Planning Magazine

Advancing Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in the Planning Profession Is an Evolving Journey

The Equity in Zoning Policy Guide and Equity in Practice case studies from the American Planning Association help planners move forward on EDI.

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APA is working to ingrain equity into everything we do. Illustration by ajijchan/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

Planning has a complex history with equity. Planners are faced with addressing inequitable practices that have been perpetuated, either intentionally or unintentionally, and must unravel the impacts that can still be felt to this day. To navigate this complex history and create more equitable outcomes, equity is an urgent and significant priority for APA.

Equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) have moved from being discussed in niche conversations to finally being part of our global, everyday conversations. What remains important is that talking about EDI leads to tangible outcomes and real change.

Roberta Rewers is the project manager for Prioritize Equity, APA’s senior communications manager, and editor of APA Interact.

Roberta Rewers is the project manager for Prioritize Equity, APA's senior communications manager, and editor of APA Interact.

Fortunately, APA has a long history of members championing equity. These individuals have helped lay the foundation for the organization in important ways, from serving on committees and task forces, to holding the first Diversity Forum nearly 20 years ago, to helping create the Planning for Equity Policy Guide and the new Equity in Zoning Policy Guide. Now, APA is building upon this foundation to keep moving equity forward.

APA is making progress, and more work remains to advance equity within the organization and the profession. Prioritize Equity is an APA Board strategic initiative focused on two aspects: achieve and maintain the necessary culture and infrastructure for APA to advance EDI; and ensure APA attracts and activates diverse talent and strengthens the ability of members, elected leaders, volunteers, and staff to create impact.

Through our continued work, we will ingrain equity into everything APA does — from leadership to the National Planning Conference, reports, research, and even blog posts. Equity will become a part of us all — not something we have to check off or do because it is trendy. We also recognize that advancing equity does not have a finish line — it is a journey, and one that will continue to evolve.

Here are a few ways you will see Prioritize Equity efforts come to life:

1. Equity in Practice

While planners understand the importance of equity, moving it forward can present challenges. Through the Equity in Practice case studies, APA is elevating innovative ways that planners are applying equity in their communities — large and small — across the U.S. These case studies highlight the real work being done by you, in your community. From rebuilding trust to improving safety, the case studies demonstrate how planners can and should apply equitable practices. What are you working on in your community? Tell us at

2. Equity and Diversity Survey

This year, APA will field its second all-member equity and diversity survey. We have benchmarks from the last survey, so this next iteration is an important step forward to understand where we have made a difference, where we need continued development as an organization, and to identify new opportunities. We know that equity is an evolving journey, so we want to ensure your organization evolves too.

3. Peer support

Finally, the past two years have repeatedly proven that we need each other — for support, encouragement, and to thrive. We will be testing opportunities that enable members to support each other. Peer support can take many shapes and forms, so we're excited to see what resonates best with you.

Above all, we must remember that advancing equity is an evolving journey. A journey that requires commitment, excitement, and growth — from all of us.

Roberta Rewers is the project manager for Prioritize Equity, APA's senior communications manager, and editor of APA Interact.