Message from the Chapter President, 12-20-18

Chapter members and friends,

Happy holidays! I am delighted to share the exciting news that our Chapter has been selected as a recipient of the 2019 APA Chapter Presidents Council Karen B. Smith Award in the category of Outstanding Service to Members, and specifically in recognition of our Chapter’s Diversity Committee (DivComm)!

Below is an executive summary of the award nomination, which demonstrates the breadth of DivComm’s accomplishments in earning this well-deserved recognition.


Maxwell L. Sokol, AICP
APA New York Metro Chapter

Executive Summary of Award Nomination

APA has recognized DivComm in a recent blog post as “one of the most active local chapter committees across the country.” DivComm is a coalition of nearly 20 multi-racial, multi-gender, intergenerational individuals in the New York Metro area actively promoting diversity and social equity in the planning profession through professional development, networking, and advocacy activities. DivComm’s recent contributions, achievements, and leadership characteristics provide noteworthy support for their Karen B. Smith Award nomination by meeting the following criteria:

  • Quality – In organizing the annual Hindsight Conference, our Diversity Committee issues a request for session proposals with detailed guidelines to ensure a diversity of panelists, topics, and a lens of equity in each session. In 2017, over 60 proposals were submitted from across the country covering a wide range of topics, thereby enabling the Diversity Committee to be particularly selective in establishing a CM-eligible conference program of the highest quality. This is but one of many examples of the quality of the Diversity Committee’s work.
  • Relevance – The local efforts undertaken by our Diversity Committee are directly aligned with APA National’s priorities, consistent with the adoption in April 2018 of the Diversity and Inclusion Vision Statement, Mission Statement, and Strategy into APA’s Development Plan by the APA Board of Directors. Additionally, this year’s Hindsight Conference, which honored the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, carried forward and built upon the momentum from National Community Planning Month (with the theme of Housing as Community Infrastructure) and showcased examples of the nation’s housing affordability crisis, in furtherance of APA’s Planning Home initiative.
  • Originality – The programming organized by our Diversity Committee is unique and targeted in its focus, with innovative ideas such as a panel featuring Minority and/or Women Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) and a professional development and networking event for underrepresented professionals that included one-on-one resume review and complimentary headshots for LinkedIn profiles. Our Diversity Committee also organizes a youth planning education initiative to increase positive early exposure to the profession, building upon the efforts of our Chapter’s Young Planners Group from the Youth in Planning program, which was recognized in 2015 with the Karen B. Smith Award for Outstanding Service to Members. This formal programming complements another creative practice by our Diversity Committee, specifically to reserve time during monthly meetings as “Safe Space Hour” for sharing personal experiences and advice.
  • Significance – Our Diversity Committee has broadened our Chapter’s portfolio of premier events by complementing our Annual Conference with the previously referenced Hindsight Conference, which centralizes social equity as a lens (rather than a topic) in planning. Each year, Hindsight honors a significant planning and equity-related milestone (i.e., in 2017, the 100th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Buchanan v. Warley, and in 2018, the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act). Through their work, the Diversity Committee is helping to drive a national conversation about promoting inclusivity and equity in our profession and in our communities.
  • Resourcefulness – Our Diversity Committee is laser-focused on calibrating its efforts to advance its vision, mission, and goals. The Committee, which thrives based on the hard work of committed volunteers, is motivated by a nuanced understanding of where we are as a society and as a profession, a profound vision of where we need to be, and a strategic mindset of how to get there.
  • Transferability and Lessons Learned – The previously referenced APA blog post is aptly titled, “Creating a Diversity Committee: Lessons from APA’s New York Metro Chapter,” which underscores the extent to which our local Committee can serve as a model for other Chapters around the country.

In accepting this prestigious award, the NY Metro Chapter recognizes the following individuals for their contributions:

  • Tiffany-Ann Taylor, Co-Chair, APA NY Metro Chapter Diversity Committee
  • Giovania Tiarachristie, Co-Chair, APA NY Metro Chapter Diversity Committee
  • Daphne Lundi, Vice Chair, APA NY Metro Chapter Diversity Committee
  • Catherine Nguyen, Communications Coordinator, APA NY Metro Chapter Diversity Committee
  • Gloria Lau, Design Coordinator, APA NY Metro Chapter Diversity Committee
  • Kate Selden, Youth, Schools, & Planning Coordinator, APA NY Metro Chapter Diversity Committee
  • Emily Ahn Levy, APA NY Metro Chapter Diversity Committee
  • Ashley Bakelmun, APA NY Metro Chapter Diversity Committee
  • Ciera Dudley, APA NY Metro Chapter Diversity Committee
  • Maggie Calmes, APA NY Metro Chapter Diversity Committee
  • Luis Gonzalez, APA NY Metro Chapter Diversity Committee
  • Nate Heffron, APA NY Metro Chapter Diversity Committee
  • Addison Vawters, APA NY Metro Chapter Diversity Committee
  • Renae Widdison, APA NY Metro Chapter Diversity Committee
  • All active members of the APA NY Metro Chapter Diversity Committee
  • The founding members of the original APA NY Metro Chapter African Americans and Latinos Planning Committee and Planners for Ethnic and Cultural Diversity Committee, including Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP and Leonardo Vazquez, AICP PP, respectively
  • All members of the APA NY Metro Chapter Executive Committee