Great Parks Leadership


Great Parks of Hamilton County was created in 1930 as the Hamilton County Park District. Great Parks is a separate political subdivision of the State of Ohio, governed by a Board of Park Commissioners.

Upcoming Events

  • Board of Park Commissioners

    Great Parks of Hamilton County (formerly Hamilton County Park District) was created in 1930 with the mission to protect local natural resources and to provide outdoor recreation and education for area residents. Great Parks of Hamilton County is a separate political subdivision of the State of Ohio, governed by a Board of Park Commissioners. Board members are appointed by the Judge of Hamilton County Probate Court, the Honorable Ralph Winkler.

    The Board is comprised of five individuals who serve without compensation for terms of three years. The Board sets governance policies, approves land acquisitions and annual budgets. The Board appoints a Chief Executive Officer who is responsible for the implementation of park policies and leads the overall operation of Great Parks of Hamilton County.

    William J. Burwinkel was first appointed to the Board effective January 11, 2016 and most recently reappointed effective January 1, 2020. Mr. Burwinkel is the founder and Chairman of the Board of National Marketshare Group, Inc. He is also the founder of Adopt A Class Foundation and is active throughout the Greater Cincinnati community serving on the Cincinnati Public Services Quality of Life Board, Cincinnati Police Chief Advisory Board, the Queensgate Business Alliance and the Westside Summit.

    HC Buck Niehoff was first appointed to the Board effective January 1, 2014 and most recently reappointed effective January 1, 2018. Mr. Niehoff is retired from the law firm of Peck, Shaffer & Williams LLC. He has served on the Board of Trustees of the University of Cincinnati as well as on the boards of many local organizations, including the Cincinnati Museum Center, Mercantile Library and Ohio Cancer Research Associates.

    Joseph C. Seta was first appointed to the Board effective January 1, 2011 and most recently reappointed effective January 1, 2020. He served as the President and CEO of Seta, Appleman & Showell, an advertising and graphic design firm, for 22 years and as Managing Director of Cincinnati Landor Associates Design Group. He has served on the advisory board for the College of Mount Saint Joseph and was a board member for the Central Academy of Commercial Art. He attended Xavier University and the Central Academy of Commercial Art. 

    Marcus L. Thompson was first appointed to the Board effective January 3, 2019. He is Community Development Manager at Skanska was recognized as a Forty Under 40 award recipient in 2018 by the Cincinnati Business Courier. He is also a graduate of Leadership of Central Kentucky and United Way BOLD. Mr. Thompson supports the Greater Cincinnati community as director of Gameday Operations for Saturday Hoops, serves on the Board of Trustees for the Center for Addiction Treatment, is a member of the Cincinnati Zoo Ambassador Council and is a mentor and serves on the Board of Directors for the Cincinnati Youth Collaborative. He is a graduate of Seton Hill University.

    Geraldine “Ginger” Warner was first appointed to the Board effective May 2, 2012 and most recently reappointed effective January 1, 2018. She is currently a member of the Board of Trustees of the University of Cincinnati, serves as Vice Chair of the Ohio Arts Council, is Secretary for the National First Ladies Library, is a board member of Greenacres Foundation, and board member of both The Cleveland Orchestra and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Ms. Warner is a retired attorney and a graduate of New York University Law School.

    Todd Palmeter, Chief Executive Officer, Great Parks of Hamilton County 
    Todd Palmeter became the new Chief Executive Officer of Great Parks of Hamilton County on May 16, 2019. Mr. Palmeter began his career with the park district in 2003 and played an instrumental role in the development of many of the park district’s most popular destinations including Highfield Discovery Garden, Fernbank Park and the Mitchell Memorial Forest Mountain Bike Trail. He managed the five-year strategic plan and provided leadership for several key park district initiatives including the agency’s first Comprehensive Master Plan. He currently serves on the Board for Green Umbrella, is a member of Leadership Cincinnati USA Class 43 and is actively involved with the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association.

    Individuals interested in being considered for a future appointment to the Board of Park Commissioners of Great Parks of Hamilton County may submit a letter of interest to the Probate Court of Hamilton County, c/o Honorable Judge Ralph Winkler, William Howard Taft Law Center, 230 East Ninth Street, 10th Floor, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. Park Commissioners must be Hamilton County residents with demonstrated skills in organizational, business and/or academic leadership and a genuine passion for public parks and the conservation of natural resources.

  • 2020 Board Meeting Schedule

    • January 30, 1 p.m.
    • February 20, 1 p.m.
    • March 19, 1 p.m.
    • April 16, 1 p.m. - Virtual meeting via video conference
    • May 21, 1 p.m. - Virtual meeting via video conference
    • June 18, 1 p.m. - Virtual meeting via video conference
    • July 6, 11:30 a.m. * Special Meeting - Virtual meeting via video conference
    • July 16, 1 p.m.
    • August 5, 3 p.m. * Special Meeting 
    • August 20, 1 p.m.
    • September 17, 1 p.m.
    • September 30, 2 p.m. * Special Meeting
    • October 15, 3 p.m.
    • November 19, 1 p.m.
    • December 17, 1 p.m.

    All meetings are held at the Winton Centre, 10245 Winton Road, Cincinnati, OH 45231 unless otherwise stated.

    The Board of Park Commissioners will be following the Ohio Department of Health Director’s Order for Facial Coverings in Hamilton County, currently in Level 3 Public Health Advisory:

    Facial Coverings (Masks)

    Except as provided herein, all individuals in Hamilton County shall wear facial coverings at all times when:

    • In an indoor location that is not a residence;
    • Outdoors and unable to consistently maintain a distance of six feet or more from individuals who are not members of their household.

    Social Distancing Requirements

    For the purpose of the Order, Social Distancing Requirements includes maintaining at least six-foot social distancing from other individuals, washing hands with soap and water for at least twenty seconds as frequently as possible or using hand sanitizer, covering coughs or sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands), regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces, and not shaking hands.

    Required measures

    Essential Business and Operations engaged in Minimum Basic Operations must take proactive measures to ensure compliance with Social Distancing Requirements, including where possible.

    • Designate six-foot distances. Designating with signage, tape or by other means six-foot spacing for employees and customers in line to maintain appropriate distance;
    • Hand sanitizer and sanitizing products. Having hand sanitizer and sanitizing products readily available for employees and customers.
  • Board Meeting Minutes

    2020 Board Meeting Minutes

    January 30, 2020Minutes
    February 20, 2020Minutes
    March 19, 2020Minutes
    April 16, 2020Minutes
    May 21, 2020Minutes
    June 18, 2020Minutes
    July 6, 2020 - Special MeetingMinutes
    July 16, 2020Minutes
    August 5, 2020 - Special MeetingMinutes
    August 20, 2020Minutes
    September 17, 2020Minutes
    September 30, 2020Minutes

    2019 Board Meeting Minutes

    January 31, 2019Minutes
    January 31, 2019 - Special MeetingMinutes
    February 21, 2019Minutes
    March 21, 2019Minutes
    April 18, 2019Minutes
    May 13, 2019 | Special MeetingMinutes
    May 16, 2019Minutes
    July 18, 2019Minutes
    August 15, 2019Minutes
    September 19, 2019Minutes
    October 17, 2019Minutes
    November 21, 2019Minutes
    December 12, 2019Minutes
  • Great Parks Leadership Team

    Todd Palmeter, Chief Executive Officer 
    The Chief Executive Officer serves as the chief administrator and executive officer overseeing all operations of Great Parks of Hamilton County, reporting directly to the Board of Park Commissioners. The Chief Executive Officer works and collaborates with Great Parks Forever.

    Bret Henninger, Chief Operating Officer 
    The Chief Operating Officer oversees the Conservation & Parks, Guest Experiences, Human Resources, Planning and Ranger divisions.

    Jason Rahe, Chief of Conservation and Parks

    The Chief of Conservation and Parks oversees all natural areas, wildlife habitat, environmental quality, biological diversity, sustainability initiatives and park operations for all developed areas.

    Andy Collins, Chief Financial Officer 
    The Chief Financial Officer oversees budgets, cash flow, investments, internal controls, audits and long-range financial planning; as well as IT & Data Management.

    Rachel Messerschmitt, Chief of Guest Experiences
    The Chief of Guest Experiences oversees Education & Events, Golf and all offerings related to our guest’s experience including harbors, campgrounds, banquet centers, athletics, interpretive farm, equestrian center and gift stores.

    Jill Frazer, Chief of Human Resources
    The Chief of Human Resources oversees all employee services including payroll, hiring, benefits and training; as well as Volunteer Resources and Risk Management.

    Alicia Culman, Chief of Philanthropy
    The Chief of Philanthropy oversees all philanthropic strategies including planned gifts, partnerships, sponsorship, business development and grants; as well as serves as Executive Director of Great Parks Forever.

    Tim Zelek, Chief of Planning
    The Chief of Planning oversees Design & Land Acquisition, Facilities & Infrastructure and Marketing & Public Engagement.

    Scott Snow, Ranger Chief
    The Ranger Chief oversees our state-certified police force responsible for enforcing federal and state laws, as well as Great Parks’ by-laws.

  • Great Parks Forever Board

    The Great Parks Forever is facilitated by an all-volunteer Board. For more information visit the Great Parks Forever website.

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