Dustin Nilsen will success Hood River Planning Director Cindy Walbridge upon her retirement in October, according to a media release for the city.
Currently senior planner for Wasco County, Nilsen will transfer to Hood River in mid-September so he can work with Walbridge and other planners to learn the city’s processes.
Nilsen’s selection was the result of a highly competitive process that included 20 applicants from Oregon, Washington and as far away as Wisconsin. A panel of city management and community representatives interviewed finalists based on city search criteria, according to City Manager Steve Wheeler.
“Dustin impressed us as a passionate, outstanding planner and the city looks forward to his contributions,” said Wheeler. “His collaborative style, creativity and extensive knowledge of today’s planning concepts brought him to the top of many favorable choices for this position. We predict he will be very engaged and approachable.”
Nilsen been with Wasco County for two years. He has seventeen years of professional planning experience, including 10 years with the Village of Antioch, Illinois (population 14,274 in the Chicago Metropolitan Area), seven of which were as Director of Community Development. He also has over three years as Senior Planner in Aurora, Colorado.
“It’s a great honor to be offered this position and an opportunity that I accept with such enthusiasm,” Nilsen said. “Hood River faces a number of challenges but is such a special place and positioned for success.”
Nilsen earned his Bachelor of Science in Geographical and Sustainability Sciences in the Environmental Studies department from University of Iowa, then completed his Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning with a Dual Emphasis in Land Use and Transportation from the University of Iowa.
Walbridge retires on Oct. 2 after more than 27 years with the City. She oversaw the establishment of the downtown historic district and managed the 2015 Housing Needs Analysis, a guiding document in the City’s efforts to address housing affordability.