For AICP President Elect

Marissa Aho, AICP

Marissa Aho, AICP

Marissa Aho, AICP

Biographical Background

Recent Professional Planning Experience

  • Chief Resilience Officer, Office of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner
  • Chief Resilience Officer, Office of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
  • Senior Associate, PlaceWorks, Los Angeles

APA Experience

  • AICP Commissioner, Region VI
  • AICP CM Task Force Chair, Membership Standards Committee Chair/Co-Chair
  • APA Education Committee, Membership Committee, Academic Membership Task Force/Student and Young Planner Task Force
  • Co-Chair, APA National Planning Conference, Los Angeles 2012
  • Board Member and Executive Committee Member, APA California Chapter
  • APA Los Angeles Section Director
  • APA Los Angeles Vice Director of Professional Development, Vice Director of Membership
  • Associated Students of Planning and Development Chair, USC


  • Masters of Planning, University of Southern California
  • Bachelor of Arts, CLEG and Political Science, American University

Position Statement

It has been an honor and privilege to serve the AICP Commission since 2014. I am proud of our course the past five years and our many successful milestones. However, there is much more that we need to do to support current and future AICP members and to increase the value of AICP membership. I am seeking your support to continue our momentum and lead the AICP Commission as your President-elect.

Five years ago I described how I did everything I could to sit for the AICP exam the minute I was eligible. The time between completing my planning degree and earning the required experience seemed like a waiting-game. I was so proud when the AICP Commission launched the AICP Candidate Pilot Program in 2017, with more than 1,000 Candidates in the pipeline and more than 50 having successful passed the exam already. Through the pilot program, candidates are eligible to sit for the AICP exam after graduation, access mentoring, begin earning CM credits and commit to the AICP Code of Ethics — while they are completing their required years of experience to be AICP. We need to keep AICP standards high while widening the pathway to certification, not only for emerging professionals, but for every planner.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

We need AICP planners who represent the communities they are planning with, which means increasing the diversity of AICP planners based on socioeconomic background, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, and access and functional needs. In addition to a new CM Equity credit being proposed, we need to established a more comprehensive set of metric, programs, and policies to implement and institutionalize our commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion in AICP.


AICP members need to have the skills and resolve to be at the forefront of changes in our communities, in our profession and in APA/AICP. Preparing the next generation of planners to lead, integrating emerging technology, combating climate change, and supporting resilient communities, and being prepared for the unexpected. The AICP Code of Ethics, what distinguishes the planning profession and keeps our standards high, also needs to anticipate and respond to the ethical decisions that planners will be facing in the future. We must strengthen the Code to ensure that it has maximum utility for the challenges of today and tomorrow.

Increasing the Value of AICP

The value of AICP must continually be increased. AICP has launched a promising new campaign to market the credential to employers and others. I believe the next step is to develop a comprehensive framework for increasing the value and benefits to AICP members, which should include exploring additional policy and legislative opportunities that AICP may be able to provide to further support planners.

Thank you for your APA/AICP membership and commitment to the planning profession. Thank you for your consideration. Let’s do more!