New TJCOG Department Aims to Increase Alignment Between Public and Private Development Projects

Triangle J Council of Governments is excited to announce the integration of two strategic focus areas – Community and Economic Development and Housing– into a new internal department. The Community and Economic Development Department will increase capacity and provide enhanced service alignment across the deeply connected focus areas for a more unified approach to private and public development for the region. Safe and affordable housing, sustainable and intentional land use practices, and strategic asset-building are all essential components of community development that can lead to greater economic activity and workforce productivity. 

Recent feedback from Triangle J’s strategic planning process identified the need to align the organization’s housing work with broader efforts around community and economic development. Additionally, service alignment was identified as a core organizational principle for Triangle J. The team will work collectively to support existing partnerships and strengthen pathways to economic mobility, wealth building, and community growth.

Lindsay Whitson will assume the role of Community & Economic Development Director and be responsible for leading the Community and Economic Development and Housing Focus areas. Her work at TJCOG has included spearheading the regional Comprehensive Economic Development Plan (CEDS), securing new federal and state investments, and growing the community planning assistance offerings. Prior to joining TJCOG, she worked for several public agencies in the Midwest including the Bi-State Regional Commission, the Quad Cities Metropolitan Planning Organization, and a mid-sized local government.

Erika Brown, current Housing Program Manager, has officially announced her departure from the organization after four and a half years; her last day will be September 9th, 2022. Erika has been instrumental to the growth of TJCOG’s housing program, and her dedication to improving the quality and accessibility of affordable and workforce housing throughout the region will be strongly missed. Erika will continue working in the field of housing and community development through a new role with Guidehouse, a global consulting firm; she has spent the last year working remotely from Illinois, where she moved to be closer to family, and is excited to take on work closer to home. 

“My experience working with TJCOG and our region has been unforgettable", shared Erika. "I deeply appreciate the partnerships with member governments and non-profits we have been able to build over the last few years and will greatly miss getting to work with so many fantastic people I now consider friends. I can’t wait to see what comes next from the new Community and Economic Development Department!”

Anna Blanchard will continue TJCOG's housing work through a new role as Senior Planner. Currently, Anna works closely with member governments to administer state and federal housing grants, facilitate community engagement sessions, and provide program management and support monitoring home repair programs. Prior to joining TJCOG, Anna worked with the Town of Carrboro and Orange County on affordable housing policy and program implementation, and received her Master’s of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of North Carolina. She is excited to continue the growth of the housing focus area while increasing the housing program’s alignment with economic development activities.

Jack Watson will also move to the role of Planner I, and continue leading TJCOG’s home repair and preservation programs and housing technical assistance.