Eagleton Faculty, Staff and Visiting Associates
B.A. degree in economics, Rutgers University; M.A. degree in public affairs, Princeton University
Richard W. Roper, a public policy consultant, retired in 2010 as director of the Planning Department at The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. In this capacity, he directed the department to anticipate emerging needs, significant threats, and future opportunities for the agency, its partners, and the people it serves, and assist its leaders in devising effective responses. The department brings a regional perspective, analytic rigor, and planning expertise to the agency’s long-range strategies, investments and policy choices.
Roper has had a long career in public affairs, during which he has held senior level positions in local, state, regional, and federal government agencies and has had experience in nonprofit organizations, and in academic research, teaching, and administration. For eleven years, prior to his return to the Port Authority in 2007, Roper was president of The Roper Group, a public policy consulting firm specializing in economic and social policy research and analysis. Between 1992 to 1996, before establishing The Roper Group, he served as director of the Port Authority’s Office of Economic and Policy Analysis, followed by a brief stint as director of the agency’s Office of Business and Job Opportunity.
Prior to his Port Authority experience, Mr. Roper was for 12 years on staff at Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs. There he served as assistant dean for Graduate Career Services and Government Relations, director of the Program for New Jersey Affairs, executive director of the Council on New Jersey Affairs, and lecturer in Public and International Affairs.
Before Princeton, from 1978 – 1980, he served in the Carter Administration as Special Assistant to the Secretary of Commerce (Juanita Kreps) and then as director of the Department’s Office of State and Local Government Assistance.
In 1998 as a consultant, Roper served as staff director for the Newark in the 21st Century Task Force, a group that sought to frame a social, economic, and education facilities agenda for the city as the year 2000 approached. Later in 2006, again as a consultant, he served as interim director of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, a social justice “think and do tank”, and coordinated the one-year search for the successor to its founding executive director. Also, from 2001 through 2007, Roper served as a Senior Fellow at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government at the State University of New York in Albany, NY. In this capacity, he conducted research on state and local government operations with a focus on New Jersey and New York.
Roper began his public affairs career in Newark, NJ where he was director of the Office of Newark Metropolitan Studies from 1974-78, and prior to that was the Legislative Aide to Newark’s first African American Mayor, Kenneth Gibson. Earlier in his career, Roper served as a special assistant to the director of the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services; as an education program director at the Greater Newark Urban Coalition; and as assistant to the Vice Chancellor of the New Jersey Department of Higher Education.
His many civic engagements have contributed to the development of the social, political and cultural infrastructure of urban New Jersey, particularly Newark. He was a founding trustee of Newark Emergency Services for Families, a 24-hour crisis intervention program that serves residents in the Greater Newark area. He was a co-founder of the New Jersey Public Policy Research Institute, Inc., an organization dedicated to research, analysis, and dissemination of information on issues affecting New Jersey’s communities of color; and co-founder of Leadership Newark, an organization dedicated to identifying and nurturing talented individuals in business, education, arts, government, social services, and the non-profit sector in Newark and vicinity. In addition, Roper was a founding Trustee of Newark Public Radio, Inc., the licensee of radio station WBGO-FM, Jazz 88, the New Jersey Institute of Social Justice, and University Heights Charter School.
Roper currently serves as a Visiting Associate at the Eagleton Institute of Politics, is on the Board of Trustees at the Fund for New Jersey, a public policy-oriented philanthropy, is a member of the board at La Casa de Don Pedro, a social welfare organization serving the Latino community and others, a member of the Board of Directors of the NJ Coalition for Diverse and Inclusive Schools, member of the Board of Directors of The New Jersey Performing Art Center, member of the Rutgers University – Newark Advisory Board and the Rutgers Future Scholars Development Committee. He also is a member of the Board of Deacons at Bethany Baptist Church in Newark, NJ, and served as deacon board chair for 15 years from 2003 – 2018.
Roper is the co-editor of A Mayor for All the People: Kenneth Gibson’s Newark and author of several articles and publications addressing social, economic, governmental, and political issues of import to urban New Jersey, the state of New Jersey, and the New York Metropolitan region.
Roper earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey at Newark and a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from Princeton University’s School of Public and International Affairs.
A resident of Maplewood, NJ, he has been married to the former Marlene Peacock since 1969 and is the father of two sons, Jelani and Akil, both of whom are lawyers.