Meet the nominees for APA-NYM Chapter leadership, and cast your votes by September 8

The New York Metro Chapter of the American Planning Association is well into the process of selecting local planners to lead the Chapter into 2017. The nominations period has ended, and it is now time for Chapter members to cast your votes!

All APA-NYM members should have received a ballot via email. You must submit your votes by Thursday, September 8. We will announce the election results in mid-September, and new leaders will officially take over on January 1, 2017.

Please note that your ballot only includes the one Section Representative for the respective Section in which you live or work. If you have not received your ballot, or if you have any questions, please contact Angie Witkowski at

Now, meet this year’s candidates!

Chapter President

Ryan Harris

I have been an active member of APA for my entire career, and would consider it an honor to lead the Chapter forward in a manner that returns increasing value to you, the membership. I began as webmaster of APA’s National Capital Area Chapter (NCAC) in 2001 and was elected to the Board as Vice President of Communications in 2003. During this time I participated in hosting the 2004 National Planning Conference in Washington, DC. I joined the NY Metro Chapter in 2006, the Board in 2010 as New York City Section Representative and assumed the role of Treasurer in 2012. As Treasurer I have managed all financial aspects of the Chapter and lead the redesign of the recently launched website. We have maintained strong finances over the past four years and are well prepared for the future.

I intend to approach the role of Chapter President as an Operations Manager more than that of a figurehead. You are all leaders of our profession, and it will be my aim to provide the structure for a truly member-driven organization. We will achieve this by improving the transparency of the Board’s policy and decision making process and by increasing opportunities for members to participate. I also intend to increase the number of networking opportunities available to planners and improve coordination with our peer organizations. Read Ryan’s full statement.

Maxwell Sokol

It is with great honor that I submit my name for consideration to be the next APA NY Metro Chapter President. Building upon the past four years as a member of the Executive Committee, and seven years overall as an increasingly active Chapter member, my commitment to the Chapter is as strong as ever.

The Chapter membership deserves a President who is first and foremost ready for the job, and my extensive contributions to the Chapter have prepared me to assume this role. My APA credentials include the following leadership positions within the Chapter:

  • Current Vice President of Committees (2015-Present)
  • Former New York City Section Director (2012-2014)
  • Current Member, Long Island Section Steering Committee (2009-Present)
  • Current Chair, Mentorship Subcommittee, Young Planners Group (2013-Present)
  • Former Columbia University Representative (2011-2012)

In these roles, and through collaboration with many Chapter members, I have gained invaluable experience contributing to the Chapter’s programming, financial operations, and communications strategy. Read Maxwell’s full statement.

Chapter Treasurer

Shachi Pandey

I am pleased to be nominated to run for the position of Treasurer and look forward to the opportunity to serve the NY Metro Chapter of the APA.

As a NY based Urban Designer and Planner, I’ve been intimately involved in a number of projects in and around the tri-state area. Chief among them have been the City of Easton Comprehensive Plan 2035, East River Blueway Plan, Sherman Creek Waterfront Esplanade Master Plan, Fordham Plaza Conceptual Master Plan, and several Brownfield Opportunity Area Plans. My contribution on these projects has not just been as a creative professional but also as the project manager interfacing with public agencies and private clients on budgeting, scoping and planning. Read Shachi’s full statement here.

Chapter Secretary

Olivia Jovine

Olivia Jovine has a Master’s of Science in Urban Planning from the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University. Upon graduating in 2015, Olivia was honored to have received the APA Award for Academic Excellence and Leadership. Olivia currently works at AKRF, in Environmental Assessment & Planning. In February of 2016, Olivia joined the APA Metro Chapter as the interim-Chapter Secretary. As such, she has gotten to know the executive committee, taken meeting minutes and attended monthly meetings. Olivia hopes to continue her duties as Chapter Secretary for the 2017 – 2018 term.

Vice President, Committees

Katie Theis

Recognizing the opportunity to provide a meaningful contribution to the Chapter, I successfully re-launched  and have co-chaired the Urban Design (UD) Committee since 2011. As VP of Committees, I will utilize the momentum and lessons learned during my tenure as a committee chair to bring out the greatest potential and to help further activate all of the Chapter’s committees.

As Urban Design Committee chair, I understood that the greatest benefits to the Chapter would be built on communication and collaboration. My approach was to focus on active participation, and as such, I established a core group of committee members to achieve annual goals in support of our committee mission statement, while establishing a greater reach to the Chapter at large by developing an urban design “network.” Read Katie’s full statement.

Vice President, Communications

Jocelyn Dupre

As the current interim VP of communications, I have had the opportunity to create a new communications’ committee to begin to rethink the future of communications for the chapter. I also worked closely with the president, treasurer and executive board to expand our communications capacity by hiring a website consultant and communications intern. Over the past several months, through a transparent and collaborative process with the communications committee, consultant and intern we have developed a new communications strategy and redesigned the APA-NYM website. Out of this process we have implemented a new e-news and social media strategy and are getting ready to launch the new website.

With limited resources, I have been able to lead a major transformation and produce concrete deliverables to enhance the way the chapter communicates to our members and the broader public. Read Jocelyn’s full statement.

Vice President, Intergovernmental Affairs

Moses Gates

I’m excited to run for the position of Vice President for Intergovernmental Affairs for the NY Metro Chapter of the APA, having been previously involved with the Housing Committee, including formulating and drafting APA NY Metro-Area testimony for City Council and the City Planning Commission, as well as developing and moderating panels at APA conferences.

Professionally, I’ve been involved with advocacy on behalf of affordable housing, equitable economic development, greater public access and openness to city space, and comprehensive planning in the public interest for almost 10 years. In addition to my AICP designation, I serve on the advisory and policy committees of the New York Housing Conference, and on the Board of 596 Acres, a New York City nonprofit dedicated to open access to public space in New York City. Read Moses’ full statement.

Vice President, Professional Development

Alex Wallach

Since taking over the role of Professional Development Officer early this year, my focus has been on continuing the success of my predecessors by working with event organizers to get activities approved for Certification Maintenance (CM) credits for our members, as well as working with AICP candidates to help them prepare for the Comprehensive Planning Exam. In that time, I’ve reviewed and approved approximately 2 CM events per month, communicating with applicants to ensure that their applications are ready for approval and can be quickly submitted to the APA site and made available for our members to claim credit.

In the future, I hope to expand on the number of CM opportunities available to our members by increasing the number of approved CM events. I’d like to work with our members, divisions and committees to ensure that more eligible training events in our region are being submitted for CM certification, and make the process for applying even easier by including clear instructions on the chapter’s new website.

Read Alex’s full statement.

Vice President, Programs

Kovid Saxena

It has been my privilege and honor to serve as Vice President for Programs since October 2010 for the APA New York Metro Chapter. In this capacity, I am responsible for organizing the Chapter’s annual conference, which I also chair. It has been my mission to have our premier event be recognized as the leading planning forum to discuss ideas and best practices, and, in equal measure, a prime networking opportunity for planners, especially young planners and students.

And indeed, as those of you who have experienced our chapter conferences since 2010 would affirm, our conferences are top tier events with exceptionally strong content delivered by planning and thought leaders from the public agencies, private firms and academia. Recent speakers have included agency heads of the major planning agencies in New York State, municipalities across the Hudson Valley and Long Island, and New York City.

Read Kovid’s full statement.

Lower Hudson Valley East Representative

Gina D’Agrosa

I am honored to be considered for a second term as the Lower Hudson Valley East Representative to the NY Metro Chapter of APA. I have been an APA member and certified planner since the early 90s and have attended many APA events at the local and national level, which benefitted me both professionally and personally. For the last two years I have enjoyed serving as the HVE Representative on the Executive Committee of the Chapter, which has provided me with a wealth of experience and understanding of how the organization functions and how the Section fits in to the organization.

I have over 25 years of professional experience in municipal and environmental planning and have worked with various committees, local governments, non-profit organizations and regional environmental organizations throughout the Lower Hudson Valley. I have also served on local boards and professional organizations which provided educational and networking opportunities for their members. Read Gina’s full statement.

Lower Hudson Valley West Representative

Heather Jacksy

The Hudson Valley West section of the APA Metro Chapter has its own unique opportunities and challenges. I see the position of Director as an avenue to foster ideas and communication within our region and to make sure our work is represented at our Chapter level and at the national level. I stepped in as an “acting” director and have enjoyed the initial contact I have had with Section members and the executive committee. Our community is addressing complex and interesting issues, and I will work to see we get the resources and recognition we need from the APA.

Bio: Heather completed her undergraduate degree at the New School for Social Research and received a Masters in Urban Planning from Hunter College in New York City. Heather has worked for both the private and public sectors in areas ranging from housing to transportation. She currently works as a planner for Sullivan County New York where she primarily concentrates on the range of land use and water resource issues facing the Upper Delaware River region of the County.

Long Island Representative

Sean Sallie

It has been a pleasure working with the New York Chapter Executive Committee to provide valuable programs and professional development opportunities to our members. My decision to run for a second term is mainly attributable to the collaborative and productive environment fostered by the Chapter leadership.

I am a firm believer in professional development and ensuring that young adults and those considering a field of study are aware of the planning profession and all of its many rewarding benefits. The annual Arthur Kunz Planning Scholarship and Memorial Breakfast event are two particular programs that I think truly define the Long Island Section. Over the past two years, the Section has granted six scholarships to planning students and junior-level practicing planners. Many of these recipients now serve on the Long Island Section Steering Committee.

New York City Section Representative

Scott Grimm-Lyon

I am pleased to submit this candidate statement for the position of NYC Section Representative, on the APA New York Metro Chapter Executive Committee. As a committee member I will seek to:

Increase the tangible rewards and visible benefits of membership: In order to attract new members and improve member retention I will examine best practices from APA chapters and other professional organizations across the country to develop benefits and privileges that will match the unique characteristics our chapter.

Promote the profession as multidisciplinary and intersectional: Planners in New York City work in many fields including the arts, education, activism, social services, economic development, public health, and government. I will work to make planners who work outside of traditional practice find a home in the chapter, and work to establish a public perception of planning practice as a process that can address systems of oppression and discrimination. Read Scott’s full statement.