Northern News

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A publication of the American Planning Association, California Chapter, Northern Section

Making great communities happen

Who’s where

By Sajuti Rahman, associate editor, Northern News

The Northern Section Board has elect­ed Floren­tina Craciun, AICP, as Dir­ector-Elect of the sec­tion. A Se­nior Environmental Planner with the Environmental Planning DivisionSan Fran­cisco Plan­ning De­partment, Cra­ciun holds a mas­ter’s in Urban and Regional Planning from UCLA and a BA in history from UC Santa Bar­bara. She has served on the Board since 2012, first as membership Director, followed by East Bay RAC (regional activity coordinator, 2013-2014), and Awards Co-direc­tor for APA California-Northern (2015-2020).

Amalia Lorentz Cunning­ham, AICP, was pro­moted to As­sist­ant Dep­uty Dir­ector, Hous­­ing and Com­­munity Im­­prove­­ment, in the De­­part­­ment of Con­ser­va­tion and De­vel­op­ment of Con­tra Cos­ta Coun­ty. The move creates an ex­panded di­vi­sion in the Coun­ty to sup­port af­ford­able housing, federal­ly fund­ed projects, and economic de­vel­op­ment initiatives. Formerly economic development manager for the Coun­ty, Cun­ningham holds a master’s degree in City and Regional planning from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College. She and her family reside in El Cerrito where they are heavy users of the Ohlone Greenway and their Contra Costa branch library. 

Delo Freitas was recently hired as a Se­nior Plan­ner for the City of Arcata where she focus­es on cur­rent and long-range plan­ning ac­tiv­ities as well as his­tor­ic pre­ser­va­tion. She pre­viously was an associate planner for Planwest Partners in Arcata, and before that, was an assistant planner for the City of Eureka. Freitas holds a BA in com­mu­ni­ty and re­gion­­al plan­ning from the University of Washington.  


Bri­an Hea­ton, AICP, is a Land Use and En­viron­men­tal Planner at GHD in Eureka. Pre­vi­ous­ly a se­nior plan­ner for the City of Eu­reka, Hea­ton holds a mas­ter’s de­gree in ur­ban and re­gion­al plan­ning from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin-Mad­ison, a bach­e­lor’s de­gree in en­vi­ron­men­tal studies from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­ne­so­ta-Duluth, and a certificate in project management from UC Irvine.

James Murphy is an As­sist­ant Plan­ner with the City of Cu­per­tino. Pre­viously a plan­ning tech­ni­cian with the City of San Jose, Mur­phy holds a mas­ter’s de­gree in ur­ban and re­gion­al plan­ning from San Jose State Uni­ver­sity and bach­e­lor’s de­grees in geo­graphy and ur­ban studies from UC Berkeley. When not in the office, James enjoys hik­ing and cycling on the San Fran­cis­co Penin­sula. 


Lauren Nin­ko­vich has re­cent­ly been hired as an As­sis­tant Plan­ner at the City of Cu­per­tino. For­mer­ly a plan­ning in­tern at the City of Pough­keep­sie, New York, Nin­ko­vich holds a BA in ur­ban studies from Vas­sar Col­lege. Out­side of work she enjoys play­ing volley­ball and hik­ing.


Melis­sa Ruhl is an Emerg­ing Mo­bil­i­ty Re­search­er at Ford’s Re­search and Ad­vanced En­gi­neer­ing di­vis­ion in Palo Alto. Her work there focuses on new and emerg­ing trans­por­ta­tion trends, such as micro­mobility, micro­transit, and aut­on­o­mous ve­hicles initiatives. Previously, Ruhl was a senior planner for Arup in San Francisco where she managed projects on transportation innovation. Ruhl holds a master’s degree in city and regional planning from San Jose State University and a bachelor’s degree in history from University of Oregon. She regularly speaks in California and nationally on autonomous vehicles and the future of cities. She has published a number of articles on future mobility and most recently co-authored a chapter on mobility as a service in the recently published Disruptive Transport: Driverless Cars, Transport Innovation and the Sustainable City of Tomorrow. In September 2019, Melissa was recognized on the 40 under 40 Mass Transit Magazine list. 

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