Roanoke City Council Names Cowell as City Manager

Robert S. Cowell, Jr. will be Roanoke’s new City Manager.

After an extensive search and interview process, Roanoke City Council has announced their selection of Robert S. Cowell, Jr. as City Manager for the City of Roanoke. Council adopted a resolution hiring Mr. Cowell at Monday’s 2 p.m. City Council meeting.

Mr. Cowell currently serves as Deputy City Manager of Amarillo, Texas, a full-service local government with a staff of 2,100 and an annual budget of $300 million.

“Our reports and interviews have shown that Bob Cowell is extremely informed on issues in Amarillo and is the one people look to for details behind the issues,” said David Trinkle, Roanoke City Council Personnel Committee chair. “In addition, his reputation as an engaged, respected and inclusive problem-solver came through very clearly during our research process. He was repeatedly described as a listener, one that is always calm under pressure and seeks innovative solutions to move the city forward.”

Mr. Cowell began with the City of Amarillo in 2013. During his tenure, he led the city’s Executive Team, appointed department directors, provided strategic direction for organizational activities, assisted in the budget and financial management of the city, and handled the Capital Investment Program development and implementation.  Prior to his current position, Mr. Cowell served in a variety of leadership roles elsewhere in Texas and in communities in the Midwest.

“We are fortunate to have found a leader like Bob who can help City Council take Roanoke to the next level,” says Mayor Sherman Lea. “His vision and insight will be essential to our continued growth and success as an All-America City.”

City Council members said they were impressed by Mr. Cowell’s 20-plus years of experience helping communities achieve success through strategic planning and thoughtful implementation of ideas affirmed through community engagement. They also felt his strong background in planning and development will be an important asset to Roanoke’s local government.

“I am grateful for the opportunity provided by the Mayor and Council, and very much look forward to my arrival in Roanoke,” says Mr. Cowell. “I am impressed with all that has been accomplished in the city and am excited for the opportunity to lead what is recognized as a very strong team as we work to address current challenges and seize upon new opportunities. I am enthusiastic about meeting and learning from the residents and businesses that call Roanoke home, and helping them ensure Roanoke remains a special and vibrant community where everyone has the opportunity to succeed.”

Mr. Cowell received a B.S. from St. Louis University in St. Louis, Mo. and an M.S. in urban planning from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, in Knoxville, Tenn.

He is an Credential Manager with the International City/Council Management Association; an AICP Certified Urban Planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners; and a CNU-A Accredited Member with the Congress for the New Urbanism.

His professional activities include service on ICMA Boards and Committees and the Site Visit Team of the Planning Accreditation Board.  In addition to membership in ICMA, he maintains membership in the American Planning Association, the Texas City Management Association, the Congress for the New Urbanism, the Urban Land Institute, and the Society of American City and Regional Planning History.

In addition, Mr. Cowell served as a team leader for volunteer professional assistance teams along the Mississippi Gulf Coast in response to Hurricane Katrina, helping local governmental agencies to develop community plans and ordinances for several impacted communities. He has also presented professional education sessions at annual conferences for the American Planning Association, the Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association, and the Indiana Chapter of the American Planning Association.

Mr. Cowell will join Roanoke on September 5, 2017 and will receive an annual salary of $200,000.  A public reception will be held in early September to allow citizens to meet the new City Manager.