Transformation Team Status Check: California State Parks Provides Update to California State Park and Recreation Commission


Last week, California State Parks (State Parks) Director Lisa Mangat and Transformation Team Leader Steve Szalay briefed the California State Park and Recreation Commission (Commission) on the status of the Transformation Team’s progress. The update and the Commission’s reaction to the update were overwhelmingly positive.

“This isn’t just eight people in a room who are going to come out with a magical product,” noted State Parks Director Lisa Mangat in her remarks to the Commission.

“Every person in the department is engaged in the transformation;

everything we are doing in the department is reflected in the vision of the Transformation Team’s effort. It’s been remarkable.”

“This is a massive positive change endeavor,” added Transformation Team Leader Steve Szalay. “This is not a small kind of thing done in a couple of weeks. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and we’re well on our way down the road.”

Director Mangat noted the department initially “had to ask itself some tough questions” on how to accomplish the goals set forward in the Parks Forward Commission report. “But this is real transformation. We are totally focused on how to make impactful actions in the state parks system.”

Szalay said the reason for the success of the effort so far was the sense of urgency and the strong across-the-board support of Parks leadership, from the Governor’s office down to local partners.

“We have huge decisions to make between now and 2016,” he told the Commission, “and the momentum is very good. This is a two-year, two-step project. We need to rebuild credibility for this department in a number of ways, and we are every day. Then we have to work toward a stable, fiscal platform.”

Director Mangat talked in depth about cultural change that is underway at State Parks. “Everyone in the field is doing the best job they can, delivering the best services for anyone who comes to our parks, yet there’s a little bit of mystery about what we are doing,” she said. “We’re respectful of that. And for this to be sustainable, this has to be an education for all of us. There is a need to be deep stakes driven into the ground, so these kind of changes that will take place will endure no matter who is in the corner office.”

Mangat and Szalay focused on the multi-track approach the Transformation Team is undertaking to tackle the challenges it is facing.  Different committees are working side-by-side on how to accomplish specific goals; updates on these goals are available online for anyone to view.

They also noted that each phase of the project will have an implementation component. “This won’t be a set of recommendations that will just end up on the shelf,” insisted Szalay.

One of the most visible accomplishments so far as been the progress of putting cabins in state parks. The Wedge Cabin, reported Mangat, which is being featured in Angel Island State Park, is designed to “reach out and fill the void” of attracting visitors who otherwise wouldn’t want to spend an overnight in a state park.


Mangat noted that there will be a 2-½ day leadership meeting with 190 members of State Parks management next week, along with discussions with stakeholders. Today is day two of this informative and productive meeting. We’ll provide you with highlights from this meeting this week.


View Director Mangat and Transformation Leader Szalay’s complete testimony on


  • Stay abreast of the Transformation Team’s progress on their website.
  • The Transformation Team is interested to know your ideas, thoughts and comments. Let us know what you think.
  • Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook and stay updated on #TransformationTuesdays!


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