Montgomery County’s Planning Department announced Thursday that it has appointed Jason Sartori as its new planning director, after a six-month-long nationwide search.
Sartori, 48, has worked with the department for nearly eight years and has served as the Chief of the Countywide Planning and Policy Division since January 2019, according to a press release. He began his planning career in 2005 as an intern at Montgomery Planning.
“As a resident of Montgomery County for the past two decades, I am energized and dedicated to enhancing the quality of life and livability for current and future generations of county residents, businesses, and visitors,” Sartori said in the release.
He added that he was excited to “craft plans and policy recommendation that strengthen every community and create a greater sense of place and inclusion for all.”
The Planning Board announced Sartori’s appointment at their Thursday planning board meeting. Currently, Tanya Stern is Montgomery Planning acting planning director. She took over the position after the Board voted to remove the former planning director, Gwen Wright from the role in October 2022. Wright served as the director starting in July 2013 and was due to retire in December 2022.
“On behalf of the Planning Board, I can’t thank Tanya enough for her leadership and commitment to Montgomery Planning’s work,” Planning Board chair Artie Harris said in the release. “During a time of significant transition in the department and on the Planning Board, she continued to guide the department’s development and approval of master plans, studies, and policy updates, as well as its regulatory work reviewing development project applications.”
Sartori, who lives in Bethesda, will begin his new role starting Nov. 27 while Stern will resume her position as one of two deputy planning directors in the department, according to the release.
He joined Montgomery Planning in January 2016 and helped lead two updates to the county’s Growth and Infrastructure Policy and led the team that developed the Pedestrian Master Plan, a planning document that aims to improve the pedestrian experience. The plan was approved by the County Council in October.
Before his work at Montgomery Planning, Sartori was the associate director of the National Center for Smart Growth at the University of Maryland, per the release. While there, he led projects surrounding affordable housing, transportation, economic development and growth visioning.
“I know Jason will further the Planning Board’s priorities of accelerating the production of housing, especially affordable housing as this is a critical challenge our county is facing,” Harris said in the release. “Jason has the technical expertise and creativity to advance the county’s economic health, environmental resilience, and community equity goals.”