Alumni News

John PlonskiJohn Plonski '69, a native of northeastern Pennsylvania, is an honors’ graduate of Franklin Pierce University, where he was presented the Award for Excellence for his senior thesis, a biography of former New Hampshire Senator George H. Moses.

After graduate study at the School of Public Administration at American University, Washington, DC, John became the youngest municipal manager in the nation, when he was named Town Manager of Wilmington, VT in May 1971. This post was followed-up with other city management appointments at Whitemarsh and Norristown, Penn. During these 15 years, John gained valuable experience leading and managing diverse communities.

From 1988-92, John served as Licenses & Inspections Commissioner and then Water Commissioner of the City of Philadelphia. In this latter role, he was Chief Executive Officer of the nation’s 4th largest public water resources agency. As the city’s environmental leader, John completed the mission on which he set out:  to clean Philadelphia’s water so that it met national standards.  Because of this and other achievements, John was named Deputy Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources by Governor Tom Ridge. His top assignment from the Governor was to form a new state agency, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR). When this was accomplished in under 5 months, Governor Ridge promoted John to be DCNR’s Executive Deputy Secretary (Chief Operating Officer). He held this post for nine years during which he led 2,900 employees as they successfully restored Pennsylvania’s 116 state parks and conserved 2+ million acres of state forest land.  While in office, John advanced significant environmental, infrastructure, energy and volunteer programs.  During this time, he was named to the 21st Century Environment Commission, the Governor’s Interagency Council on Energy, the PA Rural Development Council, and the Philadelphia 21st Century Forum.

Shortly after he was inaugurated Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie tapped John to be the state's Assistant Commissioner of Environmental Protection.  In this role, John oversaw improvements and safeguards to New Jersey's rivers, lakes, bays and the Atlantic Ocean.

In his career, John has received a number of honors and prestigious awards, including Public Administrator of the Year from the American Society for Public Administration.  In 2015, he was honored by his alma mater, Franklin Pierce University, with its Leader of Conscience Award.

John is a graduate of the Senior Executive Program at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, and holds advanced management certifications from YaleUniversity’s School of Forestry and Environmental Sciences; the Governor’s School at DukeUniversity; and the Federal Executive Institute.

John has written a number of articles for publication and led seminars for graduate students at Temple, PennState and the University of Pennsylvania. His many public speaking engagements have covered topics such as leading large organizations through changing times; balancing environmental protection with economic growth; moving toward a sustainable-energy future; coordinating volunteers to accomplish public service goals; and building racial and gender diversity in the workplace. He has served on boards of directors of charities and non-profit organizations concerned with aiding children with HIV/AIDS, mental health, environment, and government reform.

John resides in Malvern, Penn., with his wife Carol, who is a retired high school English teacher and adjunct professor of Education at VillanovaUniversity. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.