Alumni Profile: Richard Krochalis (MCRP ’78)

Name/year   Richard (Rick) Krochalis, MCRP ‘78

Hometown:  Worcester, MA

What was your work experience/background before coming to the GSD?

Before coming to the GSD I was previously with the US Navy environmental planning and public works administration.

What made you decide to pursue planning as a career?

My interest in the field started in high school with a module on city planning that allowed me to do research at an early age.

What made you come to GSD?

I was attracted to the GSD for its reputation in urban design and as well as its wide range of public policy courses.

What is your current position?

Regional Administrator of the Federal Transit Administration for the Pacific Northwest.

What areas in planning interest you the most?

  • Urban design
  • Transit-oriented development
  • Implementation of comprehensive planning

Can you summarize the path you have taken since graduation that has led to your current position and how the GSD prepared you for it?

I spent my first part of my career after GSD supporting Navy environmental planning and base development. Subsequently, I spent 10 years as a Department Director in the City of Seattle where I concentrated my efforts on regulatory reform, urban design, code enforcement, and implementing the city’s comprehensive plan. Over the past decade, I have been involved with developing the new light rail, commuter rail and bus rapid transit systems in Washington and Oregon, along with transit grants in Alaska and Idaho.

What experiences at Harvard do you look back on as having been most helpful in your career?

Harvard certainly grounded me in policy analysis which is valuable in any government career. I also appreciated learning about different governance models and the confidence instilled in my leadership skills.

What advice would you give to current and future planning students?

Pick a field that you are passionate about and choose a career path that you can personally make a difference in the outcomes.

If you could be a student again, what would you do the same and/or differently?

I would certainly repeat what I did in the past which was to take a broad range of courses at GSD, MIT, Harvard Kennedy School, and Harvard Business School.

Current project?

My agency is currently providing grants for a light rail expansion project that I am very proud of. The project consists of $1.4 Billion in investment in Portland and another $1.8 Billion in Seattle. The agency contributes fifty percent of the funding to build these projects.

Note: Richard has since retired from federal service and is now a member of the Seattle Design Commission.