Director, Columbus Recreation and Parks Department

Director, Full Time
Columbus Recreation and Parks Department
Posted on August 6, 2019

The City of Columbus Ohio, America’s 14th largest city, is seeking an executive leader for its Recreation and Parks Department who will lead nearly 1,400 employees and provide stewardship for an annual budget of approximately $100 million.

About Columbus

The City of Columbus is the 14th largest city in the United States with a population of 900,000 and a geographic size of 223 square miles. Columbus is the capital city of the State of Ohio and also the state’s largest city in population. The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission reports that by 2050 the 15-county Columbus Region will surpass 3 million residents. http://www.morpc.org/news/central-ohio-population-to-reach-3-million-by-2050/

Since taking office in January 2016, Mayor Andrew J. Ginther has been consistent in his priority to make Columbus America’s Opportunity City. The City is investing in neighborhoods throughout Columbus, and is especially focused on its Opportunity Neighborhoods – Franklinton, Hilltop, Linden, Near East, Northland, Near South, Southeast, and Northeast – by building on their greatest assets, the people who reside there. The Columbus Recreation and Parks Department plays a vital role in Mayor Ginther’s vision for Columbus and its residents.

The ideal candidate must champion the value of diversity and embrace Mayor Ginther’s high standard for the role of diversity and inclusion at the City. Columbus embodies an inclusive mindset that unites the community and the City has made tremendous gains in its inclusion work. But Mayor Ginther views this work as just the start and knows that city government can do more to ensure that city employees and contractors reflect the diversity of Columbus.

Columbus is one of the country’s growth leaders and is number one among the Midwest’s 10 largest metros for population growth, job growth and GDP growth. The 15-county Columbus Region is home to a population of 2.4 million. The Columbus Region boasts one of the youngest and most-educated populations: the median age is 35.8 and more than 36 percent of residents hold a bachelor’s degree. The Columbus Region has one of the highest concentrations of college students in the nation, and one of the highest populations of millennials. With a cost of living 11% lower than the national average, Columbus is one of the most affordable cities in the U.S.

As a fast growing city with a strong, diversified economy, Columbus has received national recognition over the past several years. For example, the New York Times named Columbus one of its top 52 places to travel in the world in 2019. In addition, according to Business.org Columbus ranked as the fifth best in its list of Best Cities for Entrepreneurs and Startups in 2018. Many entrepreneurs choose to operate in Columbus due to its favorable business environment. The City even has its own two “unicorn” companies (private startups with over $1 billion valuations) Root Insurance and Cover My Meds.

The Ohio State University—the largest and highest ranked public university in Ohio and a leading global research entity—calls Columbus home. Columbus has world-class hospitals and health systems including The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, OhioHealth and Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Columbus offers a mix of diverse neighborhoods, many within a short walk of downtown. Neighborhoods such as German Village have historic charm and the Short North Arts District boasts many art galleries, boutique shopping, and outstanding nightlife. To the east of downtown is Columbus’ historic Near East Side—a collection of the Olde Towne East, Franklin Park, and King-Lincoln District neighborhoods. Residents and visitors can enjoy the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, King Arts Complex, Lincoln Theatre and leafy residential streets.

Columbus offers a variety of arts and museum options including the Columbus Museum of Art, Wexner Center for the Arts, the annual Columbus Arts Festival, and the recently opened National Veterans Memorial and Museum. The Columbus Theatre District’s four large theatres includes The Palace, The Ohio, The Southern and The Lincoln; and other smaller theatres offer a variety of performing arts from ballet and opera to avant garde plays. The world class Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and Columbus’ top ranked science center, COSI, provide fun for kids and adults. Columbus also offers an up-and-coming culinary scene with many diverse dining options and experiences.

Throughout the summer and fall, there are festivals and events happening nearly every weekend in Columbus including the Jazz & Rib Fest and African American Cultural Festival, both presented by the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, as well as the Asian Festival, Festival Latina, Pride Festival and Red, White and Boom presented by numerous community organizations.

About Columbus Recreation and Parks Department

Columbus Recreation and Parks Department’s (CRPD) mission is to connect the people of our community through the power of nature, wellness and creativity. With more than 380 parks, 29 community centers, five athletic complexes, six golf courses, 33 pollinator gardens, 13,500 acres of parkland and 120 miles of regional trails, our vision is to ensure every resident has access to all of our department’s many services. When visiting one of our parks, we expect our spaces to be places of joy. We expect our facilities and parks to be open to all.  Last, we expect our spaces to be embedded in neighborhoods and serve as gathering places for every member of our community. As a department, we align our strategic goals with the 2014 Master Plan because we believe our spaces are important assets entrusted for generations.

In 2018, 1.7 million residents participated in the department’s programs and events. The department provided 2,600 swim lessons, served nearly 500,000 meals through the summer food program, and planted nearly 3,500 street and park trees throughout the system. In 2018, the department opened the city’s newest park, Dorrian Green, and recently broke ground to rebuild the Linden Community Center & Park.

With 347 full-time and 1,385 part-time staff and an annual budget of approximately $100M, the department plays a vital role in many of Columbus’ neighborhoods. The department is a direct connection to the spirit of our community and continues to hold a prominent presence in every neighborhood. With the support of numerous partners, the newly established Columbus Recreation and Parks Foundation, and a volunteer core of 10,700 individuals, collaboration is key to the department’s success.

About the Position

General Description and Summary

By Columbus City Charter, reporting to a nine-member Recreation and Parks Commission, the Director is responsible for planning, directing and managing the professional staff and the daily operations of the Recreation and Parks Department, while carrying out the goals, strategic plan, policies, and regulations approved by the Commission. The Commission has the authority to hire the Director independent of changes in elected leaders.

Essential Duties and Responsibilities

  1. Plans, directs, leads, and manages all aspects of the successful operation of the Department.
  2. Personally interacts with the community and its leaders to enhance the image and value of the Department and to guide the Department’s projects to completion; encourages and supports community involvement; actively supports inclusion and diversity goals reflective of our Columbus community.
  3. Raises public awareness of the Department, its conservation and program objectives, its value to the community, and its challenges and opportunities.
  4. Inspires employees, volunteers, community members and leaders to support the Department and its mission.
  5. Maintains a full time staff as well as a large seasonal staff, set salaries or wages within the limits of established schedules, and determine the duties and responsibilities of such employees. Accountable for employee relations and staff development efforts and programs and for maintaining a positive culture for all employees.
  6. Protects, conserves, preserves and manages approximately 13,500 acres of park lands including three reservoirs, more than 380 parks, 29 recreation centers, seven swimming pools, six golf courses, athletic facilities, reservable facilities, and programs including community and senior recreation, aquatics, sports, arts, outdoor education, therapeutic recreation and special events .
  7. Negotiates with land owners and executes land purchases with approval of the Commission.
  8. Oversees development and management of park lands including portions of the regional trail system under the Department’s control.
  9. Establishes goals and priorities. Oversees development of policies, work standards and procedures; provides direction and guidance to Department staff. Accountable for employee relations and staff development efforts.
  10. Recommends changes in policies, rules and regulations to the Commission for efficient management of the parks.
  11. Raises funds through grants, partnerships and contracts.
  12. Guides the Department in furtherance of the Strategic Plan adopted December, 2014 and develops enhancements thereto and implementation action steps for the park system; responsible for implementation following Commission approval. The current master plan can be viewed at

http://columbus.gov/uploadedfiles/Columbus/Departments/Recreation_and_Parks/Topic_Content/Program_Related/2014%20Master%20Plan%20Section%201.pdf

  1. Creates a “customer first” culture which includes understanding and being driven by the needs, desires and expectations of the residents of Columbus and creating processes for receiving and addressing on-going customer input.
  2. Coordinates with the Mayor and City Council in development of annual operating and capital budgets in furtherance of the Department’s current needs and strategic goals. The 2019 operating budget can be viewed at https://www.columbus.gov/uploadedFiles/Columbus/Departments/Finance_and_Management/Financial_Management_Group/Budget_Management/2019_Budget/3119RP.pdf.
  3. Collaborates and cooperates with the Columbus and Franklin County Metro Parks board and staff and suburban recreation and parks Departments on mutual projects of benefit to the general public including development and maintenance of approximately 105 miles of connecting trails. Works closely with representatives from local, state, and national organizations on the development of cooperative programs and projects.
  4. Represents the Department in public meetings and hearings; meet with officials from various public agencies, zoning officials, planning and design professionals, etc. and report progress to the Recreation and Parks Commission.
  5. Oversees and directs the many cultural and social outreach programs carried out through the Department.

 Essential Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  1. Excellent knowledge, skills, and abilities in the principles of executive management.
  2. Demonstrated experience in all phases of recreation and parks operations, marketing, budgeting, planning, and development.
  3. Excels at all aspects of customer service.
  4. Demonstrated experience in long range planning and implementation.
  5. Knowledge of processes required prior to the acquisition of property, as well as the variety of methods available for the acquisition of parkland.
  6. Outstanding ability in budgeting and public sector fiscal policy.
  7. Ability to develop and maintain effective working relationships with associates, professionals, community leaders, and the general public. Knowledge of agency policies and procedures, government structure and process, budgeting, management, public relations, and park management.
  8. The successful candidate will excel in developing relationships with a wide variety of community groups.
  9. Excellent oral and written communication and interpersonal skills. A proven ability to communicate effectively with employees, the public, public officials, community, and professional organizations.
  10. Ability to inspire and be persuasive in the promotion of new ideas, concepts, and action plans to influence positive outcomes with both internal and external audiences.
  11. Ability to define and solve problems, establish facts, and draw valid conclusions. Prepare meaningful, concise, and accurate reports. Establish effective working relationships.
  12. Strong leadership skills necessary to be persuasive in the promotion of new ideas and inspire others including the ability to make effective decisions and to take appropriate action when necessary.
  13. Ability to exemplify the highest ethical standards in professional and personal conduct.

Minimum Qualifications

Bachelor’s Degree in Recreation Administration, Natural Resource Management, Public Administration or related field and at least 12 years of successful seniorlevel managerial experience or an equivalent combination of education and experience. A Masters Degree may substitute for 4 years of experience.

Additional Information

The starting salary is negotiable.  The position also offers an attractive benefits package including vacation, holidays, sick leave, employer participation in the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, and career development opportunities.

Applying for the Position

Interested individuals should send cover letter, resume, and any supplemental information to opra@opraonline.org no later than noon on September 6, 2019.

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