40 Under 40 Class of 2020

Lee Pouliot

Director of Planning & Development, City of Chicopee; Age 34; Education: Delaware Valley University (BS); Cornell University (MS)

Pouliot (pictured at left) has been involved in numerous key projects in Chicopee, including brownfield redevelopment, the City Hall rehabilitation, multiple park renovations, initiation of the “Envision Our Chicopee: 2040” plan, and much more.

Lee Pouliot

Lee Pouliot    Photo by Leah Martin Photography

What did you want to be when you grew up? A marine biologist.

What goal do you set for yourself at the start of each day? I’ve learned to expect the unexpected on a regular basis.

What are you passionate about? Taking on that project no one else wants to focus on. Easy projects quickly get champions and get completed; I’m attracted to the really complicated projects that take time and cross-sector collaboration to advance. Projects that can be transformational over the long term keep me focused.

What’s been your biggest professional accomplishment so far in your career? Establishing Chicopee’s Community Street Tree Planting Volunteer Program. We work with the Forestry Department to train resident volunteers to plant bare-root trees in the fall or spring.

What do you do for fun? Play clarinet, design and install gardens, read, write, and spend time with our adorable niece, Noelle Grace.

How do you relieve stress? The gym and fitness, which is also how I force myself to leave the office on time.

What’s your favorite hangout or activity in Western Mass., and why? Concerts at Tanglewood, which combine my love of music and my love of nature. How often can one go to a live classical concert under the stars?

What person, past or present, would you like to have lunch with, and why? J.R.R. Tolkien, who is one of my favorite authors. He wrote in a way that painted vividly detailed pictures, and I would love to listen to him explain how life experiences influenced his writings and imagination.

What actor would play you in a movie about your life? Neil Patrick Harris.

What will work colleagues say at your funeral? I asked my team to respond: “I can’t believe he wanted to be a tree this bad.” “Lee made our community better by making sure we all played by the same rules. Lee had a wonderful way of easing discussions that resolved many conflict-of-interest situations between different parties. Lee was certainly underappreciated and underpaid!” “Always looked good in gold spandex and a feather boa!”