Public Service Recognition Week takes place May 5th - 11th, 2024.

APA City Planning is announcing the Planning Nominees for Public Service Recognition Week: Alison Herman Alison Spindler-Ruiz  Andrew Rogge Carlos G Espinoza Christopher Hyatt Corrin Wendell Ellen McDowell  Emily Gvino Haley Carruthers Heather Zeigler Helen Balch Jenn Brewington Jennifer Goldson Jordan McKenzie Keyleigh Kern Maria Serban Miles Roblyer Paul Lorenc Ryan Sellers Stephanie Rouse Stephanie Tomaino Thomas Mierisch

Public Service Recognition Week is here, and APA City Planning & Management Division is delighted to spotlight the planners who’ve truly shined. Chosen by their peers, these honorees stand out not just for their impressive work but also for their integrity. It’s our pleasure to celebrate their achievements and the positive impact they’ve had on our community.

Public Service Recognition Week Nominee: Helen Bach Helen is an asset to any community! Her dedication to urban planning and community building, coupled with her commitment to fairness and inclusivity in policy-making, is admirable. It's clear she values transparency and strives to ensure that the voices of all community members are heard and considered in the planning process. Her focus on long-range planning indicates a forward-thinking approach, essential for creating sustainable and thriving communities. It's wonderful to see someone so passionate about making a positive impact and empowering communities to shape their own futures.

Public Service Recognition Week Nominee: Ellen McDowell Ellen is a Senior Planner in Healdsburg, California that has a passion for working in a community that she feels strongly connected to. Her passion and drive lies in this small community where her work makes a positive change in the community. She knows and connects with community members on a personal level and cares deeply for each person she helps. She loves working on projects ranging from new hotels, affordable housing projects, new single family homes as well as creating policy changes that illicit positive change.  She loves seeing her work come to fruition and seeing her projects through the construction process. She feels like working in a smaller community allows her to have a deeper connection with her coworkers and the community.

Public Service Recognition Week Honoree: Stephanie Rouse Stephanie inspires others by making the planning profession accessible and interesting. She hosts the Booked on Planning podcast, along with being President of the Nebraska APA chapter. She's smart and funny, but also down to earth. She helps others whenever she can. When I was a graduate student, ready to start applying for planning jobs, Stephanie made the task seem less intimidating.

Public Service Recognition Week Honoree: Haley Carruthers I had the pleasure of working alongside Haley and can say without reservation that she is a change agent in our field. Haley’s knowledge of planning brings diverse perspectives to cultivate comprehensive solutions centered on community engagement, analysis, and story. Haley currently works as an urban planner at Kimley-Horn and has been practicing planning for the past 5 years. She has worked on small area plans, comprehensive planning, parks, recreation and open space planning, active transportation planning, and equity planning. Her strength in planning lies in blending strong graphic skills with narrative finesse and crafting compelling stories tailored to diverse communities. Throughout her career, she has honed her craft primarily in long-range planning, specializing in parks and comprehensive plans. Her dedication to amplifying underrepresented voices has left an indelible mark on every endeavor she undertakes, fostering spaces where all feel seen and heard. As a visionary planner, storyteller, and advocate for equity, Haley continues to shape landscapes that inspire the workplace and be a fresh voice in planning. If you were to ask for one planner to watch, someone who genuinely cares about their work and its impact on people, Haley would be at the top of the list!

Public Service Recognition Week Honoree: Jenn Brewington  This is a person who took a chance on herself and became a Community Development Director of a city that at the time was short-staffed as far as planners go and in that time since she became a director, she has proven herself to be an uniquely talented planner and demonstrated exceptional technical and interpersonal capabilities to lead her planning staff despite not considering herself a traditional planner. She has spent her time pursuing a doctorate and has been involved in numerous fields of economic development that intersect with planning and community development, so she has an incredibly unique background and portfolio of projects, policies and programs that have given her a perspective that I haven’t seen elsewhere, she is also a firm advocate in mentorship and looks to share her skills and knowledge however she can.

Public Service Recognition Week Honoree: Jordan McKenzie  Jordan McKenzie encourages planners to grow in their field.

Public Service Recognition Week Honoree: Maria Serban Maria's commitment to thoroughly reviewing plans to ensure adherence to policies reflects her dedication to maintaining standards and promoting the well-being of the community. Through her actions, Maria sets a positive example of conscientiousness and civic responsibility. She is clear and concise communication style fosters positive relationships with both customers and staff.

Public Service Recognition Week Honoree: Carlos G Espinoza Carlos is a community-driven planner in the streets of West Houston and Northside Houston. He is an immigrant and an award-winning planner. Carlos truly cares about making Houston a better planned city and well balanced world-wide competitor at the neighborhood level. Providing pro bono planning, Carlos uses his incredible skills directly in the community. In North Houston, Carlos is working with HTX Art in the Heart Center to create a tactical urbanism project that supports walkability and safety for elementary students. In addition to this, Carlos has been nominated to be in Commission Briones Harris County Precinct 4 Katy East Community Action Plan Committee.

Public Service Recognition Week Honoree:  Alison Herman Alison has exceptional planning skills and expertise. Dedicated to public service and responsible land use, Alison was recently promoted to Grants Manager and is responsible for overseeing several large state and federal grants.

Public Service Recognition Week Honoree: Thomas Mierisch Thomas is very dedicated to creating a cleaner, better, more walkable urban environment. He is very professional, highly knowledgeable, and a wonderful communicator. Thomas is a wealth of knowledge and shows an excitement for his field.

Public Service Recognition Week Honoree: Alison Spindler-Ruiz  Alison is a bright, dedicated, and empathetic leader for the City of Long Beach. She started her time with the City through the Management Assistant Program, which is a selective program to take some of the sharpest public administration graduates to work for the City Manager on special assignments over multiple city departments over a year period. In her tenure as a planner and Advance Planning Officer, she navigated adoption of major advance planning initiatives that include a Land Use Element Update, new Urban Design Element, new Climate Action Plan, and numerous Housing Element Updates. She brings her knowledge of city government structure, equity, planning, and budgeting to her current capacity as the Planning Bureau Manager. Most importantly, Alison puts equity and empathy to the forefront of her planning practice. She is an essential leader in planning practice and public service for the City of Long Beach!

Public Service Recognition Week Honoree: Jennifer Goldson Her highly successful community-based work in community preservation and affordable housing practice has been translated into several guidebooks and training programs, which she has led for the Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP, 2009 - 2016).  The training and guidebooks are utilized by professional planners, citizens, planning and zoning boards, elected officials and affordable housing organizations and agencies across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She also established an online engagement forum (Jenn’s Planning Book Group) to discuss and promote an understanding of how to plan for equitable and inclusive communities and affordable housing production through sustainability, density, and design strategies. She is recognized as an advocate and leading facilitator of highly effective public outreach programs, including several customized public engagement approaches that ensure broader community representation in the planning process.

Public Service Recognition Week Honoree: Corrin Wendell During her tenure as Chair of the APA’s Women & Planning Division, Corrin achieved remarkable results. She led a substantial increase in membership from approximately 200 to nearly 1,500 members. Corrin’s strategic leadership was evident in refining the Division’s goals, expanding programming, and enhancing National Planning Conference events. Her commitment to recognizing outstanding contributions within the Division was exemplified by the establishment of the “Wendell Impact Scholarship.” This initiative not only acknowledges exceptional individuals but also fosters a culture of recognition and support. Additionally, Corrin’s leadership of Youth Engagement Planning (YEP!) significantly impacted the field by introducing young people to planning and promoting youth engagement. Her efforts, including curriculum development and nationwide workshops, empowered future generations of planners. The publication of “Ava Tanner the City Planner” further underscores her dedication to inspiring and educating youth, leaving a lasting legacy for the next generation of planners.

Public Service Recognition Week Honoree: Christopher Hyatt Christopher has been a phenomenal asset to the the Bella Vista community in a short 8 months. He has displayed a passion for advocating for the community, whether that be through current planning reviews or long range planning ideas. The residents of his community are always on the forefront of his efforts.

Public Service Recognition Week Honoree: Miles Roblyer I was a planning intern for Miles for about a year. Miles is very passionate about his job and creating a livable and pleasant community in Bath. He applied to many grants, and did a lot of heavy lifting to work on place making efforts in a rural community which does not receive much funding. Miles is also passionate about teaching the next generation of planners and is happy to share his wealth of knowledge not only about the profession, but also life in general. I would not be the planner that I am today without him and I am grateful for the time I spent as his intern!

Public Service Recognition Week Honoree: Heather Zeigler Heather is an extremely hard worker and has a great passion for her work. She is absolutely exceptional at her job and always puts the community first. Heather strives to build a happy and inclusive community for all Novi residents.

Public Service Recognition Week Honoree: Ryan Sellers Ryan Sellers has exceptional dedication to creating great communities for all. As a Land Use and Zoning Consultant, Ryan goes above and beyond to fill a crucial gap for municipalities without dedicated planning staff. His commitment ensures that communities develop sustainably, inclusively, and in line with best practices. Ryan's expertise and passion for public service makes him a truly deserving candidate for recognition. Ryan's advocacy for diversity within our profession is commendable and further demonstrates his commitment to creating equitable and inclusive communities. By championing diversity, Ryan not only enriches the planning profession but also ensures that the voices and needs of all community members are heard and valued. Furthermore, Ryan’s passion for mentorship and knowledge sharing ensures that his impact extends beyond individual projects, leaving a lasting legacy of excellence in planning practice.

Public Service Recognition Week Honoree: Emily Gvino Emily exemplifies the epitome of a planning professional committed to fostering inclusive and vibrant communities. As an integral member of Clarion, she not only collaborates extensively with local governments and regional bodies but consistently goes the extra mile to ensure community engagement and inclusivity. Emily's endeavors are underpinned by a positive and caring attitude, fostering collaborative environments where all voices are heard and valued. Emily's passion for addressing health disparities and mitigating the impacts of climate change on public health is palpable in every facet of her work. Her holistic approach to planning integrates social determinants of health, systemic oppressions, and environmental factors, reflecting her deep-seated belief in the interconnectedness of community well-being. Emily's dedication to community resilience and environmental justice is further underscored by her proactive engagement with stakeholders, her infectious enthusiasm inspiring others to join her in her quest for a more equitable and sustainable future.

Public Service Recognition Week Honoree: Paul Lorenc As an innovative thinker, Paul consistently seeks out new approaches and technologies to address ways of better serving the community. His passion for promoting safe, sustainable, and accessible transportation alternatives is evident in every project he undertakes. Moreover, Paul's dedication to his craft is unparalleled, demonstrated by his relentless pursuit of excellence and his commitment to making a lasting impact on the urban landscape. Paul is not afraid to ask the difficult questions and point out injustices. He's awesome!

Public Service Recognition Week Honoree: Andrew Rogge Andrew Rogge strives to create a clean, walkable, equitable community for all. He regularly creates genuine connections with the Sheridan City Council, Sheridan residents, and all stakeholders. His technical expertise is only out shined by his historic knowledge of the community. In Denver, Andrew served on the board of Capitol Hill United Neighborhoods for seven years, advocating for historic preservation and urbanism. Additionally, he was on the Tears-McFarlane House Revitalization Committee.   In Sheridan, Andrew actively worked on enhancing the City’s RTD bus stops, completing renovations for 14 stops in 2022 to include benches, trash cans, and ADA-compliant boarding areas. Additionally, he collaborated with the non-profit organization Bridge House and their Ready to Work program, focusing on ongoing cleaning, trash removal, and maintenance to support people transitioning out of homelessness. Andrew recently partnered with the City of Denver’s Boulevard Brownfields Initiative, Mile High Flood District, as well as South Suburban Parks and Recreation District to develop a blighted  property into a new trailhead for the Bear Creek Trail.

Public Service Recognition Week Honoree: Keyleigh Kern Keyleigh is an innovative leader in the field of Urban Planning and Design that truly understands the meaning of creating equity in communities. She provides amazing insight and innovation into how to engage people in the community. Keyleigh mentors and supports planners at all levels of their career. She's passionate about getting planners engaged and out of their comfort zone. She prioritizes equity and accessibility in her professional practice, ensuring that all communities are given opportunities to be true partners in the planning process. Additionally, her focus on designing inclusive infrastructure and spaces transform communities for the better.

Public Service Recognition Week Honoree: Stephanie Tomaino Leading her company, City Advisors, Stephanie prioritizes ethical and professional conduct, focusing on the needs of local communities to provide cost-effective solutions within their budgetary constraints. As an adjunct professor at UC Irvine and a volunteer leader on the APA Orange Section and APA California Boards, Stephanie mentors emerging planners and organizes programs that advance professional development within the local planning community. Through her business and public speaking engagements, Stephanie champions planning accessibility, prioritizing effective collaborations that enhance community development and support local governments.

Show Your Appreciation, Recognize a Planner for Public Service Recognition Week

APA City Planning & Management is holding a nomination campaign seeking exceptional planning professionals that deserve recognition and a spotlight. Help us recognize and appreciate planners for Public Service Recognition Week by filling out a quick questionnaire. Nominations close April 21st. Public Service Recognition Week is celebrated May 5-11th in 2024.

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