Planning Director, Gwen Wright
- Deputy Director, Tanya Stern
- Management Services Chief, Karen Warnick
- Research & Special Projects Chief, Caroline McCarthy
- Functional Planning & Policy Division Chief, Jason Sartori
- Information Technology & Innovation Chief, Henry Mobayeni
- Deputy Director, Robert Kronenberg
- Planning Area 1 Chief, Elza Hisel-McCoy
- Planning Area 2 Chief, Carrie Sanders
- Planning Area 3 Chief, Richard Weaver
- Development Applications & Regulatory Coordination, Mark Pfefferle
- Senior Urban Designer in the Director’s Office, Paul Mortensen
- Special Project Manager, Carol Rubin
Since July 2013, Gwen Wright has been the Director of the Montgomery County Planning Department of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. In this role, Ms. Wright oversees a wide range of projects that aim to improve the quality of life in Montgomery County by conserving and enhancing the natural and built environment. Montgomery County is one of the largest jurisdictions in Maryland with over 1 million residents and has a key role in the dynamic Washington D.C. metropolitan growth area. Ms. Wright also worked for the Montgomery County Planning Department from 1987 to 2008. During this period, she served as the Chief of Countywide Planning, including supervising the Environmental Planning, Transportation Planning and Historic Preservation Sections, as well as serving as Acting Planning Director.
Prior to her appointment as the Montgomery County Planning Director in 2013, Ms. Wright was Chief of the Development Division for the City of Alexandria Department of Planning and Zoning for five years. In this position, she reviewed development proposals throughout the City of Alexandria and shepherded a wide variety of projects â€“ from urban infill to major brownfields reclamation â€“ through the regulatory process and implementation.
Ms. Wright began her career in Texas as the Director of Architectural Design and Redevelopment for the Galveston Historical Foundation in Galveston, Texas. She has degrees in Architecture and Architectural History from Yale University and has spoken at numerous national and regional conferences on a wide variety of planning issues.
Ms. Wright lives in the Cleveland Park neighborhood in Washington D.C., where she is co-chair of the Cleveland Park Historical Society Architectural Review Committee. She is a member of Lambda Alpha and a graduate of ULI Washingtonâ€™s Regional Leadership Institute.
Tanya Stern joined the Montgomery County Planning Department in August 2018 as Deputy Planning Director to lead four divisions: Functional Planning and Policy; Research and Special Projects; Management Services; and Information Technology and Innovation. Stern oversees countywide policy development and analysis related to zoning, growth management, transportation planning, historic preservation and housing; real estate and economic analysis and population forecasting to support master plan development and countywide planning; and department-wide operational services, including human resources, budgeting, facilities, communications, procurement, geographic information systems (GIS), and information technology.
Prior to her current position, Stern served for 14 years in the Government of the District of Columbia, from 2004 to 2018, in various capacities as both a planner and public administrator. She spent eight years at the DC Office of Planning (OP), including three years as the Deputy Director for Planning, Engagement and Design (2015-2018). In that position, she oversaw OP’s Neighborhood Planning and Design divisions to advance neighborhood, corridor and waterfront planning and design excellence, and helped to launch DCâ€™s Comprehensive Plan Amendment Cycle. That effort included leading the development of new planning policies to integrate the concept of resilience throughout DCâ€™s Comprehensive Plan; evaluating more than 2,000 proposed plan amendments from the public; and overseeing updates to the Comprehensive Planâ€™s land use, urban design and geographic area guidance.
Stern also served as OPâ€™s Chief of Staff from 2010 to 2015. Her other District government positions included serving in the Executive Office of the Mayor under two mayors and in other DC agencies, including the Department of Parks and Recreation. Stern has 11 years of non-profit sector experience. She holds a masterâ€™s degree in city planning from the University of Pennsylvania and is a Certified Public Manager.
Robert Kronenberg is the Division Chief of Area 1, the urban areas inside the beltway, including Bethesda, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, and Friendship Heights. He oversees the master plan and development review functions for this section of the County. His background is in Landscape Architecture and Planning with over 13 years of service at the Maryland National-Capital Park and Planning Commission in a number of capacities, and 10 years in the private sector as a planner, project manager and landscape architect. Robert has served on many committees at the Commission and in the County related to transportation, building and site design, environment and enforcement and is a graduate of Louisana State University with a degree in Landscape Architecture.
Area 1 Chief
An urban designer and architect by training, Elza Hisel-McCoy is the Division Chief of Area 1. He leads the master plan and development review teams in the urbanizing areas of Montgomery County inside the Capital Beltway. Elza joined the Montgomery County Planning Department in 2006 after five years in the private sector designing HOPE VI neighborhood revitalization projects with Torti Gallas and Partners of Silver Spring, MD.Â Prior to his current position, he led two sector plans, Chevy Chase Lake and Bethesda Purple Line Station, and reviews of numerous development applications.
Area 2 – Division Chief
Carrie Sanders is the Division Chief of Area 2, and she oversees the master plan and development review functions for this section of the County.Â Prior to her appointment as the Area 2 Division Chief, Ms. Sanders served for seven years in the City of Alexandria, most recently as the Deputy Director of Transportation/Transit for the City of Alexandria. In this position, she moved forward several major projects, including the Potomac Yard Metrorail Station and the Potomac Yard Small Area Plan, the operation and expansion of Metroway, the DC regionâ€™s first Bus Rapid Transit system, and the review and implementation of development proposals throughout the City of Alexandria.
Ms. Sanders began her career in Brussels, Belgium working in economic development, and has over 12 years of planning experience in the DC region, in both Maryland and Virginia. Carrie holds a bachelorâ€™s degree from Indiana University and a masterâ€™s degree in urban planning from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Area 3 Division Chief
Richard Weaver is the Chief of the Area 3 Division and is responsible for the numerous Master Plans and development applications within this area.Â Area 3 encompasses approximately two-thirds of the County and includes Potomac, Darnestown, Germantown, Clarksburg, Damascus, Olney, Burtonsville and the Agricultural Reserve. Mr. Weaver is a lifelong resident of Montgomery County; attended the public school system and graduated from the University of Maryland.Â He began employment with Park and Planning in 1987 with what was then the Environmental Planning Division and migrated to the Development Review Division in 1999.Â Richard enjoys the challenges that the diversity of the Area 3 planning area brings which includes rural, suburban, urban and agricultural disciplines. His greatest pleasure is knowing that he has had a hand in making his home, Montgomery County, one of the most successful and enjoyable jurisdictions in the Country.
Karen Warnick is the Division Chief of Management Services. She oversees the budget, procurement, human resources, web services and communications outreach for the Department. Prior to joining the Montgomery Planning Department in February 2015, Karen spent 22 years working for the Montgomery County Department of Parks. Over the course of her career at Parks, she served as the Management Analyst, Administrative Specialist, Enterprise Regional Operations Manager and Departmental Budget Manager. She holds bachelor of science degree in finance, bachelor of arts degree in economics and a master of arts degree in recreation administration, all from the University of Maryland.
Research and Special Projects
Caroline McCarthy is the Division Chief for Research and Special Projects, which is responsible for providing demographic, economic, real estate market, and affordable housing analysis to support master plans, development review, and land use policy decisions. Caroline joined the Montgomery County Planning Department in April 2016 from HR&A Advisors, a national real estate, economic development, and public policy consulting firm, where she was managing principal in the Washington, DC office. She has extensive experience developing market analyses and implementation strategies for master plans of complex sites, including brownfields, former military bases, downtowns, and transit-oriented development. She has also provided economic and real estate market advisory services to private sector clients looking to advance real estate development or public policy initiatives. Caroline holds a Master of City and Regional Planning degree from the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers and a Bachelor of Arts in economics from Wesleyan University. She is a member of the Urban Land Institute and Lambda Alpha International.
Information Technology and Innovation
Henry Mobayeni is the Division Chief of Information Technology and Innovation overseeing and managing 24-7 operations of the Information Technology (IT) for the Commissionerâ€™s Office, Montgomery County Department of Parks including Park Police and the Montgomery County Planning Department. Henryâ€™s responsibilities include, but are not limited to setting IT goals and strategic plans for the Montgomery County wing of the Commission, developing strategies and action plans for implementation, and overseeing the Wide Area Network (WAN) and telecommunication systems in Montgomery County. Henry holds a Bachelorâ€™s and Masterâ€™s degree in computer system applications from American University and a Doctorate in Information Science from George Washington.
Functional Planning and Policy Chief
Jason Sartori currently serves as the Acting Chief of the Functional Planning and Policy Division, which focuses on Montgomery Countyâ€™s transportation networks, school infrastructure adequacy, historic preservation efforts, zoning, and environmental resources.Â Jason joined the Department in 2016 to help lead an update to the Countyâ€™s growth policy, the Subdivision Staging Policy.Â Since that time, he has worked with each Area team to support master plan efforts as well as the review of development applications to ensure adequate public facilities.Â Jason has also been affiliated in various capacities with the National Center for Smart Growth at the University of Maryland since 2003.Â Over that time, he has led numerous projects related to affordable housing, transportation modeling, opportunity accessibility metrics, economic development, and growth visioning and scenario evaluation.Â Jason has also been the project manager for all four Makeover Montgomery conferences.
Development Applications and Regulatory Coordination (DARC) Chief
Mark Pfefferle is the Division Chief that is responsible for the intake and initial processing of all development applications, providing information to customers, forest conservation inspections and site plan enforcement, recordkeeping and archiving of all plan types. Mr. Pfefferle has over 13 years of experience with the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission and 12 years of private sector experience. He has served as a project manager, supervisor, environmental policy analyst and environmental economist throughout various periods of his career. Mr. Pfefferle has served on many committees and is currently a member of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America Outdoor Lighting Committee.
Senior Urban Designer in the Directorâ€™s Office
Paul Mortensen is a Chief and Senior Urban Designer in the Directorâ€™s Office at Montgomery Planning and is leading the Design Excellence efforts within the organization.Â He is a registered architect in the states of California, Washington and Maryland, is a LEED Accredited Professional, a member of the Congress for New Urbanism, and is an Architect and Urban Designer of significant talent and experience with a strong emphasis on sustainable architecture design in urban settings.Â His primary focus over the past thirty years has been on master planning and urban design of residential and mixed-use communities.Â Â Mr. Mortensen was an Associate Principle with Torti Gallas and Partners in Silver Spring, Maryland where he served as a leading principal of the Planning and Urban Design Studio and was involved in a number of large scale, award winning master planning projects and new town designs such as the Crystal City, Virginia Master Plan and the Tacoma, Washington Salishan HOPE VI development.
Special Project Manager, I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study
On behalf of the Montgomery County Departments of Planning and Parks, Attorney Carol Rubin of the Maryland-National Capital Planning Commission has been assigned to coordinate the Commissionâ€™s response to the Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highway Administration (MDOT SHA) I-495 & I-270 Managed Lanes Study.
From January 2018 until a permanent replacement was hired in September 2018, Rubin served as the Acting Deputy Planning Director. Since 2005, Rubin worked as principal counsel in the Office of the General Counsel at M-NCPPC. She has provided legal support to the Montgomery Planning Department, the Montgomery County Department of Parks, and the Planning Board, advising on development applications and master plans, and issues related to land use and real estate transactions and development. In the 1990s, Rubin served as the primary business liaison and County Executive designee on property acquisition for the Silver Spring Redevelopment project. Her private sector experience while employed as the vice president of property management for a major developer included membership on the Silver Spring Chamber of Commerce Board and Chair of the Silver Spring Urban District Advisory Board. During a stint at Exxon Mobil, she was the corporate representative on real estate transactions. She earned law and bachelor of arts degrees from the University of Maryland.
Rubin brings a great deal of general management experience, excellent coordination and leadership skills, and knowledge of both real estate development and environmental impact analysis to her new position.