Eric Olson Executive Director
From 2006 to 2014, Eric represented College Park and surrounding communities as a member of the Prince George’s County Council, serving two years as County Council Vice Chair (2011 & 2012). As a Council Member, Eric focused on redevelopment, neighborhood quality of life & safety, walkability, and increasing transportation choices. This work and collaboration resulted in more than $450 million in new redevelopment projects, a new bus service (the “Route 1 Ride”), four new playgrounds and a recreation building, and new bike trails. He authored legislation to incentivize transit oriented development, increase recycling, ensure complete and green streets and sidewalks, address nuisance abatement, curtail the proliferation of pawn shops and adult entertainment near neighborhoods, increase security at all-night businesses, and address youth and gang violence.
As a County Council Member, Eric was a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, and served on several committees of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, including the Transportation Planning Board, and the Region Forward Coalition (serving as Chair from 2011-2013), which set goals for the metropolitan region to grow economically resilient and sustainably through 2050.
Prior to his two terms on the Prince George’s County Council, Eric served for 9 years as a member of the College Park City Council (1997-2006). Professionally, Eric directed the national Sierra Club’s “Healthy Communities Campaign” from 2003-2006. There, his work focused on national transportation policy, increasing transportation choices like transit and bike/ped improvements, promoting policies to reinvest in existing infrastructure, and encouraging smart growth redevelopment. He authored numerous reports for the Sierra Club.
Eric also served as Deputy Director of FairVote, a national organization dedicated to election reform (1999-2002), and worked on Capitol Hill for then-Congressman (now U.S. Senator) Bernie Sanders (I-VT) from 1995-1999.
Eric is both a City of College Park resident and a graduate of the University of Maryland (M.A., American Studies, ’95). He has a B.A. in History from Elmira College, ’92. Eric is married to Sarah Treado and they have two daughters.
Valerie Woodall Senior Program Associate
From 2011 to 2013, she worked on Capitol Hill for ImmigrationWorks USA, a national organization advancing immigration reform that works for all Americans – employers, workers and citizens. During her time with ImmigrationWorks USA, Valerie managed all day-to-day operations of a fast-paced national nonprofit organization, crafted communications, assisted with grant applications and fundraising, and planned and executed over 24 regional and national events.
Prior to that she worked closely with a radio executive at DropZone Multimedia. The start-up company produced and distributed radio content in partnership with SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Clear Channel, Pacifica Public Radio, iTunes, Stitcher.com and cell phone applications. Valerie primarily developed partnerships with outlets to distribute content and strategized with nonprofits in the D.C. area to create a better media presence through podcasts and public service announcements. In Spring 2011, she attended and participated in FreePress.net’s National Conference on Media Reform as a representative of this organization. During this time she was also a Volunteer Blog Editor for the Bill of Rights Defense Committee.
Valerie directed campaign offices with Grassroots Campaigns, Inc. from 2007-2009, working in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Diego. Grassroots Campaigns is a national organization that specializes in building grassroots support for progressive organizations and good causes. The organizations Valerie raised funds and awareness for included: the Democratic National Committee (during the time of Howard Dean’s 50-state vote strategy), the American Civil Liberties Union, Save the Children, the League of Conservation Voters.
Valerie is an almost-undefeated soccer coach for Soccer on the Hill, a Capitol Hill-based soccer organization that she has been a part of since 2006. Valerie is a mom at the Woodall-Meyer household, where she currently lives with her husband, daughter, son and dog.
She has spent the past year doing community development work for the City of Hyattsville in their Department of Community and Economic Development. During that time she produced two economic development reports and played a significant role in updating the Community Sustainability Plan. Seeing the effort through from start to finish, she interviewed stakeholders, facilitated community engagement sessions, drafted language and edited the final plan.
Prior to her work in Hyattsville, she completed a B.S. in Architecture and received Masters degrees in Community Planning and Historic Preservation from the University of Maryland in May 2016. During her graduate studies she interned and volunteered with local organizations like Neighborhood Design Center. She became involved with PALS inside and outside of the classroom, focusing most of her graduate education on local communities in Frederick and Baltimore. She created a self-guided architectural walking tour of downtown Frederick and was part of a team that developed the City of Frederick’s Sustainability Plan. She used GIS to help neighborhoods in West Baltimore identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. She focused her final project on strengthening connections between community planners and historic preservationists by interviewing local CDCs, combating negative perceptions, and emphasizing the benefits of interdisciplinary collaborations.
She is knowledgeable about the community, having grown up in the area and lived in multiple College Park neighborhoods over 8 years as both an undergraduate and graduate student. She has built a network of local connections from her time in Hyattsville and her years of working with faculty and staff across multiple departments on campus. She still lives locally and was recently married to a fellow Terp graduate. She is eager to give back and see her adopted city flourish.