The Governors’ Institute benefits greatly from the insight and advice of a number of former governors and public officials who prioritized issues of growth and development both during and since their tenure in office. Four former governors and a state and federal agency director, each with a very distinguished legacy of guiding growth and development in their states, head the Institute’s Advisory Council:
Parris N. Glendening
Governor Parris N. Glendening is President of the Governors’ Institute on Community Design. As governor of Maryland (1995-2003), he led the creation of a groundbreaking smart growth initiative that focused on using the entire $23 billion state budget as an incentive for promoting smart growth at the local and county level. In addition, he prioritized open space preservation. During his term, 400,000 acres of land were protected, about one-third of all land ever preserved in Maryland. In addition, Governor Glendening led the way in re-engineering the historical preservation tax credit, leading to over $200 million in private investment and making the tax credit one of the state’s most successful community revitalization tools. Before becoming Governor, Parris N. Glendening was a local elected official for more than 20 years. He began public service in 1973 as a city councilman in Hyattsville and was later elected to the Prince George’s County Council in 1974. In 1982 he was elected County Executive of Prince George’s County, a post he held for three consecutive terms.
Christine Todd Whitman
Governor Christine Todd Whitman served as governor of New Jersey, as well as Secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). As Governor of New Jersey (1994-2001), Whitman called to preserve a million acres of open space and 500,000 acres of farmland within a 10-year period. In 1998 the voters passed a referendum to do just that. While leading the EPA she achieved the passage of landmark brownfields legislation, entered the EPA into an historic agreement to clean up the Hudson River, issued the first-ever State of the Environment Report, and for the first time required cleaner burning diesel engines for non-road vehicles such as tractors and bulldozers. Governor Whitman currently serves as President of The Whitman Strategy Group, a consulting firm that specializes in government relations and environmental and energy issues.
Governor Tom Ridge was twice elected as Pennsylvania’s 43rd governor from 1995 to 2001. Governor Ridge’s aggressive technology strategy helped fuel the state advance in economic development, education, health care and the environment. Following the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, Tom Ridge became the first Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and, on January 24, 2003, became the first Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. During his tenure, Secretary Ridge worked with more than 180,000-plus employees from a combined 22 agencies. Tom Ridge served as Secretary of this historic and critical endeavor until February 1, 2005. He is currently President and CEO of Ridge Global, a security consulting firm based in Washington, DC.
Governor Chet Culver served as Iowa’s 40th governor from 2007 to 2011. As governor, he worked to secure $5 billion dollars in federal and state funds to help Iowa recover from the worst natural disaster in state history. Governor Culver’s other signature accomplishments were the creation of the Iowa Office of Energy Independence and the establishment of the Iowa Power Fund. Governor Culver has served the National Governors Association as Chairman of both the Governors Wind Energy Coalition and Governors Biofuels Coalition. Prior to serving as Iowa’s Governor, he was elected as the youngest Secretary of State in the nation in 1998 and re-elected in 2002. In 2011, Governor Culver founded the Culver Group, a renewable energy, infrastructure and energy efficiency consulting firm based in Des Moines, Iowa.
James Lee Witt
James Lee Witt has over 30 years of disaster management experience. He was appointed by President Clinton as the Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, where he served from 1993-2001. In February 1996, President Clinton elevated Mr. Witt to cabinet status, a first for a FEMA Director. In this capacity, he is credited with turning FEMA from an unsuccessful bureaucratic agency to an internationally lauded all-hazards disaster management agency. Mr. Witt coordinated federal disaster relief on behalf of the President, including the response and recovery activities of 28 federal agencies and departments. Prior to his federal service, Mr. Witt served as the Director of the Arkansas Office of Emergency Services under then-Governor Bill Clinton. He is currently Founder and Chairman of Witt Associates, a public safety and crisis management consulting firm based in Washington, DC.