Council names new Community Development Director

Date: Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Contact: Kate Brickman
Director of Communications

The Metropolitan Council has tapped one of its top planners to lead its Community Development division. Following a retirement and national search, the Council has named LisaBeth Barajas as the new Director of Community Development. Barajas is known by local elected officials and staff as a collaborator who listens to and values the diverse interests of communities and partners in finding common ground that honors our regional interests and local values.

Lisa Barajas“Lisa is a known and trusted partner to cities and counties all across our region,” said Alene Tchourumoff, Chair of the Council. “As the Local Planning Assistance Manager, she spearheaded an effort focused on providing resources to local communities which received a national award from the American Planning Association. Lisa’s commitment to equity and inclusion, stewardship of our environmental and financial resources, and the long-term sustainability of our region will serve her well in this new leadership position.”

Barajas has been with the Council for more than a decade and is currently the Local Planning Assistance Manager, managing a team of 12 direct staff and more than 40 technical experts across the Council focused on regional planning, including:

  • managing the implementation of the Metropolitan Land Planning Act through the provision of technical planning assistance to local governments

  • advising the Council’s Land Use Advisory Committee

  • collaborating on intergovernmental planning issues of regional and sub-regional importance

  • and performing official reviews of local comprehensive plans, plan amendments, and environmental review.

The Community Development Division at the Council addresses issues involving development and implementation of Thrive MSP 2040, the region’s planning document, Metro Housing Redevelopment Authority (HRA) operations, Livable Communities Act grants, and regional park plans and grants. It helps communities plan for the future to make our region economically competitive with peer regions.  

“Lisa’s knowledge and skills in understanding complex planning issues has served our region and communities well. I especially appreciate her willingness to understand local issues and provide assistance when asked,” said William Droste, Mayor of Rosemount.

“I have had the opportunity to work with Lisa over the years on a variety of planning issues and she is always professional, thoughtful, and brings a solid understanding of the principles of regional planning to the conversation. Lisa will bring valuable experience and insight into her new role implementing Thrive MSP 2040 and regional development in coordination with local communities,” said Brad Davis, Scott County Planning Manager.

“Metro Cities appreciates Lisa’s highly collaborative approach to addressing issues where regional and local considerations intersect and sometimes collide. Her depth of knowledge and skills, combined with a spirt of working in consistent partnership with local governments will serve her well in her new role as Community Development Director for the Council,” said Patricia Nauman, Executive Director of Metro Cities.

Barajas earned her bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies and Geography at Gustavus Adolphus College. She earned her master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, concentrating her studies in natural resource and recreation resource management. She has worked over 15 years as a land planning professional. This planning experience spans urban, suburban, and rural communities. Earlier this year, in work spearheaded by Barajas, the Local Planning Handbook and PlanIt training series received a national award from the American Planning Association.

Barajas also volunteers in her free time, serving as the Vice Chair (former Chair) of her neighborhood organization, where she provides overall leadership and strategic direction to the organization. She focuses her efforts on neighborhood community building, land use and redevelopment issues, and sustainability issues.


Posted In: Communities, Council News, Planning

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