Mark Graham, Albemarle County

Mark Graham, Director of Community Development, Albemarle County

Where were you born (and raised, if different)?

Born in Oakland, California (one of the first Kaiser Permanente babies) and raised in La Grange, Texas (home of the Chicken Ranch for those who know Texas), first came to Virginia for grad school and loved it. I seem to have kept moving from the left to the right throughout my life.    

When and why did you move to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area?

Moved to Albemarle in 1999 from Nashville.  My wife and I went to grad school at Virginia Tech, fell in love with the mountains, and when an opportunity arose to get back to this part of Virginia, we jumped. 

What neighborhood do you live in now?

Ivy and love it.

Family (spouse, kids, etc)?

Wife of 32 years, Ann, statistician working in pharmaceutical research. Adult daughter, Scout, who lives in Austin. Adult son, Kyle, proudly serving in the Old Guard of the U.S. Army.

What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?

B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1979 (3rd generation U.T. grad);  . from Virginia Tech in 1986.

What were you doing before coming to the County?

Working as an engineering consultant in Nashville, Tennessee, primarily in water resources.

Your job title is Director of Community Development of Albemarle County – what, in your own words, would you say you do?

Simply put, I advise the County Board of Supervisors on policy decisions and implement the policies the Board adopts.  For Community Development, this means assuring building and development in the County matches the Board’s expectations.

What is the best part of your job? The most difficult part?

The best part of my job is working in a great organization with great people in one of the most beautiful places in the country. The most difficult part is knowing I can’t do my job and always make the customer happy.

How does your job most directly impact the average person?

Development adds new demands on the County, whether from environmental impacts, traffic, growing schools, or increased service demands. Trying to keep those demands from impacting our citizens quality of life remains a huge challenge

What is the most interesting project or work experience that you’ve had while with the County?

Too many to name. Perhaps the most challenging has been the rezoning of the North Pointe property which was one of the most difficult decisions for the Board.

What is a little-known fact about you?

I paid my own way through college by taking semesters off and working.  I was 26 when I graduated, but I had an engineering degree and no debt. (Schools were a lot cheaper back then, but I don’t know why so many schools now seem to discourage this practice.)

What do you do outside of work hours – hobbies, etc?

Skiing in winter, hiking in summer, love to read, some hunting, and love to learn about discoveries in almost every field of science.