June 16, 2016 – Saint Paul, MN – The board of directors at Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation (SPRC) are pleased to announce Darlene Walser has been named executive director. Walser was selected through a competitive process led by locally-based firm Cincinnatus and will begin the role full time effective July 25, 2016.
Walser joins SPRC after serving most recently as Program Manager for Hennepin County’s Bottineau Light Rail Transit Community Works Program, where she worked to ensure communities along the proposed LRT corridor were actively engaged in conversations about the future of their cities and prepared to effectively leverage the proposed $1.5 billion transit investment.
Prior to that, she served as Vice President of McCormack Baron Salazar, Inc. for 15 years, where she planned and implemented a range of comprehensive community development initiatives across the country that linked physical development with human capital development. Initiatives included mixed-income housing, community centers, parks, community gardens, and transit oriented development resulting in over 1,000 units of housing and $1 billion in leveraged investments.
Walser is a 2006 recipient of the Bush Foundation’s Leadership Fellowship which she used to earn a Master in Public Administration from Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government. She received a B.A. from Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the University of Bochum, in Germany. She is the Founder of MACTION (now the Institute for Global Citizenship) at Macalester College, worked as a community organizer for the Jordan Area Community Council, and served as a HUD Community Renaissance Fellow for the Seattle Housing Authority.
“Darlene’s breadth of experience with community and stakeholder engagement, neighborhood planning and community design, policy development, project feasibility, financing, construction, and on-going community building make her the perfect fit to help lead the Riverfront Corporation’s next phase of growth,” said Tom Fisher, Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation board chair.
In 2015, SPRC board, staff and key stakeholders engaged in a strategic planning process for the organization. While its original focus was the Mississippi River in Saint Paul, SPRC recognizes that the scope of its work has become truly regional, engaging and benefitting the greater MSP metropolitan area. To reflect this broadening of its work, SPRC has adopted an updated mission statement: Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation champions visionary urban design as a dynamic driver of economic vitality and quality of life in the greater MSP metropolitan region.
“I have long respected Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation’s commitment to giving voice to communities and to improving people’s quality of life through the built environment,” said Walser. “I am excited by the organization’s vision and look forward to engaging the community to help shape the future of the region.”
Walser’s charge will be to maintain the organization’s 20-year legacy of transformational impact, while helping to grow the two identified strategic areas of focus, which include planning and engagement, and advocacy and education.