As Executive Director of the Somerville Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development, George Proakis oversees the execution of SomerVision – the city plan he helped create. Together, his staff has revolutionized neighborhood planning and zoning practices by creating new strategies to foster consensus-building and better development.
Prior to his tenure in Somerville, he led a team that coordinated downtown redevelopment and introduced an updated zoning code in Lowell. Nowadays, his responsibilities include managing significant mobility projects, faciliting economic development initiatives for small business owners, organizing an extensive inclusionary housing program, as well as running client-service based anti-displacement initiatives.
Early Life and Education
George Proakis is the City Manager in Watertown, Massachusetts and an expert in urban planning and zoning. Previously the Planning Director for Somerville, his team managed the implementation of SomerVision – with 568 goals, policies, and actions covering topics such as zoning regulations, urban design elements like stormwater recharge systems for backyard chickens or family housing units; dining decks; dormers; economic development initiatives like Small Business Saturday; managing large mobility projects through state/federal grants; plus leading an expansive inclusionary housing initiative.
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George Proakis spent nearly four decades as a professor at Northeastern University, beginning as an associate and then full-time professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department. His research focused on digital communications and signal processing; he also taught graduate courses on communication systems modeling and analysis, control systems, circuit analysis, probability theory, stochastic processes. George earned master’s degrees in city planning from MIT; public administration from Maxwell School at Syracuse; and bachelor’s in civil engineering from Northeastern.
He’s currently the executive director of the office of strategic planning and community development in Somerville, where he has revolutionized neighborhood planning and zoning by advocating urban design, stormwater recharge, backyard chickens, family housing, dining decks, dormers – you name it! Additionally he supports well-written regulations, walkable neighborhoods, the Boston Red Sox and Oxford commas. Moreover, as one of three finalists for Watertown’s city manager job, most council members have indicated their preference for him being their chosen candidate.
Achievements and Honors
George Proakis is an esteemed and award-winning planner with 16 years of experience in the public sector. During his time as Lowell City Planner, he has spearheaded groundbreaking initiatives like downtown redevelopment, form-based zoning regulations, and citywide comprehensive planning initiatives.
As Planning Director in Somerville, he oversees the implementation of SomerVision with its 568 goals, policies, and actions on topics ranging from zoning and urban design to stormwater recharge, backyard chickens, family housing units, dining decks, and dormers. His team is ushering the city into a new era of community-based planning and has created Somerville’s most progressive zoning regulation in New England.
He is a Harvard University Lecturer for Planning and Design, member of the Boston Society of Architects and Congress for the New Urbanism, as well as visiting faculty at MIT. Additionally, he serves on the steering committee of Smart Growth America’s Form Based Codes Institute.
George Proakis is an eloquent and charismatic speaker. A passionate Boston Red Sox fan, he values well-written regulations, walkable neighborhoods, and open government.
He currently serves as Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development in Somerville, Massachusetts. In this role, he assists with implementing the SomerVision city plan on various topics such as zoning regulations, urban design elements, stormwater recharge methods, backyard chickens and family housing initiatives.
He oversees major mobility and public space initiatives, manages economic development and small business programs, and coordinates an expansive inclusionary housing initiative. Furthermore, he serves as founding board member of the New England Chapter of Congress for the New Urbanism and is a steering committee member of Smart Growth America’s Form Based Codes Institute.