Boulder officials announced Thursday evening that Erika Vandenbrande had been hired as the city’s new director of transportation and mobility.
Vandenbrande, from Redmond, Wash., will start the job Sept. 7. With more than 20 years of experience in municipal government, she most recently served as director of Planning and Community Development for Redmond, according to a Boulder news release.
“Erika is the right person at the right time for this critical position in our organization,” City Manager Jane Brautigam, who is retiring at the end of October, stated in the release. “I am excited to see the results of her leadership to this department and to the city more broadly.
“Our community has adopted a Transportation Master Plan with many ambitious and important goals,” Brautigam continued. “Erika will join two excellent deputy directors, bringing a spirit of collaboration and innovation in support of one of the most important issues for Boulder.”
Vandenbrande is taking the helm of the department after the previous director, Carlos Hernandez, resigned suddenly on Feb. 21 after six weeks on the job. Interim director Bill Cowern has been leading the department while the search for the permanent director was completed.
She is also stepping into a leadership role as the city works to improve staff morale in the city’s Public Works and Planning Departments and their relationships with top city managers and City Council, problems that were revealed in a consultant’s report released last year. One of the recommended actions the city took to repair those problems was splitting the former Public Works department into the Transportation and Mobility Department and the Utilities Department, which happened in April.
The release stated her roots lie in transportation and mobility.
“Across the country, and certainly in Boulder, communities are at a pivotal point in defining the future of how we get around town, connect with core services locally and regionally, and meet a variety of sometimes competing goals and priorities,” she stated in the release. “I am honored to become a part of an award-winning team of individuals with dedication and passion around this fundamental and innovative area of work.”
Vandenbrande started her career in public transportation, according to the release, working at King County Metro Transit and the Southern California Association of Governments, which “serves as that region’s federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization and state-designated Regional Transnational Planning Agency.”
In her most recent role, Vandenbrande guided a work program that involved permitting for a $1 billion light rail investment in Redmond, and the planning, design and construction of two pedestrian bridges, the release stated.
Vandenbrande was recruited under a city contract with CPS Consulting, a recruiting agency that was obligated under its contract to replace Hernandez because he did not stay in the position for at least six months.
Sarah Huntley, director of communication and engagement for the city, said Vandenbrande was one of two finalists for the position.