John A. Swanson, executive director of the Northwestern Indiana Regional
Planning Commission (NIRPC), has announced his retirement when his current
contract expires on Dec. 31.
During his report at NIRPC’s monthly board meeting in Portage today, Swanson
stated that he was extremely grateful for the opportunity to have served as
the Commission’s chief executive officer since September 2004 but that now
is a good time for a transition in leadership to occur.
“During Swanson’s administration, NIRPC’s planning, public involvement, and
local assistance efforts have attained national stature,” NIRPC said. The
National Association of Regional Councils has awarded NIRPC its top honors
for a mid-sized regional council three times during the past five years.
Swanson was appointed shortly after the Indiana General Assembly passed
legislation to make NIRPC a Council of Governments and added environmental
and economic development planning to its existing transportation planning
and programming brief.
NIRPC is now governed by a 53-member board comprised of elected officials
from the region’s three counties and 41 municipalities. “By creating a forum
for bringing together the local government officials in Lake, Porter and
LaPorte Counties, NIRPC has helped create the conditions for improved
intergovernmental cooperation and collaboration in the region,” Swanson
NIRPC has also added planning capacity in a number of program areas,
including geographic information systems and land use, watershed management,
economic development, environmental justice, and food systems planning.
Munster Clerk-Treasurer Dave Shafer said, “NIRPC is fortunate to have hired
John Swanson as a seasoned professional who raised the level of NIRPC’s
planning efforts. It will be difficult to find a replacement for John.”
Geof Benson, NIRPC’s current chair and the Beverly Shores Town Council
President, added, “We, the people of Northwest Indiana, are incredibly
fortunate to be the beneficiaries of a man of John’s caliber, integrity and
ability. Mayors, clerks and council members of every stripe trust and
respect John's judgment and know that he is working in the interest of their
communities. John leaves the best kind of legacy—a legacy of not only roads
and bridges and buses—but communities and staff working together to make
this part of Indiana and the United States a great place to live, work, and
carry a vision of a better place into the future.”
Among the major accomplishments of Swanson’s tenure: Northwest Indiana
Regional Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan (2005 and 2010); Watershed Management
Framework Plan (2005 and 2012); Transportation Summit: Moving Northwest
Indiana Forward (2005); Connections 2030 Regional Transportation Plan
(2006); Transportation Improvement Program: 2007-2012; Sensible Tools
Handbook for Indiana (2007); Greenways and Blueways Plan (2007); The
Marquette Plan, Phase II: A Vision for Lakeshore Reinvestment (2008); Forum
on the Future of Northwest Indiana (2008); Transportation Improvement
Program: 2009-2013; 2040 Comprehensive Regional Plan (2011); Calumet
Connections Plan (2011); Transportation Improvement Program: 2012 - 2015.
At today’s Executive Board meeting, Benson established an Executive Director
Search Committee for purposes of seeking and recommending a successor to
The appointees to the search committee: Chair Ken Layton, LaPorte County
Commission Chair; Roosevelt Allen, Lake County Commission Chair; Kevin
Breitzke, Porter County Surveyor; Karen Freeman-Wilson, Mayor, City of Gary;
Bob Schaefer, Council President, Town of Long Beach; Dave Shafer,
Clerk-Treasurer, Town of Munster; Jim Ton, Councilman, Town of Chesterton.