By Florentina Craciun, January 19, 2021
The New Year is here, and with it a promise of renewal and rebirth. For some, it is an exciting time and for others, it is a reminder of the things we have yet to accomplish. For APA California–Northern Section, the New Year will be marked by several changes as we continue to build on the foundations laid by those who preceded us. One change is the person writing this Director’s note.
Let me introduce myself: Florentina Craciun, City of San Francisco Senior Environmental Planner. I am the new APA California–Northern Section Director and will be serving in this role for the next two years. That’s who I am professionally — and the image I want to project to others. I’m a planner who is dedicated to the planning profession, to her job, and to her community.
I am also an immigrant, having moved to the United States 21 years ago from Romania. My heritage is the lens through which I view everything else in my life. Coming from a former communist country allows me to understand planning from a multinational perspective. I fully embrace my heritage in my work and my personal life by always pushing for more seats at the table for groups with diverse roots, voices, and experiences.
This takes us to the heart of what America is all about: DIVERSITY. We are a diverse nation — people of different creeds, colors, professions, and aspirations, all united by the promise of America. I deeply believe that diversity is the principle on which America is built, and while some try to use diversity to rip us apart, I believe it will always bring us together. Recognizing our diverse experiences and perceptions is a necessary step towards achieving inclusion and equity.
There are many aspects to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
My challenge to myself is to acknowledge who I am and make space for personal and professional growth. I want to expand my understanding of the Northern Section and embrace its diversity while making more space for equity and inclusion. I want to help us move from a mentality of scarcity to one of abundance. There are plenty of chairs at the table, but if we need more, let’s throw out the table and meet in a park or an arena. The opportunities for equity and inclusion will have no boundaries once we all open our minds and hearts to them.
Here’s my challenge to you: What is your identity? Are you authentically yourself? Are you doing what is important to you and for the planning profession? Do others see you the way you want to be seen?
I will strive to ensure that the programs we offer this year will help guide you and our fellow planners to bring your authentic selves to our profession, in our region. I hope to help pave the path towards a more Diverse, Equitable, and Inclusive planning world.
What will you do? It’s a New Year, same you… but with the opportunity to grow — and build.
Note: For helping me move the conversation forward and deepen my understanding of DEI, I would like to thank Alicia Jessip, DEI PR actioner, along with Northern Section board members Cindy Ma and Cherise Orange, Planning Diversity Directors, and Yosef Yip, our Communications Director.