Last month, Jennifer Keener took over as director of the Worcester County Department of Development Review and Permitting from Ed Tudor, who held the position for 28 years.
Keener, a Montgomery County native, has been with the department since 2006 and had most recently worked her way up to deputy director.
“It’s a very nice honor that the commissioners appointed me to this position,” Keener said.
In a statement released by the county, Commissioner President Joe Mitrecic praised Keener’s expertise and the know-how she brings to the job.
“Growth isn’t a one-and-done effort, it is a process, and Keener is well-suited to lead her team, as they provide a range of services to assist the public with their planning needs,” he said. “As an expert planner, she brings the education, experience, and professional leadership skills necessary to lead her team in providing the planning support necessary to meet the challenges that come with growth throughout our diverse communities.”
Keener said that she’s proud of the accomplishments she’s had a hand in, including the recent animal control reform and the work she did to help balance the county’s budgets.
Keener had kind words for her predecessor, saying that Tudor had a knack for motivating people to grow in their jobs in the best way for them.
“Ed taught me a lot — not just about the basics of writing legislation, but how it played into the codes section,” she said. “He was a very good mentor and encouraged anybody, whether they were looking to do something within their department or outside it, to follow their path and grow. He really encouraged us in that regard.”
Looking ahead, Keener said she’s excited to tackle the next Comprehensive Plan, which will happen after recently released census data is refined, as well as analyzing the demands of an ever-connected society.
“With that plan … we evaluate the goals and objectives we have in light of any new trends, especially after covid, and see what’s in high demand such as outdoor recreational activities like walking and biking,” Keener said.
“There’ll be a push in the future for additional, reliable wireless service through things like small-cells technology. (I’m looking forward to) seeing where we can go with the recommendations in that final document. That’s really going to guide our planning determinations and considerations in the long term. It will guide where we should focus our efforts for positive growth in the county.”
Keener is a member of the American Planning Association and has 16 years of planning and site review experience. She earned a bachelor of science in geography and environmental studies with a minor in sociology and geology from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2005.
In 2008, she earned a master of science degree in environmental management from the University of Maryland University College. In 2018 she earned her American Institute of Certified Planners designation.