Eric Christian Peterson

eric peterson
Eric Christian Peterson, 72, of Vienna, VA, passed away at home, surrounded by family, on April 21, 2023, after a hard-fought battle with cancer.

Born July 11, 1950, to Allen and Dorothy Peterson in Albuquerque, NM, Eric grew up in Omaha, NE, and Torrington, WY. After earning an undergraduate degree in Political Science from Nebraska Wesleyan University and a Master of Science degree in Public Communication from Boston University, Eric began his lengthy and accomplished professional career in Denver, CO, as the Director of Public Affairs for Lutheran Medical Center. In 1981, he moved to Northern Virginia to pursue his interest in political science on the national level as a long-time staff member for U.S. Senator John W. Warner (VA), serving in several key roles including legislative assistant, press secretary, and speech writer.

After leaving the Senator’s staff, Eric went on to hold federal executive positions across multiple administrations, including Deputy Under Secretary, U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration, at the U.S. Department of Commerce; Executive Director of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission; and Senior Advisor to the Administrator of the Research and Special Programs Administration, Deputy Administrator of the Research and Innovative Technology Administration, and Senior Advisor to the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration at the U.S. Department of Transportation.

In addition to his federal government endeavors, Eric made substantial impacts while holding positions in the private sector, including his achievements as Executive Director of the Landowners Economic Alliance for the Dulles Extension of Rail (LEADER), where he worked to establish a tax district and enable development of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Silver Line. He also played a major role in launching and growing D.C. Restaurant Week into what it is today while serving as the President of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.

Later, Eric’s career focused primarily on transportation, in particular high-speed rail. He never retired, preferring to maintain an active role shaping transportation policy as a consultant and member of several advisory boards, committees, and commissions at the Mineta Transportation Institute, American Public Transportation Association, and U.S. Transportation Research Board.

Eric was also extremely involved in his local community. As president of the PTSA at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, he founded and served as the chairman of the Jefferson Partnership Fund. He was also chair of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Advisory Board and chairman of the Tourism Committee for the Arlington County, VA, Economic Development Commission.

Eric was a dedicated and active member of his church, St. Mark Catholic Church in Vienna, VA, where over many years he served as a leader on the Parish Council and Finance Committee. He led fundraising for construction of the St. Mark Christian Formation Center and served actively in the liturgy as an usher and lector.

Eric is survived by his wife, Carolyn Fisher Peterson; his son, Matthew Peterson (Tanja Werner) of Charlottesville, VA; his daughter, Laura Peterson van den Bergh (Daniel) of Oakland, CA; and brothers Mark Peterson of Deer Island, OR, Steven Peterson of North Hollywood, CA, and Todd Peterson of Torrington, WY.

Services will be held May 19 at 11:00 a.m. at St. Mark Catholic Church, 9970 Vale Road, in Vienna, VA. The family suggests, in lieu of flowers, memorial contributions be made to St. Mark Catholic Church or to the public radio station, WETA Classical.

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  1. I am deeply saddened to learn of my beloved colleague’s passing. Eric was a consummate professional, a dear friend, and a tireless expert who gave so willingly of his time and attention.

    His passing has left a collective hole in our hearts.

    May he rest in peace.

    Karen Philbrick and the MTI Team

  2. Eric was a tireless champion of high-speed and intercity passenger rail. He took on the responsibility of being publisher of SPEEDLINES, the official publication of the American Public Transportation Association High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail Committee. He was passionate about the subject and often wrote articles for the publication. He will be missed.

  3. A kind soul; a good man; a friend. These are traits to be admired and Eric embodied each one. He made the world a better place.
    Very Respectfully,
    Christopher M. Lehman, Sr.

  4. Eric was a one of a kind person. He was always there when you needed him and always had a welcoming smile. He was a tireless worker for St Mark Church, and we will miss him terribly.
    Prayers for Carolyn and her family?

  5. Eric and I were fellow participants in the Drew University United Nations semester in the Spring of 1971 and I retain fond memories of our interactions and conversations then. Sadly, we lost touch once we returned to our home institutions, but I’m certainly not surprised to learn about his impressive, productive, and meaningful career. I send my most sincere sympathy to Eric’s family and friends, in honor of a life well-lived.

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