Planner of the Month: Mike Lithgow

By Nikole Coleman

Beginning this December, we will be highlighting a planner in the newsletter each month in an effort to introduce many of you to those who you may not otherwise get to know due to their location or type of “planner” job.  These features may evolve over time and I welcome suggestions for those you may know who are doing amazing work but are often hiding behind the cubicle wall. 

First up is Director of Community Development and Parks in Pend Oreille County, Mike Lithgow (lucky him!). Mike has been with Pend Oreille County for 6 years and in the field of planning for 10. Prior to venturing in to the renowned field of planning he could be seen as a Red Robin Mascot singing many happy birthdays to college students in Bellingham. During his down time away from the halls of the county offices he enjoys hunting, fly fishing, horseback riding, and playing the upright bass. Read on to hear more in his own words:

  • Why did you choose the planning profession? Or did it choose you? It chose me. I focused on Environmental Policy during my time at WWU. I never thought I would be a County Planner. The position was advertised and the timing was right for me. The traffic in Seattle was killing me slowly and I desired to be closer to my family in Eastern Washington.
  • What part of your job do you find most rewarding? Working as member of a team to accomplish things we could never accomplish individually.  
  • What was your first planning related job? As an intern for the City of Bellingham working for Clare Fogelsong in the Environmental Resources Department. Clare was a great mentor and I learned a ton by watching him.
  • What advice would you give a new planner? Put in the extra hours. Volunteer for diverse tasks. Be a part of the community you work in. Work hard……but make sure to play hard too.
  • What are you looking for when you hire a planner? Personality (is he or she a good fit), Confidence (not arrogant, but confident and well spoken).
  • What do you wish you had known when you started your career? The complexity of politics.  
  • If you were not a planner what profession would like likely be in? City Administration, City Manager.

Return to December issue of The Washington Planner