RPA Announces Senior Appointments

Regional Plan Association announced four appointments to its senior team, as the organization continues its ambitious work crafting a long-range plan for the tri-state metropolitan region. Rob Freudenberg has been named director of energy and environment; Courtenay Mercer joins RPA as New Jersey director; Jane Simoni Cooke has been named director of the Fourth Regional Plan campaign; and former Metro-North President Howard Permut is joining the organization as a senior fellow.

“We are thrilled to have these exceptional professionals at RPA,” said RPA Executive Director Tom Wright. “They bring a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience to their new roles, as well as a passion for tackling some of our region’s toughest challenges.”

Jane Simoni Cooke, Director, Fourth Regional Plan Campaign
Jane Simoni Cooke will direct RPA’s campaign for the Fourth Regional Plan, raising funds for the plan and other long-range endeavors. Trained as a landscape architect, Jane has held senior positions in design and architecture firms and in development for nonprofit organizations. Prior to RPA, she was the executive director of the New York chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. She sits on the boards of Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, a Historic House Trust property in the Bronx, the American Museum of Fly Fishing in Manchester, Vt., and the Atlantic Salmon Federation. She holds a master’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Virginia and a bachelor’s from Smith College.

Rob Freudenberg, Director, Energy and Environment 
Rob Freudenberg has been named energy and environment director after serving for nearly four years as RPA’s New Jersey director. Rob will lead the organization’s initiatives in areas including climate change mitigation and resilience, sustainable development and energy use, open space conservation and park development and water resource management. Rob has been with RPA since 2006, and has extensive experience in sustainable planning and policy. He is a graduate of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry and holds a master’s of public administration in environmental science and policy from the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

Courtenay Mercer, New Jersey Director
Courtenay Mercer will lead RPA’s research, planning, and advocacy activities in New Jersey. An expert in private- and public-sector land use, Courtenay brings vast experience in planning issues in New Jersey. She previously owned a planning consulting firm and also has served as the director of planning in the New Jersey Office of Smart Growth. Courtenay has been involved in several key New Jersey policy initiatives, including the State Plan, the Highlands Regional Master Plan and the state transfer of development rights program. Courtenay currently serves on the American Planning Association’s board of directors, and is past-president of APA’s New Jersey chapter. Courtenay is a New Jersey-licensed Professional Planner and certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners. She has a bachelor’s degree from Rutgers University and a master’s in city and regional planning from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers.

Howard Permut, Senior Fellow
Howard Permut joins RPA as a senior fellow, consulting on national and international transit initiatives, in addition to the Fourth Regional Plan. He retired in January as president of Metro-North Railroad, where he was instrumental in its transformation into a leading transit agency. He was part of the original team that formed Metro-North in 1983 and led initiatives during his tenure that expanded ridership and improved service, rebuilt the railroad’s infrastructure and redeveloped Grand Central Terminal. In a 40-year career in the transit industry, he has lectured and consulted on transit management and leadership at universities, public agencies and foundations around the U.S. and internationally. He has a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Binghamton, a master’s in transportation from Northwestern University and attended Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School Senior Executives in State and Local Government program.