Mayor’s Office

Mayor Miro Weinberger Appoints Luke McGowan as the Director of the Community and Economic Development Office

May 28, 2019
Contact: Olivia LaVecchia
                (802) 734-0617

Mayor Miro Weinberger Appoints Luke McGowan as the Director of the Community and Economic Development Office


Burlington, VT – Mayor Miro Weinberger today announced the appointment of Lukas McGowan as the Director of the Community and Economic Development Office. Luke brings extensive experience in community organizing and economic development to the position. Mayor Weinberger will ask the City Council to consider confirmation of the appointment at its June 3 meeting.

“Luke’s experience with community organizing and bringing together stakeholders to move projects forward makes him well positioned to be the next leader of CEDO,” said Mayor Miro Weinberger. “I am looking forward to working with Luke and building upon the entrepreneurial spirit of CEDO and its history of making Burlington a welcoming, livable, and inclusive city.”

Luke will bring many strengths to the CEDO Director role, including:

  • Extensive experience as both a public sector and private sector manager;
  • Track record of successfully bringing diverse groups together to accomplish important goals; and
  • Background working to help small businesses and entrepreneurs succeed.

Luke started his career as a community organizer for the Obama primary campaign in Iowa in 2007. He then served as a Regional Field Director in Northern Virginia during the general election in 2008. After the successful election, he served in the Obama Administration, first as a writer for Vice President Joe Biden and later in a leadership position in the White House Office of Legislative Affairs. In these roles, Luke built coalitions, worked with many partners, and managed large teams. He worked on a diverse set of issues including climate change and energy policy, health care reform, and the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.

Luke then moved to the private sector, where he helped to build Thumbtack, a startup that supports hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs and small businesses, grow from ten employees to 400 employees during his time with the company. Luke managed the growth of Thumbtack’s small business customer base, worked with large teams to implement new features, and collaborated with mayors and governors around the country to support small business owners.

When he moved to Vermont, Luke launched his own consulting company, Dirt Road Consulting, which helps businesses and nonprofits grow and reach new potential. During this time, Luke also served as the U.S.-based venture partner for Mustard Seed, a social and environmental impact venture fund.

Luke moved to Vermont to be closer to family, and currently lives in the Upper Valley with his wife and one-year-old son. He attended Columbia University and holds a Master’s in Public Administration from the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.

“I am excited to return to public service in the role of CEDO Director for the City of Burlington,” said Luke McGowan. “I look forward to relocating to Burlington and serving the City and its residents.”

Building on Past Success at CEDO
Luke will lead a department with many recent successes, including:

  • Building public-private partnerships, including the new 194 St. Paul Street Champlain College housing, the newly built Community Sailing Center, the Burlington Harbor Marina;
  • Rebuilding the Northern Waterfront and Skate Park;
  • Expanding youth programs, including creating the City Hall Internship and the My Brother’s Keeper programs; and
  • Administering $500,000 of entrepreneurial support grants funded by the Kauffman Foundation to Mercy Connections, Center for Women and Enterprise, Generator, and the Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The department also has ambitious future goals, including:

  • Implementing its recently developed strategic plan, with the vision of making Burlington the most livable, just, and connected community in America by empowering individual voices in the life of our City, fostering healthy neighborhoods and housing choice, and advancing people-centered development;
  • Embedding a comprehensive, citywide civic engagement strategy into all departmental initiatives;
  • Boosting the Housing Trust Fund to strengthen low- and middle- income housing efforts;
  • Sparking the construction of accessory dwelling units through the reduction of regulatory barriers;
  • Redeveloping the Moran plant into a public park; and
  • Seeking partnerships with organizations and businesses to advance social equity in the community.

Search Process for the New CEDO Director
Before beginning the search process, Mayor Weinberger met with CEDO staff, City staff, and community stakeholders to help determine what was needed in the next CEDO Director. For this search, we were specifically looking for someone who could support and manage CEDO and its broad set of responsibilities, which include housing policies, economic development and job training initiatives, social service programs and the City’s homelessness initiatives, diversity and equity initiatives, administering Tax Increment Financing districts, community justice, and several mature federally funded grant programs, including the LEAD program, the City’s AmeriCorps program, and the Community Development Block Grants.

The search began in February 2019. The process included:

  • Posting the position locally, state-wide, and nationally, as well as targeting diverse communities and conducting supplemental recruitment efforts through the Mayor’s Office;
  • Reviewing resumes that met the minimum requirements and initial interviews of both Vermont and out-of-state candidates by a search committee, which included:
    • Kim Anderson, Director of Communications at the Community Health Centers of Burlington
    • Patrick Brown, Director of the Greater Burlington Multicultural Resource Center
    • Will Clavelle, CEDO Economic Development Specialist
    • Rachel Jolly, CEDO Assistant Director, Community Justice Center
    • Neale Lunderville, former Interim Director of CEDO
    • Deanna Paluba, Director of Human Resources
    • Brian Pine, Ward 3 City Councilor
    • Jordan Redell, Mayor’s Chief of Staff
  • Interviewing two finalist candidates recommended by the search committee; and
  • Inviting Luke for a third round of interviews in Burlington, which included meetings with the CEDO Leadership Team, Department Heads, and representatives from the Greater Burlington YMCA, Family Room, Community Sailing Center, Vermont Housing Finance Agency, AALV, Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce, and Burlington Business Association.

At the conclusion of the search, Luke’s passion for community organizing, experience with team building, and support for small businesses and economic development demonstrated that he was an excellent fit for this position.

For additional information about Luke McGowan, please see:

Photo: Luke McGowan appointment



















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