Diversity Forum

Organized annually by the APA Diversity Committee, members who are working to promote social, economic, and racial equity have come together at National Planning Conferences to share information, resources, and ideas. Members and others have explored how APA can do more for people of color in local communities, in the planning profession, and among our own members.

2017 Forum

At the 2017 Diversity Forum, a panel of researchers and current and past leaders of APA discussed effective approaches to increasing diversity in planning at the practitioner level, the academic and student level, and within the organization.

APA leaders discussed the effectiveness of APA diversity efforts since the inception of the Diversity Committee. The coordinators of two recent diversity studies explored perceptions and personal experiences of diversity within planning programs and in the workplace, and shared tangible strategies to better foster diversity.

Small group discussions shared experiences and new ideas about strategies to effectively increase diversity in planning.

Forum panelists included:

Fleming El-Amin, AICP, Federal Highway Administration
Mitchell Silver, FAICP, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation
Giovania Tiarachristie, New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development
Libby Tyler, FAICP, Consulting Planner
Miguel Vazquez, AICP, Riverside Community Health System
Susan Wood, AICP, Denver Regional Transport District

2016 Forum

The 2016 Diversity Forum, "Social Equity and Planning in the 21st Century," addressed the growing realization that many of the problems in U.S. communities today are rooted in a lack of social equity. Planners have a critical role in advancing the concept and understanding of social equity and introducing it into day-to-day activities.

Experts in social equity, urban form, and environmental justice looked at the politics of social equity within the planning profession, identified lessons that can be learned from the past, highlighted what some jurisdictions are currently doing to promote social equity, and pointed toward actions that will improve equity within communities.

A facilitated discussion explored the work the APA is doing in the areas of social equity and diversity.

Forum panelists included:

Carlton Eley, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Dwight Merriam, FAICP, Robinson & Cole LLP
Meagan Ehlenz, AICP, Arizona State University
Jennifer Erickson, Metro Area Planning Council, Boston

2015 Forum

The 2015 Diversity Forum in Seattle examined the practices of municipal, county, and nonprofit agencies that are advancing equity and inclusion in planning in measurable ways through unique initiatives and programs.

Participants walked away with ideas for building their own toolbox of strategies for integrating equity and inclusion into your personal practice as a planner and/or the practices of the organizations or communities with which you work.

Forum panelists included:

Danielle DeRuiter-Williams, Urban Habitat
Southimala Kessay, YMCA of Greater Seattle
Pedro Gomez, City of Seattle, Office of the Mayor
Edward Prince, Washington State Commission on African American Affairs
Paula Harris-White, King County, Washington Department of Executive Services

View the 2015 Diversity Forum presentation (ppt)

View the 2015 Diversity Forum breakout group summary (pdf)

2010 Forum

The 2010 Diversity Forum in New Orleans focused on initiatives to involve youth in planning and non-traditional approaches to attracting Latinos to the profession.

Panelists included:

Elizabeth Delgado, City of Berkeley
Aldea Douglas, Prince George's County, Planning Division of the Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission (MNCPPC)
Larry Vasquez, City of Vancouver
Greg Winterowd, Winterbrook Planning

The conversation was framed in the context of the history of planning diversity through APA and panelists' stories non-traditional forms of community outreach. Such creative outreach strategies enabled planners to successfully engage minority youth in critical dialogues about planning policy and project implementation.

2009 Forum

The 2009 Diversity Forum in Minneapolis provided an array of information and expertise on how to better include minorities and underserved populations in the planning profession.

The three speakers on the symposium panel challenged planners to think about the terms social inclusion, integration, and diversity, and how these apply to professional planners over the long term.

Panelists included:

Rosita S. Blach, Hennepin County
Alexander Chen, University of Maryland
Irayda M. Ruiz, City of Hampton

2008 Forum

The 2008 Diversity Forum in Las Vegas highlighted the strides APA has made toward increasing diversity in planning since the inaugural summit at the 2004 National Planning Conference in Washington, D.C., announced the launch of the new APA Ambassador program, and offered some new, thought-provoking perspectives on diversity issues in light of statistics about a startling demographic shift in store for professions and communities across America..

Panelists included:

Mitchell Silver, AICP, City of Raleigh, APA Board of Directors and chair of the APA Diversity Subcommittee Jeannette Dinwiddie-Moore, Dinwiddie & Associates, member of the APA Diversity Task Force
Carla Corroto, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater

Participants also learned some of the diversity initiatives undertaken by APA chapters, including scholarships and recruitment efforts in California, the National Capital Area, North Carolina, Colorado, Virginia, New York, Illinois, Indiana, Rhode Island, and South Carolina. She also cited roundtables, conferences, and other initiatives of APA divisions, including Planning and the Black Community, Latinos and Planning, Indigenous Planners, Planning and Women, and Gays and Lesbians in Planning. Finally, Moore noted that the Planning Foundation has launched scholarships, fellowships, and internships designed to promote diversity in the planning profession.