Park Bench Chat: 2023 ParkScore® Index Release — How Parks Are Delivering on Community Health
On May 24 we celebrated the release of our 2023 ParkScore® index and were joined with leading health and park experts to unveil this year’s top rankings and take an in-depth look at ways parks are being powerfully leveraged to support physical, mental, and community health nationwide.
For over a decade, Trust for Public Land has published its annual ParkScore index, which ranks park systems in the 100 most populous U.S. cities. This work also highlights the power of parks to address some of the most complex problems facing cities today, including health challenges such as rising obesity rates, mental health problems, and loneliness. The panel discussed why cities with better park systems are typically healthier places to live and shared practical ways cities can improve community health through parks.
Director, Portland Parks & Recreation
Director Long has spent much of her professional career involved in designing and creating parks and recreational facilities. She has also worked on preserving and restoring natural areas and urban forests and has a particular passion for providing low-barrier access to opportunities and experiences for all. As Director of Portland Parks and Recreation, she devotes a lot of her time in building and nurturing partnerships by connecting people with parks. Director Long firmly believes that parks are a great equalizer and that all communities need great parks. A native of New York, Director Long started her career at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. She holds a Master of Science from the Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy/Non-Profit Management at The New School University and a Bachelor of Science from the School of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Connecticut.
Georges C. Benjamin, MD
Executive Director, American Public Health Association
Georges C. Benjamin, MD, is a health policy leader, practitioner and administrator. He currently serves as the executive director of the American Public Health Association, the nation’s oldest and largest organization of public health professionals. He is also a former secretary of health for the state of Maryland. Dr. Benjamin is a graduate of the Illinois Institute of Technology and the Univ. Of Illinois College Of Medicine. He is board-certified in internal medicine, a master of the American College of Physicians, a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, a fellow emeritus of the American College of Emergency Physicians, an honorary fellow of the Faculty of Public Health, an honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Public Health and a member of the National Academy of Medicine. He is also a former member of the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, a council that advises the President on how best to assure the security of the nation’s critical infrastructure.
Associate Director for Parks Research at TPL’s Land and People Lab
Will Klein leads TPL’s park research projects, including the ParkScore index, the annual ranking of the park systems in the 100 most populous U.S. cities. His research interests focus on the role of social access to parks and building the next generation of tools to help inform local parks planning efforts and advocate for park funding and staffing. Prior to TPL, he advised Medicaid insurers, state health departments, and hospitals on innovative ways to pay for housing improvements as a medical expense for patients with asthma or those at risk of trips and falls. Will received a B.A. in Nature & Culture from UC Davis and a Master’s degree in Environmental Management with a specialty in Urban Social Ecology from Yale University.
Dr. Howard Frumkin – Moderator
Senior Vice President & Director of TPL’s Land and People Lab
Dr. Howard Frumkin is senior vice president at Trust for Public Land, where he directs the Land and People Lab. The Lab advances TPL’s strategic commitments—health, climate action, equity, and community—by assembling evidence and propelling that evidence into policy and practice, building on TPL’s longstanding expertise, experience, and partnerships. Dr. Frumkin is Professor Emeritus of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the University of Washington School of Public Health, where he served as Dean from 2010-2016. He is also a Hagler Fellow at Texas A&M University and previously held leadership roles at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Frumkin has authored and co-authored more than 300 scientific journal articles and 14 books on human, community and planetary health. He received his AB from Brown University, his MD from the University of Pennsylvania, his MPH and DrPH from Harvard University.