Mary Merrill

mary merrill picture


Phone: 612-230-6404


February 2018-Present


2117 W River Road
Minneapolis, MN 55411


Comprehensive Plan Goals

Provide urban forests, natural areas, and waters that endure and captivate.

Provide recreation that inspires personal growth, healthy lifestyles, and a sense of community.

Provide dynamic parks that shape city character and meet diverse community needs.

Provide a safe place to play, contemplate, and recreate.

To do our work in a sustainable manner.

To foster a safe work environment and provide a supportive and thriving work environment.

Be responsive and innovative.

To provide visionary leadership.

To retain our independence and focus to accomplish our mission.

Ensure incorporation and analysis of racial equity principles at key decision points across the park system.


At its Jan. 17, 2018 meeting, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) of Commissioners approved a contract with Superintendent Emeritus Mary Merrill to return the MPRB. She is serving as Interim Superintendent from Feb. 5, 2018 to Oct. 31, 2018.

MPRB Superintendent Jayne Miller announced in December that she is resigning effective Feb. 4, 2018, to take a position as CEO of the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy. The Superintendent Emeritus will fill out the remainder of Superintendent Miller’s contract while MPRB Commissioners conduct a search for a new Superintendent.

“Mary is uniquely qualified to serve as interim superintendent while the Board of Commissioners conducts a search for the next superintendent of our beloved park system,” said MPRB President Brad Bourn. “There are few stronger advocates for our city’s youth than her. During her career as a frontline employee at the Park Board, she helped design and implement the Youthline Outreach Mentorship Program, Teen Teamworks, Phat Summer and so many other youth programs that our families have relied on over the years. Enhancing that legacy will be a top priority for me and I hope this board for the next four years.”

Merrill has a long, distinguished history with the MPRB. She started in 1972 as Recreation Director at Powderhorn Park and rose through the ranks to become the first woman and first person of color to serve as MPRB Superintendent. Her tenure as Superintendent began March 1, 1999 and ended when she retired on Dec. 31, 2003.

After retiring, Merrill was elected as an At-Large Commissioner in 2005 and served on the Board from 2006 to 2009, which included two years as Board Vice President in 2008 and 2009.  In that role, she helped develop the MPRB’s current Comprehensive Plan [PDF].

In 2009, Merrill was named Superintendent Emeritus by the MPRB, one of only three people to earn that honor in the 134-year history of the MPRB. She continued to serve the MPRB in many advisory capacities, ranging from chairing community advisory committees to helping bring in private donations for projects like the new playground at Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park.

Roles & Responsibilities

The Superintendent is appointed by the Board of Commissioners and provides leadership, vision and direction to the Park Board’s service areas, and implements Board policy. The Superintendent works with the Board and leadership staff to craft strategic and financial planning objectives.

The Superintendent provides leadership to a staff of approximately 550 full-time and 1,150 temporary employees, oversees an annual operating and capital budget of more than $100 million, and serves as an ambassador to the community and other governmental agencies.

The Superintendent’s Office is responsible for the executive management of the highly diverse services and operations of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. The Superintendent’s Office oversees the Park Police and Communications and Marketing departments.

Annual Reports

Past Superintendents


Current and past superintendents have worked with commissioners, staff, and the community to make the Minneapolis Park System what it is today.

Mary Merrill (February 5 – October 2018)

Mary Merrill
February 5 – October 2018

jayne miller (november 2010-February 4, 2018)

Jayne Miller
November 2010-February 4, 2018

jon gurban (2004-2010)

Jon Gurban
January 1, 2005-2010
January 1, 2004-December 31, 2004 (Interim Superintendent)

mary merrill anderson (1999-2003)

Mary Merrill Anderson
March 1, 1999-December 31, 2003

david l. fisher (1981-1999)

David L. Fisher
April 1, 1981-January 5, 1999

del green

Del Green
August 15, 1980-April 1, 1981 (Acting Superintendent)

charles r. spears

Charles R. Spears
October 2, 1978-August 15, 1980

del green

Del Green
July 15, 1978-October 2, 1978 (Acting Superintendent)

robert ruhe (1966-1978(

Robert Ruhe
January 3, 1966-July 15, 1978

howard i. moore (1959-1966)

Howard I. Moore
May 28, 1959-January 1, 1966

charles e. doell (1945-1959)

Charles E. Doell
August 28, 1945-May 8, 1959

c.a. bossen (1935-1945)

C. A. Bossen
November 30, 1935-August 28, 1945

theodore wirth (1906-1935)

Theodore Wirth
January 1, 1906-November 30, 1935

william m. berry (1884-1905)

William M. Berry
April 1884-December 4, 1905

Theodore Wirth Home

The following superintendents have resided in the Theodore Wirth Home and Administration Building, located in Lyndale Farmstead Park:

  • Jayne Miller
  • David Fisher
  • Charles Spears
  • Robert Ruhe
  • Howard Moore
  • Charles Doell