Heather Olsen

Associate Professor, Leisure, Youth and Human Services & Director, Center for Playground Safety
(319) 273-6173

University of Northern Iowa
HPC 105
Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0618

Heather Olsen is an Associate Professor at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. She teaches at both the undergraduate and graduate level in course topics of community recreation, nonprofit leadership and management, facility planning, and financial decision-making.  Since being at UNI, she has served in the following roles: prepares students to design and deliver programs and services that facilitate human, community, and social needs; works on research committees; consults with educators and a variety of youth serving organizations and staff on outdoor spaces and playground safety; and has served on University and local committees. Dr. Olsen also serves as the Director for the National Program for Playground Safety, which has a rich tradition of research and outreach to advocate for quality outdoor play and to raise awareness on playground safety.

She has published several articles, books, book chapters, and service publications on playground safety, planning developmentally appropriate and inclusive outdoor environments, supervision, and facility management.  She has been an invited speaker on children’s outdoor spaces, playground safety, supervision, maintenance, and playground planning at the local, regional, national, and international level on a number of occasions.