National Park Service
US Department of the Interior
National Park Service
Interpretive Development Program


The Chief of Interpretation

The Chief of Interpretation is a senior leader in the NPS and has a major impact on the organizational effectiveness of the park in meeting mission goals for stewardship, relevance, education, and workforce.   The Chief serves on the park management team, works collaboratively with park partners, and is the critical organizational link between tactical action in the field and strategic park planning.  The Chief manages a complex park Interpretation and Education program that is grounded in park resources, themes related to the park’s legislative history and significance, and park and Service-wide mission goals.  Chiefs, many of whom are first-line supervisors as well, are organizationally positioned to affect timely change in the workforce are the key to succession and employee development for promising supervisors and entry-level employees.

Competencies for Chiefs of Interpretation

Chief of Interpretation professionals in the 21st Century need to be able to demonstrate competency in each of the following areas.  The competencies are grouped by Core Qualifications that are used consistently throughout the government.


  • Flexibility and Resilience*
  • Strategic Thinking*
  • Pathfinding
  • Leading the Change Process
  • Communicating Vision and Change


  • Conflict Management*
  • Teambuilding*
  • Developing Others*
  • Leveraging Diversity*


  • Civic Engagement
  • Political Savvy*
  • Managing, Administering, and Sustaining Coalitions and Partnerships
  • Assessing the Need, Creating, and Building Coalitions and Partnerships


  • Financial Management*
  • Human Capital Management*
  • Informational Technology Management
  • Compliance Planning


  • Accountability*
  • Customer Service*
  • Technical Credibility*
  • Problem Solving*
  • Decisiveness*
  • Entrepreneurship*
  • Facilitate Meaning Making
  • Enriching Lives



Bold=competencies in bold font have been defined for NPS Chiefs of Interpretation.  For more information, use the links on this page.

*= competencies with an asterisk are shared by many government employees.  They have been described by OPM, in a generic manner, for all developmental levels.  For detailed information, click here. (link to OPM Competency Dictionary).


History and Process

To learn more about the history of the leadership development for interpreters and the 2010-2011 Chiefs of Interpretation competency project, read the ---- and the Briefing Statement for the CICP.

Feedback Please!

We welcome your involvement in continuing to refine competencies for Chiefs of Interpretation.  Use this link to provide feedback to Interpretive Development Program staff to let us know which competency description is most useful to you and your ideas for further refinement.  We plan to compile feedback and share it with others.