Meet CNU's New Executive Director

The Congress for the New Urbanism has announced the hiring of Rick Cole as the its new executive director, filling a role left vacant by the departure of Lynn Richards earlier this year.

2 minute read

May 5, 2021, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Rick Cole, a prominent figure in the Southern California planning community, will be the next executive director of the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU). The announcement of Cole's hiring fills the void left by the departure of Lynn Richards, who stepped down in January after seven years at the helm of the D.C.-based planning reform advocacy organization.

"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," writes Margaret O'Neal in an article for the CNU website.

Cole was most recently announced as special housing advisor to the mayor of Pasadena after leaving a post as city manager of Santa Monica—and sounding alarms about the potential fiscal impact of the pandemic on his way out—at the beginning of 2020.

Previously, Cole served as mayor of the city of Pasadena and as the city manager in both Azusa and Ventura, in addition to a role as the deputy mayor of budget and innovation for the city of Los Angeles at the beginning of Mayor Eric Garcetti's time in office.

"As Mayor of Pasadena, California, Cole was among the first elected officials in the nation to embrace New Urbanism, leading an effort to rewrite the city’s General Plan to embrace timeless ways of building and target new, human-scale development around the coming of light rail transit. Later, as City Manager of Azusa, he spearheaded the first citywide form-based code in California, a new urbanist tool for producing high quality design," writes O'Neal.

Cole's frequent contributions to planning media, especially through the Los Angeles-based publication The Planning Report, means there are numerous entries on the Rick Cole tag on Planetizen.

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