Friday, April 5, 2024
Headshot of Dave Andersen

Alum Dave Andersen (class of 1994) has worked on a variety of urban planning issues during his career and is currently the Managing Director at the Washington State Department of Commerce. He considers his master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Iowa instrumental in his success. Dave says, “I’ve found the strong analytical and theoretical foundation from the University of Iowa helped me make sense of what I was working on from very early in my career. After 30 years, I’m still applying these concepts every day.” During Dave’s time in the Department of Commerce, he’s received recognition for his outstanding contributions by being presented with the Governor's Outstanding Leadership Award and the Meyer Wolfe Award for Professional Achievement.

Urban planning is central to the State of Washington’s strategy to address climate change, housing affordability, economic competitiveness, salmon recovery, and many other issues. A major component of Dave’s job is to educate and inform policy makers at the state, local, and federal level on how to use planning as a tool to attack these and other complex problems. He is currently leading a program which implements Washington’s Growth Management Act - working closely with local governments, other state agencies, federal agencies, and tribes. 

Dave initially decided to pursue a master’s in urban planning after working as a planner for a year in a regional economic development agency in Ottumwa, IA. As a master’s student, he chose to concentrate on transportation planning and his first job after graduation was with Pierce Transit, which led him to Tacoma, Washington. His graduate degree in urban planning allowed him to immediately begin in a senior planner position. Dave helped Pierce Transit grapple with a number of policy issues associated with implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act. He was also responsible for implementation of the Sound Transit regional express bus network connecting south Puget Sound with Seattle. Other positions Dave has held within the Department of Commerce, leading up to becoming Managing Director, include Senior Planner, Plan Review and Technical Assistance Manager, and Eastern Regional Manager.