The Urban Partnership
Working for Better Cities



What is The Urban Partnership?

The Urban Partnership offers a range of complementary leadership services and competencies covering a broad spectrum related to city and place planning, management and organizational development.

The two principals of The Partnership are Ellen McCarthy and Rich Bradley.  Ellen’s specialties address both generalized area planning issues as well as project needs focused on zoning and development project entitlements, with considerable experience in developing strategies for complex projects to comply with DC & Federal regulations, negotiating their review processes, and helping maximize their quality and success in meeting project objectives. Rich’s experience is more focused on downtown and neighborhood placemaking, management and branding strategies and activities.  In this regard, he has particular expertise in both leading and facilitating collaborative strategic planning and organizational development.  



A regulatory framework can’t make a market but it can help shape the expectations of the market.
— Ellen McCarthy

Ellen McCarthy

Ms. McCarthy is a committed urbanist who draws upon her extensive experience in the public and private sectors to solve problems in community and economic development that require the integration of a variety of disciplines to create better places and cities.  As a planner and an adjunct professor of urban planning, she has been focused on implementable solutions that lead to more inclusive cities, helping to create partnerships that work within the constraints of public policies and regulations.  

She has particular strengths in land use, historic preservation, policy analysis and implementation-oriented urban planning, with solid communications skills. Ms. McCarthy has over forty years of experience in planning.  Her technical specialties include: 

  • Working with clients to devise effective strategies for obtaining land use and zoning entitlements, and historic preservation approvals;

  • Providing assistance in site search and analysis of potential new locations for companies and institutions; 

  • Creating and assisting public/private partnerships;

  • Strategic planning  

Ellen has a masters degree in City Planning from Harvard University. She currently teaches in the Masters in Urban and Regional Planning Program at Georgetown University, and, as a Principal with The Urban Partnership, LLC, consults with a variety of private development companies and non-profit organizations on land use, zoning, affordable housing and economic development issues.  She has been accepted as an expert witness in zoning, planning and land use by both the DC Zoning Commission and the Board of Zoning Adjustment.


Cities of the future, in order to flourish and be truly competitive, will need to deliver vibrant urban experiences while promoting social equity.
— Rich Bradley

Rich Bradley

Since the mid-1980’s, Rich has been managing government and nonprofit organizations and leading change processes focused on transforming places, communities and cities, usually as consensus processes between the public and private sectors.  His positions have included senior management roles in municipal transit systems, a state department of transportation, a downtown council and a national association.  Following these positions, Rich was the founding Executive Director of the DC Downtown Business Improvement District, where he served for seventeen years, and also helped create and provide staff leadership to the Washington Developers Roundtable.

The places and communities where he has led change processes have ranged from center city areas in Baltimore, Maryland; Washington, DC; and Johannesburg, South Africa; to smaller communities like Downtown Neenah, Wisconsin; Downtown Eugene, Oregon; and more recently Crystal City in Arlington, Virginia, the Kentlands in Maryland and Dupont Circle DC. He has been engaged in the emergence of place making both as a framework and a set of tools which are now being applied globally.

Not surprisingly, he began his career as a secondary school English teacher helping to pioneer a model of inter-community and inter-racial learning in Fairfield County, Connecticut, which he believes gave him valuable lessons for urban politics. Since graduation from college in the Sixties, during a time of great social change, his work has been informed by efforts to achieve greater social and economic equity.