Nichols selected as next Benton County Community Development Director

headshot of new community development director Darren Nichols
Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Darren Nichols will serve as the next director of Benton County’s Community Development Department, beginning October 19, 2021.

Nichols joins the County with over 27 years in the public and private sector, including seven years with the State of Oregon where he worked with cities and counties across the state on land use, planning and community development. Most recently, Nichols served as the executive director of the Great Lakes Commission in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In that role, Nichols coordinated with eight states, two Canadian provinces and the United States Congress to plan for and protect the Great Lakes Basin. As executive director for the Columbia River Gorge Commission and associate director for the University of Washington, he worked with government, industry and tribal leaders to find collaborative solutions to public policy and regional planning challenges. Nichols also brings first-hand experience working as a construction contractor in the Willamette Valley, associate planner for the City of Canby, and as a law clerk for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Attorney’s Office - Environmental and Natural Resources section, and the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

“I am excited and pleased to welcome Darren to Benton County,” said Joe Kerby, Benton County administrator. “He brings experience from a multitude of backgrounds that span many years in planning, management, and providing administrative and technical expertise. Darren’s wealth of knowledge in the areas of public policy, land use planning and community development, collaboration with leaders at all level of government, and his desire to conserve scenic, cultural and natural resources make him a great fit for our organization and our leadership team.”

Nichols is a native Oregonian, born in Portland and raised north of Salem where he attended McNary High School in Keizer. From there, Darren went on to study at Willamette University receiving his Bachelors of Science in Business Economics. After ten years in construction, he returned to study at Portland State University, earning his Master’s degree in urban and regional planning before attending Lewis and Clark Law School where he earned his Juris Doctorate degree.

Following a national recruitment, Nichols was one of four candidates invited to participate in final interviews with the Board of Commissioners, members of senior leadership and department employees.

Currently, the Community Development department director position is held by Greg Verret. A graduate of Georgetown, Oregon State, and Pacific Universities, Verret holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Master’s degrees in both Resource Geography and Creative Writing. Verret has provided invaluable leadership, strategy, and management to the Benton County organization for twenty-two years, serving the last fourteen years as director. Verret will continue to lead in a new capacity as the deputy director for policy and program development in the Community Development Department.