CNU welcomes Rick Cole as new executive director
Over the past seven years, Lynn Richards has led CNU staff on a journey of growth – moving the organization from Chicago to Washington, DC; growing our annual Congress into the largest (and most inclusive) national placemaking event; and stewarding the development of a strategic plan that will allow us to address the most critical issues impacting cities in the 21st century. While the Board has conducted a national search for her replacement over the past several months, we have waited (with bated breath!) to see who is best suited to build on Lynn's legacy and take us into the future. Today, the wait is over, as the board has announced their selection of one of America’s most thoughtful urban leaders, Rick Cole, to serve as the next Executive Director of the Congress for the New Urbanism.
This selection comes at a defining moment for the world, for cities across this country, and for CNU as an organization. With an ongoing global pandemic, increasingly more severe impacts from our climate crisis, and the nation's overdue racial reckoning – New Urbanism has the chance to demonstrate again, as it did nearly 30 years ago, how design and its implementation can be a radical solution to seemingly insurmountable problems.
But this will only be true if we can face these problems head-on. Rick's experience leading organizations of all size, his long history leveraging New Urbanist principles to champion walkable urbanism, and his dedication to ensuring that CNU remain a powerful player in creating and repairing places that work for everyone make him the ideal candidate for this position. As staff, we are thrilled that Rick is willing to get back in the trenches with us to accomplish what the NU Future process and strategic plan set out to do.
From being among the first elected official in the nation to embrace New Urbanism as Mayor of Pasadena, California, to his experience as City Manager in Azusa, Ventura, and Santa Monica, or his experience as Deputy Mayor for Budget and Innovation for the City of Los Angeles – you can read all of Rick's accomplishments in CNU's official press release. But Rick's own words about what this position will mean to him remain the most powerful demonstration of what's next:
“This role is the culmination of my life’s work devoted to creating cities that work for everyone,” Cole said. “CNU rewrote the rules for urban planning and design in America. Now our challenge is to ensure that the benefits of people-centered design are widely shared in every city, town and suburb. Vibrant and prosperous places to live and work should be the birthright of every American. CNU is fighting to legalize walkable urbanism, support complete neighborhoods and design for climate change. We will take this urgent message to places that have too long been bypassed – whether inner city neighborhoods ravaged by institutional racism, rust belt towns abandoned by disinvestment or rural communities struggling with poverty.”
Please join us in welcoming Rick Cole as the new Executive Director of CNU! He will be joining us at CNU 29.Design for Change, to occur May 17-21 online, and officially starting the position on June 1.