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Glendening to Depart Smart Growth Group, Readies for ‘Act IV’

Former Gov. Parris N. Glendening (right) chats with former state Sen. Richard S. Madaleno Jr. in the State House. Photo by Bruce DePuyt.

After nearly 20 years at a non-profit formed to fight suburban sprawl, former Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) is stepping down to pursue other interests, he announced on Tuesday. 

A former two-term governor, Glendening joined the group Smart Growth America in 2003, soon after he left the State House. 

In the years since he has traveled the globe, helping local leaders craft policies that promote transit, reduce harm to the environment and invest in established communities. 

“I feel honored that the program that we started primarily to protect the Chesapeake Bay — primarily focused on land use and reducing sprawl — has now become a national, and even an international, model,” Glendening said in an interview. 

More than two dozen states have adopted some form of “significant smart growth legislation,” including some with Republican governors, he said. 

The 78-year-old former governor, who just opened a Twitter account with help from his wife and children, said he will remain a senior adviser to the organization for the next 12 months. 

After that, he plans to write, advocate for the environment and pursue some business opportunities, potentially involving solar and wind power. 

“I have been very fortunate to have had three rewarding and successful careers already: 27 years of teaching at the University of Maryland, 31 years in elected office including 12 as Prince George’s County Executive and eight as the Governor of Maryland, and then 18 as an environmental advocate with Smart Growth America,” he said in a statement.

“It is time for Act IV.”

Glendening’s 1977 book, “Pragmatic Federalism,” has been used in coursework at more than 400 universities, he said. 

“I’d feel tickled if I could get one really good fiction and one really good nonfiction book out in the next several years,” he said. “I love writing.” 

In a statement, Smart Growth America President and CEO Calvin Gladney said Glendening’s decision to join the fledgling non-profit, rather than take a more lucrative private-sector job, changed the organization’s trajectory. 

“His willingness to join SGA in that pivotal moment helped catalyze smart growth into a national movement and accelerated positive changes in towns, counties, cities, and states across the country,” Gladney said. 

“In those early years, there was no corner of the country that he wouldn’t visit to give a speech telling the Maryland story and encouraging others to join the movement to build better places.”

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