The Institute for Parks, People, and Biodiversity was officially established in October of 2017 with an initial grant from the Resources Legacy Fund and the Nathan M. Ohrbach Foundation. Jonathan B. Jarvis, the former Director of the National Park Service (2009-2017), was hired as the Inaugural Executive Director and served until 2020. He is now chair of the Institute's board. The current executive director of the Parks Institute is Patrick Gonzlaez.
The Advisory Board provides overall direction, focus, and priorities for the Institute and serves to offer a broad, field-based perspective. The Advisory Board is complemented by a UC Faculty Executive Committee, which oversees the research component of the Institute.