Søren Simonsen

Executive Director

Jordan River Commission 


Søren Simonsen is the Executive Director of the Jordan River Commission. He is an urban planner, architect, educator, community-builder and social entrepreneur. Over the past three decades, including over 20 years of public service as an appointed and elected official, he has worked to create livable cities, sustainable communities and resilient places in Utah and the West. Søren is an accomplished professional and has received broad recognition for his career that spans across all aspects of community development, from planning and public policy to design and implementation. He is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, recognizing his contributions in regional planning and development, as well as local impact as an urban designer in Salt Lake City. He was recently recognized as Utah’s Meritorious Planner by the American Planning Association, and received the American Institute of Architects’ Bronze Medal, which are the highest individual honors awarded by statewide chapters of these respective organizations. Søren is an innovator and leader of professional development in the green building movement, social entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial ecosystems, walkable and transit oriented communities, air quality and watershed health, and agricultural and public land conservation and stewardship. He has received four Best of State Gold Medals in Community Development, as well as numerous project citations from the American Planning Association, American Institute of Architects, American Society of Landscape Architects, and U.S. Green Building Council. He directed or contributed to 28 projects, plans, programs and initiatives that have received Envision Utah Governor’s Quality Growth Awards. Søren was elected to the Salt Lake City Council in 2005, serving two four-year terms. He was the Democratic Nominee for the United States Utah House District 3 in 2012, with a campaign that focused on quality growth and urban development, public lands conservation, and social issues. He has served on numerous local and national boards and committees for professional and community organizations, where he has been a champion for environmental stewardship and resource conservation, urban design, active transportation, public health, environmental justice, arts and culture, human rights and social enterprise. Søren earned a Master of Arts in Community Leadership at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, with an emphasis on organizational leadership, public policy and community organizing. His research and thesis focused on sustainable and equitable cities, and natural resource conservation. He previously received a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin, with a minor in urban planning, and an emphasis in environmental design, urban design and community and regional planning. Over the past three decades, including over 20 years of public service as an appointed and elected official, he has worked to create safe, healthy, beautiful and prosperous cities and places in Utah and the West. In his free time, Søren loves to hike, bike and paddle in Utah’s great outdoors. You can find him regularly riding and floating the Jordan River Parkway.


Abstract: The Jordan River Commission is a decade old this summer, and is currently undertaking an update of the community vision document that launched this regional organization and intiative — the Blueprint Jordan River. Søren will share insights into a decade of impact, and current opportunities and challenges facing the Jordan River Parkway and the greater Jordan River watershed. 


Why We Care

  • Great Salt Lake is a place where nothing is as it appears. It is a landscape of the imagination, where anything is possible.

    Terry Tempest Williams, FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake Advisory Board