Planning, Development and Research Director

Metro Oregon | Full-time

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Hello, We're Metro

Across greater Portland in 24 cities and three counties, there’s one local government that brings us all together. Led by the only regionally elected council in the country, Metro helps Oregonians shape the future and provides services that make life better today. Metro’s work spans parks and nature, land and transportation, affordable and supportive housing, garbage and recycling, and arts and events. We help make greater Portland a great place to call home.

Parks and nature

Metro protects clean water, restores fish and wildlife habitat and connects people to nature at the Oregon Zoo and across 18,000 acres of parks, trails and natural areas.

Land and transportation

Communities, cities and counties partner with Metro to shape near-term investments and 50-year plans for new homes, jobs, transportation options and access to local businesses and parks.

Affordable and supportive housing

Metro collaborates with local cities and counties to fund and create new affordable housing and to reduce homelessness through services that help people find and keep safe and stable homes.

Garbage and recycling

Metro protects land, air and water by managing greater Portland’s garbage and recycling system and provides resources and information about safe disposal and ways to reduce waste.

Arts and events

Metro hosts arts and events and helps keep the economy growing through Portland’5 Centers for the Arts, the Oregon Convention Center and Portland Expo Center.

Serving greater Portland

Metro serves nearly 1.7 million people in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties. The Metro boundary extends from the Columbia River in the north to the Willamette River near Wilsonville and from the foothills of the Coast Range near Forest Grove to the banks of the Sandy River at Troutdale.

An elected council

The Metro Council consists of a president, elected regionwide, and six councilors, who are elected by district every four years in nonpartisan races. The Metro Auditor, elected regionwide, is responsible for oversight of Metro's annual financial statements and for conducting performance audits. The council appoints a chief operating officer to carry out council policies and manage Metro operations.

Employees

Metro is dedicated to shaping a better future for everyone. Metro’s 1,350 employees work across greater Portland in a variety of jobs, from park rangers and scientists to economists and planners, from security guards and animal keepers to salespeople and designers. Hundreds of volunteers lend a hand at Metro’s parks, natural areas, offices and arts and events venues.

A welcoming workplace

Metro works to hire staff who reflect the diversity of greater Portland and are committed to creating a safe and welcoming workplace for everyone.

Advancing racial equity, diversity and inclusion

Metro is committed to advancing racial equity and centering the values of diversity, equity and inclusion in decision making to help ensure that all people in greater Portland have the opportunity to reach their full potential. The Strategic Plan to Advance Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, developed in partnership with community members and adopted by Metro Council in 2016, identifies goals and actions intended to address the barriers that cause inequitable outcomes for Black people, Indigenous people and other people of color (BIPOC), improving the quality of life for all people in the region.

In addition to identifying specific actions, the Strategic Plan informs Metro’s values and decision-making processes. This includes: 

  • An understanding that, due to structural racism, Black, Indigenous and other people of color (BIPOC), experience inequitable health, education, criminal justice and economic outcomes.
  • A commitment to advance strategies to support and invest in Black Lives and transform systems that create or perpetuate harm.
  • A commitment to redesigning and centering new programs, policies or planning efforts to benefit and support BIPOC communities so that they may thrive.
  • An understanding that a traditional approach to decision making without a racial equity consideration will result in communities of color bearing the disproportionate impacts of those decisions.
  • A commitment to being accountable to and sharing power with BIPOC communities and building authentic relationships with BIPOC community leaders.

About Metro’s planning, development and research department

With a 2022-23 budget of $42 million, and more than 70 full-time staff employed in roles in land use and transportation planning, equitable economic development, grant programs and technical support to local partners, regional data forecasting and analysis and communications and engagement, Metro’s planning, development and research department implements the Metro Council’s regional growth vision and provides critical services for communities in the region. The work of the department continues to evolve as greater Portland has changed, but has several core missions related to the levels of government Metro works with:

  • For the federal government, Metro fulfills federal transportation planning and policy responsibilities as a Metropolitan Planning Organization.
  • For the state of Oregon, Metro stewards the region's urban growth management decisions to support the 2040 Vision in accordance with Oregon land use laws.
  • For the cities and counties in the region, Metro supports the implementation of the 2040 Growth Concept and encourages planning, infrastructure development and efficient growth practices.
  • For the people of greater Portland, Metro works to implement the vision of their elected regional government and advance the adopted Strategic Plan to Advance Racial Equity.

The work of planning, development and research is critical to achieving Metro’s racial equity goals – the scope of the department’s work means that many of its programs and projects have significant long-term impacts on people’s lives. Metro’s unique position as a leader in the discipline of urban planning and a convener of local governments also offers the opportunity to influence racial equity outcomes even beyond its project and programmatic work.

In 2018, after significant engagement with staff, agency colleagues, and community partners, the department completed its own strategy to advance racial equity, aligned with Metro’s organization-wide strategic plan. The department’s vision states: “Metro’s planning, development and research department will work together to ensure that all facets of our work actively advance or support the advancement of racial equity. We will actively dismantle structures of racial inequality, both internally and throughout the region. We will use Metro’s unique position as a leader in the discipline of urban planning to normalize racial equity work in contemporary planning practice and we will remain committed to this endeavor until racial equity is achieved.” The department outlines equity goals that are organized around five key principles of power, influence, innovation, culture and accountability. All projects work to improve equity outcomes around these key principles.

In addition to planning and policy functions, planning, development and research administers 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. Metro also offers grant programs for community placemaking, brownfield redevelopment, equitable development and economic development, all with a strong emphasis on racial equity, which are managed by the department.

Responsible for coordinating data and research activities with government partners, academic institutions and the private sector, the department provides information on population and jobs today as well as future projections, travel demand forecasting, mapping and technical services to Metro Council, Metro staff and external clients in order to support public policy development, investment decisions and regulatory compliance.

The position

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.

Qualifications

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.

Greater Portland

Greater Portland’s livability and wide range of diverse communities make the region especially attractive. People in greater Portland enjoy active, unique and fulfilling lifestyles enhanced by access to incredible outdoor recreation options and a renowned food and arts scene. Greater Portland is not only the region’s cultural hub, but it also occupies center stage in the state’s positive economic health as a hotbed for a number of industries including technology, athletic and outdoor apparel, healthcare and manufacturing.

The Portland metropolitan area is ideally located for quick access to both the ocean and mountains. This location makes it easy for people to enjoy everything the region has to offer, including biking, hiking, trail running, fishing, hunting, boating, golfing, snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing, surfing and more. Both the immaculate environment of rugged natural spaces and the culture of outdoor enthusiasts makes greater Portland a nature-lover’s paradise. 

Greater Portland is home to trend-setting restaurants, prolific produce, artisan food producers and a boundary-breaking beverage industry filled with world-class wineries, breweries and distilleries. The region is also known for food carts dotting the urban landscape, bringing an eclectic mix of flavors and cuisines from around the world.

A hub for art, music and sports, the area is home to several big-league sports teams. Live theater, museums, galleries, music venues and magnificent gardens can be found throughout the region. From Portland’s urban core to its rural outskirts, the region hosts all kinds of film, food, beer, wine and cultural festivals.

Well-being, work/life balance and health are a priority. Greater Portland is known for making strategic investments in the health of our people - often through collaborative investment projects. With some of the best bicycle infrastructure in the country, the region has invested in greenways, special turn lanes and bicycle parking to make it easier for people to bike to work, exercise and make environmentally friendly choices.

Compensation and benefits

The salary range for the planning, development and research director is $154,512 to $224,056 and will depend on the qualifications of the successful candidate. Metro offers an excellent benefits package that is among the best in the region and includes comprehensive medical, dental, vision and life insurance, Public Employee Retirement System contributions, holiday and leave time and other employee perks. Full benefit details can be viewed here.

  • Health insurance: medical, vision, and dental coverage (choose benefits from four medical plans, and two dental plans), pre-tax deductions for health insurance premiums, medical care flexible spending account, access to employee assistance program resources and wellness program.
  • Retirement and financial planning: Oregon Public Employee Retirement System (PERS), 457 and 401(k) deferred compensation retirement plans, life insurance, disability insurance, direct deposit into personal checking or savings accounts, direct deposit into the Oregon College Savings Plan and membership at two credit unions.
  • Work-life balance: paid sick leave, paid holidays, paid vacation, access to employee-paid onsite childcare at Metro Regional Center and dependent care flexible spending account.
  • Commuter resources: TriMet universal pass and alternative transportation incentives.

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. Open until filled with ongoing review of applications.

Metro is committed to upholding and promoting equal opportunity in employment. We know that a diverse workforce is a strong workforce. Metro encourages people of all backgrounds, cultures and religions to apply, including veterans, people of color, immigrants, refugees, women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people with disabilities. Assistance with the recruitment, application and selection process is available to applicants with disabilities upon request.

Equity Statement

Planning, development and research’s work is critical to achieving Metro’s racial equity goals -- the scope of the department’s work means that many of its programs and projects have significant long-term impacts on people’s lives. Please provide a statement describing your experience advancing racial equity, diversity, and inclusion. This may include, but is not limited to:

  • how your lived or professional experience has influenced the way you engage with communities of color
  • your experience identifying and implementing programmatic priorities in partnership with communities of color
  • work you have done to implement and sustain structural changes that foster equity and inclusion within operations

COVID-19 vaccination

Metro is committed to ensuring the health and safety of our employees and our community. As a part of this commitment, Metro has implemented a vaccine requirement policy for employees, paid and unpaid interns and volunteers. Proof of full COVID-19 vaccination is considered a minimum qualification requirement for Metro job applicants and this proof will be requested during the hiring process. For more information and to read the full policy visit, Metro COVID-19 Vaccination Policy.

Metro hires veterans

Qualified veterans are eligible for Veterans’ Preference when applying for Metro positions. Please submit a copy of the DD Form 214 or 215 showing your discharge status. If you are disabled, you will also need to include a public employment preference letter from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Please attach the qualifying documents to your application, Documents are due no later than 5 p.m. on the closing date of the recruitment.

Equal employment opportunity

Anyone qualified will be considered for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, familial status, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability for which a reasonable accommodation can be made, or any other status protected by law. Assistance will be gladly provided upon request for any applicant with sensory or non-sensory disabilities.

Questions

For more information or questions regarding Metro's planning, development and research director position, please contact Heather Gantz at hgantz@raftelis.com or Robert Colichio at rcolichio@raftelis.com.

 

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