People Behind the Plans Podcast Series

Exploring the Work, Life, and Ideas of Planners Across the Field

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Recent Episodes

Episode 48: Megan Oliver, AICP

In this episode of People Behind the Plans, Megan Oliver, AICP, WELL AP, founder of Hello Happy Design, discusses how the intersection of neuroscience and planning — called neurourbanism — can provide planners with the necessary tools to design places for social and emotional health. Oliver also speaks to the rising awareness of neurodiversity and how we can change our assumptions about how community members engage with the people and places around them.

Episode 47: Anaid Yerena and Rashad Williams

In this episode of People Behind the Plans, JAPA contributors Rashad Williams, Assistant Professor of Race and Social Justice in Public Policy at the University of Pittsburgh, and Anaid Yerena, Associate Professor of Urban Studies at the University of Washington, Tacoma, speak about anti-racist community planning concepts that lay the foundation for planners to reckon with history, disrupt the status quo and find new ways to pursue equity in every community.

Episode 46: Shain Shapiro 

In this episode of the People Behind the Plans series, Shain Shapiro, founder and executive chairman of Sound Diplomacy, discusses how planners can champion music policy in cities, as well as a case study of an American city that took a strategic approach to incorporating music in its long-term plan.

Episode 45: Taiwo Jaiyeoba 

On this episode of People Behind the Plans, Taiwo Jaiyeoba joins host Meghan Stromberg to talk about leading zoning reform efforts in Charlotte and Greensboro, North Carolina, both as a planning director and in his current role as city manager. He also shares his tips for winning over naysayers and his thoughts on what makes a good comprehensive plan.

Episode 44: Dave Amos 

In this episode of the People Behind the Plans podcast, YouTuber and planner Dave Amos talks about his own fortuitous route to the profession, why he’s telling the planning story in exciting, new ways, and how planners can lean into social media to connect with their communities.

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Episode 43: Rebekah Taussig

In this episode of People Behind the Plans we sit down with Rebekah Taussig before her keynote address at APA’s 2023 National Planning Conference.  She explains how storytelling has allowed her to reclaim the narrative of her own life and help others understand how isolating, cumbersome, unjust, and unsustainable our cities and our culture are for people with disabilities. Listen to hear her vision for a world designed with everyone in mind — not just those considered “average” — and some communication tips for planners trying to build support for their visions.

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Episode 42: Jane Golden

Philadelphia is a public art epicenter — and not by chance. The city has long institutionalized investment in local muralists through programs like Mural Arts Philadelphia, a nonprofit created in 1998 by artist and executive director Jane Golden. Through more than 4,000 murals, the program has helped residents celebrate identity, tackle issues like environmental justice, and paint the change they want to see.

In this episode of People Behind the Plans, Golden shares the community engagement strategies that help Mural Arts reflect the creativity, concerns, and perspectives of its diverse city. We also discuss ways planners can partner with local arts programs to infuse their projects with public art.

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Episode 41: NOLAN GRAY 

In this special episode of the People Behind the Plans series, Arbitrary Lines author Nolan Gray sits down with guest host Jason Jordan, APA’s director of public affairs, to examine the cities and states charting a new course for zoning reform — and offer advice for planners navigating the myriad interests impacting land use decisions.

Mark Wheeler headshot

Episode 40: mark Wheeler

In this episode of the People Behind the Plans series, Mark Wheeler, CIO for the City of Philadelphia, explores blockchain's potential, how it can provide transparency to the data collection that fuels smart cities, his advice for planners and where he looks for inspiration and innovation.

headshot of Nithya Raman for People Behind the Plans podcast sized at 200 x 200

Episode 39: Nithya Raman

Urban planner and L.A. City Council member Nithya Raman shares her vision for reducing homelessness, offers tips for working more effectively with city government, and explains how planners can use their expertise to educate and galvanize communities for positive change.

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Episode 38: Naomi Doerner

As a growing number of cities develop mobility justice initiatives, Naomi Doerner, MUP, is helping planners navigate these efforts to address systemic inequities and barriers in transportation. Doerner, principal and director of equity, diversity, and inclusion at Nelson\Nygaard Consulting Associates and former program manager of Seattle’s innovative Transportation Equity Program, sat down with host Courtney Kashima, AICP, to talk about what mobility justice looks like in practice, including some inspirational examples from around the world. 

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Episode 37: Michael Ford, AIA, NOMA

In this special episode of the People Behind the Plans podcast series, guest host Jason Pugh, AICP, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP, president of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), sits down with Michael Ford, AIA, NOMA, keynote speaker at the 2022 APA National Planning Conference. In this live-recorded discussion in San Diego, Ford and Pugh talk about the unique connection between hip hop, urban design, community engagement, and so much more. 

Headshot of Rasmus Astrup

Episode 36: Rasmus Astrup

In this episode of the People Behind the Plans podcast series, host Courtney Kashima, AICP, is joined by Rasmus Astrup, partner and design principal at Danish urban design and landscape architecture practice SLA. Rasmus and Courtney discuss the importance of biodiversity and nature-based solutions to address the needs of cities to mitigate against the effects of climate change and specific issues like extreme urban heat.

Headshot of Leslie Kern, standing on a street corner, looking to the side. Photo by Mitchel Raphael.

Episode 35: Leslie Kern

Author Leslie Kern joins host Courtney Kashima, AICP, on this episode of People Behind the Plans to discuss her latest work, Feminist City: Claiming Space in a Man-Made World. The two explore the myriad challenges women face living in and navigating spaces built largely for a narrow subset of the population.

Katanya Raby stands on a Chicago street with the El train in the background. Photo by Sandy Steinbrecher.

Episode 34: Katanya Raby

Urban planner, artist, and activist Katanya Raby joins host Courtney Kashima, AICP, to talk about her work at the Office of the Mayor for the City of Chicago, her time at the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), and her post as executive director of the Al Raby Foundation.

Headshot of Tamika Butler. Photo by Serena Grace Photography.

Episode 33: Tamika Butler

As a watershed year comes to a close, Tamika Butler, Esq., founder and principal of Tamika L. Butler Consulting, joins host Courtney Kashima on the podcast. The result is a stirring, uplifting, and funny conversation on the issues facing everyone who works to undo society’s inequities.

Headshot of Monique López, AICP.

Episode 32: Monique López, AICP

Host Courtney Kashima, AICP, chats with social justice planner Monique López, AICP, MCRP, MA, founder of the anti-racist, values-driven participatory planning and design firm Pueblo Planning. Monique shares stories from some of the firm's projects, merging anecdotes with the wisdom they brought her to create poignant takeaways for listeners.

A headshot of Samantha Choudhury

Episode 31: Samantha Choudhury

Melbourne-based planner Sam Choudhury joins host Courtney Kashima, AICP, to discuss how her parents' immigration to Australia from Bangladesh shaped how she plans for communities, how planning differs in the U.S. and Australia, and how business-improvement districts need focused management to succeed — especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A headshot of Traci Sanders, director of civic impact at WXY Studio in New York. Photo courtesy WXY Studio.

Episode 30: Traci Sanders

Host Courtney Kashima, AICP, catches up with Traci Sanders about how she discovered urban planning, as well as influential projects she's worked on, such as the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan. Traci serves as the director of civic impact for WXY Studio, a multidisciplinary architecture, design, and planning firm based in New York.

Previous Episodes

Episode 29

Erin Aleman

Episode 28

Kelwin Harris

Episode 27

Todd Vanadilok, AICP

Episode 26

Enessa Janes, AICP, PhD

Episode 25

Julie Burros

Episode 24

Donald Shoup, FAICP

Episode 23

Dan Parolek

Episode 22

John Rahaim

Episode 21

Jana Lynott, AICP

Episode 20

Sadhu Johnston

Episode 19

Trevor Dick, AICP

Episode 18

Commissioner Josina Morita

Episode 17

Nina Idemudia, AICP

Episode 16

Mark de la Vergne

Episode 15

Taryn Sabia

Episode 14

Bob Becker, FAICP

Episode 13

Kate Hartley

Episode 12

Greg Lindsay

Episode 11

Mitchell Silver, FAICP

Episode 10

Kristin Saunders

Episode 9

Jarrett Walker

Episode 8

Doug Farr

Episode 7

Joanna Trotter

Episode 6

Eugenie Birch, FAICP

Episode 5

Lynn Ross, AICP

Episode 4

Bev Wilson, AICP

Episode 3

Scott Page

Episode 2

David Fields, AICP

Episode 1

Jamie Simone, AICP