Meet Thera Black.

"I’m a fan of regional transportation planning. I need to be clear about that right from the start."

My Philosophy on Regional Planning

I’m a fan of regional transportation planning. I need to be clear about that right from the start. I believe that RTPOs and the regional collaboration they foster make a region and its communities stronger and more resilient.

There is no other entity with the composition and stature of RTPOs, no other entity with their unique responsibilities. RTPOs bring communities across a region together on a regular basis with a focus on transportation.

This makes possible on-going long-range strategic planning that happens nowhere else. Transportation is central to important considerations like community vitality, economic prosperity, environmental health, social justice, and emergency preparedness. An effective RTPO process has benefits that go well beyond compliance with Chapter 47.80 of the Revised Code of Washington and a compliant plan.

There is power to the regional self-determination that RTPO collaboration can foster. Key is to tailor the regional program to meet the needs of each region, using the full flexibility inherent in state legislation to make it work. The more time the RTPO process can free up for genuine collaboration, the better it is for the region and its communities.

In order to be able to spend time on things that matter a region has to stretch its limited RTPO program funds. For small regions with limited resources that means streamlining perfunctory RTPO requirements in order to free up time and resources for things that matter more to the region, developing and maintaining strong partnerships, recognizing and leveraging opportunities, and thinking strategically about risks and uncertainty. Most importantly, it takes understanding by the member agencies about the value of regional collaboration and a willingness to participate.

About Me

A native of Mississippi and a product of New Jersey’s public education system, I arrived in Washington in 1987 and have never looked back. Evergreen brought me to Olympia in 1988. Since then my roots have grown deep in this community and in the Cascadia region of the northwest in general.

While my professional efforts are focused in the realms of public policy, my transportation and community interests are diverse and inform my thinking on effective policies, plans, and processes. I continuously expand my horizons through active engagement with the Transportation Research Board and affiliated opportunities.

Contrary to popular opinion, I’m not always working. Odds are good you’ll find me in the garden on the weekend, sailing with my FAST women’s race team, cooking for a crowd, or maybe out car camping with Tilly the WonderDog. I’m pretty handy with power tools and enjoy tackling projects around my1934 home.

I also enjoy talking about transportation. Get in touch and let’s kick around some ideas over a cup of coffee or some pint-sized planning.