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Published in Economic Development

Michigan’s chief mobility officer to step down — for a year of travel

BY Kurt Nagl, Crain’s Detroit Business Thursday, January 19, 2023 02:26pm

The state's first chief mobility officer is on the move.

Trevor Pawl, 40, will depart his job heading up the state’s Office of Future Mobility and Electrification at the end of the month to pursue a year of travel with his family.

Trevor Pawl COURTESY PHOTO

“This has been a dream job with a dream team,” Pawl told Crain’s. “I love Michigan and mobility, but we’ve all been reminded the last few years that life is short and time is precious.”

The Office of Future Mobility and Electrification developed a transition plan, Pawl said, and details on the future of the chief mobility officer role will be released in the next week.

“It was a decision that me and my family did not take likely,” Pawl said. “It was months of going back and forth knowing this job is something that I have cared about and loved every minute of for almost a decade.”

Pawl was appointed to the role in 2020 to help prepare the state for a future of autonomous and electric vehicles. He had previously been senior vice president of business innovation at the Michigan Economic Development Corp., where he oversaw its mobility arm PlanetM.

Among his proudest accomplishments are launching the MI Future Mobility Plan, launching the first smart parking lab, developing a signature EV route around Lake Michigan, attracting tech workers to the Michigan Central Innovation District in Detroit, and helping develop the nation’s first road for AVs and first road that charges EVs while driving.

While there was no timeline in place, Pawl said he and his wife, Jessica, have been planning and saving for the trip for eight years. They are set to depart next month with two young kids in tow.

“That’ll be a full-time job in and of itself,” he said. “We’ve done our best to prepare, and we’re really excited about the adventure but also the opportunity to have a new perspective, live in the moment.”

The rough itinerary is to start in California, then go to Hawaii before exploring Asia and Europe and heading back home to Michigan late in the year.

Pawl said he is approaching the trip as an opportunity to learn more about other cities and countries in the context of mobility and beyond.

“Just because I’m leaving this job, I’m not leaving mobility, and I’m not leaving my passion for mobility or the state behind,” he said.

Pawl, a 2012 Crain’s 40 Under 40 honoree, said he is departing the role at an ideal time as the mobility sector accelerates and the mobility office hits its stride.

“It has been the privilege of a lifetime to work for Governor Whitmer, Lieutenant Governor Gilchrist, and their team,” he said in a LinkedIn post.

From Crain’s Detroit Business.

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