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Phil Ginsberg, Rec and Park Dept

Phil Ginsburg took the helm of San Francisco’s Recreation and Park Department in 2009.  With more than 4,100 acres of and over 220 parks under its jurisdiction, the Recreation and Park Department stewards some of the most spectacular public spaces in the world.  In 2012, the Trust for Public Land named San Francisco the nation’s best urban park system.

During his tenure, Ginsburg has navigated historic budget challenges and has fought to protect the Department’s core mission of providing enriching recreational opportunities and clean, safe, fun parks for San Francisco’s residents and visitors to enjoy.  Through the use of public-private partnerships, creative revenue strategies, technology and administrative efficiencies, Ginsburg has helped San Francisco’s park system avoid the catastrophic cuts, closures and service reductions facing many state and local jurisdictions. During Ginsburg’s tenure, Rec and Park has added new recreation programs and summer camps; renovated numerous parks, facilities, ball fields, trails and playgrounds; and offered more concerts, amenities, and internationally acclaimed sporting events on its properties.

Under Ginsburg’s leadership, the Recreation and Park Department has passed and implemented two park bonds resulting in approximately $300 million in park, playground, trail and facility improvements.  The Department instituted the first gardener apprenticeship program in the State of California, completed several water conservation projects, and cultivated nearly 150,000 hours of annual support from volunteers.  Most near and dear to him, Ginsburg has been passionate about improving access to open space and recreational opportunities for San Francisco’s underserved youth through robust scholarship and environmental education programs.   Recognized across the country for his leadership, Phil sits on the Board of the City Parks Alliance, a national organization advocating for large urban park systems.  In 2013, Phil was presented with a “Legacy Award” by America Scores Bay Area for his leadership and commitment to San Francisco youth.

A lawyer by training, Ginsburg’s career in public service spans two decades.  Phil has more than a decade of experience in San Francisco city government, having previously served as a deputy City Attorney, Director of the Department of Human Resources, and Chief of Staff to Mayor Gavin Newsom. While Chief of Staff, Ginsburg brokered a deal between interest groups in a decades-long dispute over weekend automobile use in certain parts of Golden Gate Park.  Ginsburg was awarded San Francisco’s Public Managerial Excellence Award in 2003 for helping the city achieve a partnership with labor that saved $150 million worth of jobs and programs in a challenging budget year.             

Phil is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Hastings College of the Law.  He proposed to his wife, Emily, on a backcountry trek in Glacier National Park.  From their home in the Sunset, they have run regularly together in Golden Gate Park for 15 years.  Phil can also be found rooting on his daughters, Grace and Sarah, on one of San Francisco’s many ball fields, or enjoying Camp Mather in the High Sierras with his family during the summer.