New Director of Community Development for Kitsap County: Louisa Garbo

Kitsap County News Release, 1 Aug 2016

Commissioners appoint new director for Community Development

Public invited to welcome reception August 11

(Port Orchard, WA) - The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners is pleased to announce the appointment of Louisa Garbo as the new director of the Department of Community Development, replacing Larry Keeton who retired in December 2015. She will begin her employmentAugust 8, managing the department’s 70 employees and overseeing a budget of approximately $8.8 million. Her starting salary is $119,000.

Ms. Garbo, the former director of Planning and Building Safety in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada, was selected from nearly 60 applicants from across the United States and locally. With over 15 years of professional experience in land-use planning, Ms. Garbo oversaw development activities, building inspections, heritage preservation and implementation of long-range plans and policies. She has a strong background in planning and budgeting, community development, and community building. She also worked with elected officials at both the local and regional level.

“She is an experienced professional in planning and law, and in both managing development and code enforcement,” said Commissioner Ed Wolfe, chair of the Board. “She is the right person at the right time to lead our Department of Community Development to the next level while engaging stakeholders and the community at large.”

Ms. Garbo is a certified planner in both America and Canada and an accredited LEED Green associate. She earned a bachelor of fine arts degree from the University of Manitoba; a master’s degree in city planning from the University of Manitoba; a juris doctor from William Howard Taft University in California; and a master’s degree in negotiation, conflict resolution and peacebuilding from California State University. She began her planning career in Arizona where she worked for the cities of Scottsdale and Peoria, and Cochise County.

“Louisa is uniquely qualified to address the functions of our Community Development department.  I especially look forward to seeing how her ideas for public outreach and user-friendly information are adapted in Kitsap County,” said Commissioner Charlotte Garrido.

Along with credentials in planning and mediation, Ms. Garbo is a life-long learner who places a high premium on the importance of creative and innovative problem solving, employing conflict resolution skills with the goal of strengthening collaborative relationships.

“I believe Louisa brings to the role a unique combination of skill sets that will help the department build upon recent successes and continue to lead the department toward continued gains,” noted Commissioner Rob Gelder. “More importantly, I think she’ll help us engage stakeholders in unique ways.”

The Board of Commissioners used an executive recruiter to conduct the year-long, nationwide search for Keeton’s replacement and initially screened 58 applicants. In addition to interviews with the Board of Commissioners, the top two candidates attended an interactive reception in Port Orchard with stakeholders and department directors before the final selection.

“I am very much looking forward to starting my new position with Kitsap County as director of DCD,” said Garbo. “I feel incredibly fortunate to be chosen for this challenging position. It is certainly a great opportunity for me both personally and professionally and I am excited to be part of the growth in Kitsap County.”

She also noted that she will be much closer to her family in Vancouver, British Columbia and looks forward to building her life on the West Coast “in such a friendly community.”

Commissioners are hosting a welcome reception for Louisa Garbo from 3 to 5 p.m. Thursday, August 11 in the Chambers of the Kitsap County Administration Building, 619 Division Street, Port Orchard. The public is welcome to attend.