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Leadership Development Program

“Outstanding opportunity to learn, share, and strengthen interagency leadership in parks and protected areas.”
2018 Participant

Leading parks, protected, and conserved areas effectively, equitably, and sustainably in times of complex change

Explore challenges and opportunities facing the continuum of Canadian parks, protected and conserved areas, and heritage sites and collaborate with peers across jurisdictions, regions, and disciplines.

This seven-month hybrid program connects twenty-five mid-career parks and protected areas professionals from across the continent with a weeklong half-day eResidency, four monthly workshops, applied team challenges, and a face-to-face retreat-style residency. Guest presenters, solo leadership presentations, breakout workshops, and service-learning panels combine with nature breaks and tasks to connect the learning to local issues and contexts. 

The Leadership Development Program covers a range of topics relevant to the continuum of parks and protected areas and incorporates real-world issues facing decision makers now and into the future. Participants learn and apply perspectives and tools such as systems change, design thinking, social capital, persuasive communication, braiding knowledges, and empathy to real-world cases presented by guests and peers.

The program progresses through six themes: 

  • Leadership Tensions, Transitions, and Innovation in Canada’s Parks and Protected Areas System (eResidency)
  • Management and Operational Sustainability (Workshop One)
  • Collaboration and Social Capital (Workshop Two)
  • Connection, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (Workshop Three)
  • Conservation and Ethical Space (Workshop Four)
  • Braiding Knowledges & Learning in Specific Landscapes (Residency Location)

2023/2024 Program Dates

Participants are expected to attend all sessions, deliver a short presentation on a real-world leadership challenge or opportunity facing them in their work, and participate in a capstone team.

June 30, 2023
CPC Agencies Confirm Spots
July 1
Remaining spots open to other organizations
September 8
Deadline to Confirm Names
Program one-on-ones and solo tasks begin.
October 16-20
Online eResidency (1100h-1530h Eastern)
Leadership Tensions, Transitions, and Innovation in Canada’s Parks and Protected Areas System
November to February
Online Workshops (2nd Tuesday, 1100-1530h Eastern)
November 10
Management and Operational Sustainability
December 8
Collaboration and Social Capital
January 12
Connection, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
February 8
Conservation and Ethical Space
March 4 to 8, 2024
Face-to-face Residency (Whitehorse, Yukon)
Capstone Presentations and Service Challenge
Braiding Knowledges and Learning in the North
April 9
Online Wrapup (1100-1530h Eastern)

Who is it for?

The Leaders Development Program is designed for experienced decision-makers from a wide range of roles in parks, protected and conserved areas organizations, and a range of ages, experiences, and regions. Diverse personal and professional perspectives enrich this transformative learning experience and we will do our best to accommodate learner needs.

This program is primarily delivered in English with bilingual presentation of most material and simultaneous interpretation during solo presentations. Tasks can be completed in the language of your preference. Many participants are bilingual in French and English and we do our best to ensure the full participation of Francophone learners in discussions and written tasks.

Participant Selection Process

Priority placement is held for member agencies of the Canadian Parks Council until June 30th, after which external applicants are welcome to apply to fill any remaining spaces. Contact CPPCL to submit your name to the waiting list. You will be notified in early July if there is room for you to participate.


Program Commitments

Three Weeks pre-Residency tasks (~ 2 hours per week): Participants will post an introduction on the online forum, record an informal short video (~2 minute) to share their park, protected or conserved area, and work one-on-one with the facilitator to develop a presentation for the eResidency on a current issue they face related to the CPPCL parks leadership knowledge framework.

eResidency (~23 hours, virtual with local activities):
Participants must attend the eResidency, which runs part-time for one week between 11:00am and 3:30pm Eastern time. The eResidency comprises presentation (and workshopping) of participant issues, expert panels, breakout and team sessions, and intergenerational dialogue. Screen time is balanced by offline nature breaks and reflective tasks. We strongly recommend participants attend sessions from home or arrange acting coverage to avoid distraction.

Four Monthly Workshops, Capstone Projects, and Solo Leadership Tasks (~2 hours per week, virtual with local tasks):
Participants will meet once per month with the entire team for a half-day online workshop and be placed in a cross-jurisdictional Capstone team that meets online weekly as a small group to develop a project that advances parks and protected areas leadership. Participants may also work with the facilitator to further develop the issue they presented at the eResidency through a series of independent, locally-based tasks. Samples of solo leadership presentations and capstone projects are available on the the Leadership Alumni Page

Capstone Residency (20 hours over three days, face-to-face)
Public health restrictions allowing, participants will meet in person with the entire team for a three day workshop to present capstone team projects, experience local landscapes and case studies, and connect with colleagues. Accommodations, food, and filed trip costs are included in registration.  

Participants require internet and webcam access and must commit to avoiding distractions during sessions, participating fully in independent tasks, and should try to have reasonable access to a nearby outdoor space for activities. Projects will be based on real-world challenges and opportunities and confidentiality among the cohort is expected. Program resource material will be shipped in advance. 

Registration Information

Registration is $3500 plus applicable taxes. Fee is inclusive of seven months of pre- and post-residency support, one-week eResidency, and Capstone Residency accommodations and food.
Twenty-five spots are available in each cohort, with final selection approved by the Canadian Parks Council (CPC). Priority is given to CPC agencies until July 1st, after which remaining places are offered to Indigenous, community, industry, academic, and non-profit organization collaborators.
Agencies are encouraged to provide a list of alternate participants to avoid a 50% cancellation fee after September 1st. 
Contact CPPCL or the Canadian Parks Council to inquire about about participating in this program.

Calendar of Programs and Themes

For programs prior to 2018 visit the Leadership Alumni Page


Sub Theme

Residency Site




Canmore, Alberta

Rocky Mountains



Partnerships and Collaboration

Killbear Provincial Park

Great Lakes



Inclusion and Equity

Royal Road University

West Coast



Connecting as Nature



Winter 2021

Climate Change










Partnerships and Collaboration

Killbear Provincial Park

Great Lakes

Fall/Winter 2023

Tensions and Transitions


Since the global pandemic began, CPPCL shifted to an online-only delivery model. We are pleased to resume blended online and face-to-face Leadership Development Programs Residencies when interprovincial travel restrictions are relaxed, provided public health directives can be met safely. Program registration fees have increased to $3500 in order to cover face-to-face accommodation, food, and field experiences.