For APA Board Director At Large (focused for a minority member)
Miguel Angel Vazquez, AICP
Miguel Angel Vazquez, AICP is an award-winning urban planner dedicated to public service and to the creation of inclusive and equitable communities. Since 2001, he has successfully led and collaborated with multi-disciplinary teams on various high profile projects for the municipal, private, non-profit and military sectors. The foundation of his success is rooted in a consistent record of integrity, dependability, strategic thinking and effective communication with a myriad of stakeholders. At the core of his praxis is his love for humanity, his devotion for the planning profession and his active engagement with the American Planning Association.
- Healthy Communities Planner-Riverside University Health System Public Health, Riverside, CA
- Contract Community Planner-U.S. Marine Corps, Twentynine Palms, CA
- Contract Planner-Hogle-Ireland, Inc., Riverside, CA
- Staff Analyst-Western Riverside Council of Governments, Riverside, CA
- Environmental Planning Intern-Planning and Environmental Solutions, LLC., Temecula, CA
- APA Diversity Committee Chair
- AICP Knowledge-Based Governance Task Force Chair
- APA Leadership Committee Member
- APA Diversity Task Force Member
- APA National Awards Juror
- APA Ambassador
- AICP Urban Design Jobs Analysis Task Force
- Arts and Planning Interest Group Advisory Committee Member
- Contributing author to APA Policy Guides
- State/California Chapter:
- Planners4Health Initiative Lead
- APA California Awards Juror for Planning Landmark
- California Planning Roundtable
- Healthy Communities Work Group Lead
- VP Communications
- Local/Inland Empire Section:
- Arts as a Vehicle to Understand Land Use and Sustainability Project Director
- Diversity Director
- Programs Vice Chair
- Organizer, speaker and moderator of numerous sessions at national, state and local APA conferences
- Blogger and author. Contributor for various APA’s media outlets
- Awards nominator at local, state and national levels
- Reading Volunteer at Taft Elementary School
- Career Day Volunteer at Alcott Elementary School
- Volunteer for Dads of Good Students (D.O.G.S.) at Alcott Elementary School
- City of Riverside Human Relations Committee (Alternate)
- On-going education through APA conference sessions during national, state and local conferences
- Fellowship, California Leadership Academy for the Public’s Health
- B.A. Urban Studies and Planning/ Minor in Geography, Cal State University Northridge
- General Education at Santa Monica and Fullerton Junior Colleges
I believe that Creating Great Communities for All, as declared in APA's newest motto, depends on two variables: first, the planners' understanding of the complex forces behind the formation of one of the most diverse nations in the world and second, how well planners understand and apply the mechanisms that create opportunities for all. As such, as an APA Board member, I will devote my energy and creativity to accelerate understanding and application of both variables within and outside our organization through:
- Continuing to stay active during the implementation of APA's Equity, Diversity and Inclusion strategies;
- Building relationships around these topics with organizations such as the American Institute of Architects, the American Society of Landscape Architects, American Society of Civil Engineers, the Urban Land Institute, American Public Health Association, and many others;
- Collaboration with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, APA Board, AICP Commission, APA Chapters and Divisions.
Focusing on these three areas represents a unique opportunity to advance equitable principles in our profession. These essential building blocks can create spaces where all members of society can aspire and experience living a healthy and productive life.
Your vote will allow me to empower our membership to create great communities for all, through the lenses of equity, diversity, inclusion, and opportunity. Thank you for your consideration.
What do you believe is the most important member service APA provides?
APA provides a wide array of relevant services for members that are designed to increase our capacity as practitioners. At the top of my list is Plan4Health. This initiative — along with the most recent Planners4Health iteration — has provided tools and best practices for planners to advance a paradigm shift in our profession. I refer to healthy communities planning. This approach is allowing us to get a better understanding of the significant positive and negative impacts that planning has on the public's health. Since the beginning of my current post in 2011 as Healthy Communities Planner for the Riverside University Health System-Public Health in California, I have relied heavily on APA's resources and staff to support my work and build relationships needed to succeed. They include the Healthy Communities Policy Guide (published in 2017) and the Joint Call to Action to Promote Healthy Communities which, according to APA, it brings together eight national organizations calling upon members to collaborate with one another to create healthier, more equitable communities. Signatories include American Institute of Architects, American Planning Association, American Public Health Association, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Society of Landscape Architects, National Recreation and Park Association, U.S. Green Building Council, and Urban Land Institute. You will notice that in my position statement, I specifically intend to build a stronger relationship with these organizations to find common ground and use that bond and knowledge to create opportunities for all.
To learn more, visit APA's Planning and Community Health Center where you will find a plethora of tools including studies, papers and a blog full of success stories and related pieces — Including one I contributed to about the social determinants of health back on May 4, 2017.
Plan4Health is important because collaboration is at its core. Planners should expand their horizons and see how other allied professionals see the world and how they approach the historical complexities of community development and design. Only then we can build stronger coalitions that can help us make stronger arguments that could ultimately lead us to create great communities for all.
How would you propose strengthening this and other member services?
Plan4Health and the Planners4Health projects and initiatives that came as a result of a grant from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). As such, we can build upon our current success and seek grant funding from health foundations that are interested and focused on the intersection of urban planning and public health.
How could APA improve and strengthen the relationship between APA and its components (AICP, Chapters, Divisions, SRC)?
My position statement alludes precisely to this question. Under my leadership, the first step I would propose is to find out how much the various APA components know about each others' mission, vision, objectives, activities, and key players. This evaluation would reveal potential opportunities to help us close existing gaps and see possibilities that may have not been considered in the past. At the same time, this analysis would reveal areas where collective progress has been made or not, providing an opportunity for reconsiderations. For example, I would like to know how much each APA Division knows about the Diversity Committee's Diversity and Inclusion (D/I) Strategy and what initiatives they are working on that contributes towards the D/I Strategy's fulfillment. To illustrate, if we find out that the Urban Design and Historic Preservation Division has a precise objective in their current work plan to address it, we can add their effort as part of the collective work and tell our members about it. If they don't, we have an opportunity to engage in a meaningful conversation with the Division and seek its active support.
Now that the Planning for Equity Policy Guide has been adopted, how should APA use this guide to shape itself organizationally?
As one of the contributing authors to this "historic" policy guide and in accordance with my position statement. I am deeply vested in ensuring that this document goes beyond the written word and becomes an "action-oriented" policy guide. One of the first steps into this will occur towards the end of August, 2019 when, under my leadership as Chair, the Diversity Committee will meet in person to discuss the integration of all recommendations found in the Planning for Equity Policy Guide, the recommendations generated by the Social Equity Task Force and the content of the Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. This process will help us explore this important question. What I would like to bring to the table during this conversation is discussing ideas to ensure that every member of APA has read the document and that at every opportunity they find a way to weave aspects of the document into their local, regional, state and national planning policies. As such, this document should transform APAs' culture inside and outside, so that no planner would ever make another fellow planner or a community member feel invisible, infrahuman or not worth serving because of natural, social or economic differences.
What is the biggest challenge facing the planning profession, and how should APA address it?
Undisputedly, community engagement is, in my opinion, the biggest challenge in the planning profession and it will continue to be unless APA makes an intentional expansion and long-term investment towards addressing it. For starters, from my own experience, I have learned that most people do not know what planning is nor that planners exist. If that is the case, how are we expecting "all" to community members to participate in one of the most important civic duties of our time? How are we trying to combat housing affordability, gentrification, displacement, homelessness, environmental justice, and overall social inequities if only a handful of community members know that planning is a public process? APA should engage in a robust national campaign as big as (name your favorite brand to illustrate) to tell the communities we serve that we are all about creating great communities for all. To that end, APA could organize a national coalition of allied organizations that share our values and commitment for the public interest. As such, we can magnify our voice, our message, and our resources.