When Erika Vandenbrande first began working with the city of Redmond, it was supposed to be a short-term endeavor.
She was working for King County Metro Transit at the time and the project was the Redmond Trip Resource and Incentive Program (R-TRIP), a program that encourages people to utilize alternative modes of transportation such as walking, biking, carpooling and transit — instead of using single-occupant vehicles.
That was 21 years ago. Since then, R-TRIP evolved into Go Redmond, and Vandenbrande started working for the city of Redmond in 2001.
After 19 years at the city, Vandenbrande has retired. Her last day was Jan. 10. During her tenure at Redmond, she held a number of positions. Her final position was as planning director, which she held since April 2018 after former Mayor John Marchione appointed her as interim planning director.
Vandenbrande said she has been fortunate to have served the community for such a lengthy time.
“Redmond has grown up,” she said about the changes she has seen in the city since her early days.
The Washington, D.C., native said she feels really honored to have served and worked in Redmond for as long as she did. She remembers a time before the current City Hall building was built and when there was a big hole in the ground along Cleveland Street in downtown.
Vandenbrande said she hopes she has played a role in laying a solid foundation for Redmond — a foundation for things such as light rail, which she said will be a “game changer” for the city.
Looking back on her time at the city, she is thrilled to have memories of working with great and talented people. She added that Redmond has so many bright and talented people serving the community — some of which have gone on to do great things for the city or elsewhere.
Vandenbrande also praised the Redmond community itself, describing the people as genuine and sophisticated.
In addition to her time as planning director, Vandenbrande has been a deputy city administrator, transportation demand management manager and economic development manager for Redmond.
She has also held planning roles at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and South Coast Air Quality Management District in California, according to the city. Vandenbrande was also a manager at Southern California Association of Governments, where she was responsible for developing the local government portion of the regional Air Quality Management Plan.
Marchione, who worked with Vandenbrande for the 16 years he was in office (four years as a councilmember and 12 years as mayor), described her as a jack of all trades.
He said in his fifth or sixth year as mayor, he needed someone to jump start certain initiatives he wanted to get done before he left office. That was when Vandenbrande became a deputy city administrator in Marchione’s office.
“She was a great asset to Redmond and helped us get a lot of things done,” said Marchione, adding that Vandenbrande was also good at getting people together and organized to complete jobs.
He said Vandenbrande had a role in the city’s customer service program, which included the installation of the customer service desk on the first floor of Redmond City Hall. Marchione said that as planning director, she worked with staff and applicants whenever conflict arose and made sure projects were evaluated properly.
“Erika was dedicated, intelligent and a woman with many talents,” he said. Marchione said Vandenbrande helped the Redmond community move forward.
In a press release from the city, current Redmond Mayor Angela Birney added, “I am so thankful to Erika for her work building the foundation for our path forward and for the many contributions she has made to the Redmond community.”
Since her last day at the city, Vandenbrande has made her way back east. Her husband and daughter are both in Virginia and she is joining them there.
“The new year brings new adventures,” Vandenbrande said in the release. “I’m proud of the work we’ve accomplished at the city of Redmond but am now looking forward to the opportunity to be with my family who has relocated to the East Coast.”