After nearly 20 years of service, Gov. Parris Glendening begins transition from Smart Growth America, starting new role as senior advisor

WASHINGTON, DC—Smart Growth America President & CEO Calvin Gladney and Governor Parris Glendening jointly announced that the former Maryland Governor and current President of the Smart Growth America Leadership Institute will be transitioning out of his current role at SGA, while staying on as a senior advisor for the next year.

governor parris glendening
Governor Parris Glendening

“After two decades with Smart Growth America traveling, speaking, advocating, and equipping other public officials to adopt a better approach to growth and development, I will be leaving the organization as my work evolves into a fourth act,” said former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening. “I have been very fortunate to have had three rewarding and successful careers already: 27 years of teaching at the University of Maryland, 31 years in elected office including 12 as Prince George’s County Executive and eight as the Governor of Maryland, and then 18 as an environmental advocate with Smart Growth America. It is time for Act IV as I move into a combination of business, continued environmental advocacy and writing.”

“Working with SGA over these last 20 years has been an important, exciting and successful journey. To see the nascent ideas of smart growth grow from humble beginnings in my small state of Maryland into a successful, nationwide movement is in large part a result of the hard work and leadership of Smart Growth America, in addition to the thousands of committed advocates across the country who have taken our ideas deep into the mainstream.”

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“When Governor Glendening departed the Government House in Annapolis back in 2003, he surely had no shortage of lucrative job offers awaiting him in the private sector,” reflected SGA President and CEO Calvin Gladney. “That Gov. Glendening chose instead to lend his credibility and spotlight to the country’s first national smart growth organization—a plucky, young, small nonprofit in those days—is evidence of his commitment to the principles he espoused so publicly while in office. His willingness to join SGA in that pivotal moment helped catalyze smart growth into a national movement and accelerated positive changes in towns, counties, cities, and states across the country. In those early years, there was no corner of the country that he wouldn’t visit to give a speech telling the Maryland story and encouraging others to join the movement to build better places. I’m thankful that I’ve been fortunate enough to personally benefit from his guidance and advice as one of the leaders in the smart growth movement, and we wish him all the luck in the world as he transitions into this fourth act, as he puts it so well.”

Governor Glendening has agreed to continue working with SGA for at least the next year in the role of Senior Advisor. 

“SGA and the smart growth movement are facing—as is the entire nation—challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, economic crises, and the movement for social justice and equity. I’m honored to be able to continue at SGA in an advisory role in this important time,” added Governor Glendening. “As we look ahead SGA must continue to lead in three great challenges facing this nation: Climate change, social justice and equity. As SGA has begun to show over the last two years, smart growth principles are essential for addressing all three. Smart Growth America has made these three challenges their core mission, and the smart growth movement more broadly should do the same in the years ahead as the work continues to evolve.”

“I extend my appreciation to Smart Growth America, my former fellow board members, and current President Calvin Gladney as well as past SGA leaders like Don Chen and Geoff Anderson for the years of progress that we made together. I wish SGA and all of the talented, gifted, and passionate staff the best for the challenges yet to come.”

In his time as Governor of Maryland (1995-2003), Parris Glendening created the nation’s first state level, incentive-driven smart growth program for which he received Harvard University’s Innovations in American Government Award. Prior to that, he served three terms as County Executive of Prince George’s County, MD and ten years as a city and county council member. Over the years, he served as president of the Maryland Association of Counties, the Democratic Governors Association, the National Governors Association and the Council of State Governments. For his leadership Governing Magazine twice named Glendening “Outstanding Public Official of the Year,” making him the first ever to receive that prestigious award at both the local and state level. He was also a highly regarded professor at the University of Maryland, College Park for 27 years, repeatedly recognized for his innovative, quality teaching and receiving the Regents’ Excellence in Teaching Award. 

Glendening continues to be involved in the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) as an elected Fellow. He has served as Senior Advisor to the President and National Council of the American Society of Public Administration (ASPA). His unique mix of academic, political, and non-profit careers has led to numerous public service awards, including ASPA’s Donald C. Stone Award and ASPA’s Hubert H. Humphrey Award. He currently teaches a course on smart growth, sustainability, and climate change at Johns Hopkins University’s Carey School of Business.

Born in New York and raised in Florida, Governor Glendening holds a doctorate degree in Government and Politics from Florida State University as well as eight honorary degrees. Glendening lives in Annapolis, MD with his wife Jennifer. His daughter Bri, an accomplished equestrian, is attending the University of Maryland, College Park. His son Raymond, a graduate of West Virginia University, was previously the Political Director of the Democratic Governors Association and is currently the founder and President of Scarlet Oak Strategies in Washington, DC, a national public affairs firm helping companies and trades achieve their federal and state policy objectives.


Smart Growth America envisions a country where no matter where you live, or who you are, you can enjoy living in a place that is healthy, prosperous, and resilient. We empower communities through technical assistance, advocacy, and thought leadership to realize our vision of livable places, <a healthy people, and shared prosperity.

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Do you want to share a personal reflection about Gov. Glendening or send a message of thanks? Did he influence your work or career in some way? Have a story we’ve never heard about the Governor? Use the form at the bottom of this page to share your thoughts or reflections, and we’ll publish some of them on the blog.