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Zabe Bent Joins NACTO as Director of Design

Aug 27, 2019

Zabe Brings Nearly Two Decades of Wide-Ranging Experience to Advance Organization’s Mission of Raising the State of Practice for Street Design in North America

For Immediate Release | August 27, 2019
Contact: Alexander Engel | [email protected] | 646-324-2919

After a national search, the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO) is pleased to introduce Zabe Bent as its new Director of Design. Zabe is a skilled transportation planner and project manager with almost two decades of combined experience in the public and private sectors. She will lead NACTO’s street design program and projects, expanding the reach and real-world impact of NACTO’s design manuals, resources, and training programs across North America.

NACTO works hand-in-hand with the stewards of urban streets—its member cities—to codify innovative, forward-thinking street design standards and policies that capture the opportunity and confront the unique challenges of designing and managing streets in urban areas. Hundreds of cities worldwide have used NACTO’s design guidance and resource documents to design thousands of bike facilities, transit lanes, stormwater infrastructure, and pedestrian plazas that make up the streets of North America’s thriving cities.

As Director of Design, Zabe will sustain and lead these efforts, working across a growing network of city transportation experts and advancing the field of people-first street design. With her extensive experience in multimodal accessibility and real-world results from her projects in cities across the globe, Zabe will join NACTO’s senior staff leadership, providing strategy and support in service of NACTO’s central mission: raising the state of practice for street design in North America.

“Much like city streets, NACTO works in multiple scales and methods at once,” said Zabe Bent, NACTO Director of Design. “I’m excited to join NACTO’s excellent staff, and partner with the organization’s member cities and agencies as we work together to find the strategies that not only raise the bar for street design but also help our cities implement the designs that bring our communities closer, make our streets safer, and keep our cities vibrant.”

“NACTO is propelling the movement for sustainable and vibrant cities through innovative, inclusive street design,” said Corinne Kisner, NACTO Executive Director. “With years of leadership and expertise in transportation planning and engineering, Zabe will empower our network of cities to continue fighting climate change, a traffic safety crisis, and systemic inequity through people-centric design practice.”

“Urban design policy is climate policy, and as go our streets, so goes the planet,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, NACTO Chair. “Zabe understands how streets can connect people with their cities, and knows how all of the possibilities we design into them can change the world.”

“From the street corner to the conference room, our work in cities is all about action. We strive every day to craft policies and implement projects that make cities work better for everyone,” said Seleta Reynolds, NACTO President. “Throughout her career, Zabe has focused on these same questions, helping cities implement designs that allow people to travel safely and reliably. We look forward to Zabe’s focus and determination at NACTO as Director of Design.”

Zabe most recently worked as a consultant, both independently and as a Principal at internationally-recognized Nelson\Nygaard, on a wide range of projects in cities ranging from San Francisco to St. Louis to Washington DC. Previously, Zabe was a Principal Planner at the San Francisco County Transportation Authority (SFCTA), where she managed a range of initiatives that increased access to safe and reliable transportation in the Bay Area, including the development of two high-profile rapid bus projects in San Francisco. Additionally, Zabe is a NACTO certified trainer and has led trainings across North America, expanding the technical knowledge of city transportation staff to design projects that follow NACTO’s street design standards.

During her varied experiences across sectors, agencies, and continents, Zabe refined her ability to approach projects from multiple perspectives: that of the public agency, private contractor, and city resident. This allows her to talk to people from multiple sides of the project delivery equation, a skill that leads to deeper understanding between actors and, ultimately, stronger projects built on city streets. NACTO is thrilled that Zabe is joining the team as Director of Design, where she will bring her comprehensive perspective and communication style to advance the movement and practice of people-first streets.

Zabe holds a Master in City Planning and a Master of Science in Transportation from MIT, as well as a Bachelor of Arts from Barnard College.


About the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO)
NACTO is an association of 81 major North American cities and transit agencies formed to exchange transportation ideas, insights, and practices and cooperatively approach national transportation issues. The organization’s mission is to build cities as places for people, with safe, sustainable, accessible, and equitable transportation choices that support a strong economy and vibrant quality of life. To learn more, visit or follow us on Twitter at @NACTO.