Location: Detroit, MI

Director of Planning

Closing: Open until filled

Position Description
The City of Detroit is currently searching for a Director for its Planning & Development Department. This position serves as the chief visionary for development and growth for the City of Detroit. They set the broad and high reaching goals for the design and execution for the City’s built environment. It is their vision, leadership and ability to execute that advances the Mayor’s goals for growing and beautifying the City’s many neighborhoods. Also possesses the political acumen to gain support (local, public and private) behind their visionary goals and mission.

The City has already taken steps to focus its investments into strategic commercial corridors and adjacent residential neighborhoods throughout the City. All of these corridors have similar tenets: vacant land use strategy, building neighborhood connections, access to alternative mobility options, streetscapes that activate the commercial corridor, and a diversity of safe, high-quality and affordable housing options. Additionally, the City would like to ensure its citizens have equal access to some of its most valuable assets, such as the Detroit riverfront and its many greenways, Eastern Market, the Detroit Institute of Arts, and its many other art and cultural institutions. More of the City’s opportunities and exciting development focus areas are outlined in the accompanying prospectus.

The Planning Director will be expected to work with planning staff and forge public and private relationships in order to craft a revitalization framework that is inclusive and equitable. Additionally, the ideal Planning Director candidate should have categorical experience with planning and activation of vacant land and open spaces at a large scale.

The ideal candidate is a transformational leader, innovative, visionary and pragmatic. This individual must be politically astute, culturally competent, decisive in their decision-making and have strong technical expertise in land use planning, architecture, design and development. This position will call on the candidate to have excellent communication skills, both oral and written/visual. Additionally, the future Planning Director will be a skilled collaborator, community-minded and can build strong working relationships with all levels of government, City Council, Detroit residents, City departments, boards and commissions, other public agencies and the private sector to effectively manage the city of Detroit's growth and development.

A demonstrated knowledge and experience with the large-scale transformation of vacant land and abandoned structures into social, environmental and economic assets for the city is highly desirable.

Key Responsibilities

  • Set the vision for the city of Detroit’s growth and development and create a strategic plan to realize this vision through implementation projects. This includes assuring the vision is appropriately advanced by receiving approval through governmental and quasi-governmental boards, including but not limited to: Detroit City Council, Board of Zoning Appeals, City Planning Commission, Historic District Commission.
  • Manage the department budget in line with City-wide goals and objectives.
  • Plan, prioritize and provide overall direction to the work of the Department. Build a strong and inclusive team culture and oversee the recruitment, supervision, training and development of all planning staff.
  • Develop a framework for the activation and use of open space.
  • Create department-wide administrative policies and procedures in alignment with the organizational framework and policies set by the Mayor's Office.
  • The position also provides technical assistance, directly or through subordinate staff, to a variety of citizen boards and commissions, including the Board of Zoning Appeals, Historic District Commission, City Planning Commission, and the Design Review Staff. The Director regularly appears before the City Council, Council Committees, City Planning Commission, public agencies, community groups, and other organizations regarding the City’s planning needs, goals and policies, and is expected to be visible and maintain successful working relationships with all City stakeholders.
  • The Planning Director works closely with the Mayor; Group Executive of Planning Housing and Development, City Council, City Departments, boards and commissions, other public agencies and the private sector in developing a comprehensive, integrated and equity focused approach to formulating specific policy, goals, and work standards.
  • Advise OCFO on annual capital agenda and funding allocation.

Minimum Qualifications
Equivalent to graduation from a college or university with major course work in planning, economics, business, architecture, landscape architecture, urban design, or a closely related field, and ten (10) years full-time experience in urban planning with responsibility for at least some of the following: building and zoning codes administration, planning studies, transportation development. At least five (5) years of this experience must have been at a managerial level with responsibility for program planning and development, supervision, training and evaluation of a large professional and technical staff, and must have included budget preparation and management. Experience with federally funded programs and with citizen or quasi-governmental boards is required.

Compensation and Benefits
Starting salary will be commensurate with experience and skills. The City of Detroit offers a rich and comprehensive benefits package including medical, dental, vision, pension plan, flexible work options and generous paid time off including paid holidays, vacation, and sick leave. For more detailed information please visit

Application Process
Recruitment for the City of Detroit’s Director of Planning will be conducted nationally. Those who are deemed qualified will be determined by a steering committee lead by the City's Group Executive of Planning, Housing and Development. It is the City’s desire to identify 10 top candidates for the position. Once the 10 candidates are selected, interviews will be scheduled and a recommendation of the lead candidate will be made to Detroit’s City Council. Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

Applicants should send their resume and cover letter describing their qualifications and their interest in the Director Planning and Development position to