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College of Education and Human Development - George Mason University
Contact Information

Send email to Mr. Gilbert

Phone: (703) 359-4600
Fax: (703) 993-2025
Email: pgilber4 (

NOVA Parks
5400 Ox Road
Fairfax Station, VA 22039


Paul Gilbert is Executive-in-Residence for the Recreation Management Program within the College of Education and Human Development, at George Mason University.

For over 15 years, Gilbert has been the Executive Director of NOVA Parks (Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority) a destination park agency with operations in three counties and three cities in Northern Virginia.  Gilbert has helped NOVA Parksdouble its enterprise revenues, and its parklands by over 20%.  Prior to NOVA Parks, Gilbert ran a land conservation non-profit, and worked in the private sector doing marketing and corporate acquisitions.

He has written two books and numerous articles.  In 2014, he wrote High Performance Agencies: The Entrepreneurial Model for Public Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Organizations, released by Sagamore Publishing. Barbara Tulipane, then President and CEO of the National Recreation and Park Association said, “The publication of this book is very timely for the park, recreation and tourism industry.  Paul provides clarity and a vision for the future.”  In 2011, Gilbert wrote Lead Like a General: Modern research on leadership as seen through the Civil War, released by Marquis Press.  This book was a finalist in two national book awards.

Gilbert was a founding Board member of both the Virginia  Trails Alliance, and Virginia United Land Trusts. He served as a Regent and Board Chairman of the NRPA Revenue Development and Management School at Oglebay.  He was a board member and 2014/2015 Chairman of Visit Fairfax, Fairfax County’s destination marketing organization.  He serves on the Virginia Outdoors Plan Technical Advisory Committee, Fairfax County Sports Tourism Task Force and previously served on the Governor’s Natural Resource Partnership, and was a Regional Co-Chair of a State Park and Natural Areas Bond Campaign.

Since 2009, Gilbert has taught PRLS 410, Administration of Park, Health and Tourism Organizations, and PRLS 613, Strategic Leadership in Recreation Administration.  He has also assisted numerous students with internship and career advice.  As Executive-in-Residence, Gilbert  also serves as the faculty advisor for the Rho Phi Lambda national honor fraternity for Parks, Recreation and Leisure Studies at George Mason University.


Master of Arts – George Mason University, VA

Bachelor of Arts – St. Andrews University, NC

Certificate of Professional Development – Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, PA

Certified Park & Recreation Professional (CPRP) 2014 - Present

Credentialed Manager, International City/County Managers Association 2016-2019

Recent Publications

Published Works:

Gilbert, P. (2019, October). So That Must Be a Fun Job. Park & Recreation Magazine.

Gilbert, P. (2019, September). Interpretive Signs and Programs: Telling all the stories of our nation’s past. Park & Recreation Magazine.

Gilbert, P. (2017, October). A Monumental Decision. Park & Recreation Magazine.

Gilbert, P. (2017, March). Climate Change Knows no Ideology. Park & Recreation Magazine.

Gilbert, P. (2017, February). Good Governance. Park & Recreation Magazine.

Gilbert, P. (2014). High Performance Agencies: The Entrepreneurial Model for public parks, recreation and tourism. Illinois: Sagamore Publishing.

Gilbert, P. (2013, August). More than Birds and Bunnies: The role of parks and recreation in global climate change. Park & Recreation Magazine.

Gilbert, P. & Thaman, M. (2012, September). Financial Sustainability and the New Normal. Park & Recreation Magazine.

Gilbert, P. (2011). Lead Like a General: Modern research on leadership as seen through the Civil War. Virginia: Marquis Press.

Gilbert, P. (2011, January). Special Park Districts: A creative alternative for greater agency autonomy. Park & Recreation Magazine.

Gilbert, P. (2010, September). Are you a Viking or a Farmer? Park & Recreation Magazine.

Gilbert, P. (2008, January). Cool Parks: Park agencies can be part of the solution to global warming. Park & Recreation Magazine.