For Commission, Region 3

Kimberley Mickelson, AICP

Kimberley Mickelson, AICP

Kimberley Mickelson, AICP

Professional Experience

Senior Attorney for Planning & Development Department, City of Houston.
Private practice — Houston and Chicago, representing municipalities on planning issues.
Civilian, US Army Norddeutschland Community Services Division — transportation and social services planning.
Assistant City Attorney, City of El Paso for Planning Department.

Position Statement

I'm a policy wonk, not a physical planner, so I look at the following areas that the AICP Commission should continue to focus on, and help chapters to succeed in:

  • Focusing on innovative learning opportunities in core competencies and emerging areas. I mean "innovation" not only in the type of learning, but also in skill and knowledge development. Planners will continue to be in the forefront of and leading how communities handle change. And changing they are — in size, composition, level of technology, weather, land development patterns. Ensuring that education to all levels of professional planners — from student to FAICP — remains current, engaging, and useful is how the Commission can help ensure that planners remain equipped to lead in these changes, and help people understand the value of AICP.
  • Continue to promote the value of planning credentials. As Chapter President, I was asked if cities offered "certification pay" for the credential. They don't here, but why not? Education about what AICP is and why it is important is most effective at the local levels--educating elected officials through state municipal league conferences, and during budget discussions by showing the successes of planning departments. This serves current and future members, to ensure that if they take the exam and go through the continuing education requirements, it will be valued. Promotion of the AICP Candidate Program and the importance and meaning of the FAICP designation are also critical elements in ensuring membership engagement and skill development for all members.
  • Implement APA Committee Goals to involve students and academics. The PAB Taskforce on Planning Education will develop a strategic plan to elevate the value of PAB accredited programs and degrees, which, in turn, can assist in promoting the value of the AICP credential and working with the academic profession. In the courses I teach at Texas A&M, I am deeply impressed with the caliber of the students and faculty, and their passion for the planning profession and APA in particular. They are the next step in membership, yes, certainly in AICP, and the future of what our profession looks like in the next millennia. As Chair of the Research Committee, we worked with the Academic Committee to develop shared goals.

APA Involvement

National: AICP, 2000.
Legislative and Policy Council
PAB Taskforce on Innovation and Communication in Planning Education
Chair, APA Research Agenda Committee
Chair, Member, CPC Advocacy and Policy Committee
Member, Planning & Law, International, Women in Planning, and Hazard Mitigation & Disaster Recovery Divisions.

State: Texas Chapter, Immediate Past President; Government Relations.
Editor, The Guide to Urban Planning in Texas Communities. 1990- Present.
Planning and Law Network; Former state level network for amicus committee.
Director, and Co-Chair of the 1995 TX/NM/Mexico Conference.APA Student Member, The University of Texas at Austin.

Community Involvement

Quality of Life Chair, Museum Park Neighborhood Association
Blueprint Houston
Museum Park Super Neighborhood
Houston Housing Working Group
The University of Texas Land Use and Planning Law Conference, Univ. of Texas Law School, Conference Chair, Faculty
Preservation Texas, Board of Directors, 2005-2008; member
Preservation Chicago, Board of Directors, 2005-2008.


The University of Texas at Austin — Bachelor of Arts, Masters of Public Affairs, and Juris Doctorate.
Undergraduate studies-Heidelberg, Germany; Environmental and historic preservation studies-Krakow, Poland.
Visiting Associate Professor of Practice; MUP program, School of Architecture,Texas A&M University.

Candidate Questionnaire

What do you believe is the most important member service APA provides? Why? How would you propose strengthening this and other member services?

The most important member service provided is information. Information is available and shared through APA (including chapters and divisions) publications, all in print or electronically, expanded access to Planning Advisory Service publications; educational information through webinars and the annual conference, and by connecting planners who have worked on similar issues or in specific locations who can answer questions. I relied heavily on these resources during and immediately after Hurricane Harvey, especially PAS reports and networking with planners who had faced post-hurricane recovery. This helped in setting up the APATX response and for the work I had to do at the City of Houston. In a world with so much information bombarding everyone, and while the APA website is much improved, identifying ways to streamline and more precisely identify relevant information when searching will increase use of all these resources.

How could APA improve and strengthen the relationship among APA and its components (AICP, Chapters, Divisions, SRC)?

Expanded communication and inclusion. APA has strengthened liaisons between these entities, but I think the perception persists that information is not shared early and often enough for adequate input, for example, from Divisions to the Board, or from CPC to AICP and APA on policy changes. APA needs to ensure that the components understand the overall policy goal and how they fit in implementation.

Now that the Planning for Equity Policy Guide has been adopted, how should APA use this guide to shape itself organizationally?

Planning for Equity presents an incredible opportunity to shape the future of the profession and its image. Everything a planner does, every regulation written, every funding decision made, affects equity and social justice — as noted by the adoption of the "Equity in All Policies" directive. APA and AICP should work with all divisions and chapters to help identify practices, practitioners, and implementation steps local communities and local planners can adopt. This may look different, and take longer in different communities. I'm reminded of students in a Plan Implementation course at Texas A&M — who advocated for affordable and diverse housing in a comprehensive plan draft, only to be told by the City Manager that she couldn't take that language to Council because the elected officials would never buy into it. Immediately identifying low-hanging fruit and learning how to cast these messages to capture support for Equity in All Policies should be two of the first tasks in implementation of this policy guide.

What is the biggest challenge facing the planning profession, and how should APA address it?

Distrust of local government. People's distrust of local government and the property rights movement have grown almost exponentially in recent years; local regulations are delayed, attacked, and politically. State legislatures continue attacks on local government, weakening state enabling legislation and home rule authority. I have used the Monty Python discussion of "what have the Romans done for us lately," to help get people thinking about what taxes pay for, what government accomplishes. Planning needs to adapt from long-standing principles and methods of planning that have been undertaken over the last fifty years and more. Planners can lead by identifying the benefits that come from sound planning principles and what the outcomes will be of revised policies — that's a strength. As in implementation of the goals of Planning for Equity, planning needs to adapt these messages in ways that gain support at all levels.