RPA Announces New Board Members; Search for Board of Directors Chair

NEW YORK -- Regional Plan Association announced the addition of four directors to the organization’s board and said it had initiated a search for a new board chair in accordance with the completion of Elliot G. Sander’s sixth year as chairman.

Joining RPA’s board are Tom Morgan, vice president with Arcadis; Kent M. Swig, President, Swig Equities LLC; Darryl Towns, regional director of government affairs for American Airlines; and Randy Wissel, Vice President, Real Estate Strategy Group, Goldman Sachs.

The search for a new board chair will be led by RPA Board of Directors Executive Committee members Denise Richardson and Matt Kissner, who have formed a search committee to identify candidates. Ms. Richardson is the executive director of the General Contractors Association of New York and Mr. Kissner is the chairman of the board of John Wiley & Sons. Mr. Sander will remain in his role as chairman until a successor has been identified and will continue to serve on the board of directors. The search process is anticipated to take three to four months.

“It has been a tremendous privilege to serve as chairman of the country’s most influential independent regional planning organization,” Mr. Sander said. “I am honored to have worked with our esteemed board of directors, who provide RPA with the support and guidance to do vital research and advocacy work, and with RPA’s talented and dedicated staff. Deliberate succession planning is key to ensuring the impact of RPA’s work, and I look forward to helping the search committee in any way I can to aid a smooth transition.”

“On behalf of the board of directors of RPA, I would like to extend our gratitude to Lee Sander, who has served as chairman with tremendous distinction,” said Ms. Richardson. “RPA has thrived under his leadership, playing a key role in major public policy debates, embarking upon an endowment campaign and launching the Fourth Regional Plan during his tenure.”

RPA also announced the promotion of four staff members and the addition of two program directors to its team. Juliette Michaelson was named executive vice president; Christopher Jones was named senior vice president and chief planner; Richard Barone was named vice president for transportation; and Pierina Ana Sanchez was named director, New York.

Melissa Kaplan-Macey has joined RPA as Connecticut director, and Moses Gates will join the organization in February as director of community planning and design. Ms. Kaplan-Macey, an expert in land-use planning and community engagement, formerly was principal of Collaborative Planning Studio. She is an adjunct professor in the urban planning program at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. Mr. Gates joins RPA from the nonprofit Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development, where he has served as director of planning and community development. He is a visiting assistant professor at the Pratt Institute Grad Center for Planning.

More about the new board members:

Tom Morgan leads the North American business advisory practice at Arcadis, a global design and consultancy firm. Prior to his current role, he created Arcadis’s 450-person advisory practice in the U.K. He has spent much of his career in the U.K. helping transportation and commercial developer organizations maximize the results from capital investment and operational spending.

Kent M. Swig is an owner of several real estate operating companies as well as properties throughout the U.S. Mr. Swig serves as president of Swig Equities LLC, an investment and development firm focusing on the acquisition and development of real estate in New York City and California. He is also owner and co-chairman of Terra Holdings LLC, a privately held real estate company that includes Brown Harris Stevens and Halstead Property Company. He also owns and serves as president of Helmsley Spear LLC and is principal in and formerly served as chairman of the board of The Swig Company, a family-owned real estate and hotel company based in San Francisco and New York.

Darryl Towns joined American Airlines in August 2015 as its regional director of government affairs, overseeing the northeastern U.S. Prior to joining American Airlines, he served as commissioner and chief executive for New York State’s housing and mortgage agency, directly managing a $1.5 billion budget that included the state’s integrated housing and community renewal agencies and programs. Mr. Towns served in the New York State Assembly for 18 years, where he chaired the banking, veterans, small business and science & technology committees, as well as the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus.

Randy Wissel is a vice president in the Real Estate Strategy group at Goldman Sachs, where he plays a key role in the acquisition, due diligence and pre-development/entitlement of the firm’s owned real estate assets globally. He officially joined the firm in 2006 after working as a consultant on the development and occupancy of 30 Hudson Street, New Jersey’s tallest office building, since 1999. Mr. Wissel is active with Jersey City and Downtown Manhattan community groups, local and state agencies and federal regulators with respect to flood planning, transportation and development efforts.