Atlanta, Georgia

Conference: October 8-10

Exhibits: October 8-9


Meet the keynotes for the 2023 NRPA Annual Conference.

Opening General Session

Tuesday, October 10, 2023 | 9:00-10:30 a.m. CST

General Session

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

9:00 – 10:30 a.m. CST



Stay tuned! A special guest will deliver welcome remarks for NRPA’s Day Two General Session


The National Gold Medal Award honors public park and recreation agencies and state park systems throughout the United States and armed forces’ recreation programs worldwide that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management, and innovative approaches to delivering superb park and recreation services with fiscally sound business practices. The National Gold Medal Award Program is governed and managed by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration (AAPRA) in partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA). The National Gold Medal Award Program is proudly sponsored by Musco Lighting, LLC.



The Keynote for NRPA’s Day 2 General Session will be announced soon!


The Ball Is in Our Court: Leveraging the Power of Parks and Recreation to Advance Youth Sports Equity

Attend this session and learn:

  • How the power of parks and recreation creates positive outcomes for youth
  • The social, emotional, physical and mental health benefits of youth sports
  • How park and recreation professionals can create more inclusive playgrounds and spaces so all youth can play.


Anthony-Paul (AP) Diaz, Esq. (he/him) [PHOTO HERE]

Superintendent, Seattle Parks and Recreation

As superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation, Anthony-Paul (AP) Diaz manages more than 500 parks, shorelines, and coastal lands and seascapes with a six-year operating and capital budget of $1 billion. He is framed in wanderlust, law, music, parks, arts, cultural venues, equity, sport and the pursuit of happiness. Diaz is passionate about life, people and place-making. He studied diplomacy and international politics at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Washington, D.C., graduating with a Bachelor of Science in foreign service and holds a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola Law School. Diaz is committed to equipping others for success, empowering others to be their best selves and amplifying the narrative that parks and open spaces are essential civic infrastructure — just as important as bridges and highways to the fabric and foundation of a great society. He champions parks and open spaces by changing the trajectory of cities throughout the world, advancing equity and innovation and promoting climate action. This includes promoting ways to be resilient and to advance heathy lifestyles in a world of challenges and constant change. Diaz is proud to think outside the box and also is motivated to step outside of it. He is a proponent of transformational leadership and thrives in situations where he can make a mark or help others make theirs.

Prior to serving as superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation, Diaz served as the executive officer of the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. Additionally, he assisted in the development of the civic play equity initiatives of the Los Angeles 2028 Olympics and oversaw the management of the Greek Theatre Los Angeles. His favorite quotes are, “Life is a banquet!,” “Live your life like it’s golden,” “Never be afraid to reach for the moon, for even if we fail, we’ll still land among the stars,” “The best is yet to come,” and “Never forget — today is the first day of the rest of our lives.”


Cal Dobbs (he/they) [photo HERE]

Ultramarathoner and long-distance hiker

Cal Dobbs (he/they) is a queer transgender ultramarathoner and long-distance hiker. This year, Cal is running across America from California to Florida to fight for inclusion of transgender people in sports and access to gender-affirming healthcare. He will raise awareness and funds for several groups along the way, doing much to support people most impacted by anti-trans legislation. Dobbs and his team are in the process of recording and producing a feature-length documentary about the run.

During August of last year, Dobbs became the first known transgender person to complete the Triple Crown of hiking, which includes nearly 8,000 miles of walking across the three premier National Scenic Trails — all as a fundraiser for “The Trevor Project.”

Dobbs was born and raised in Venice, California, and grew up running barefoot in the sand and body surfing in the ocean. They ran cross-country and track for Venice High School and went on to compete at the collegiate level. They earned their bachelor’s degree in sociology and anthropology from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania and obtained their national teaching certification thereafter. Dobbs worked as an educational researcher in both the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education and the University of California, Los Angeles Center for the Transformation of Schools for two years upon graduating. They then went on to teach high school and coach running for three years before deciding to go on sabbatical to be a full-time endurance athlete.

Read about Dobbs in Outside Magazine HERE.


Kari Miller Ortiz (she/her) [photo HERE]

Director of People and Culture, Move United

Former U.S. Army Sergeant Kari Miller lost both her legs in a car accident when she was in was hit by a drunk driver while on leave from military duty in 1999. After the accident, she discovered wheelchair-based sports, including her favorite, wheelchair basketball. Through dedicated training and coaching, she made the sitting volleyball U.S. Paralympic Team. She started competing for the Paralympic Games in 2007, where she won a silver medal for her participation at the Sitting Volleyball Invitational.

In 2008, she participated at the World Organization Volleyball for Disabled (WOVD), where she won a bronze medal. During the same year she received another silver medal for her participation at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China. During this time, Miller began working for the U.S. Paralympic Military program and was responsible for setting up the program for newly injured service members at the Walter Reed, Bethesda Naval, and Fortt Belvoir facilities, with an emphasis on positive profile utilization (i.e., what the service member can do versus cannot do).

In 2009, Miller was awarded Paralympian of the Year. In 2010 she won a silver medal at the Parapan American Championship, which was held in Colorado. The same year she received a gold medal for another WOVD Championship. In both 2011 and 2012 she won gold medals at ECVD Continental Cup, Parapan American Zonal Championship and Volleyball Masters. She also received a fourth silver medal for her participation at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London and a gold medal at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

Throughout her Paralympic career, Miller also has worked with multiple services to create adaptive programing and events. She also created and ran the community programs U.S. Air Force Wounded Ill and Injured program. Miller has served as sitting volleyball coach for both Army and Air Force sitting volleyball teams for the Wounded Ill and Injured.

As Move United’s director of people and culture, Miller leads the organization’s internal and external diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives, including leading the organization’s DEI Leadership Committee, of which she previously served as a member.

The committee provides strategic insight, direction and recommendations to the executive director as to how the organization should commit financial, operational and human resources. The committee includes leaders in the adaptive sports movement with diverse perspectives and experiences and meets regularly to assess how Move United can better serve persons with disabilities, particularly those of diverse backgrounds. Committee members help identify the gaps and barriers in the adaptive sports field and act as champions of necessary change.

Jason Sacks (he/him) [photo HERE]

President, Positive Coaching Alliance

The Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), a national nonprofit with the mission to change the culture of youth sports so that every child, regardless of social or economic circumstance, has access to a positive youth sports experience. As president of The Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA) — a national nonprofit with the mission to change the culture of youth sports so that every child, regardless of social or economic circumstance, has access to a positive youth sports experience — Jason Sacks oversees the organization’s national, corporate and strategic partnerships. This includes relationships with professional sports leagues, national governing bodies and youth sports organizations. He also oversees PCA’s fundraising and regional operations.

A member of the PCA team since 2006, Sacks also has served in different capacities, including as chief development officer, executive director of PCA’s Chicago chapter, director of partnership development and partner development associate in New Jersey and Philadelphia.

Prior to joining PCA, Sacks worked in sports television for International Management Group. Sacks holds an undergraduate degree in broadcast journalism from Syracuse University, and a master’s degree in sports management from New York University, where he was an assistant coach for the men’s basketball team. His other previous coaching stops include Egg Harbor Township (New Jersey) High School, Perspectives Charter High School (Chicago), and a role in the New York Knicks basketball operations department.

Outside of PCA, Sacks is an adjunct instructor in Northwestern University’s Masters of Sports Administration program and volunteers as a youth sports coach. Sacks and his wife live in the suburbs of Chicago with their twin son and daughter.

Lily Sunarjardi (she/her) [photo HERE]

Recreational basketball player

Lily Sunarjadi is a 10-year-old girl who has been playing basketball since she was 6 years old. Originally from southern California, she found greater opportunities to play the sport she loves since moving to the Dallas area in 2019, including winning the 11U Jr. NBA Skills Challenge in 2022. Local recreational sports programs and centers were an immensely important part of her childhood journey and have contributed toward building her confidence in all aspects of life. Sunarjadi looks forward to sharing how they have impacted her life.


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