Civilitude is thrilled to welcome Conor Kenny as Director of Public Affairs, not just for Civilitude, but for all of our sister companies, newly organized under the banner of the “Civilitude Group.”
The Civilitude Group of companies encompasses the established engineering and planning firm Civilitude, as well as several other new and developing ventures that are part of a long-term strategy to vertically integrate all services in the development cycle, while also providing those services to other companies in the industry. Civilitude Group’s other companies include our construction firm Constructinople, affordable housing development firm Capital A Housing, and property management company Fabitat, with other potential expansions into advocacy, entitlements, and architecture.
Conor comes into land development almost by accident. Several years ago, he was trying to build a small accessory dwelling unit (ADU) for his new parents-in-law behind his own home, but the city’s cumbersome rules made the project infeasible. So Conor started reading the city’s Land Development Code, found a few loopholes, and talked the city into giving him a permit.
The episode sparked Conor’s interest in the city’s housing crisis and land use regulations, so he joined his neighborhood plan contact team (later becoming chair), became active in the city’s ongoing CodeNEXT Land Development Code re-write, and was appointed to the city’s Design Commission and then the Planning Commission.
Conor is a somewhat notorious glutton for punishment when it comes to drilling all the way down on subjects when he has questions, and he threw himself into the Land Development Code re-write process, writing dozens of amendments adopted by the Planning Commission and then City Council as part of the latest draft. He also chaired the Commission’s Transportation Working Group, which heavily edited the city’s then-draft Strategic Mobility Plan (since adopted by City Council), chaired the CodeNEXT Non-Residential Zones Working Group, and led the commission’s Street Impact Fee working group.
Conor got to know Civilitude founder and president Fayez Kazi on the commission, and in 2019 the pair successfully ran for vice chair and chair of the commission, respectively. In 2020, they switched, with Fayez stepping down to vice chair and Conor stepping up to Chair. It was their time working together on the commission that convinced the two they should work together, and both stepped down from the commission in August to focus on Civilitude’s expansion and vertical integration. Conor will handle government relations, community engagement, and policy analysis, as well as some planning, business development, and conceptual site design.
Conor’s professional background is in government relations, community engagement, and policymaking. He has worked for non-profit organizations dedicated to good government and citizen participation in Austin and Washington, DC, and worked several sessions in the Texas Legislature. He has written sections of Texas law and regulations during his time as a state employee, on subjects ranging from water conservation to police department transparency. He holds a Master of Public Affairs degree from the LBJ School at the University of Texas, and undergraduate degrees from Evergreen State College in Washington state and Deep Springs College in California. He was born and raised in Austin, but is adamant that all Austinites have an equal stake in the community, no matter how long they’ve been here. He lives in the Windsor Park neighborhood (where Civilitude is also located) with his partner, two children, two dogs, and his parents-in-law, who are living in the ADU he finally got approved by the city.