Director of Park Experience and Operations

Operations · Seattle, Washington
Department Operations
Employment Type Full-Time
Minimum Experience Senior Manager/Supervisor


About Friends of Waterfront Seattle 


Friends of Waterfront Seattle (“Friends”) is the City of Seattle’s nonprofit partner, established to help create, fund, steward, and activate a new 20-acre park along the downtown shoreline. Park construction is scheduled to be complete by mid-2025. 


The new waterfront took shape—and continues to evolve—in a massive collaboration among the thousands of Seattleites who contribute their voices through public comments, public sector institutions, tribal leadership, businesses, nonprofit partners, community leaders, artists, and the hundreds of thousands of individuals already showing up on site for educational programs, recreational opportunities, cultural events, and to simply take in the views.  Pier 62 was the first part of Waterfront Park to open to the public, and last year—with support and guidance from 62 partner organizations—Friends hosted 280 events, including cultural festivals, small concerts, art installations, recreation classes, classes in natural and social history, and unstructured play opportunities. More than 70% of the featured artists, performers, and educators were Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color. 


Friends aims to create inclusive spaces that feel welcoming and safe for all people. Friends recognizes and acknowledges historic and existing systemic racism embedded in our city and is committed to becoming an anti-racist organization. Friends sees the opportunity to make racial equity foundational to this new public space, and to embed it with these values for generations to come. Waterfront Park is situated on the land of the Coast Salish peoples, who have resided here since time immemorial and continue to thrive. With respect and humility, we acknowledge the history of the waterfront, the dispossession of land from the Coast Salish people, and, most importantly, the strength and resilience of Native people and their culture through this history and to the present. This acknowledgment serves as only the first step in honoring the land we occupy and the first peoples on that land. We recognize that the work to build and repair relationships with Native communities will be long and evolving.   


The Role   


The Director of Park Experience and Operations ensures that Waterfront Park is the highest and best functioning public space in Seattle. They will work with Friends’ partners to deliver immaculately maintained grounds and facilities, beautifully designed park amenities that meet and anticipate the needs of all users, and a visitor experience that feels inviting, pleasing, and safe—in every sense of that word—to the enormously diverse user groups who need to feel that waterfront park is a home place.


Reporting to the COO, the Director of Park Experience and Operations will be a member of Friends’ internal leadership team and hold critical relationships with Friends’ external teams at Seattle’s Office of the Waterfront, Seattle Center, Seattle Parks and Recreation, Downtown Seattle Association, Seattle Historic Waterfront Association, Seattle Aquarium, Pike Place Market, and a range of other institutional partners with a stake in the success of Waterfront Park.


In addition to managing and maintaining key stakeholder relationships and communication, the Director of Park Experience and Operations will direct the operational work of 20-acre Waterfront Park, campus public safety, and operations of special events. They will manage 30+ full-time permanent departmental staff and over 50+ intermittent employees, including park ambassadors, social service outreach workers, and the onsite security team.


Coming to Friends three years in advance of the full opening of Waterfront Park, the Director of Park Experience and Operations will play a central role in in the evolution of park facility operations and will need to be a flexible and creative problem solver, able to address emerging challenges and opportunities as they occur. A service orientation will be critical as Waterfront Park already is—and will become even more of—a complex ecosystem of public and private institutional interests and partnerships that require stewardship and care.  Holding the values of partnership and collaboration, the Director of Park Experience and Operations will be always thinking about how to meet the needs of this larger whole, and also about who is missing from the table.



The new Director of Park Experience and Operations will play a key role in realizing the dream of a park that welcomes all into an experience of beauty, safety, healing, and innovation.  To that end, the new Director will hold critical responsibilities in: 


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion 

  • Center, translate, and embed the Friends’ diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) values and goals into all aspects of park facility operations—from planning to physical design to program strategies to serving all members of the public.
  • Ensure that all planning and implementation efforts benefit, and are informed by, the individuals, partner organizations, and communities that Friends seeks to serve.  
  • Center DEI goals and values when using Friends’ resources to hire and contract externally. 
  • Participate in DEI workshops and help lead regular DEI discussions with staff, board, and partners. 


Park Facility Operations Leadership

  • Lead efforts to scale the operational requirements and execution of The City of Seattle’s Performance Standard guidelines.
  • Direct and elevate the evolving Standard Operating Procedures for Friends of Waterfront.
  • Develop and manage a scaling annual operating budgets ranging from $4-8million.
  • Direct and implement a scalable Public Safety Plan for up to 150k patrons on one peak season day at Waterfront Park.
  • Oversee event operations for larger scale events produced internally or by outside partners.
  • Direct the work of units that are led by a manager or supervisor in the following areas:
    • Facilities Operations: Provides daily maintenance of Friends facilities, vendor management and the highest standard of the park upkeep. Partner with the City department responsible for maintenance of publicly-owned park facilities.
    • Emergency Services: Ensures a welcoming, safe park through utilization of Friends' staff, training, and operating procedures, social services, and a robust partnership with uniformed City staff.
    • Guest Service Ambassadors: Comprised of all regular and intermittent ambassadors and employees throughout Waterfront Park.


External Partnerships 

  • Serve as primary liaison to operations leads at Office of the Waterfront, Seattle Center, and Seattle Parks and Recreation.
  • Establish and coordinate a park operations task force to engage City and other waterfront partners in mutually informed operations planning and execution that meets or exceeds jointly agreed-up park performance standards.  
  • Develop and maintain collegial relationships and share best practices with Operations Directors of major urban parks across North America.
  • Articulate and champion the fundamental vision of a truly welcoming Waterfront Park and ensure that all operational investments and strategies manifest that vision.
  • Develop and direct evaluative strategies and integrate all data collection efforts relative to operations and public safety efforts to ensure continuous performance improvement.


Internal Team Development

  • Build and lead a team with the practical skills and experience needed to deliver on the rigorous performance standards of Waterfront Park.
  • Ensure the team is values aligned, reflects and is responsive to the wide range of needs and lived experiences of all the visitors to the park.
  • Clearly communicate expectations to the operations team, conducting and documenting regular check-ins that include positive and constructive feedback as a model for the entire organization.
  • Work with other directors at Friends, to prioritize, coordinate, and respond efficiently to inter-departmental operational needs.


While no candidate will have all of the desired qualifications for the role, the ideal candidate will have: 

  • At least 6 years of relevant leadership experience in public space and facility operations roles.
  • Demonstrated commitment to incorporating DEI practices and values into all facets of work and life, with experience implementing DEI strategies to empower populations and identities that have historically been under-resourced, particularly in public space use and policy. 
  • Knowledge of public safety management and campus-wide security procedures.
  • Demonstrated commitment to collaboration and partnership and ability to work effectively with people from a range of social, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds, externally and internally.  
  • Empathic supervisory skills including active listening, change management, facilitating clear, internal communications, delegating, expectation-setting, balancing team workload and capacity, project management, team-building, and professional mentorship. 
  • Ability to navigate a unionized environment and political and financial systems.
  • Experience with labor relations and contract negotiation/management.
  • Demonstrated successful experience working with an organization in transition. 
  • Interest in experimentation and comfort with failure. 
  • Proficiency in identifying and combatting white supremacy culture and systems, and a leadership practice that privileges anti-racism.
  • Openness to trying and troubleshooting new technology solutions. 


Other Requirements  

  • This position is contingent on passing a criminal background check.  


Compensation and Benefits  

This is a full-time, exempt position with a salary range of$135,000 to $155,000. Paid time off, health and dental coverage, and transit pass are provided. Defined contribution retirement plan with 3% match available.  


Work Location 

This role is based in Seattle, WA. Friends’ office is in the Pioneer Square neighborhood. The job requires significant in-person, public engagement at Waterfront Park sites and with numerous partner organizations throughout the city.  


How to Apply  

If you need assistance and/or accommodations during the application or recruiting process due to a disability, please email our People & Culture team at   

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.  

Thank You

Your application was submitted successfully.

  • Location
    Seattle, Washington
  • Department
  • Employment Type
  • Minimum Experience
    Senior Manager/Supervisor