By Fania Gordon & Brian Wheeler
Monday, April 27, 2009
The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (TJPDC) announced last week that it has hired Stephen W. Williams as its new Executive Director beginning on May 11, 2009. Williams succeeds
Harrison Rue who stepped down June 30, 2008
to take a position as a consultant with ICF International.
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Mr. Williams brings over 25 years experience as a professional planner in work at local and regional planning agencies, most recently as Executive Director of the Nashua (New Hampshire) Regional Planning Commission (NRPC). Mr. Williams brings special skills in the area of transportation planning.
Albemarle Supervisor Sally Thomas (Samuel Miller) served as Chair of the Selection Committee. “The search for just the right Director has come to a delightful conclusion,” said Thomas in a TJPDC media release. “We think that Mr. Williams brings an extensive background in many areas in which the Planning District provides services to localities in the region.”
At a press conference held on April 21, 2009, Mr. Williams commented, “I’m looking forward to working with our local government officials and TJPDC staff to continue the important planning projects underway and to look for new opportunities to assist our localities as they plan for the future.”
Under Mr. Williams’ leadership, the NRPC was recognized as a leading regional planning commission in New Hampshire. He received gubernatorial appointments to the state’s Climate Change Task Force and the Freedom’s Way Heritage Commission. He also was vice-chairman of the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority. “Recently, I have been most heavily involved in the areas of transportation, transit and rail,” Williams said.
In order to engage the public in transportation planning in Nashua, Williams explained that the NRPC utilized town hall meetings to find out what the citizens wanted. “At NRPC we have worked to find ways to take the transportation process out to the people instead of asking them to come to us,” said Williams.
When asked about why he wanted to work in Virginia, with its reputation for inadequate funding for transportation projects, Williams responded that he expected to work to address this problem. “There are 50 states with a reputation for not adequately funding transportation,” Williams said “A critical part of the role that I expect to play here helping the region to try figure to out how to pay for those projects moving forward.”
TJPDC Chairperson Connie Brennan, Vice Chair of the Nelson County Board of Supervisors, said the Commission is excited about Mr. Williams’ arrival to the region. “We believe Steve can jump right in to build on the good work already underway at the Planning District,” said Brennan. “The region’s localities stand to benefit from the knowledge and expertise he brings with him.”
Mr. Williams holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Montana State University and completed masters’ degree coursework at California Polytechnic State University.
The TJPDC was established in 1972 to promote the efficient development of the physical, social, and economic policies across the region by assisting its member local governments to plan for the future. The Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission is one of 21 such organizations in Virginia. Planning District Commissions seek to facilitate regional solutions to issues of significance to local governments, including transportation, water resources, housing programs, and economic development. The TJPDC’s work is managed by a professional staff in cooperation with elected officials and citizens appointed by local and regional governments.
TJPDC staff manages the local Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) which is responsible for our region’s transportation planning. They raise no revenues of their own and act essentially as advisory bodies to the elected governments within their jurisdiction. The TJPDC serves the City of Charlottesville, Albemarle County, Fluvanna County, Greene County, Louisa County, and Nelson County.