Washington Recreation & Park Association (WRPA)

Strategic Plan to Guide the Association Now & Into the Future

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Doug Levy/Outcomes By Levy, LLC – Initial Draft 9/20/23
WRPA Board of Directors, Committee Leads, Network Leads, EIB Committee – Draft two (2) (March 2024)

This Strategic Action Plan is designed to be a guidebook and vision for how WRPA serves its membership and the Parks & Recreation profession going forward. WRPA has spent the last six (6) months interviewing, gathering feedback, and revamping a new Mission, Vision, Values, and Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (EIB) Statement. In tandem WRPA has developed an action plan in which to fulfill our revised Mission, Vision, Values, and EIB Statement. 

Who and What is WRPA?

The Washington Recreation & Park Association is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 first established in 1947 and consisting of roughly 3,500 members – mostly publicly-run parks and recreation agencies and employees but also includes private-sector members such as those involved in parks development and planning.

WRPA’s Mission 

Facilitate connections, advocate for professionals and their agencies, and provide robust learning and skill advancement opportunities to equitably support recreation, culture, and park professionals.

WRPA's Vision

Members are empowered to become leaders in delivering equitable and exceptional parks, culture, and recreation services to their communities.

WRPA's Core Values & Commitment to Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging

WRPA is committed to providing members with equitable access to learning, advocacy, and networking opportunities that support members and help them thrive.

As WRPA strives to eliminate barriers to participation, we continue to welcome varying perspectives and appreciate all levels of engagement. No matter where you come from or what position you hold, there is a place for you at WRPA. 

WRPA's Three Key Areas

Learning and Skills Advancement: WRPA provides relevant training, focuses on recruitment and retention efforts, disseminates information on the profession’s best practices, offers leadership development opportunities, and promotes the benefits of our profession. These initiatives empower our members and agencies to optimize opportunities and attract the most diverse individuals to join our profession.

Advocacy: WRPA advocates for the continuous improvement of the recreation and park profession and for our members and agencies across all levels of government – on a national scale in collaboration with NRPA, statewide, within local communities, and/or in direct engagement with local officials.

Connections: Through educational conferences, interactive peer-to-peer gatherings, networks, formal and informal meetings, and a variety of engaging platforms, WRPA fosters meaningful opportunities for our members to connect with one another and draw valuable insights from their collective experiences.

WRPA’s Governance Structure

WRPA’s Board of Directors consists of 10 Members, served by the Association’s Executive Director. The membership is comprised of a President, President-Elect, Vice President, two (2) Directors At-Large, four (4) Regional Directors, and Past President.

The WRPA’s Board of Directors can be found here: Board Roster: (wrpatoday.org)

An Action Plan Initiatives for WRPA Going Forward

Based on input from members of its Board of Directors and its Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (EIB) Committee, and further refined through members throughout the state, the following action plan has been made:

A Key Tagline

WRPA should have a short, descriptive, easy to state, and easy to remember tagline summarizing its vision and mission. Several Board and EIB Members were unable to name the “three key focus areas” on their own without prompting. Based on our three focus areas: Learning & Skills Advancement, Advocacy, Connections, WRPA has set forth the following tag line “Connecting Communities” (In DRAFT Form, open to suggestions).

How will WRPA Execute?

  • Establishing tag line under the current logo for print, email, website

Ensure WRPA is appealing and providing opportunities for all its members

In our Board and EIB Committee interviews, we fielded several comments about the need for WRPA to provide and promote opportunities for all its members. For some, that means front-line workers. For others, it means going to places that WRPA hasn’t typically gone to. Others spoke of the dearth of opportunities and programming for maintenance workers. Still others spoke of the absence of education and leadership for a middle-management tier of workers or wondered why WRPA couldn’t also appeal to part-time employees, volunteers, and community-based organizations (CBOs) that frequently partner with parks and recreation. It was abundantly clear to us that the education/professional development and training pillar of what WRPA does is and should remain a core focus.

Another key part areas was for larger agencies to partner with smaller and less resourced agencies, so that intra-parks and recreation professional training permeated the Association’s work and to take advantage of and be inclusive of the expertise larger agencies bring to the table.

How will WRPA Execute?

  • Provide diverse tracks at the Annual Conference
  • Integrate more targeted marketing for different levels of membership no matter the nature of their work
  • Educate and Encourage Directors of Agencies to allow for employees of all level to engage in WRPA
  • Partner with sponsors and COB’s to provide more diverse webinar opportunities
  • Continue to enhance the Fall Training for Parks Professionals, as well as middle management
  • Continue to partner with Washington Universities to enhance the Student participation

Networking should be a critical function of WRPA, but the Association should be innovative and creative in offering up those opportunities to all

It is clear from WRPA’s members that the networking aspect of bringing professionals together for opportunity to information-share and learn from one another is a critical and greatly-appreciated core element of the Association’s mission.

How will WRPA Execute?

  • Enhance the Working Group networking opportunities
  • WRPA to provide a space for feedback, sharing, engagement
  • Bring back regional meetings and activities
  • Continue to create space for networking and engagement at the Conference and Fall Training

Design advocacy initiatives from the ground up

WRPA to strive to build an advocacy plan from the ground up and to define what is advocacy is centered on. There is a sentiment that the WRPA Agenda is developed in a vacuum and it would be helpful to bring more professionals to the table to provide input.

Another idea we fielded was for “advocacy” to be broadened, so that WRPA could also be a helping hand for individual agencies encountering tough issues or needing help.

How will WRPA Execute?

  • Allow for the WRPA membership to engage in the Legislative priorities
  • WRPA and large Agencies to support small agencies with limited monetary access
  • Technical Assistance Plan

WRPA Strategic Plan – Key Actions to Guide WRPA Now and Into the Future

As we continue our Strategic Planning journey, we will gather additional information and feedback from the WRPA membership, as well as meet throughout the year to identify actionable steps to meet the goals above and beyond.