Raphael Clemente took the long way to becoming an urban planner. Shortly after starting work on a bachelor’s degree in social science in 1987, Clemente took off on a decade-long adventure as a competitive cyclist, racing throughout North and South America and later in Europe. The experience gained “on the road” led to an intense interest in how streets and public spaces are designed and built and the associated effect on cities and communities.
An formal introduction to planning and community design came after retiring from professional racing at the end of 1996 and going to work as a project manager for a South Florida developer, overseeing development of residential and commercial properties in Broward and Palm Beach Counties.
In 2000 he enrolled full time in the master’s degree program at FAU’s College of Urban and Regional Planning as a recipient of the program’s Environmental Growth Management Fellowship. After graduating in 2002 Mr. Clemente worked in both the public and private sector before being hired as Urban Planning and Services Director with the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority (DDA) in 2006. The DDA Board appointed Clemente as its Executive Director in 2011.
Throughout the time that he has been working in Downtown West Palm Beach, Mr. Clemente has been an agent for positive change with projects, programs, and policy; working on issues ranging from nightlife district safety to transportation infrastructure. Mr. Clemente has also utilized creative “instigations” and tactical urbanism methods as tools to improve and enhance the public realm. Over time, these projects and programs have resulted in a significant improvement in quality of life for residents and an increase in business revenues.