Profile: Boston transportation expert chosen to lead Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council


After an extensive nation-wide search, the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council has selected Sean Sullivan as its new director. “The TBRPC has found a unique and different leader who is highly accomplished. He is a proven expert in transportation matters which will be helpful in this region,” said Commissioner Victor Crist, former chair of the TBRPC.

The search began last May when 35-year veteran Manny Pumariega (see related story, this page) announced his retirement in September 2015. The council partnered with the Pinellas County Human Resources department to conduct the independent search. The six-month process narrowed down a field of candidates to 33 highly qualified individuals, nine of whom were interviewed by the search committee, followed by three finalists who were re-interviewed by the committee as well as two other stakeholder panels. The process culminated in a unanimous vote by the council in November to select Sullivan, an accomplished transportation professional, as executive director of the TBRPC.

Hillsborough County Commissioner Victor Crist, who served as chair of the TBRPC in 2015, led the selection process. “This is the most important decision this board may have to make,” stated Crist. “We need a fresh perspective in our leadership and new ideas for innovation as we continue to build upon the great legacy of this organization. Sean is a collaborator and just the person to take the TBRPC and our region to the next level.”

As program manager/environmental protection specialist in the Region One Office of the Federal Transit Administration covering six states, Sullivan’s experience includes oversight of capital transit projects including extension of the Green Line in Boston and planning for a Transit Oriented District in Greater Boston. His duties included working with multiple transit agencies, federal and state agencies, regional planning councils/commissions and numerous local governments to provide guidance pertaining to economic development, acquisition or disposition of property, capital construction projects, grant development, energy efficiency and protecting the federal interest of capital assets.

“I am delighted to welcome Sean Sullivan to the Tampa Bay region,” said Commissioner Kathryn Starkey who represents Pasco County on the TBRPC and also served on the search committee. “His background in transportation, economic development and planning will be an asset to the community.”

Other commissioners agreed with Starkey and Crist. “Mr. Sullivan is just what this organization needs,” added Commissioner Janet Long who represents Pinellas County on the TBRPC. “I am very excited about the expertise and experience he will bring to the council and I look forward to working with him on moving our region forward on the important issues facing our local governments and our citizens.”

Sullivan earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts Lowell and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Suffolk University in Boston. He is the recent recipient of the Administrator’s Award from the Federal Transit Administration. He was also honored by receiving the Fellowship Award from Suffolk University and the Presidents Medal from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He is a member of the American Planning Association, a Certified Umpire with the American Softball Association and is a Certified Referee with the International Association of Basketball Referees. Sullivan is married and has two daughters who reside in Massachusetts.

Sullivan officially took the reins at the TBRPC on January 11.

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