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Who is Sterling Mountain Community Planning & Design...


David E. White, FAICP

David E. White, FAICP is a leader, urbanist, and innovator in fostering and facilitating successful and vibrant community planning and urban development projects for more than 30 years. He is the founder and principal of Sterling Mountain Community Planning & Design, LLC specializing in helping communities, planners, consultants, nonprofits, and enlightened developers improve the quality, vitality, sustainability, and livability of their projects.

Prior to entering private practice in 2022, David served as the Director of Planning for 14 years in the City of Burlington, VT - Vermont’s largest city with a population of ~44,700 nestled on the eastern shore of Lake Champlain. In his 26+ years of service to the City, David served in a number of leadership positions, and played a catalytic role in advancing Burlington’s place as one of the country’s most celebrated progressive livable and dynamic small cities.


Under David’s leadership, Burlington’s city planning program and development review process were transformed - becoming more engaging, predictable and pragmatic. He has helped create dozens of plans and hundreds of code changes that are ensuring that new development across the city addresses challenges ranging from affordable housing, preservation of historic buildings, climate change and resilience, economic development, and urban transportation.

Past Roles

  • Director of Planning, Office of City Planning, City of Burlington, VT (July 2019-Nov 2021)

  • Interim Director, Community & Economic Development Office, City of Burlington, VT (Jan 2019-July 2019)

  • Director of Planning & Zoning, Dept. of Planning & Zoning, City of Burlington, VT (Aug 2007-July 2019)

  • Comprehensive Planner, Dept. of Planning & Zoning, City of Burlington, VT (Aug 1995-Aug 2007)

  • Assistant Director, Lamoille County Planning Commission, Morrisville, VT (Oct 1989-Aug 1995)

Certifications and Recognitions

  • Mayor's Award for Distinguished Service, City of Burlington, VT (2021)

  • AICP College of Fellows, American Institute of Certified Planners (2018)

  • Mark Blucher Professional Planner of the Year, Vermont Planner's Association (2016)

  • Plan of the Year, planBTV: Downtown and Waterfront Master Plan, Northern New England Chapter, American Planning Association & the Vermont Planners Association (2013)

  • Project of the Year, Burlington Design Guides, Northern New England Chapter, American Planning Association, & the Vermont Planners Association (1999)

Leadership and Education

  • AICP College of Fellows Committee 2023-present

  • AICP Candidate Pilot Program Mentor 2018-present

  • AICP National Membership Standards Committee (2011-2018)

  • AICP National Marketing Task Force (2007-2008)

  • Past-President, Northern New England Chapter of the American Planning Association (2003-2005)

  • Masters of Environmental Management, Nicholas School of the Environment. Duke University (1989)

  • Bachelor of Arts, Dept. of Geography, University of Vermont (1984)


David is a well-known and frequent presenter at state and chapter planning conferences, and has been a presenter at several national conferences. He also gives generously of his time working with university faculty on course projects, as a guest lecturer, and speaking one-on-one with new and aspiring planners.

Click here for a comprehensive resume.


When he’s not wandering the streets of a favorite urban place, David can be found skiing and hiking in the Green Mountains, boating on Lake Champlain, or riding his bike through the Vermont countryside.


David has been both a professional and volunteer ski patroller since 1981 at ski resorts in Utah and Vermont. He is currently a member of the Mt. Mansfield Ski Patrol at Stowe Mountain Resort in Vermont.

David has been married to his best friend Susan for 39+ years, and together they have 3 adult kids, 2 awesome daughters-in-law, and 3 grandsons who brighten their lives every day.

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