Spooner Lake State Park

Job Opportunity: Director, Washington State Parks

Jan 7, 2022

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is seeking an exceptional leader for one of the largest and most diverse state park systems in the country. 

Position Description


Washington State Parks

Search Conducted by Reffett Associates

About the Opportunity

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is seeking an exceptional leader for one of the largest and most diverse state park systems in the country.

Experiencing the outdoors is more important than ever and Washing State Parks is committed to finding ways to introduce more Washingtonians, of every background, to the beauty of our parks and properties.

The ideal candidate will be an experienced, inspiring, and effective leader - one who can demonstrate their ability to guide a team of committed professionals towards a clear vision, and creating an environment that fosters inclusivity, respect, teamwork, and a commitment to excellence.

The next director should be a visionary with a passion for finding ways to connect all Washingtonians to our parks and the various experiences they provide visitors. The Commission continues to put significant focus on equity and inclusivity for visitors, particularly for groups that traditionally access the system less than others. The next director should be a visionary with a passion for finding ways to connect all Washingtonians to our parks and the various experiences they provide visitors. `

For more information on Washington State Parks, click here.

image.jpegSquilchuk State Park

About the Organization

Outdoor Recreation is a priority in Washington state. State Parks are visited more than 38 million times annually, generating $1.4 billion to the state economy. People are drawn to our parks because of the wide range of activities available. Whether it is camping, hiking, boating, horseback riding, skiing, or snowshoeing, Washington State Parks offers something for everyone. Our system covers more than 120,000 acres and includes 125 developed parks, including 19 marine parks, 11 historical parks, 35 heritage sites, 13 interpretive centers, and approximately 500 miles of long-distance trails. Visitors find our parks a healthy and affordable way to explore and enjoy nature, create memories, and connect with the state’s rich historical and cultural heritage through interpretive centers, events, and exhibits.

image-1.jpegPotlach State Park

About Washington State

Washington State is incredibly diverse in geography, habitat, and opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. From Alpine glaciers to rain forests and ocean shoreline to rich grasslands Washington offers an outdoor experience for everyone. In addition, the state is thriving as an international business destination and the Capitol, Olympia, is situated roughly halfway between the Seattle and Portland metropolitan areas and yet still within easy access of the outdoors.

In the last legislative session Washington State Parks received the largest operating and capital construction budgets in its history. The agency continues to receive solid financial support from both the Governor and the state legislature on funding, staffing and policy matters.

image-2.jpegPacific Beach State Park

The Location

Olympia, WA


(Washington State Parks’ main office is located in the Olympia the State capitol. Greater Olympia is made up of many different cities and residential areas and is within driving distance to Seattle, Tacoma and Portland.)


  • 61 mi. South of Seattle, WA
  • 30 mi. South of Tacoma, WA
  • 114 mi. Northeast of Portland, OR

Website: Olympia, Washington

Olympia Population: 52,000 (2019)

Greater Olympia: 286,000 (2019)

Olympia Median Income: $60,000 (household 2019) $78,000 (family)

Cost of Living Index: 106.1% (U.S. avg. = 100)

Public Education: Olympia's main public school district is the Olympia School District. It enrolled 9,231 students in K-12 in the 2005–06 school year. The district has a total of 18 schools: 11 elementary schools, four middle schools and three high schools.

Private Education: Elementary schools include Olympia Waldorf School, Olympia Community School, St. Michael School, Holy Family, and Evergreen Christian. Middle schools include Olympia Waldorf School and NOVA.

Higher Education: Many institutions of higher education are in the area including Evergreen State College, South Puget Sound Community College, St. Martin’s University, and UW of Tacoma.


With an economic engine anchored by state government, Olympia enjoys the benefits of a stable work force, engaged and educated community, and well-supported school system. The more than 40 public parks, easy access to waterfront and historic downtown support a strong ability for work/life balance of the region.

Major Businesses in the area:

State and local government are the largest employers in the region, but healthcare and hospitality are also major employers as well and private employers like Weyerhaeuser, AMR Corp, and Macy’s.


  • Olympia is a regional center for fine arts. A number of theatrical experiences are available with companies such as Animal Fire Theater, Olympia Family Theater, Olympia Little Theater, Goldfinch Productions, and Harlequin Productions.
  • Olympia is committed to public art and You’ll find public art all over Olympia - in all neighborhoods, parks, public buildings, and even in the streets.
  • Olympia is home to the State Capitol. The Capitol Campus is full or art, history, scenic views, and outdoor spaces. The Capitol is also the center of political life in Washington State.

Duties and Responsibilities

The Director reports to a seven-member Commission appointed by the Governor and serves as the Chief Executive Officer. Together, the Commission and Director create the vision, mission, and strategic plans for the agency. The Director is responsible for executing those plans by managing the political and external relations and leading a team of up to 1,000 employees. Responsibilities of the position include:

  • Establishes, with the Commission, the priorities and direction of the agency.
  • Oversees the management of all elements of the state park system, applying the most efficient and effective uses of staff and financial resources to create an inclusive and engaging parks system for everyone.
  • Leads the organization with vision and integrity. Works closely with the agency senior leadership to support their efforts and build trust with all agency staff and park system users.
  • Looks for ways to increase equity and inclusion across the agency while connecting with park users and helping to grow new users of the park system.
  • Ensures the overall financial health and security of the system. Oversees funding strategies for the agency, including a necessary focus on methods for increasing earned revenue. Current operating budget is $200 million; Capital budget is $113 million. The Agency is responsible for generating a large majority of its operating budget from earned revenue.
  • Manages the citizen-based governance system, facilitating the Commission meeting process, ensuring thorough evaluation of the issues before the Commission and public access and participation.
  • Commissions all Law Enforcement Officers (approximately 170) and provides training and equipment needed to perform their jobs.
  • Strengthens and maintains relationships with the Governor’s Office, state legislators and legislative committees, congressional members, tribes, county and city officials, community organizations, special interest groups, advisory groups, and constituents.
  • Negotiates complex agreements and partnerships with tribes, local municipalities, state and federal agencies and others.


  • Bachelor's degree.
  • Five (5) years of experience leading and directing senior level managers.


  • Leadership and management experience in natural resources or public lands and facilities (parks, outdoor recreation, land conservation, historic preservation, related).
  • Leadership experience in an organization’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
  • Leadership and management experience in government or non-profit organizations.
  • Experience in the government or non-profit sector in any of the following areas: policy making, public engagement, regulatory, working with elected officials, working with an elected or appointed governing board.
  • Leadership and management experience in organization(s) with employees working from widely dispersed locations.
  • Experience working with Native American tribal governments and their representatives, such as representing your organization in meetings with tribes, or responsible for tribal consultation and/or relations.


The position is exempt from Civil Service rules and is located in Olympia.


The salary for this position is up to $165,840, depending upon qualifications.

Information about Washington State employee benefits can be found here.

To ensure consideration, or to ask any questions about the application process please contact Tom Young at:

Note: You must attach in your application package the following:

  • Letter of Interest explaining what makes you a competitive candidate for this opportunity.
  • Current resume detailing your education and experience.
  • Three (3) professional references.

This posting will remain open until filled. The hiring authority reserves the right to fill this position at any time after that date without notice.

Only those candidates who have submitted a complete application package and meet the required qualifications will be considered. Following the review of applications, the most desirable candidates will be contacted to participate in a virtual interview

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission is an equal opportunity employer. We strive to create a working environment that includes and respects cultural, racial, ethnic, sexual orientation and gender identity diversity. Women, racial and ethnic minorities, persons with disabilities, persons over 40 years of age, disabled and Vietnam veterans and people of all sexual orientations and gender identities are encouraged to apply. Persons needing accommodation in the application process or this job announcement in an alternative format may contact the human resources office at (360) 902-8565. Applicants who are deaf or hard of hearing may call through the Washington Relay Service by dialing 7-1-1 or 1-800-833-6388.