• Leah Treat will take the helm of Nelson\Nygaard August 1, bringing decades of experience in progressive public policy and programs to the private sector
• Treat is known for spearheading some of the nation’s most revolutionary and socially equitable urban mobility plans
• Strategic hire is a testament to the City of Portland’s global leadership in transportation and mobility innovation
Nelson\Nygaard, an internationally recognized transportation and planning consultancy, announced today that Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) Director Leah Treat will join the firm this summer as its new managing director. Nelson\Nygaard joined Perkins+Will in 2016.
Treat, who has led the 850-person, six-division PBOT since 2013, is responsible for some of the city’s most innovative transportation and mobility policies and programs. These include Portland’s Vision Zero policy, which resulted in the installation of permanent, automated speed-detecting cameras on high-crash corridors; BIKETOWN, a partnership with Nike that led to the largest smart-bike bike-share system in the country; and new city design standards, which require protected bike lanes in new residential and commercial developments.
The move to Nelson\Nygaard on August 1 will be Treat’s first foray into the private sector. Both she and Nelson\Nygaard leaders believe the timing is right and the value is high.
“After a highly competitive national talent search, we are so pleased that Leah has accepted our invitation to join us at Nelson\Nygaard,” says Paul Jewel, Nelson\Nygaard’s current managing director. “We have found in her, hands-down, the most qualified, most capable, and most dynamic leader to take our firm to the next level—and to help deliver to our clients the most progressive transportation solutions in the world.”
Jewel, who has led Nelson\Nygaard since 2007, was actively involved in Treat’s recruitment and plans to move into a project-focused role once Treat takes over. Treat believes her transition to the role will be natural and immediately impactful.
“I’ve spent more than 20 years working in urban governments across the country, and most of that time has been in transportation. This has provided me with a comprehensive understanding of modern mobility challenges. Mobility is about more than getting from place to place quickly and easily; it’s also about how transportation intersects with education, health, jobs, and equity,” Treat says. “My experiences and broad exposure to urban politics will help both Nelson\Nygaard and the firm’s clients achieve their goals of safe, smart, and equitable transportation.”
Prior to her role at PBOT, Treat served as the managing deputy commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) and deputy director of the District of Columbia’s Department of Transportation (DDOT). A native of New Mexico, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Professional Writing and a Master of Public Administration from the University of New Mexico. She joined the Board of Directors of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) in January 2018.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who has worked closely with Treat since he took office in January 2017, says it’s no surprise that Treat was Nelson\Nygaard’s top pick.
“Leah’s talent, combined with her passion and enthusiasm for her work, make her indispensable to the community she serves,” Wheeler says. “The citizens of the City of Portland—myself included—are fortunate to have benefited from her leadership over the past five years. She has helped our city to become the global exemplar of urban mobility and the gold standard for transportation innovation.”
As managing director of Nelson\Nygaard, Treat will continue to live and work in Portland, leading the consultancy from its local office downtown.
The new role will also afford Treat the opportunity to collaborate with Nelson\Nygaard’s parent company, global architecture and design firm Perkins+Will, on urban planning and place-making projects around the world. Already, Nelson\Nygaard is teamed up with Perkins+Will’s Mobility Research Lab on a number of game-changing developments and studies, including the design of San Francisco’s new Mission Rock District and the reimagining of Los Angeles’ Wilshire Boulevard, a joint venture with rideshare company Lyft.
“I was drawn to Nelson\Nygaard because it’s unique in the industry: it’s a consulting firm that puts people first. The company shares the values that have allowed Portland to be a global leader in sustainability by prioritizing walking, biking, and transit, and by making sure the benefits of its thriving economy are spread equitably,” Treat says. “I’m delighted to start this next chapter of my career, and I look forward to working alongside some of the warmest, brightest, and most talented people I’ve ever met.”