As Director of the Office of Economic Adjustment, Mr. O’Brien leads a talented team of project managers in assisting local economic adjustment efforts on behalf of the Department of Defense. Additionally, he manages the Defense Economic Adjustment Program to assist communities to respond to Defense base closures, realignments, contractor reductions, and base expansions.
Prior to joining OEA, Mr. O’Brien negotiated public-private development packages of various sizes under the Urban Development Action Grant Program, reviewed labor policies, sized federal loan participations, assisted distressed communities in evaluating proposed housing and economic projects, and crafted Executive legislative initiatives for the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development where he started his Federal career as a Presidential Management Intern. Over this span, he also spent time with the Office of Congressman James Oberstar, working on community and economic development-related issues. Preceding his tenure with the Federal government, Mr. O’Brien was an Assistant Business Developer for the City of Duluth, MN, where he assisted with the reuse of a closed air base; prepared marketing, finance, and business survey packages to assist local development efforts; supported the conversion of a former steel plant; and co-drafted the State’s first enterprise zone bill. He also served as a citizen representative to the Duluth Joint Airport Zoning Board.
Mr. O’Brien joined OEA as a project manager in 1989, assisting various local BRAC recovery efforts including Fort Ord, Loring AFB, Wurtsmith AFB, NTC San Diego, and Cameron Station. He also managed industry adjustment projects in response to contract reductions in San Diego, Bath, ME, and southern Mississippi. He has authored technical publications, including the OEA Community Guide to Base Reuse and other resources for communities, and led different BRAC implementation policy reviews. He has demonstrated experience with all aspects of the BRAC and economic adjustment process and has worked a range of issues, including: public-private initiatives; federal real property disposal; local organization and business plan development; redevelopment planning; and, economic cost-benefit analyses.
Mr. O’Brien has Bachelor of Arts degrees in Urban Affairs and Political Science from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, where he graduated “cum laude” and as a member of the Golden Key National Honor Society. He also received a Masters of Science degree in Public Management and Policy Analysis from the School of Urban and Public Affairs at Carnegie-Mellon University, where he graduated “with distinction,” student-taught organizational management, and was elected to Pi Alpha Alpha. Mr. O’Brien is certified as an “Economic Development Finance Professional” by the National Development Council and graduated from the Federal Executive Institute’s “Leadership for a Democratic Society” as well as Harvard Law School’s “Program on Negotiation.”