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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 is the planned schedule for the seminar as of early December, 2023.  A certain amount of adjustment may be necessary based on influences beyond the control of the program.




11 AM Seminar Check-in AOrientation Lunch

All sessions will be conducted at the Cavallo Point Lodge, including the welcoming evening reception, which will take place in the Surfbird Room.

Cavallo Point Lodge is the restored historic Fort Baker, located in Golden Gate National Recreation Area at the north end of the span of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Steve Shackelton – Director, National Parks Insitute, University of California, Merced
Asbjørn Egir – Course Facilitator, California Polytechnic University, Pomona                                             
Bruno LaPorte – Course Facilitator and Faculty, World Bank Institute (ret.), Washington, DC                      Jerry Mitchell - Course Facilitator, Field Guideand Faculty

Welcome to the seminar and brief history and NPI relationships

12:30 PM Seminar Log in

David Sibbet, Founder and President, The Grove Consultants International, San Francisco
Welcoming remarks, plus familiarization with the seminar agenda and the flow of the course. Orientation to visual methods and to the group exercises, designed to develop each participant’s case. 

1 PM Break

1:15 PM Sustainable Leadership

Steve Shackelton - Defining leadership for the purposes of the course and introduction to the elements of sustainable leadership: foundations of law, science, and policy.

2:15 PM Participants’ Case Problems

David Sibbet - Course participants will take three minutes to introduce their case problems to 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: Surfbird Room of the Registration Building, upstairs

6:30 PM Special Evening Welcoming Reception




7:00 AM Breakfast

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

Steve ShackeltonWelcome Dr. O’Reilly and the relevance of the LCOR approach to parks and protected areas management and strategic problem-solving

8:30 AM Leading Change and Organizational Renewal LCOR

Dr. Charles O’Reilly, Professor, Graduate School of Business, Executive Development, Stanford University – Dr. O’Reilly will set the stage for the seminar by exploring the certainty of change and a strategic way of thinking about change with a set of tools that equip us to welcome change and manage it to the best advantage of the park

  • Adapt, Change or Perish as an Organization
  • Exploring the Ambidextrous Organization
  • Understanding the Levers of Change
  • The Importance of Organizational Culture: Who Will Follow and Why?
  • Evaluating Your Status and That of the Competition: Assets and Weaknesses that Influence the Desired Objective

10:15 Break

10:15 LCOR, continued

Charles O’Reilly

12:00 PM Lunch

1:00 PM Introduction to Dr. Erik Rolland: Value Proposition Model and Parks                            

The Value Proposition Model and Parks – Understanding Stakeholder Drivers, Durable Solutions

Dr. Erik Rolland, Dean, College of Business Administration, California Polytechnic University, Pomona – The importance of gaining an understanding of, and willingness to exercise empathy for stake-holder values in establishing enduring solutions

Triple Bottom Line, Alignment with Stakeholders, and the Advance of Technology in Park Management

2:45 PM Break

3:00 PM  Leadership through encouragement, delegation and trust - Unlocking the genius of the staff

         Laura Joss, Superintendent, Golden Gate National Recreation Area (ret.) – Optimizing workgroup performance by identiying individual strengths and coaching for innovation and success.

4:00 PM  Maximizing the power of partnerships

        Frank Dean, President and CEO of the Yosemite Conservancy and former Superintendent, Golden Gate National Recreation Area – Internal tour of the Yosemite Conservancy as a case-study park partner story.

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

6:00 PM Dinner




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 the ferry to Alcatraz Island National Historic Landmark.

8:30 AM Board ferry for Alcatraz

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

David Schifsky – Deputy Superintendent, Golden Gate National Recreation Area.  Deputy Superintendent Schifsky will lead an indepth tour and discussion of the complex management challenges facing the Alcatraz unit of the Golden Gate NRA, including interpretive theme development, historic preservation, cultural values in the community, indigeneous peoples' relationships, natural resources management, and bridging urban populations to more remote wilderness untits of the National Park System.

11:00 AM Policy Discussion Lunch on Alcatraz Island

12:00 PM Lunch on site and walking Historical Tour of Alcatraz and Park Challenges

Park Ranger, Historian, To Be Determined
An in-depth, walking field study that explores how parks can preserve and reflect historical narratives – important to society – from the viewpoints of actors from divergent perspectives – interpretive tapestry

2:00 PM Return by Ferry from Alcatraz Island to Cavallo Point

Travel to Embarcadero Pier and board vans to return to the Lodge at Tiburon

3:00 PM Park Leadership and Original Problem-solving: Using Law and Science to Deal with Problems We’ve Never Encountered 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

Stave Shackelton, Asbjorn Egir, and Bruno LaPorte

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

7:30 AM Check out of Cavallo Point Lodge for travel to UC Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine

7:45 AM Load bus and check out for transition to Davis


8:00 AM Travel to Marine Mammal Rescue Center, Marin Headlands

8:20 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 this innovative wildlife rescue center partners with Golden Gate National Recreation Area to provide a vital resource protection service in the Bay Area: including an analysis of policy perspectives on wildlife rescue and strong case study on the involvement of stakeholders, volunteerism and philanthropy

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

12:00 PM UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine – Lecture Lunch - One Health Philosophy and Its Alignment with Park Protection Strategy, Case-Study: Secondary Impacts of Marijuana Cultivation on Wildlife in US National Parks; 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, School of Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis:
Oiled Animal Response, University-Park Partnerships, Science Based Response

Dr. Kirsten Gilardi - Co-Director, Karen C. Drayer Wildlife Health Center, Executive Director, Gorilla Doctors and a Health Sciences Clinical Professor in the Department of Medicine & Epidemiology,
School of Veterinary Medicine, UC Davis:
Working with the Power of Public Stakeholders to Tackle the Wildlife Protection Mission

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

4:30 PM Arrive at Merced, El Capitan Hotel – Free time

Register and unpack – an opportunity for contact with home

5:30 PM Walk to dinner at Bella Luna Restaurant,

5:45 PM Dinner at Bella Luna – 

           Family-style dinner with UC Merced faculty, featured speakers, and local guests
           A chance to relax and get to know the faculty and speakers, trade contacts and discuss detailed questions.

7:00 PM Return to El Capitan – Free Evening




7:00 AM Breakfast – El Capitan Hotel

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

8:45 AM Welcome and Vision for UC Merced and Protected Areas

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

9:30 AM Featured Lecture – Leadership and Vision

Robert G. Stanton – 15th Director of the U.S. National Park Service Parks as Vehicles for Objectively Telling the American Narrative and Promoting Civility and Tolernace 

11:00 AM Featured Lecture – Leadership and Change 

Speaker Invited, Awaiting Confirmation 

12:00 PM Lunch – UC Merced

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

2:00 PM Featured Lecture

David Gadsden  – Director of Environmental Solutions at ESRI,
The Leadership Implications of Emerging Technology in Parks - GIS as a Strategic Tool in Global Conservation

4:00 PM Youth Programs: Ensuring Continuity in Stewardship and Diversity in the Workforce

Jesse Chakrin - Former Co-Director and Park Ranger, Yosemite National Park

5:30 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

5:30 PM Bar-b-Cue Dinner Lakeside at Lake Yosemite, Veterans Cove

7:00 PM Free Evening




7:00 AM Breakfast – El Capitan

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 AM Science and Understanding Data as Tools for continuous Improvement and Leading Change

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

10:00 AM Making Heading

Facilitated Exercises on Participants' Class Real-world Class Problems

12:00 PM Lunch

1:00 PM Service Science: Objective Thinking for Park Managers: Design, Operations and Quality

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

2:00 PM National Parks Challenges - TBD

2:50 PM Break

3:05 PM Making Headway

          Facilitated Exercises on Participants' Class Real-world Class Problems

4:30 PM Board transportation to El Capitan Hotel

6:00 PM Family Style Dinner – Treviño’s Mexican Restaurant, Address: 408 W Main St, Merced, CA 95340

7:30 PM Free Evening


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7:00 AM Breakfast – El Capitan Hotel

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 AM Lecture - Wawona Natural Reserve System Field Station: Innovations in Interpretation – Bringing Difficult Social-Historical Narratives to Life

Supervisory Yosemite Park Ranger and Author, Shelton Johnson

11:00 AM 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, Alumuns of NPI IV

12:30 PM Board transportation 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

 Dan Buckley, Chief of Fire and Aviation, Yosemite National Park (ret.)                                                              Jerry Mitchell, Chief Branch of Biological Sciences, US National Park Service (ret.)                                           Steve Shackelton, Chief Ranger, Yosemite National Park (ret).

3:30 PM Board Shuttle Back to Parking

4:00 PM Board transportation for return to Tenaya Lodge

4:30 PM Tenaya Lodge – Break - Opportunity for Exercise, Reflection, Communication with Home

6:00 PM Dinner and Lecture – Proposed TR

7:30 PM After Dinner Optional Program - TBD




7:00 AM Breakfast – Tenaya Lodge

8:00 AM Depart Tenaya Lodge for Day of Exploration, Yosemite Valley

8:30 AM Innovations in Environmental Education: Explore the National Environmental Science Center NatureBridge

           Moose Mutlow, Project Manager National Environmental Science Center, NatureBridge

This field stop will explore the innovative strategies and successes of place-based environmental education under the leadership of the fifty-plus year operation of the NatureBrdige envirnomental education program.

10:30 AM Protecting and Perpetuating the Indigenous Stories and Cultures – Yosemite Indian Village

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

11:00 AM Free Time to Explore Yosemite Valley and Reinforce Links with Park Staff

4:30 PM Board Transportation to Tenaya Lodge

6:00 PM Dinner – Tenaya Lodge

7:00 PM Special Presentation – Global Partnerships to Solve Complex Challenges – Sherpa Exchange: Nepal, Yosemite, Grand Teton, Denali

                      Brandon Latham, Supervisory Park Ranger, Yosemite




7:00 AM Breakfast – Tenaya Lodge

8:00 AM Tough Challenges Today’s Leaders Face - Ensuring Accountability: Environmental Trends and Global Security Through 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 AM World Alliance in Resource Protection and Characteristics of Leadership

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

11:00 AM 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 – Developing the Useful Stake-holder Landscape

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

Mark Marschall, Yosemite Wilderness Manager (ret.)

4:00 PM Break

6:00 PM Dinner – Tenaya Lodge

7:00 PM 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

Facilitated by David Sibbet

9:00 AM Closing Circle - Reflection

David Sibbet

10:00 AM Farewell and Certificates

Asbjørn Egir, Bruno LaPorte, Jerry Mitchell, Steve Shackelton

11:00 AM Board Transportation 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 communication 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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