Lynn Peterson Named Recipient of 2016 Nohad A. Toulan Urban Pioneer Award for Public Service
Author: College of Urban & Public Affairs
Posted: June 14, 2016

Lynn Peterson has been named the recipient of the 2016 Nohad A. Toulan Urban Pioneer Award for Public Service.

The Urban Pioneer Award is given annually to a community leader who exhibits many of the values taught to students and held dear by faculty and community partners of the College of Urban and Public Affairs (CUPA). Those include:

  • Public Service
  • Civic Leadership
  • Insight into the nature of local and regional urban problems
  • Visionary responses to urban issues
  • Contributing to Portland's reputation as one of the most vital and thriving urban centers in the nation

After earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and working as a highway engineer in Wisconsin, Lynn Peterson earned her Master in Urban and Regional Planning degree from Portland State. That led to work in the region as a travel demand modeler at Metro, a transportation advocate for 1000 Friends of Oregon and strategic planning manager for TriMet. Peterson also served on the Lake Oswego city council, and was the first elected chair of the Clackamas County Commission.

After serving as Governor Kitzhaber’s Transportation Policy Advisor, she was appointed by Governor Inslee to be Secretary of the Washington State Department of Transportation. She is now leading at the national level as a senior advisor for Smart Growth America.

After success in several planning positions, Peterson returned to PSU to get a graduate degree in civil engineering. While head of the Washington DOT, she also earned her Specially Trained Ordinary Seaman training. This intense two-week course offered her the opportunity to experience the daily life of the entry position on the Ferry System as well as life out on the sea with firefighting, life-saving, navigation, and customer service skills.

Peterson is a mentor for many young professionals, supports colleagues and elected officials in multiple ways, and devotes countless hours to organizations such as the Women’s Transportation Seminar.

Peterson understands how to solve problems through collaboration. Her early work in the region resulted in funding for TriMet’s south corridor light rail line and a five-year strategic transit operations and capital investment plan. In Clackamas County, she helped resolve long-standing utility and transportation access issues that avoided a development moratorium. While at Washington DOT she worked with the legislature to secure $16 billion in funding for transportation infrastructure.

Throughout her career, Lynn Peterson has effectively combined her technical knowledge, communication skills, and understanding of the public process with a passion for helping communities thrive—recognizing that each may follow a different path. She’s had a profound impact on communities in this region, and will continue to do so here and nationally.

Peterson received her award at CUPA's recent graduate Hooding Ceremony, where she addressed the graduates.

Read Lynn Peterson's Hooding address here