Regional Plan Association announced that President Robert D. Yaro will retire at the end of the year, after 25 years at the urban-planning organization.
The executive committee of RPA’s board of directors has unanimously recommended that RPA executive director Thomas K. Wright succeed aro as president.
Following the transition, Yaro, 64, will serve as RPA president emeritus and senior advisor, consulting on a range of policy matters.
“I have been privileged over the last quarter century to guide RPA and help address some of the New York metropolitan region’s most pressing challenges,” said Yaro.
“While I will miss working with the extraordinarily talented researchers and policy experts at RPA on a daily basis, I am thrilled to be leaving the organization in the hands of someone as accomplished and visionary as Tom Wright.”
“Bob Yaro has built an extraordinary record of accomplishment at RPA, transforming the organization into a civic powerhouse whose work shapes public policy in our region and in urban areas around the world,” said RPA chairman Elliot Sander.
“The vital work he has done at RPA has laid the groundwork for the Fourth Regional Plan and played a key role in the metropolitan region’s resurgence as a global leader.”
Bob Yaro has been part of RPA’s leadership for 25 years and its president since 2001. During his tenure, RPA has been instrumental in proposing and advocating for some of the most significant improvements in transportation, economic development and environmental sustainability in the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan region.
Many of these projects had their roots in RPA’s Third Regional Plan, “A Region at Risk,” which Yaro shepherded in the 1990s.
The region’s biggest transportation initiatives since World War II, the 2nd Avenue Subway and the East Side Access project linking the LIRR to Grand Central Terminal, grew out of recommendations made by RPA.
Under Yaro, RPA also played a role in planning for the creation of the JFK AirTrain connecting the LIRR and subway to the airport. RPA has conducted in-depth research on the Northeast rail corridor, calling attention to the dangers of deferring maintenance.
He led efforts at RPA to redevelop Manhattan’s Far West Side, laying out a vision to create the mixed-use district that became Hudson Yards.
And during his leadership, RPA has expanded its role around the world.
He established America 2050, RPA’s initiative to examine long-range infrastructure needs in the U.S. He pioneered the concept of mega-regions in identifying the interdependence of large regional areas on infrastructure and natural resources.
In 2012, he established the Global Lab, a joint venture with the World Bank to promote improved metropolitan planning in emerging global cities.
In 2013, Yaro initiated RPA’s Fourth Regional Plan, recognizing that while the metropolitan region has made great strides in the last two decades, major challenges threaten to derail its success.