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Susan Canon was appointed Director of the Department of Planning and Development in December 2020. She first joined Gwinnett County in April 2015 as Deputy Director of Support Services. Her career includes experience in the public and private sector. Prior to joining Gwinnett County, Susan served as Assistant City Manager and Director of Community Development for the city of Brookhaven. She also served as Deputy Director of Community Development for the city of Johns Creek and assisted with startup operations for the cities of Milton, Chattahoochee Hill Country, and Peachtree Corners in Georgia and Bonita Springs, Florida, through public private partnerships with CH2M HILL. Susan also served as Land Use Manager with the law firm of Lipscomb, Johnson, Sleister, Dailey, and Smith in Cumming and as Real Estate Manager and Project Manager with Bellsouth Mobility in Atlanta. Susan began her career with the city of Roswell where she held various management and leadership positions including Planning and Zoning Director, a role appointed by the mayor and city council.
Susan earned a Bachelor of Science in geography with an emphasis in city planning from the University of West Georgia, and she is a Certified Local Government Manager.Susan and her husband, Eddie, have two grown children.
Matthew Dickison joined Gwinnett County’s Planning and Development Department in 2021 as Deputy Director. In 2022, he was promoted to Assistant Director. In this role, Matt provides leadership and strategic direction to all divisions within the department.
Prior to joining Gwinnett County, Matt served as Planning and Development Director for the city of Chamblee, Georgia, and an associate planner at Clark Patterson Lee and Associates. He has also served in leadership positions in the cities of Dunwoody, Johns Creek, and Suwanee. He began his planning career working for the city of Louisville, Kentucky. Matt is a professionally certified planner with a bachelor’s degree in geography and a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Louisville. He also holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Illinois.
Chris Hayward began working as the Deputy Director of the Department of Planning and Development in 2018. Chris provides leadership and oversight to the Administration, Building, Code Enforcement, and Housing and Community Development Divisions. He is also responsible for managing the department’s budget, technology enhancements, and continuous improvement initiatives.
Prior to working with Gwinnett, Chris served in various capacities in the Office of the Chief Operating Officer for DeKalb County, assisting with project management, economic development, strategic planning, and policy development. He has a juris doctor and bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia with a major in economics and a minor in English. He is also an active member of the International City and County Management Association.
Calvin Abram began working as the Deputy Director of Planning and Development in November 2022. Calvin provides leadership and oversight to the Planning and Development Divisions. He is also charged with providing excellent customer service to Gwinnett County’s stakeholders and will work to improve the quality of life for businesses and residents of the county.
Prior to working with Gwinnett County, Calvin served as the Director of Development for the City of Spring Hill, Tennessee where he oversaw public and private development to ensure adequate capacity associated with city infrastructure could be met and/or improved. He has a master’s degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Urban Planning and Community Development and a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Calvin is also a United States of America Army Veteran.
Administration Division Director:
Kerry Welch has served as the Administration Division Director for the Planning and Development Department since 2019, overseeing the customer service, procurement, and human resources functions in the department.
Kerry began her career with Gwinnett County in 2018 in the Information Technology Services Department as a Business Relationship Consultant. She has over 12 years of experience in the private sector within the software as a service solutions industry of facilities management as Operations Director and Account Management Director. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics with an emphasis in statistics from Colorado State University, and a master's in business administration from Western Governors University.
Development Division Director:
Cyndi Sloan became a Division Director for the Department of Planning and Development in 2020. She is responsible for management of development plan review, water and sewer plan review, stormwater plan review, and development inspections.
Cyndi has a wealth of government experience including holding various positions in the Planning and Development Divisions in Gwinnett County. She also worked with the engineering firm Travis Pruitt and Associates, Inc. for fifteen years, where her responsibilities included design, planning, due diligence, and code research. Cyndi earned a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Georgia and is a registered landscape architect and a certified arborist.
Building Division Director:
Todd Herget became a Division Director for the Planning and Development Department in 2018. He oversees building and fire plan review, building inspections, permitting, and business licensing.
Todd has worked with Gwinnett County since 1998 and has served in local government since 1985. He has served as a Chief Building Official, Plans Examiner, Senior Inspector, and Chief Building Inspector during his career.
Todd earned an associate degree from Daytona Beach Community College. He has received certification as a Building Official from the International Code Congress and holds multiple building code administration licenses from the State of Florida. He is also a member of the Metro Atlanta Inspector’s Association and Building Officials Association of Georgia.
Code Enforcement Division Director:
Jessica Watson became a Division Director for the Planning and Development Department in 2022. She is responsible for providing leadership and support to assigned staff, managing special projects, and promoting and maintaining the Gwinnett Standard of excellence in the Code Enforcement Division.
Jessica has worked in local government since 2008 and served in multiple positions for the City of Norcross and Lawrenceville as a planner, senior code enforcement officer, and code enforcement supervisor.
Jessica earned an associate degree from Liberty University in Business Administration and is certified through the Georgia Association of Code Enforcement.
Planning Division Director:
Tarika Peeks joined Gwinnett County’s Planning and Development Department in 2022 as the Planning Division Director. She is responsible for providing leadership and management of short and long-range planning, zoning administration, and data analysis functions within the department.
Tarika started her career in planning with Fulton County Government in 2005 and worked as the Planning and Zoning Director for the City of Fairburn for seven years. She has over 15 years of experience in short and long-range planning, zoning, permitting, and community engagement.
Tarika holds a bachelor’s degree in urban studies with a concentration in planning and economic development from Georgia State University and a master’s degree in management from Troy University.
Housing and Community Development Division Director:
Matt Elder joined the Planning and Development Department in 2022 as the Housing and Community Development Division Director. He is responsible for administering grant funds awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through Community Development Block Grants, Emergency Solutions Grants, the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, and other programs.
Matt has worked on housing and community development issues in Gwinnett County for nearly a decade in various roles. He most recently served as the Director of HomeFirst Gwinnett with a primary focus on the issue of homelessness.
Matt holds a bachelor’s degree in political science with a minor in public administration from Georgia College & State University.