Tom Wright is president of Regional Plan Association, an independent urban planning think tank focused on improving the prosperity, infrastructure, sustainability and quality of life of the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan region. Building on RPA’s 90-year history of advancing innovative policy prescriptions to solve difficult problems, Tom guides the organization’s work on government reform, transportation modernization, environmental challenges and the need to offer opportunity to all the region’s residents.
As a leading thinker on urban and regional policy, Tom is a frequent speaker, lecturer and commentator on economic growth and development, roads and transit, good governance and other public policy issues. Prior to being named RPA’s president in 2015, Tom was the organization’s executive director. Tom has steered many key RPA initiatives, including the historic Civic Alliance to Rebuild Downtown New York following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks; the campaign to create a mixed-use district at Manhattan’s Hudson Yards; the protection of the New Jersey Highlands; and a vision for the revitalization for the City of Newark. Tom played a key role in the creation of A Region at Risk, RPA’s influential third plan for the metropolitan region published in 1996, and he is guiding the organization’s development of a fourth regional plan.
Before his current tenure at RPA began in 2001, Tom was deputy executive director of the New Jersey Office of State Planning, where he coordinated production of the New Jersey State Development and Redevelopment Plan. In the early 1990s, he was coordinator of the award-winning Mayors' Institute on City Design, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Tom is a visiting lecturer in public policy at Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He also has taught at the Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation.
Tom is a member of New York City’s Sustainability Advisory Board, which helped prepare OneNYC. He serves on the boards for several nonprofits including the Open Space Institute and the Urban Design Forum, and is an advisor to the Eno Center for Transportation. Tom has a master’s in urban planning from Columbia University and a bachelor’s in history and a certificate in American Studies from Princeton University.