Location: Portland, OR

Planning, Development and Research Director

Salary: $154,512 to $224,056

Closing: November 27, 2022

Metro is seeking an innovative and dynamic leader to become the next planning, development, and research director. The director leads Metro’s policy development and on-the-ground investments that support regional land use and transportation objectives with an ongoing emphasis on equity and climate. In collaboration with a talented and dedicated team, the director focuses on projects that lay the groundwork for vibrant communities and effective transportation choices.

The planning, development and research director fulfills Metro’s federal transportation planning and policy responsibilities. As a charter-defined responsibility to manage the region’s urban growth boundary, every six years, the director leads the effort to assess population and employment trends and buildable land within the urban growth boundary and determines if there is a need to expand the boundary to accommodate future growth. This position collaborates with federal, state and local partners to strategically leverage infrastructure invest­ments, build thriving communi­ties and manage the region’s growth in alignment with Metro’s 2040 Growth Concept.

The director oversees the development of both short- and long-range transportation investment plans, including the federally required Transportation Improvement Program, the Regional Transportation Plan, and the Unified Planning Work Program as required by federal MPO laws. This position leads investments in active transportation and road development, high-capacity transit corridor planning, safe routes to schools, regional travel options, transportation systems management and operations, and transit-oriented development. The planning, development and research director actively supports innovation, new tools and methodologies in the research and data analysis of transportation, land use and equitable development.

With a focus on customer service and employee and community relations, the director supports a department-wide commitment to racial equity. This position develops and maintains relationships with Metro Council, elected officials, advisory boards, state agencies, regional jurisdictions, community-based organizations and community leaders to develop long-range strategic approaches, goals and plans for growth management, transportation and equitable development to address community needs and ensure active involvement in planning processes. The director also manages multiple stakeholder committees, including the Metropolitan Policy Advisory Committee (MPAC) and the Joint Policy Advisory Committee (JPACT), and works with cities, counties, regional agencies including transit and the ports, state and federal agencies, businesses and the community to find solutions to transportation and land use challenges.

The director reports directly to the chief operating officer, is supported by a deputy director and leads a team of program directors and managers overseeing research, metropolitan transportation planning, equitable development, operations and administration, and communications and engagement. In collaboration with the leadership team, the planning, development and research director provides expertise in public policy development and analysis to sup­port the Metro Council’s agenda for land use, transportation and development. The director coordinates with other Metro departments and proactively identifies opportunities for alignment and collaboration.

The Priorities

  • Dedicate time for genuine and authentic community engagement. Intentionally bring diverse voices to the decision-making table and create opportunities for participation to understand community needs and inspire inclusive and innovative solutions to the challenges of a changing region.
  • Build a collaborative relationship and engage in shared leadership with the equity team to update the department’s strategy to advance racial equity. Continue to produce equity outcomes and further build the competency of racial equity within the department, including the hiring of an equity manager.
  • Lead the long-term visionary process to update the 2040 Growth Concept, navigating the next phase for how Metro partners with our cities and community to develop urban areas.
  • Collaborate with staff, community members, business leaders and governments on the 2023 comprehensive update of the Regional Transportation Plan. Ensure robust engagement, especially with BIPOC communities, and intentionally integrate equity and climate throughout the plan.
  • Lead Metro through the Urban Growth Boundary review in 2024. Support Metro Council as it looks at growth forecasts and development trends and determines whether to expand the boundary to meet its 20-year supply obligation.
  • Continue the ongoing implementation of the Climate Smart Strategy to meet adopted targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions while creating healthy and equitable communities and a strong economy.
  • Complete the integration of the Research Center into Planning, Development and Research. Continue to ensure an inclusive lens around Metro’s data and recognize the importance data plays in understanding and guiding policies, programs and decisions that community members make.
  • Build upon a culture of innovation. Support employee growth and development, nurture collaboration and maintain employee engagement through change and transformation.

The Successful Candidate
The planning, development and research director is an innovative leader excited by the opportunity to guide growth in a metropolitan area known for its planning. The director understands and embraces the intersection between strategic land use decisions, green spaces and parks, an efficient transportation system, and the planning and investment in equitable development as it relates to climate justice and economic propensity in greater Portland.

With a high level of emotional intelligence, the planning, development and research director represents Metro with integrity and advocates for change that centers on those that have been excluded from decision making in governments and other institutions, including BIPOC and other marginalized communities. A natural convener and community builder, the successful candidate recognizes the importance of relationships and partnerships at all levels and navigates political, community and multi-sector relationships with ease. The director is a humble leader who embraces vulnerability and centers the community in decision-making. The successful candidate listens for intention and is an effective communicator who values the diversity of thought and the lived experiences of others to deliver solutions and achieve desired results. They strive to cultivate diversity, advance equity and practice inclusion in all of their work.

A strategic thinker with a multidisciplinary approach, the planning, development and research director embraces a collaborative, open problem-solving environment and routinely invites others to share ideas. The successful candidate brings a fresh yet experienced voice with the ability to challenge established norms while effectively navigating and blending the prescriptive statutes and political elements that drive Metro’s work. They successfully lead and manage large-scale and politically complex public policy and community development decision-making processes that include diverse stakeholders and require building consensus to reach shared outcomes. The director understands the complexity of land use policy and its interconnectedness with economic development, transportation and mobility, ensuring that Metro is well-balanced for a fiscally sustainable future.

The ideal candidate embraces operational excellence and utilizes data and analytics to drive decisions. They encourage and facilitate innovative planning that addresses the emerging trends of greater Portland while expanding the development and application of quantitative decision-support tools and methods. The director also recognizes the importance of storytelling and integrating community experiences in qualitative research. They facilitate and promote ongoing research into new approaches and trends and recommend the implementation of programs to assist our local partners in the implementation of our collective vision of growth.

The planning, development and research director genuinely encourages and supports collaboration and employs a leadership style that invites participation and gathers input. The successful candidate leads and empowers staff while promoting a forward-thinking culture that embraces change for the better. The director actively nurtures an open and welcoming environment that continues to advance the department’s racial equity work while maintaining a commitment to innovation and service excellence.

At least ten years of progressively responsible leadership and management experience with considerable expertise in land use and transportation planning and forecasting. Prior experience with a Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) or regional planning organization is ideal. Experience in developing and analyzing public policy is required. A commitment to community engagement and a demonstrated ability to build relationships that support equity work is essential. A bachelor’s degree or any combination of education and experience that provides the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the job duties and responsibilities.

Studies have shown that women and people of color are less likely to apply for jobs unless they believe they can perform every job description task. We are most interested in finding the best candidate for the job, and that candidate may come from a less traditional background. If you are interested in applying, we encourage you to think broadly about your background and skill set for the role.

How to Apply
Applications will be accepted electronically by Raftelis. Applicants complete a brief online form and are prompted to provide a cover letter, resume and equity statement. Apply online at: