(Photo by Jeffrey MacMillan/The Washington Post) (Photo by Jeffrey MacMillan/The Washington Post)

A new award, recognizing individuals who work collaboratively to make the D.C. region a better place to live, work and play, has been created to honor the late Ron Kirby, one of the region’s premier experts in transportation planning.

The Ronald F. Kirby Award for Collaborative Leadership will recognize non-elected government officials — the people behind the scenes, such as city and county managers and department directors. Winners will be  judged on their commitment to working with other leaders and stakeholders to solve problems and make this region a better place according to Loudoun County Board Chairman Scott York (R), who announced the creation of the award at the annual meeting of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Wednesday.

“So much of what Ron accomplished—keeping the planning process on track, informing officials with accurate data, looking for new ways to address challenges, such as our Regional Transportation Priorities Plan—resulted from his commitment to collaborative leadership,” said York, who serves as Chairman of the Transportation Planning Board at COG. “His leadership style and dedication to regional cooperation advanced the notion of the Council of Governments as the forum where area decision-makers come together to solve problems. And it helped the Transportation Planning Board carve out its place as the impartial authority on transportation in the region.”

Kirby, who served as COG’s Director of Transportation Planning for 26 years and was a leading expert on transportation planning, was found fatally shot inside his Alexandria home Nov. 11. He was 69. The police investigation is continuing.

Kirby was popular and well-respected in the region for his ability to build consensus among varying interests. He also was the foremost authority on transportation issues in the District, Maryland and Virginia. He knew numbers off the top of his head and could explain complex transportation planning issues in plain English.

“This award is a fitting tribute to Ron since collaboration was a hallmark of his career,” said COG Executive Director Chuck Bean. “He was eager to share knowledge and work constructively with so many groups, such as elected officials, staff members, government managers, business and advocacy organizations, transportation experts, scholars, journalists and citizens.”

This post has been updated.