Parks & Greenspace Conference

Tuesday, May 4, 2021



Each spring, Park Pride hosts the annual Parks & Greenspace Conference, the largest parks conference in the southeast, showcasing thought leaders from Atlanta and across the nation. Through education and inspiration, the conference focuses on best practices for companies and individuals who are united by a common desire to improve parks and strengthen communities.

Theme: The New Case for Parks

As we reflect on the last year, we question whether the events of 2020 have set a trajectory for the next parks movement. Though parks are a foundational component of a healthy and resilient city under the best of times, the convergence of national and local crises over the last year has given way to new and more pressing arguments as to the importance of urban parks, trails, and greenspace.

During The New Case for Parks, the theme of Park Pride’s 20th annual conference, we will dive deep into this altered landscape and how the issues of racial justice, public health, civil unrest, and extreme weather events have renewed public interest in greenspace and ignited an urgent need to invest in our park systems for the benefit of all communities.

Connect to the Theme

The conference program, consisting of tours and lectures led by both local and national experts, will explore the relationship between parks and nature through discussions pertaining to:

  • Equitable Access to Parks for All
  • Dismantling Racial Barriers to Parks and Greenspaces
  • Greenspace and Health

  • Post-Pandemic Park Design
  • Parks as Critical Infrastructure

Who Should Attend

The Parks & Greenspace Conference offers something for everyone!

  • Parks & recreation professionals
  • Government policy makers
  • Architects & landscape architects
  • Urban planners
  • Citizens who want to build or improve a neighborhood park
  • Environmental & civil engineers
  • Real estate developers
  • Environmental lawyers
  • Anyone who loves parks!


Keynote Speakers

2021 Keynote Speakers

Al Bangoura, CPRP

In 2019, Alfred Bangoura took leadership of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB), the nationally acclaimed park system.

Prior to becoming the 12th MPRB Superintendent, Bangoura was the Recreation Superintendent of Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation, which includes Charlotte, NC and serves over 1.1 million people. Bangoura oversaw community and recreation services for the county’s 17 recreation facilities and three senior and active adult facilities.

He is a Certified Park and Recreational Professional (CPRP) and prior to joining Mecklenburg County, Bangoura served as the Director of Recreation Centers and Programs for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. From 2001 – 2015, Bangoura held a variety of progressive recreation leadership positions with the MPRB.

Kofi Boone, FASLA

Kofi Boone, FASLA is a University Faculty Scholar and Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at NC State University in the College of Design. 

His award winning work lays in overlap between landscape architecture and environmental justice with specializations in democratic design, digital media, and interpreting cultural landscapes.

Kofi serves on the Board of Directors of The Corps Network as well as the Landscape Architecture Foundation where he is President-Elect. He is also on the advisory board of The Black Landscape Architects Network. 

Dr. Marshall Shepherd, PhD

Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd is a leading international expert in weather and climate and is the Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor of Geography and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Georgia. Dr. Shepherd received his B.S., M.S. and PhD in physical meteorology from Florida State University.  He was the first African American to receive a PhD from the Florida State University Department of Meteorology, one of the nation’s oldest and respected.

Dr. Shepherd is the host of The Weather Channel’s Award-Winning show Weather Geeks and the 2018 recipient of the prestigious AMS Helmut Landsberg Award (among many other awards and honors!) for pioneering and significant work in urban climate.

He was a member of the Board of Trustees for the Nature Conservancy (Georgia Chapter), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Science Advisory Board, and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s Hazard Preparedness Advisory Group.

Atiya Wells, RN

Atiya Wells is a pediatric nurse, outdoor educator, and the Founder/Executive Director of Backyard Basecamp, Inc. – a nonprofit with a mission to (re)connect Black, Indigenous, and People of Color to land and nature. 

While learning more about our natural world, she often noticed that she could count the number of Black people in the room on one hand. Diving into research and history, she learned that ancestral wounding and historical trauma are key players to the lack of diversity in nature-based programming. 

She has since dedicated her time to slowly (re)introducing her community to nature by starting in their own backyards and eventually embarking on a journey into the many wild spaces across Baltimore. 


The Green Tipping Point: Greenspace as a Catalyst for Community Preservation & Prosperity

Seen on both the local and national landscape, greenspace development can be a driver of gentrification and displacement. But must this be the case? This session, facilitated by RCE Greater Atlanta*, uplifts the real time, yet-to-be-completed case study of Atlanta’s Westside Park. Attendees will have the opportunity to collaborate with residents and local experts in an interactive session to examine the role of greenspace as a catalyst to enhance rather than disrupt the quality of life for legacy residents. Together we will explore how multi-stakeholder groups like the RCE network and others can support community-led efforts to prevent and repair the negative effects of green gentrification through equity-centered proactive engagement.



*RCE Greater Atlanta is a United Nations-affiliated regional sustainability network that supports multi-stakeholder implementation of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals through education and training. It is one of over 175 Regional Centres of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development around the world. This session has been planned and co-hosted with Jennifer Hirsch, Director of Serve-Learn-Sustain at Georgia Tech and Co-Founder and Member of RCE Greater Atlanta and Nancy Larson, LEED Consultant, Envision Realty Services and Co-lead, RCE Greater Atlanta Business Engagement Action Group.

More to come!

Continuing Education Credits

Please see below for details and requirements of each of the continuing education credits available through the Parks and Greenspace Conference.

Landscape Architects (PLA)

  • Park Pride is partnering with the Georgia Chapter of ASLA to potentially offer LACES-certified continuing education through an educational sponsorship.
  • More information will be forthcoming.
  • Professional Landscape Architects in Georgia are eligible for up to three contact hours for the three 60-minute breakout sessions.
  • Completion of a short quiz will serve as verification of attendance to each session.
  • Quizzes will be made available once session recordings have been posted within a few days of the event

Certified Park and Recreation Professionals/Executives (CPRP/CPRE)

  • Any CEUs awarded for CPRP/CPRE is dependent on NRPA’s review and approval of a post-event application.
  • Certified Park and Recreation Professionals are eligible for up to 0.7 CEU equivalent credits
  • Completion of a short quiz will serve as verification of attendance to each session (each session is worth 0.1 CEUs)
  • Upon completion of the quizzes, you will receive a certificate. Include your certificate along with the form linked below and send to NRPA to document your participation:

Certified Planners (AICP)

  • Up to six CM credits will be available through an educational sponsorship from Georgia Chapter of American Planning Association
  • Documentation of your attendance from Park Pride is not necessary to claim your CMs.
  • You may log into APA accounts after the event and document your attendance there – no need to take the quizzes.


Continuing education credits for other credentials may be possible. Park Pride has neither sought nor obtained pre-approval for any other professional certification and cannot guarantee that the conference will meet continuing education requirements of your certification. A certificate of attendance will be issued for your use in petitioning your governing certification board for credit if you wish. Simply take the quizzes to receive documentation of your participation.






2021 Parks and Greenspace Conference
Registration is OPEN. 

$75 / person


Special rates are available for students, government and nonprofit employees. Please email for details. 


Friends of the Park Conference Scholarship

Park Pride strives to make our educational opportunities accessible to all residents interested in making a positive impact in their parks and communities. Scholarships are available to participants in our Friends of the Park Program for whom the cost of regular registration is out of reach. Please complete the form through the link below to apply for a scholarship.

Scholarship Application

Become a Sponsor

The importance and benefit of parks is more obvious than ever during this time. When our city needed greenspace the most, our parks were ready thanks to Park Pride’s 30+ years of work for the greener good. All proceeds from the Parks & Greenspace Conference fund our work to bring great, community-centered parks to every neighborhood throughout the city.

Reach out to Chad Nash, Corporate Relations & Individual Giving Manager, to learn about supporting the 2021 Conference.



2021 Conference Sponsors

Presenting Sponsor

Cox Conserves

Community Engagement Sponsor

Georgia Power

Community Building Sponsor

The Home Depot Foundation

Conference Production Sponsor

Apple Box


Kaiser Permanente


ASLA Georgia
The Conservation Fund
Integrated Land Design


ADS & Playground Creations
Cooper Carry
Jones Day
Lord Aeck Sargent
Perez Planning + Design
Piedmont Park Conservancy
Smith Dalia Architects
Starr Whitehouse


Georgia Planning Association
Woodruff Park