About the Committee

The APA Iowa board formed the DEI Committee in 2020 to ensure the under represented planners had a voice in the chapter and to help APA Iowa address DEI goals.  Committee members were selected following an application process.  The DEI Committee meets monthly.  


Members


Co-Chair

V Fixmer-Oraiz, AICP

CEO & Founder of Astig Planning


Why are you participating in the DEI APA Chapter Committee? What do you think you have to contribute, and what do you think you would gain? 

"I am participating in the DEI APA Chapter Committee because I believe this is an opportunity to deepen my commitment to serving the planning field and communities of color, LGBTQIA+, immigrant, and disability communities across our state. I plan to contribute my own experiences as a queer, trans/non-binary, biracial, and future ancestor to strengthen relationships, create mentorships, and remove barriers for marginalized planners and community members. We all deserve the right to experience joy and dignity in our lives and communities, and planners have a role and responsibility to create plans and policies that do just that."




Co-Chair

Caleb Knutson

City Planner, City of Marshalltown


Why are you participating in the DEI APA Chapter Committee? 

For too long under represented & historically marginalized communities have been ignored or taken for granted. I would like to see that end. 



What do you think you have to contribute, and what do you think you would gain?  

I don't know how to answer this. I don't think I'm special. I just want to ensure that all people are heard. 




Jerry Anthony, FAICP

Associate Professor, University of Iowa School for Planning and Public Affairs




Emani Brinkman

Graduate Student, University of Iowa School for Planning and Public Affairs


Why are you participating in the DEI APA Chapter Committee? What do you think you have to contribute, and what do you think you would gain? 

I decided to join the APA Iowa DEI Committee as a student because I wanted to get more involved in my future profession and believe that this was an important topic in planning. While I am a student, I hope to contribute my own experiences of being an African-American woman. I hope that being part of this committee, can bring meaningful change to planning in Iowa and gain experience that will help me when I enter the planning field.




Zhi Chen, AICP Candidate

Associate Planner, Des Moines Area MPO


Why are you participating in the DEI APA Chapter Committee? What do you think you have to contribute, and what do you think you would gain? 

I’m participating in the APA Iowa DEI Committee to help foster the next generation of planners. I hope to promote planning as an avenue for people of all backgrounds and perspectives to contribute to bettering their communities. 




Charlie Cowell, AICP

Partner, RDG Planning & Design


Why are you participating in the DEI APA Chapter Committee? What do you think you have to contribute, and what do you think you would gain? 

My story is uneventful and typical for someone of my demographics. I have been afforded many opportunities in my life so far if I chose to take them. I want to be part of the committee to learn, listen, and help understand what I can do when assisting communities to address these issues.




Michael Delp

Assistant City Planner, City of Des Moines


Why are you participating in the DEI APA Chapter Committee? 

I’m participating in the DEI APA Chapter Committee to create a community of inclusion within the Iowa APA Chapter that provides opportunities for underrepresented planners throughout the state.

 

What do you think you have to contribute?

I have experience serving communities in need through my service with AmeriCorps and volunteer opportunities.

 

What do you think you would gain? 

I’ve gained experience in having difficult conversations and seeing the world from multiple viewpoints outside my own bubble. 




Monica Haddad

Professor, Iowa State University Department of Community and Regional Planning




Andre LaFontant

Graduate Student, Iowa State University Department of Community and Regional Planning


Why are you participating in the DEI APA Chapter Committee? What do you think you have to contribute, and what do you think you would gain? 

This committee is representative as a resource for planners across Iowa to become better informed on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, elevating the voices of underrepresented groups. Historically, planning was used as a tool to propagate inequalities. Now, in the present and the foreseeable future, planning acts as the key to balancing the scales for all.

 



Jane Rongerude

Associate Professor, Iowa State University Department of Community and Regional Planning




Anne Russett, AICP

Senior Planner, City of Iowa City


Why are you participating in the DEI APA Chapter Committee?

I want to work with my colleagues across Iowa to provide resources and training opportunities to planners to help them create more just and inclusive communities.

 

What do you think you have to contribute, and what do you think you would gain? 

More than anything I want to listen and learn.




Stephanie Schrader, AICP

Community Services Coordinator, City of Cedar Rapids


Why are you participating in the DEI APA Chapter Committee? What do you think you have to contribute, and what do you think you would gain? 

I joined the APA IA DEI Committee to gain insight into the unique values and perspectives of fellow planners and to support more inclusive and equitable planning. 




Zach Simonson

Community Development Director, City of Ottumwa


Why are you participating in the DEI APA Chapter Committee? What do you think you have to contribute, and what do you think you would gain? 

Ottumwa faced the challenge of completing a comprehensive plan in the months after the murder of George Floyd. That plan featured a strong set of goals around diversity, equity and inclusion that were the result of community meetings with stakeholders that we had not previously involved in community planning. I’m here to listen and learn so that I can continue to improve our planning processes and involve every member of our community.




Steven Stransky, AICP

Disaster Recovery Project Manager, Iowa Economic Development Authority


Why are you participating in the DEI APA Chapter Committee? What do you think you have to contribute, and what do you think you would gain? 

I am participating in the DEI Committee because I believe that it's vitally important to amplify the voices of planners with diverse backgrounds in Iowa.  Our state and communities are changing and it's essential for Iowa planners to think about how changes in development and economic opportunity affect the people and how we can do better with our cities' development than planners in the past.  By having a committee such as this to help educate planners and represent voices of diverse planners working in the field, we can help plan a future for Iowa's communities that is more equitable, inclusive, and representative. 




Kyra Troendle

Student, Iowa State University Department of Community and Regional Planning