Welcoming the Voices of Planning: Advancing Equity

APA Florida's Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, since its inception in August 2019, has worked to share the voices and perspectives from the rich tapestry of the planning profession and the communities we serve.

The goal is to empower members to act collectively and individually as change agents in service to people facing discrimination, marginalization, and exclusion. The following are a few highlights of how we are working to prioritize equity, including future opportunities for expanding the conversation.

The chapter's EDI Implementation Update (December 2021) is a resource for other planners working with their chapters on equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Florida Planning Equity Survey Results

Last year, the committee launched a survey to better understand the intersection of experiences and the work of planning in Florida about equity, diversity, and inclusion. The survey results and a panel discussion were shared via a webinar.

Gender Inclusion

In November 2021, Shane Whalley, LMSW, an adjunct assistant professor with the Steve Hicks School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin, conducted one of hirs "Daring Dialogues" to discuss top issues facing LGBTQ+ communities and what allyship looks like. Robby Guthart, AICP, a long-range transportation planner with CDM Smith in Houston, Texas, joined Whalley in the conversation, which covered gayhorhoods, the importance of LGBTQ+ visibility in the profession, and fostering safe environments.

Attendees also entered breakout rooms to discuss one-on-one their thoughts and concerns as LGBTQ+ planners and allies, using targeted questions from Whalley.

Some action steps and insights expressed by attendees include:

  • Continue learning about the various intersectionalities within the LGBTQ+ community and how they connect to other identities.
  • If anyone is excluded, even accidentally, you don't have inclusion.
  • EDI is important. Also important is the concept of "belonging" and having spaces where LGBTQ+ people feel like they belong.
  • As an openly gay planner, I will engage more with APA's LGBTQ and Planning Division.
  • Make sure our communities are inclusive but also ensure there are safe spaces.
  • Be cognizant of pronouns.
  • Listen and appreciate this open dialogue.

Whalley also shared his additional tips for deepening the connection and conversation with participants. The event offered CM credits and was co-sponsored by the APA's LGBTQ and Planning Division, APA Florida's Broward, Orlando Metro, and San Felasco sections, and Palm Beach County Planning Congress, Inc.


The Transportation Equity Toolkit: Analyzing Transportation Equity Needs and Implementing Equity-Based Project Prioritization is a resource for MPOs, transportation agencies, and communities as they work to advance equity in traditionally underserved communities and more equitably distribute transportation investments

The EDI committee partnered with the Center for Urban Transportation Research (CUTR) at the University of South Florida to host a webinar showcasing the toolkit. The toolkit provides a framework for a transportation equity needs assessment and an equity-based project identification and prioritization process. A major takeaway from the event was the importance of utilizing data to advance equity in transportation planning.

Tia Boyd, a research associate with CUTR, was the featured speaker. The facilitators were Jarrell Smith, a transportation planner with VHB, and Dan Kirby, a principal at Jacobs Engineering.

The toolkit was developed by a research team at CUTR with funding from the Center for Transportation Equity, Decisions, and Dollars at the University of Texas at Arlington.


Transgender Day of Remembrance, November 20, was founded in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith to memorialize the murder of transgender woman Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts.

The EDI committee teamed with Equality Florida, the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida's LGBTQ community, to provide planners with information on how they can make a difference by inviting transgender and nonbinary folks to the decision-making table. The partnership shared how planners' work can assist LGBTQ+ residents as well as how to participate in local Transgender Day Remembrance events.

Creating LGBTQ-inclusive Urban Spaces

Recommendations were shared by social media on how to create cities in which sexual minorities and others feel safe and included. A few highlights are shared below and were adapted from Planning and LGBTQ Communities: The Need for Inclusive Queer Spaces, edited by Dr. Petra Doan, Florida State University's Department of Urban and Regional Planning.

  • Mark welcoming space (e.g., flags)
  • Understand urban patterns, such as neighborhoods with significant queer proportions
  • Recognize sites important to the LGBTQ community
  • Adopt participatory planning
  • Liaise between planning departments and LGBTQ groups
  • Work with civil society to promote frameworks that promote inclusion
  • Develop laws to combat exclusion
  • Consider levels of privilege within the queer population

Hispanic Heritage

During Hispanic Heritage Month, the committee held "Mi Barrio — A Planner Story," a discussion with Hispanic/Latinx planners about their personal and workplace experiences, the importance of their heritage, and the unique viewpoints and insights that they bring to the table in the planning world.

Participants included:

  • Jennifer Rangel, MCRP, founder and co-chair of RAYO Planning
  • Luis Nieves-Ruiz, AICP, economic development manager for East Central Florida Regional Planning Council
  • Silvia Vargas, FAICP, principal planner with Calvin, Giordano & Associates, Inc.

Each participant shared their respective experience in a standalone video.

Native American Heritage

Dr. Theodore (Ted) Jojola, Ph.D., a distinguished professor and Regents' Professor in the Community & Regional Planning Program at the University of New Mexico (UNM) discussed Indigenous Planning and PlaceKnowing.

Indigenous Planning (IPI) employs a 7 Generations model that uses culture and identity to inform community development. PlaceKnowing is necessary for understanding how communities construct their worldview to give and sustain meaning to the landscapes they inherit.

IPI has four major tenants necessary for re-educating planners about their responsibilities towards the community and social justice. The first is "The People Are Beautiful Already."

Top image: Courtesy of APA Florida chapter.

Bob Cambric is an inaugural member of APA Florida's EDI committee and a member of the board of directors for 1,000 Friends of Florida.

January 24, 2022

By Bob Cambric