National Recreation and Park Association

  www.nrpa.org
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National Recreation and Park Association Reviews

Updated Mar 17, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

2.2 16 reviews

23% Approve of the CEO

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Barbara Tulipane

(13 ratings)

31% of employees recommend this company to a friend
16 Employee Reviews
Relevance Date Rating
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    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • No Opinion of CEO

     

    A learning experience

    Tech Support (Former Employee) Ashburn, VA

    ProsGreat Benefits package
    Relaxed work envoirnment

    ConsLong commute unless you live in Ashburn

    Advice to Senior ManagementOffer more professional development classes

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    Management by Whim

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    ProsFacility - As other reviewers have mentioned, the building is lovely and also lovingly maintained, with walking trail, workout room and showers, and plenty of conference rooms.

    Staff - Most coworkers below the VP level are genuinely nice people. Frequent staff events like lunches and golf outings help lighten the stressful atmosphere.

    Benefits - Benefits are OK. There are better and there are worse in the Washington nonprofit world.

    Mission - Parks and recreation is a fun and broad field that touches on a lot of important quality of life issues.

    ConsLocation - People who have worked in livelier places like DC, Bethesda, or Alexandria will find the subdivisions of Ashburn soul-sucking. There is no access to public transportation and both the Greenway and Dulles Toll Road tolls are quite high.

    Management - In a field where members fight for recognition of their professionalism, little regard for the professional skill of their own staff is evident at NRPA. The staff is a constantly shifting cast of expendable employees who can be either rotated on and off projects or dismissed on a whim. When short-term thinking and associated under-budgeting for projects fails to produce results, the team of mostly unqualified, toady VPs doesn't hesitate to throw their staff under the bus in order to save their skins from the CEO, a notorious bully. Neither popularity nor productivity (or even having both) will save you. The reviews here may seem like just a few disgruntled employees, but in fact they represent just a small fraction of the number of people with similar experiences.

    Advice to Senior ManagementSome board members seem to be aware of the high turnover and ADHD approach to priorities. Although NRPA's history suggests that decisive action is unlikely, one can always hope that they may notice that such poor management is leading to a lot of missed opportunities.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    One of the worst places I have ever worked!

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    ProsLovely building surrounded by a park setting.

    ConsFrom my first interview I was lied to as to what my job entailed and given a program that was doomed to failure. My supervisor was was inept and was in her position merely because of her friendship with the CEO.

    Advice to Senior ManagementIt is clear to me that management is posting positive reviews to counter the negative ones that have been posted. However, the turnover rate I believe says it all. Things will change until new leadership is brought on board.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    • Culture & Values
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    1 person found this helpful  

    Outstanding place to work

    Manager (Current Employee) Ashburn, VA

    ProsI am very committed to recreation and health. NRPA provides parks information to help them keep a focus on health and fitness. The work is rewarding on a daily basis. Very flexible work schedules and focused to family needs. Open door policy on communications. All ideas are listened to and considered in relationship with the goals and purpose set out for the association.

    ConsThe economy took a hit on the budget of members. Changes were made to correct for the corrections in local budgets.

    Advice to Senior ManagementContinue to keep paced with members needs. Keep us relevant to the industry.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    NRPA Needs New Management

    Manager (Former Employee) Ashburn, VA

    Pros1. Some excellent benefits: telework option, flex time and more than 20 days PTO

    ConsMost problems at NRPA are rooted from poor senior leadership/management (this includes VPs and most directors). Some of these issues are:

    1. Lack of a concrete vision and direction from senior leadership. The vision constantly changes every few months which creates a feeling of instability among staff. What is even worse is that senior leadership uses the “teamwork” ploy by requiring staff to help them create a vision. The overarching vision and futuristic direction of the organization falls under the responsibility of senior leadership and management. The staff’s responsibility it to meet the goals that will reinforce and enhance the vision but this is clearly not how it works at NRPA.
    2. The inability for senior leadership to develop a clear, smart vision is because many of the staff in these leadership positions have been promoted using a very inconsistent and non-transparent promotional process. Several of them are severely under qualified to be in management positions.
    3. Senior leadership have extremely poor interpersonal communication skills which causes staff to be fearful of approaching them with no reservations. This is creates an unhealthy relationship between staff and senior leadership.
    4. Because the vision and direction keep changing, this leads to “task shifting”. This becomes particularly problematic when you are a professional with a specific skill set because it goes against the job description you were hired for and job description you accepted the position for. For example, you will be asked to “tele-market” and persuade members to renew their membership while you are a, let’s say, IT professional. The “teamwork” ploy is used in this case as well.
    5. Senior leadership does not apply rules and regulations consistently to all staff. Inconsistency leads to lack of trust from employees which had resulted in a very, very high turnover rate which has a domino effect that ends up in instability.
    6. The shuffling of staff to and from different departments and different positions leads the organization to let go of a lot of staff whose positions all of a sudden become unnecessary. The excuse of "they were not a good fit for the organization" is more than often used rather than leadership doing a self-evaluation on the management strategies they are implementing.

    Advice to Senior ManagementSenior leadership, management and HR, wake up! Start to notice the instability at NRPA. Stop being defensive and start to take action. As a leadership team, you should know that poor management trickles down to low employee satisfaction and morale which only gives you low productivity. This organization will only become successful when you start to acknowledge the issues you have and then make improvements. This is management 101.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    7 people found this helpful  

    A Roller Coaster Ride Full of Ups and Downs

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee) Ashburn, VA

    ProsEvery review on this site is meant to be a combination of fact and opinion, and taken as such in deciding where to apply for and accept employment. To be fair, I will specify if my "Pros and Cons" are facts or opinions.

    FACT: Great Benefits (403b match of 6% w/immediate vesting, 26 days of PTO, 13 paid holidays, 80% medical and dental covered for employee and family members, teleworking option)

    OPINION: dedicated employees; great mission; membership is dedicated to the mission; new CEO challenged employees to look at the organization differently;

    ConsFACT: Turnover of 75 percent+ over 3 years. On my last day, only 15 employees remained who were there on my first day in a staff of more than 60. This doesn't include those who came and went in between. Very few staff have been with the organization more than 5 years.

    FACT: Since 2008 when the new CEO started, the downturn in the economy has had an impact on non profit organizations, especially those whose members are connected to public funding. Tough choices had to be made to keep the organization in existence.

    FACT: Beginning in 2008, the structure of the organization has changed on an annual basis, at a minimum. This has included different combinations of departments, changing of top leader responsibilities, and shuffling and dealing out projects and responsibilities like a deck of cards.

    FACT: In 3 years I had one documented review. My job responsibilities changed multiple times with documentation only once.

    OPINION: There is a lack of trust among most staff, of the leadership as a whole, and a feeling that anyone could be next to go. Often when people do "depart" from the organization, there is head shaking and a lack of understanding behind decisions.

    OPINION: Promotions and demotions are handed out inconsistently. Because of the lack of reviews, staff are defenseless when decisions are made, as they have no documented history to show their value or effectiveness. There is no value in formal education, as there are many people in supervisory roles who have not completed any 2 or 4 year degree programs.

    OPINION: Leadership sets unrealistic goals. While achievements belong to the team as a whole, when goals are not met, the staff in the trenches become the scapegoats.

    OPINION: Most staff have negative or ambiguous view of members. For a membership organization this is disappointing, as without members, what are you?

    OPINION: No place of employment is perfect, and to expect such would be unrealistic. Just like the parks they protect, NRPA can be a great place. However, be sure to stay aware of your surroundings just as you would in any new environment so that nothing jumps up to bite you.

    Advice to Senior ManagementSTAFF: It's okay to live in the moment, but plan for the long haul. Don't make quick decisions without thinking about the long term impact.

    BOARD: Pay attention - while you have been removed from the day to day management of the organization, you still have a responsibility to the members to ensure that the CEO and leadership are making decisions in the best interest of the association. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO

    3 people found this helpful  

    Glad to be back ...

    Manager (Current Employee) Ashburn, VA

    ProsYou know, I’ve worked for NRPA twice and I wouldn’t have come back if I didn’t think it was a good organization. It‘s got a solid mission, the benefits, flexibility and work-life balance can’t be beat, and the fact that I’ve gotten to work in different areas and move around is great because I wasn’t pigeonholed into “well, she’s this, so she can only do that.” I’ve gotten a lot of opportunity to work on things outside my department and I appreciate that management “gets” how important that is to job satisfaction (well, at least mine anyway).

    ConsNRPA has been through a lot. The company I worked for the first time is definitely not the company I came back and work for now and I have to say that it’s a good thing. Not that it was horrible before (or I wouldn’t have re-applied) but the mission is more focused, the management is FAR less bureaucratic and the relationships with members/governance is significantly improved. If there is a downside it’s that there are some old-regime staff who survived through the rough patches (bad governance, bad economy, layoffs, etc.) who remember the old days/old ways and can’t move on. 90% of the people here are happy people who I like to work with and then there are a few sour-pusses that just need to get over it or move on. No organization is perfect… and if you found a perfect organization, YOU’D screw it up by joining.

    Advice to Senior ManagementStay on track (we’re headed in a good direction but there’s always a risk of back sliding under pressure) and don’t let a FEW voices who happen to be LOUD voices, speak for the majority when it is NOT how every member, every citizen, every employee, or every manager feels.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO

    3 people found this helpful  

    Glad to have a job and very glad it's here!

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) Ashburn, VA

    ProsWow. I’m so glad my co-worker told me this was out here because I just can’t believe all these sour people used to work here (maybe THAT’s what made it a bad place to work, huh?) I got here after the new CEO so I don’t know about how things were before but I think it’s a great place to work. I feel very lucky (and I know others weren’t) that when the economy tanked and NRPA (like 80% of the companies across the country) had to cut back and have layoffs that I was in an area that wasn’t as impacted. Do people not get that there was a major recession (heck, it’s still going) and that companies all over had to let good people go? Good companies. Good people. 10% unemployment. It’s just a reality. I think management did what they could to make sure staff knew what was going on and to make us feel secure but not to sugar-coat it. Once the economy started to pick up, the first thing they did was go to the board about back-raises from our “salary freeze” and we got increases AND bonuses (and it was right before Christmas). Sweet!

    Every company has their good managers and their bad managers (and I happen to have a good one) but I think NRPA tips the scales toward the good side. The CEO is very engaged and has an open door so if you’re not happy, go tell her. She takes a random group of staff to lunch every week just to hear from all angles what’s going on. How much more access could you ask for? I read some of the comments below and I have a hard time believing it could have been that bad for as good as it is now and have to wonder if these people even have the right company they are commenting on or, if it’s like my friend said, just one bitter person who doesn’t have anything better to do. Sad.

    ConsI’d say the biggest “con” is the drama with members who make power plays with staff and get people all spun up over stupid stuff. I don’t have to work with them, but my co-workers do and I hear about it. It’s funny how before I worked here I thought the members would be a bunch of happy go lucky people because they get to work in parks all day but as it turns out some of them can be very mean and petty (like some of the negative people below). I also think that it only takes a few negative people to drag everyone else down and they just need to go work someplace else. Most people here like what they are doing and are happy so if you’re not one of them, take the initiative to fix it or just move on.

    Advice to Senior ManagementDon't let the minority dictate the direction of things. Staff, membership, leadership – don’t react to the first thing you hear and assume it’s true of everyone. Take a step back, get more info and if it really is a problem, fix it. If it’s not, fix the SOURCE!

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    4 people found this helpful  

    One of the most dysfunctional places I have ever worked.

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) Ashburn, VA

    ProsThe office building and location are lovely if you don't mind the distance from DC. The benefit package and generous telework policy are also attractive. There are a lot of very capable and nice people who work there.

    ConsI think the previous posts are very accurate. With all the gossip and backbiting, I often wanted to ask the question, "What grade are we in?" The rules change every second.

    Advice to Senior ManagementI am not sure that management can be helped. The board needs to get on top of what is happening there.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Disapproves of CEO

    2 people found this helpful  

    Squandered Potential

    Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)

    ProsFlexible hours and telecommuting
    A few great dedicated, mission driven and talented people
    A wonderful mission and purpose
    Park like work setting

    ConsIndeed, as indicated on many reviews here, too often NRPA culture sinks into a juvenile and toxic work environment. This does emanate from the top and spreads across the organization. It results in a waste of talent, resources and the organization’s inability to achieve important objectives.
    Terrible business decisions, leadership and vision from most of the top management team, many who are very inexperienced or grossly under qualified. This fear and insecurity serves to perpetuate this dysfunctional environment. Staff turnover is handled very poorly and unprofessionally, which just leads to more departures and pervasive fear, lack of respect and general lack of loyalty and pride in work and workplace.

    Advice to Senior ManagementThis organization really needs a great business mind and leader that can pull it up out of the mud and forge new pathways to prosperity, impact and relevancy.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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