced

Adam Miller – Events Coordinator, Office of Admissions, University of California, Merced
Welcome to the seminar and brief history and NPI relationships

1:15 Seminar Log in

Laurie Durnell, Vice President of Consulting and Training with The Grove Consultants International, San Francisco
Welcome and familiarization with the agenda and flow of the course. Orientation to visual methods and to the group exercises designed to develop each participant’s case.

2 PM Break

2:15 PM Sustainable Leadership

Steve Shackelton - Defining leadership and introduction to the chemistry of sustainable leadership: law, science, and equitable policy

3:15 PM Participants’ Case Problems

Laurie Durnell – Course participants will take three minutes to introduce their case problems with their classmates.

5 PM Break

5:30 PM Reception and Dinner

Evening Reception at Cavallo Point in Golden Gate National Recreation Area to welcome participants and course supporters,

6:30 PM Special Alumnus Lecture: Legends of Conservation: Theodore Roosevelt – One Person Makes a Difference

Kelly Fuhrmann – Superintendent, El Morro and El Malpais National Monuments, New Mexico, NPI IV




7:00 AM Breakfast

8:00 AM Introduction to Charles O’Reilly: Leading Change and Organizational Renewal (LCOR)

Steve Shackelton – Welcome Dr. O’Reilly and LCOR relevance to parks and protected areas

9:00 AM Leading Change and Organizational Renewal LCOR

Dr. Charles O’Reilly, Professor, Graduate School of Business, Executive Development, Stanford University

  • Adapt and Change or Perish as an Organization
  • Exploring the Ambidextrous Organization
  • Levers of Change
  • Importance of Understanding Organizational Culture
  • Evaluating the Context, Competition, assets and Weaknesses

10:15 Break

10:15 LCOR

Charles O’Reilly

12:00 PM Lunch

1:00 PM LCOR Participant Discussion and Wrap-up and Discussion

Charles O’Reilly

2:00 PM Break

2:15 PM Introduction to Dr. Erik Rolland: Value Proposition Model and Parks

2:30 PM The Value Proposition Model and Parks – Understanding Stakeholder Drivers

Dr. Erik Rolland – Dean, College of Business Administration, California Polytechnic University, Pomona

3:30 PM Break

3:45 PM Triple Bottom Line, Alignment with Stakeholders, and the Advance of Technology in Park Management

Erik Rolland

5:00 PM Break, Exercise, Reflection, Communication with Home

6:00 Dinner

7:00 Managing Partnerships for Multiple Objectives

Cameron Sholly, Superintendent, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana & Idaho




7:00 AM Breakfast

8:00 AM Travel to Alcatraz Ferry Terminal, San Francisco

Participants will ride by van to San Francisco, Pier 33 to board ferry to Alcatraz

8:30 AM Board ferry for Alcatraz

9:00 AM Alcatraz Chapel – Water, Climate and Policy

Armando Quintero – Chair, California Water Commission; Executive Director, Sierra Nevada Research Institute at the University of California; Former Park Ranger; and Board Member, Marin County Water Board

10:00 AM Exploring the Critical Constituency Link & the Relevance of Parks – Urban to Wild, Youth and Diversity, Native American Occupation and Voicing Issues in Social Justice

Supervisory Park Ranger Emily Levine – Alcatraz Management Team Member

11:00 AM Working Lunch on Alcatraz Island

12:00 PM Walking Historical Tour of Alcatraz and Park Challenges

Park Ranger John Cantwell
In-depth field exploration at how parks can preserve and reflect historical narratives – important to society – from the viewpoints of historical actors from divergent perspectives

1:00 PM Alcatraz Wrap-up

Laurie Durnell

2:00 PM Return by ferry to San Francisco

Travel to Embarkation Pier and board vans to return to Cavallo Point

3:00 PM Park Leadership and Problem-solving: Using Law and Science to Deal with Problems We’ve Never Seen Before
Russell Galipeau – Superintendent Channel Islands National Park (ret.), Adjunct Professor, California State University, Channel Islands

  • Case Study: Island Scrub Jay - trends in climate and zoonotic disease that challenge standing resource protection policy
  • Case Study: Early Inhabitants – protecting prehistoric narratives

4:30 PM Review – Tagging Base with Case Problems

Laurie Durnell and Russell Galipeau

5:00 PM Break, Exercise, Reflection, Communication with Home

6:00 PM Dinner

7:00 PM Free Evening – optional walk across the Golden Gate Bridge


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7:00 AM Breakfast

8:00 AM Pack transportation and check out for transition to Merced

Steve Shackelton and Laurie Durnell

8:30 AM Travel to Marine Mammal Rescue Center, Marin Headlands

9:00 AM Wildlife and Park Partnerships: Case Study of the Marine Mammal Rescue Center

Dr. Jeff Boehm – Executive Director and Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

The Critical Value of Park Partnerships
A deep look at how the rescue center partners with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area to provide a vital resource protection service in the Bay Area, including analysis of policy perspectives on wildlife rescue.

10:00 AM Depart for University of California, Davis Campus, School of Veterinary Medicine

12:00 AM UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine – Lecture Lunch - Cascading Effects of Marijuana Cultivation on Wildlife; and Oiled Animal Response, University Partnerships

Dr. Robert Poppenga – Head, Toxicology Section, California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory, School of Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis:
Cascading Effects of Marijuana Cultivation on Wildlife, University-Protected Area Relationships – Science and Technology for Park Management

Dr. Michael Ziccardi – Co-Director, Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center Director, Oiled Wildlife Care Network, Health Science Clinical Professor, UC Davis:
Oiled Animal Response, University-Park Partnerships, Science Based Response

2:00 PM Board vans for University of California, Merced Campus

4:30 PM Arrive Merced, Courtyard Marriot - Break, Exercise, Reflection, Communication with Home

Register and unpack – contact with home

5:30 PM Board vans for trip to dinner at DiCicco’s

5:45 PM Dinner at DiCicco’s – Pizza Buffet

7:00 PM Return to Marriott – Free Evening




    7:00 AM Breakfast – Courtyard Marriott

    8:15 AM Board vans for travel to campus of UC Merced

    9:00 AM Welcome and Vision for UC Merced and Protected Areas

    Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development, Dr. Sam Traina:
    Role of University Research Partnerships and Science-based Management

    9:30 AM Featured Lecture – Leadership and Vision

    Robert G. Stanton - Former Director, U.S, National Park Service, Executive Professor, Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences, Texas A&M University
    Parks as Working Symbols of Tolerance and Social Justice

    11:00 AM Featured Lecture – Leadership and Change

    Rajmohan Gandhi - Research Professor, Department of Education Policy, Organization and Leadership, College of Education, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
    The Potential of Parks as Instruments of Diplomacy and Peace

    12:00 PM Lunch – UC Merced

    1:30 PM Preparing the Next Generation of Stewards – The Yosemite Leadership Program

    Jesse Chakrin, Co-Director and Park Ranger, Yosemite National Park
    Jacob Croasdale, Co-Director, UC Merced
    Jessica Rivas, Student Operations Director, Park ranger, Yosemite National Park

    2:00 PM Featured Lecture


    3:00 PM Service Thinking for Park Managers: Design, Operations and Quality

    Dr. Paul Maglio, Professor, Chair - Department of Management of Complex Systems, University of California, Merced

    4:00 PM Indigenous Peoples and Parks: Understanding Essential Values

    Dr. Teenie Matlock – Professor, Deputy Provost, University of California, Merced
    Mr. Tony Brochini – Chairman Wahoga Committee
    Ms. Rebecca Castro – Stanford University

    5:00 PM Leadership and Social Change Theory: Structured Look at Problem-solving for Today’s Context

    Dr. Charles Nies – Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs, University of California, Merced

    5:00 PM Bar-b-Cue Dinner Lakeside at Lake Yosemite, Veterans Cove

    7:00 PM Free Evening




    7:00 AM Breakfast – Courtyard Marriott

    8:30 AM Board Vans for travel to campus at UC Merced

    Steve Shackelton – Introduction to lectures of the day: Technology, Service, and Indigenous Peoples and Parks

    9:00 Technology – GIS and Innovations in Resource Protection in Protected Areas

    David Gadsden – Director of Conservation Solutions at ESRI
    Technology as a Park Management Ally - Conservation Intelligence
    This section will pair an introductory lecture with field practice of new GIS technology designed to support park resource protection. Starting with data collection and moving to the creation of story maps

    12:00 PM Lunch

    1:00 PM Advancing Participants’ Case Problem, Group Exercises – Laurie Durnell, Vice President of Consulting and Training with The Grove Consultants International, San Francisco

    2:50 PM Break

    3:05 PM Reserved

    4:30 PM Board vans to Marriott: Break, Exercise, Reflection, Communication with Home Base

    6:00 PM Family Style Dinner – Treviño’s Mexican Restaurant

    7:30 PM Free Evening


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    7:00 AM Breakfast – Courtyard Marriott

    8:00 AM Pack and transportation for Yosemite National Park

    Class will leave UC Merced and travel to Tenaya Lodge via Hwy 140 to Hwy 49 and Hwy 41 to the Wawona Field Station of the University of California Natural reserve System

    10:00 Lecture - Wawona NRS Station: Innovations in Interpretation – Bringing the Difficult Narratives to LifeSupervisory Yosemite Park Ranger, Shelton Johnson

    11:00 Special Alumna Lecture - Parks as Models for Social Justice: Serving the Organization and Public Inclusively

    Dr. Rebecca Stanfield-McCown, Director, NPS Stewardship Institute, Woodstock, Vermont, NPI IV

    12:30 PM Board vans for Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias

    12:45 PM Science as the Foundation for Sustainable Leadership in a Volatile World of Change and Risk: A Historic Fire Walk in the Sequoias

    Dr. Jan Van Wagtendonk - Scientist Emeritus, Yosemite National Park

    3:30 PM Board Shuttle Back to Parking

    4:00 PM Board vans for return to Tenaya Lodge

    4:30 PM Tenaya Lodge - Break, Exercise, Reflection, Communication with Home Base

    6:00 PM Dinner and Lecture – Tenaya Lodge

    7:30 PM Free Evening




    7:00 AM Breakfast – Tenaya Lodge

    8:00 AM Environmental Law, Policy, and Stakeholder Perceptions

    Dr. Jeffrey Jenkins, Assistant Professor, Gallo Program, UC Merced

    9:00 AM Depart Tenaya Lodge for Day of Exploration, Yosemite Valley

    10:00 AM Protecting Indigenous Stories – Yosemite Indian Village

    Dr. Julia Parker, Master Park Ranger (ret.)
    Lucy Parker
    Ursula Parker

    11:00 AM Free Exploration Yosemite Valley

    4:30 PM Board transportation to Tenaya Lodge

    6:00 Dinner – Tenaya Lodge

    7:00 Free Evening




    7:00 AM Breakfast – Tenaya Lodge

    8:00 AM Hetch Hetchy History and Preparation for Field Excursion

    Steve Shackelton
    The History of Hetch Hetchy – A Conservation Parable: the Clash of Politics and Protection Policy

    9:00 AM Board vans for Hetch Hetchy (1:45 drive)

    9:30 AM Innovations in Environmental Education: Explore the National Environmental Science Center – NatureBridge

    Kristina Rylands, Regional Director, Yosemite Region, NatureBridge
    Moose Mutlow, Project Manager National Environmental Science Center, NatureBridge

    12:00 PM Lunch: Evergreen Lodge

    1:00 PM Travel to Hetch Hetchy Reservoir

    1:30 Hetch Hetchy: A Study in Managing Partnerships in an Environment of Conflict

    Steve Shackelton
    Dr. Jeffrey Jenkins

    3:30 Travel to Yosemite Valley (1:40 drive)

    5:30 Arrive Ahwahnee Hotel

    6:00 Dinner Talk: Ahwahnee Hotel, Yosemite Valley:

    Michael Reynolds, Superintendent, Yosemite National Park

    7:00 Board Transportation to Tenaya Lodge




    7:00 AM Breakfast – Tenaya Lodge

    8:00 AM Developing Leaders, Ensuring Accountability: Environmental Trends and Global Security Through Thoughtful Conservation of Natural Resources

    Gen. Anthony Jackson – Former Director, California State Parks, Adjunct Professor, California State University, Maj. General, United States Marine Corps (ret.)

    9:00 AM A New Century of Resource Protection – University Partnership and Innovation

    Dean Emeritus Brett Wright – Clemson University, South Carolina, former Dean of the College of Behavioral, Social and Health Science, former Director of the Center for Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

    10:00 World Alliance in Resource Protection and Characteristics of Leadership

    Mr. Bruno LaPorte, Director, World Bank Institute (ret.), Washington, DC

    11:00 Mapping Essential Partnerships – Stakeholder Analysis

    Mr. Bruno LaPorte, Director, World Bank Institute (ret.), Washington, DC

    12:00 PM Lunch, Tenaya Lodge – Forest View Room

    1:00 PM Group Exercise on Participants’ Projects - Counties Room

    Laurie Durnell – Facilitator
    Brett Wright – Coach
    Anthony Jackson – Coach
    Bruno LaPorte – Coach

    4:00 Break, Exercise, Reflection, Communication with Home Base

    6:00 Dinner – Tenaya Lodge

    7:00 Free Evening




    7:00 AM Breakfast – Tenaya Lodge

    7:45 AM Collect Evaluations

    Steve Shackelton, Bruno LaPorte, Adam Miller

    8:00 AM Report Out by Participants – Case Problems

    Laurie Durnell

    9:00 AM Closing Circle - Reflection

    Laurie Durnell

    10:00 Farewell and Certificates

    Adam Miller, Steve Shackelton

    Board Bus for the Bay Area

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    This seminar is designed specifically for leaders in the park and protected area management. Participants will 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. These four modules are incorporated throughout the 10-day intensive.


    Leading Change and Organizational Renewal

    The leading organizations habitually innovate, adjust quickly to new conditions, and exploit emerging opportunities. They perform efficiently today while continuing to explore new sources of value for tomorrow. Such organizations don’t just happen; they’re created by leaders who understand the importance of change. Analyzing real-life successes and failures in both the corporate and public land management arenas, participants will learn how to anticipate, evaluate, and proactively respond to external changes, while examining how to balance innovation with performance. Participants will gain the tools and perspectives needed to develop specific action plans for renewing organizations.

    Key takeaways:

    • Learn a universally-adaptable framework and create a usable action plan for strategic leadership that includes:

    • Setting a forward-thinking strategic direction with measurable objectives

    • Analyzing performance gaps and opportunity gaps and their root causes

    • Defining, diagnosing, and shaping desired culture change to execute strategy

    • Managing for short-term solutions while building capacity for long-term strategic visioning & innovation

    • Overcoming resistance to change


    Context Matters: Trends and Critical Issues in Public Land Management

    Managers need to understand the context in which they work in order to articulate a clear vision and set a strategic direction. The context surrounding today’s parks and protected areas are rapidly changing. They are linked to the economic welfare of nearby communities and to the global welfare at large. Boundary-crossing issues of global concern such as climate change, watershed protection, and an increase in the severity of wildfires have arisen. Partnerships and fundraising have become central to park operations, and parks are increasingly struggling with relevancy due to demographic changes and cultural shifts. Public land managers need to be sure they understand the current context in which they work in order to implement informed, forward-thinking decisions.

    The course will present situations that encourage participants to think about trends that may impact them in the future. Embedded in this module are answering the questions, "Are we moving in the right direction?" and "How can we anticipate these changes rather than simply react?"


    Innovation in the Field

    In the past, public land management agencies and institutions have worked primarily within the context of their own organizations—possibly insulated from breakthroughs and revised thinking in disciplines that may have relevancy in public land management. Creative, fresh thinking and interdisciplinary collaboration across agencies is needed in addressing pressing issues identified in the “Context matters” module and in their individual parks.

    This module will focus on expanding the opportunities and mindset of public land managers in imagining possibilities through contact with innovators and best on-the-ground practices in a variety of disciplines. Participants will learn how emerging technologies and creative communicating may allow for more effective operations. Besides hearing from leading innovators, participants will become a think tank of ideas through the creation of a global cohort network of park and protected area leaders.


    Generating Motivation and Commitment

    One of the most challenging tasks for a leader is to generate the motivation and commitment necessary to implement change efforts. Managers need to analyze the current culture’s ability to execute the desired strategy, and, if necessary, shape the culture. In doing so, they create satisfied employees who understand the goals they are working toward. Highly engaged employees tend to be more resilient to, and supportive of, organizational change initiatives, and can lead to better company performance overall. Strong leaders help shape culture by building clear and consistent communication across the organization, empowering employees, and creating systems for rewards and incentives.

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