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.
- July 16, 1 p.m.
- August 20, 1 p.m.
- September 17, 1 p.m.
- October 15, 9 a.m.
- November 19, 1 p.m.
- December 17, 1 p.m.
The Board of Park Commissioners continues to monitor the Ohio Department of Health Director’s Stay Safe Ohio Order and HB197. Meeting locations will be determined seven days prior to date of the Board meeting.
* The Board of Park Commissioners will hold a regular meeting on May 21, 2020, at 1 p.m. The meeting will be conducted by video conference as authorized by HB 197.
The meeting will be open to the public via video conference or telephone. To participate, please follow these instructions:
Join the meeting by video conference: https://call.lifesizecloud.com/3190818
Join the meeting by phone (audio only)
United States: +1 (312) 584-2401
Meeting extension: 3190818#
Board Meeting Minutes
2020 Board Meeting Minutes
January 30, 2020 Minutes February 20, 2020 Minutes March 19, 2020 Minutes May 21, 2020 Minutes
2019 Board Meeting Minutes
January 31, 2019 Minutes January 31, 2019 - Special Meeting Minutes February 21, 2019 Minutes March 21, 2019 Minutes April 18, 2019 Minutes May 13, 2019 | Special Meeting Minutes May 16, 2019 Minutes July 18, 2019 Minutes August 15, 2019 Minutes September 19, 2019 Minutes October 17, 2019 Minutes November 21, 2019 Minutes December 12, 2019 Minutes
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.
Rebecca McDonough | 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, Chief of Rangers
The Chief Ranger 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.