Move Allows Peter Koonce to Follow in Mentor's Footsteps

November 19, 2009

When presented with the opportunity to take on a leadership position with the City of Portland, Peter Koonce knew it would be a difficult decision. Peter has spent nearly 15 years with Kittelson & Associates, Inc. (KAI), which provides transportation planning, engineering, and research services to government agencies, municipalities, and private organizations across the U.S. and Australia.

A firm leader within KAI’s traffic signal systems and transit operations team, Peter has honed his skills and become an effective advocate for the betterment of transportation systems. He will follow in the footsteps of a longtime friend and mentor, as well as expand his understanding of the transportation profession, when he becomes the City’s Signals and Street Lighting Manager on Nov. 30.

“It was excruciatingly difficult for me to make the decision to leave KAI because it’s my extended family,” Peter notes.

The opportunity at the City arose after the former manager, Bill Kloos, passed away after a long battle with cancer. Peter and Bill had been close colleagues for more than a decade. Before returning to work for the City after a brief hiatus, Bill also was a staff member with KAI. Bill left the firm to pursue other interests in 1996, but maintained his KAI connections. Through numerous contracts completed for the City, Peter led the KAI effort and worked closely with Bill on improving signal systems around Portland. They developed a working relationship in which Peter viewed Bill as a mentor, and Bill was always eager to share his knowledge.

Peter has a lot of ideas for his new position, some inspired by Bill and others attained through his many years of traveling to dozens of cities. As homage to his Portland roots, Peter is set to build upon the City’s sustainability brand. He is interested in supporting Portland’s Climate Action Plan, which puts a focus on moving people more effectively on public transit. He expects to find ways in which signals and street lighting can assist the transit system. As an avid bicyclist, Peter’s other interests include looking at the development of bike signals and safely moving pedestrians with improved street lighting.

As KAI prepares to see Peter go, Wayne Kittelson recognized the profound impact he has had on KAI’s culture, technical development, and the personal and professional development of the staff. “We are proud of Peter’s representation of the KAI culture and philosophy,” Wayne explains.

KAI has great respect for the City’s progressive approach to transportation issues, and Peter’s national credentials will bring a wealth of experience to the Signals and Street Lighting department. Although he will be missed at KAI, the firm is celebrating the positive impact he will continue to have on the Portland community.

There are many changes associated with Peter’s transition. The City is still adapting to losing a valued and trusted leader in Bill, and will now embark on getting to know Peter as an internal leader. However, with great change comes great opportunity. Neither KAI nor Peter sees the move as a severing of ties but rather as the beginning of a new relationship. Given the City of Portland and KAI’s progressive embrace of beneficial change, there are many great opportunities on the horizon.

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