Montgomery Planning Hosts on Discussion on How to Create Housing for All

February 12, 2020

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Thrive Montgomery 2050 Big Ideas Speaker Series event on March 3rd features planning and housing leaders from Minneapolis and Montgomery County

Silver Spring, MDThe Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, will host a moderated discussion on the future of housing featuring leaders from the City of Minneapolis, Montgomery County Housing Opportunities Commission and the Montgomery County Planning Department on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Montgomery Planning headquarters (8787 Georgia Avenue, Silver Spring, MD). “Housing for All” is the third and final event in Montgomery Planning’s Big Ideas Series, which features a diverse group of speakers weighing in on quality of life and land use ideas for the county’s future. The series is part of the Montgomery Planning effort to update the county’s General Plan, known as Thrive Montgomery 2050. The session will be available live and on-demand online. RSVPs are encouraged but not required.

As part of its Thrive Montgomery 2050 effort, Montgomery Planning will develop new long-term policies to address how housing in the county become more affordable, address climate change, promote diversity, and serve as the backbone for vibrant communities with a strong sense of place. The City of Minneapolis recently adopted a bold new comprehensive plan that will transform the way its housing will grow in the future. The plan allows the development of tri-plex housing citywide, eliminates minimum parking requirements, and allows more high-density housing along transportation corridors.

In Montgomery County, the Housing Opportunities Commission has created initiatives to strengthen affordable housing in the county through various policy, zoning, and financial tools; while the Planning Department’s recent initiatives in housing include the Rental Housing Study and upcoming Preservation of Affordable Housing Study. The discussion will also include a conversation of issues and ideas under consideration for Thrive Montgomery 2050.

Credits for certification maintenance (CM) for members of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) attending the series are available.

View the video presentations from the first and second sessions of the Big Ideas Series.

About the Panel:

Heather Worthington, Director of Long-Range Planning, City of Minneapolis
Heather was appointed to the position of Director of Long Range Planning in September, 2017.  Previously she was the first Deputy County Manager appointed in Ramsey County in June 2010, where she led the Economic Growth and Community Investment service team.  She was the overall project manager for the cleanup and redevelopment of the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant, the state’s largest Superfund site; as well as leading the redevelopment of the former West Publishing site in downtown St. Paul.

With more than 20 years of leadership in local government organizations, Heather is committed to seeking authentic community engagement and leading racial equity efforts to strengthen communities that have experienced disparities and disinvestment.  She holds a master’s degree in public administration from Hamline University, a bachelor’s in history/historic preservation from Michigan State University, and a certificate for the State and Local Executives Program from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Gwen Wright, Director of the Montgomery County Planning Department
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, Gwen 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 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 current role, Gwen 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 and shepherded a wide variety of projects — from urban infill to major brownfields reclamation — through the regulatory process and implementation.

Gwen began her career 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 the Urban Land Institute’s Washington’s Regional Leadership Institute.

Stacy Spann, Executive Director of the Housing Opportunities Commission
Stacy Spann is the Executive Director of the Housing Opportunities Commission. He joined the Commission in February 2012.

Previously, Stacy was the Executive Director of Howard County Housing (which includes the housing commission and the county’s Department of Housing and Community Development). Stacy drafted and implemented the county’s Affordable Housing Strategic Plan, doubled the size of the housing unit portfolio, and engineered the county’s first mixed-income development.

In addition to overseeing the Department of Housing and Community Development and Housing Commission in Howard County, Stacy served as the assistant commissioner of development finance in Baltimore from 2004 to 2006, where he managed and oversaw five offices, including Community Development Block Grant, the Office of Home Ownership, and Office of Project Finance. In 2010, Stacy received Affordable Housing Finance magazine’s “Young Leader” award.

Stacy is currently an adjunct professor of the Capstone Course Masters Program in Real Estate at the University of Maryland‘s School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation. He also is a member of the Professional Development Faculty at the National Association of Housing & Redevelopment Organizations, where he teaches “Introduction to Mixed Finance for Public Housing Authorities,” a course he designed for housing authorities, non-profits and local and federal governmental entities nationally.

Stacy holds a bachelor’s in business administration from Morehouse College and a master’s of public administration in advanced management and finance from Columbia University.

Tanya Stern, Deputy Director of the Montgomery County Planning Department (Moderator)
Tanya Stern is Deputy Planning Director at the Montgomery County Planning Department where she oversees five divisions providing countywide policy development and data analysis for zoning, growth management, transportation planning, historic preservation and housing; real estate and economic analysis and population forecasting; and department-wide services including human resources, budgeting, GIS and information technology and communications. She also is serving as an advisor for Montgomery County’s General Plan Update, Thrive Montgomery 2050, launched in 2019.

Ms. Stern previously served for 14 years in the Government of the District of Columbia.  She spent eight years at the DC Office of Planning (OP), most recently as Deputy Director overseeing OP’s Neighborhood Planning and Design divisions. While in that role, she also served as Project Director to launch DC’s current Comprehensive Plan update. She led the creation of new planning policies to integrate the topic of resilience throughout DC’s Comprehensive Plan, oversaw updates to the Plan’s land use, urban design and 10 geographic area policy chapters and evaluated proposed plan amendments from the public.  Ms. Stern’s District government experience also included serving as OP’s Chief of Staff, in agency program and performance management and budget development roles in other District agencies, including the Executive Office of the Mayor, and as a community planner for the DC Department of Parks and Recreation. Additionally, she has 11 years of non-profit sector experience.

Ms. Stern holds a master’s in city planning from the University of Pennsylvania and is certified through the American Institute of Certified Planners and as a Certified Public Manager. She also is a member of Lambda Alpha International, the Honorary Society for the Advancement of Land Economics, and the Urban Land Institute (ULI). Ms. Stern is currently the co-chair of the ULI Washington District Council’s Placemaking Initiative Council and co-chair of ULI Washington’s Initiative Council Steering Committee.

What is Thrive Montgomery 2050?

Tremendous and rapid social, environmental, technological, demographic and economic shifts over the next few decades necessitate revisions to Montgomery County’s guiding framework for growth, called the General Plan. As Montgomery Planning works to update this important plan, the community is asked to help ensure that the county remains a vibrant, verdant and welcoming place — with an innovative economy — where all can thrive.

Thrive Montgomery 2050 is our chance to figure out — together — how the county can be a great community over the next 30 years. It’s about how we respond to future opportunities and challenges in the county. Through Thrive Montgomery 2050, planning staff is identifying and examining the changes occurring, considering what we want for tomorrow, and then developing a shared vision that allows us to keep what we love about Montgomery County while planning necessary changes that will ensure the best possible future.

The result of Thrive Montgomery 2050 will be a living and breathing plan that guides decision-making and helps secure resources to ensure the county is a place where everyone can be successful, have opportunities, and enjoy a high quality of life in a beautiful and resilient environment. There are three priorities for the plan:

Economic health: We want to ensure a vibrant, strong and competitive economy by supporting small businesses and business innovation, and to attract and retain a high-quality, diverse workforce.

Communities Equity: We want to create a place where all residents have equal access to affordable housing, healthy food, employment, education, and more.

Environmental resilience: We want to preserve our natural and built resources and use the best strategies to fight climate change and mitigate the impact of land development.

Learn more about Thrive Montgomery 2050 and how to get involved at