Margaret Nelson, longtime parks administrator, named new Parks Department commissioner
Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday appointed Margaret Nelson as acting commissioner of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation.
Nelson, currently Parks’ deputy commissioner for urban park services and public programs, began her career at Parks in 2014.
She was appointed to her most recent post in May 2019. In that capacity, she oversaw operations and staff from 36 citywide recreation centers, the Urban Park Rangers and the Parks Enforcement Patrol units.
In addition to this role, Acting Commissioner Nelson served as then-Commissioner Mitchell Silver’s Chief of Staff. She was a key member of the executive management team responsible for establishing agency policies, guiding external and internal communications, and managing stakeholder relationships including non-profit partners and elected officials.
Since joining the agency in 2014, Acting Commissioner Nelson has been responsible for helping to implement the administration’s vision for equity in public spaces, planning and placemaking in parks, innovation and technology, and caring for parks.
She spearheaded a number of inter-divisional funding initiatives, including securing more than $80 million for replacement fleet vehicles. She also helped establish a synthetic turf field maintenance and replacement model program.
Acting Commissioner Nelson earned her master’s degree in public administration from the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University and her bachelor’s degree from Duke University, graduating Magna Cum Laude.
Silver, who had served as parks commissioner since 2014, left recently to take a position in Raleigh, North Carolina.
“Our parks are New Yorkers backyards, and caring for them requires a leader with experience, vision and passion,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Margaret is a time-tested public servant who will be an integral part of our recovery. I thank Mitchell for his 7 years of dedicated service to our parks and the people of New York City.”
“It is my honor and privilege to serve the City of New York. Thank you Mayor de Blasio for entrusting me to lead the gem that is NYC Parks,” said Nelson. “I would also like to offer a special thanks to outgoing Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver for his phenomenal leadership over the past seven years. His culture of care and emphasis on health, happiness and fun are all shared ideals I hope to bring to the table as I assume this new role.”
“Our recovery must be rooted in equity, and our parks are one of the cornerstones of that effort,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Vicki Been. “I am thrilled to work with Margaret in her new role – she’s been a forceful and creative driver of our investments in equity over the past few years and her extensive experience with parks will allow a seamless transition in leadership.”
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