Susan Peithman, a former Portlander who was a staffer at the nonprofit advocacy group, The Street Trust and a serious bicycle racer, is now interim director of the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Climate Office.
Peithman will serve in the position while current Climate Office Director Suzanne Carlson rotates over to serve as administration of ODOT Public Transportation Division for one year.
Peithman will be the third person to lead ODOT’s Climate Office since it was established in spring 2020 in response to former Governor Kate Brown’s executive order on climate change. The office’s main charge is to monitor and inform ODOT’s progress on reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. Peithman’s varied background in the transportation world should serve her well in leading that effort.
Peithman moved to Portland in 2007 with an expressed goal of getting a job in the “nonmotorized transportation” world. How do I know that? Because she was quoted saying it in a glowing NY Times profile of Portland’s bike culture in 2007. And Peithman did just that, by landing a job at Alta Planning + Design and then becoming a policy advocate at the nonprofit Bicycle Transportation Alliance (now The Street Trust) in 2009. Her experience in that role included time on the advisory committee for the controversial North Williams Avenue project.
Peithman’s first taste of statewide policymaking came when she was named as a member of ODOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee in 2012 and served as its chair for four years (until 2016). Also in 2013, Peithman was hired as the research and education program administrator at the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Center at Portland State University. Then in 2016, Peithman got her first job at ODOT as their active transportation policy lead.
Since 2016, Peithman has had several jobs at ODOT, including a stint as a manager of the Public Transportation Division.
“I’m excited to use my policy and program experience as the Climate Office director over the next year,” said Peithman in an ODOT statement Friday, December 1st. “The office has made great strides in the short time since its creation, and I plan to continue the momentum. I have a personal passion and professional commitment to supporting ODOT as we work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and prepare for future climate events.”