Rick Cole

Executive Director
Congress for the New Urbanism

Prior to his role as Executive Director of the Congress for the New Urbanism, Rick Cole served as City Manager of Santa Monica  June 2015-2020. During his tenure, he spearheaded work on the City Council’s five Strategic Goals: converting the Santa Monica Airport to parkland; forging a new model of mobility; taking regional leadership on homelessness; fostering an inclusive and diverse community; and promoting wellbeing so that residents Learn & Thrive.

Rick has been recognized as one of “America's Public Officials of the Year” by Governing Magazine and one of the "Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers" by Government Technology Magazine. He has won awards for municipal management excellence from the American Society of Public Administrators and the Municipal Management Association of Southern California, as well as for urban planning leadership from the Congress for the New Urbanism. Rick served as Deputy Mayor for Budget and Innovation for the City of Los Angeles where he was responsible for a budget of $8.6 billion and oversaw five city departments. Rick also spent 15 years as City Manager of two Southern California cities, Ventura and Azusa. 

Rick served 12 years on the Pasadena City Council and was Mayor when Pasadena adopted its landmark General Plan, an early model for smart growth. Called "one of Southern California's most visionary planning thinkers" by the Los Angeles Times, he has been an active leader in the International City Managers Association and the City Managers Department of the League of California Cities. 

As Santa Monica’s City Manager, Mr. Cole is responsible for leading one of California’s most successful and progressive full-service cities. With a AAA bond rating from all three major public credit rating agencies and an annual budget of more than $700 million, Santa Monica’s award-winning services and programs are delivered by a staff of nearly 2300. 

Rick received a degree in American Studies from Occidental College in 1978 and earned a Master’s Degree in Journalism from Columbia University in 1979.