Chief of Park Operations

Industry: Facilities Management
Location: New York - New York City
Sector: Cultural/Non-Profit
Search ID: 20-0501-11
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Ryan R. Pugh
Ryan R. Pugh
The Central Park Conservancy has retained Helbling to conduct an executive search to secure a Chief of Park Operations.

Position Summary 

The Central Park Conservancy is the principal steward of Central Park, one of the world’s most treasured cultural landmarks. Over the last 40 years the Conservancy has overseen the restoration of this 843-acre historic landscape, and now, under a contract with the City of New York, has complete responsibility for managing and caring for the Park and for raising the resources necessary to support that commitment. With the restoration of Central Park now largely complete, the Conservancy is committed to creating and executing a long-term plan for the stewardship of this vital urban resource into its next era.

The Chief of Park Operations (CPO) is a top-level executive reporting to the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Conservancy. The CPO is responsible for supporting the mission, vision, and overall advancement of the Park and provides  strategic and operational leadership on all matters related to Park operations including landscape management, Park maintenance, facility operations, Park use management, visitor services, and public programs. Responsibilities include the oversight of a staff of approximately 250 employees dedicated to the operation and maintenance of the Park and all its facilities, as well as the development and management of the Park-based operations budgets to ensure effective allocations and use of resources. The Conservancy’s new long-term plan for stewardship calls for the CPO to oversee a Park-based operation plan that will ensure industry-leading standards of care for the Park’s maintenance and facility operations and exceptional customer service in user relations and visitor services.

The position is a member of the Conservancy’s executive leadership team and will work closely with the Conservancy’s Board of Trustees in the execution of the Conservancy’s mission.

Key Relationships 

Reports to: President and CEO
Direct Reports:
Vice President of Landscape Management
Vice President of Park Maintenance and Community Engagement
Vice President of Visitor Experience
Director of Operational Planning & Administration
Key Relationships:
Chief Landscape Architect
Chief Financial Officer
Chief Communications Officer
Chief of Staff
Executive Director of the Institute for Urban Parks
Executive Director of the Women’s Committee
New York City Department of Parks & Recreation
NYPD Central Park Precinct Captain

Key Responsibilities

Strategy, Vision, and Leadership
  • Participate in the planning and development of the Conservancy’s vision for long long-term stewardship of the Park. This includes close collaboration with the senior management team, especially the Chief Landscape Architect and head of Planning, Design and Construction.
  • Share ownership of overall organizational performance and share responsibility for developing and sustaining a collaborative and engaging organizational culture. This requires a leader who creates clear communication channels, sets goals, improves efficiency, and continuously strives to improve client satisfaction.
  • Develop and lead a culture of creativity, innovation, and commitment to operational excellence in which the Conservancy’s Park-based maintenance and facility operations and user and visitor experience functions achieve organizational goals in partnership with the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation as well as other pertinent city agencies.
Team Development
  • Develop and implement a strategy for recruiting, hiring, and retaining high-quality employees.
  • Ensure that Park-based staff are connected to the organizational mission, vision, and values.
  • Develop and oversee a strategy for leadership and management development for all levels of  supervision and management.
  • Build consensus and cooperative working relationships.
  • Develop and oversee a strategy for staff training to ensure workplace safety.
  • Develop a comprehensive strategy for evaluating performance of all Park-based staff.
  • Address all matters which may impact efficiency, and propose and implement changes as necessary to ensure staff meets departmental and individual goals.
Park Operations
  • Provide leadership for the management of the Park’s landscapes—including natural areas management, tree care, turf care, and gardens as well as support of landscape management in other city parks.
  • Provide leadership for the management of resources and provision of services that support the other operations of the Park including trash management, film and event support, facilities and infrastructure maintenance, fleet maintenance, volunteers, and administrative support.
  • Provide leadership and direction for user relations, visitor services, and public programs that support the Conservancy’s mission and approach to the stewardship of the Park.
  • Prepare annual and multi-year budgets and manage expenditures as well as workforce planning for efficiencies and improvements.
  • Assure compliance with city, state, federal, and other governmental agencies’ regulations related to facility and property management.
  • Ensure the development and annual updating of an Emergency Response Plan.
  • Assess and evaluate short-term and long-term space planning, utilization, and management.
  • Develop and monitor benchmarks and key performance indicators for Park-based operations and facility and infrastructure maintenance, which includes work control systems.
  • Develop a strategy to enhance the utilization of technology to improve operational effectiveness.
  • Collaborate with President and CEO and senior leadership team in development efforts to ensure the organization achieves its funding goals.

Priority Initiatives

  • Park Maintenance Strategy and Implementation Plan (Implementation: hire leadership, full staffing, two-shift schedule)
  • User Engagement Strategy and Plan (safety, security, and orderliness)
  • Visitor Experience Strategy and Plan (tour program, retail, visitor experience)
  • Custodial Maintenance Standards and Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs)
  • Landscape Management SOPs
  • Facility Management Plan and SOPs
  • Administrative SOPs
  • Space Planning for Personnel, Equipment, Tools, and Supplies
  • Environmental Health and Safety Program
  • Sustainability Program
  • Sustainable Fleet Plan
  • Harlem Meer Center Operations / Business Plan
  • Park-wide Inspection Program
  • Operations Staff Performance Metrics
  • Inventory Control Program
  • Emergency / Critical Incident Response Plan
  • Vendor and Concession Management Plan
  • Park Asset Maintenance Procedures 


Located in New York, NY

ADA Specification 

Physical Demands – Employees with disabilities must meet qualification standards that are job-related and consistent with business necessity and must be able to perform the essential functions of the position, with or without reasonable accommodation.

Safety Requirement

Establishment and maintenance of a safe work environment is the shared responsibility of this organization and employees at every level. The Conservancy will make every effort to assure a safe environment and be in compliance with federal, state, and local safety regulations. Employees are expected to obey safety rules and to exercise caution in all their work activities. Accordingly, employees should be aware of any hazards, which could cause an injury or accident (e.g., spills, obstacles in walkways, etc.). If an employee discovers a potentially dangerous condition, he/she should alert other employees and notify his/her supervisor immediately.


The above statements are intended to describe the general nature and level of work being performed by people assigned to this classification. They are not to be construed as an exhaustive list of all responsibilities, duties, and skills required of personnel so classified. All personnel may be required to perform duties outside of their normal responsibilities from time to time, as needed.
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