City of Topeka hires Rhiannon Friedman, aims to make city more developer efficient

The City of Topeka announced Thursday that it hired Rhiannon Friedman to serve as the City’s new Director of Development and Economic Growth. Friedman will transition from her current role as the President of Downtown Topeka, Inc., to the City later this fall, at a date to be determined.

The position, which will be housed within the City’s Planning and Development Department, is the first of its kind at the City. The role aims to make Topeka more development efficient, with equity at the core. Friedman’s work will focus on affordable housing expansion, incentive packages available to builders and developers, as well as increased communication in these areas.

Friedman has served as the President of Downtown Topeka, Inc. for the last two years. Her resume includes key positions at GO Topeka, a PR organization in Texas, the State of Kansas, and more. Friedman has a bachelor’s in political science and government from K-State. Earlier this year, she was selected as a 2022 International Downtown Association Fellow, becoming one of only 30 professionals to participate in the national program.

“I’m thrilled that Rhiannon will join the Topeka team later this fall. Rhiannon is a proven leader, who’s developed professional relationships with many of Topeka’s builders and developers. I know she will make the City more efficient in all economic development areas. What I want people to know is that this is a cooperative strategy to collectively better our community, and that it’s not a duplication of services, but rather a compliment of services. I’m excited that the City is able to expand upon its cherished partnership with the GTP, and I’m grateful that Matt and I both see this as a collective victory,” said Stephen Wade, Topeka’s City Manager.

“I’m extremely grateful for my time with the Greater Topeka Partnership over the last few years. Thanks to leadership from Matt and so many others, the experience allowed me to develop many strong relationships within our community. In this new role with the city, I look forward to driving new development and redevelopment that builds on the momentum we’re seeing. The innovation with this role is exciting, because it allows the city and the GTP to partner together even more, as we work to collectively better the community,” said Friedman, Director of Development and Economic Growth.

“Rhiannon has been outstanding to Topeka in so many ways and we will reap the benefits from her contributions for decades. Losing someone like her might normally seem like a nightmare but knowing she will be on Team Topeka with our partner at the City makes it more like a dream. I applaud Steve Wade for his vision in this hire and look forward to working hand in hand with Rhiannon and Steve going forward as we continue our momentum,” said Matt Pivarnik, CEO of the Greater Topeka Partnership.