Northern News

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

Making great communities happen

Who’s where

Assembled by Hazel Choi, associate editor.

Tom Ford, AICP, was promoted to Principal at M-Group in June, where he had been director of urban design since December 2016. Before M-Group, he was an urban design consultant in Hong Kong and China (2010-2015) and a principal at Design, Community, and Environment (now Placeworks) from 1999 to 2009. Ford was a project manager and town planner at Calthorpe Associates from 1994 to 1999. He holds a master of architecture from UC Berkeley and an AB in dramatic art from UC Davis.


Sarah Bernstein Jones is now Assistant Director, Com­munity Develop­ment Agency, County of Marin. She had been plan­ning direc­tor with the San Fran­cisco Muni­cipal Trans­porta­tion Agen­cy, creat­ing plans and pro­grams to promote SFMTA’s vision, mis­sion, and Strategic Plan, 2016-2021. Before that, Jones worked for the San Fran­cisco Planning Depart­ment for 10 years, the last three as Direc­tor of Environ­mental Plan­ning/En­viron­mental Review Officer. She holds a master of city planning from UC Berkeley and a BA in urban studies from Stanford University. After developing a lifelong love of cities growing up in New York, Jones lives in San Francisco with her family.


Sofia Manga­lam has joined the Town of Los Altos Hills as Planning Director. She has more than 16 years’ ex­per­ience in Land Use Plan­ning in both pub­lic and pri­vate sectors, where she managed large-scale resi­dential and com­mercial projects. Manga­lam was most recently a planning manager for the City of Foster City, 2020-2021, and was with the City of Newark, 2016-2020. Mangalam also worked in New York City as a city planner in the Depart­ment of Trans­portation and for S9 Architecture and GreenbergFarrow. She holds a leadership certificate from the Leadership Academy of Alameda County, a master of urban design from Edinburgh College of Art, and a BA in architecture from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University.


Lakshmi Raja­gopalan, AICP, was recent­ly pro­moted to Plan­ner IV at the Plan­ning and Build­ing Depart­ment of the City of Oak­land. She was an analyst at LAFCO of Santa Clara County, 2017-2021, and an as­soc­iate plan­ner with the Stanis­laus Council of Govern­ments. Before that, she worked with the mayor’s sustainability office in Newton, MA, and conducted research abroad on sustainable transportation practices for the World Resources Institute. Rajagopalan was also a senior planner and urban designer for PMC (now Michael Baker International). She holds a master’s in sustainable international development from Brandeis University, a master’s in urban planning from San Jose State University, and a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Thiagarajar College of Engineering (Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India).


Melissa Ruhl has been pro­moted to Sen­ior Policy and Market Strategist at Ford Motor Com­pany in San Fran­cisco where she col­laborates with cities and transit agencies to plan for the future. Before joining Ford in 2020, Ruhl was a senior planner for Arup in San Francisco where she managed projects on transportation innovation. She holds a master’s degree in city and regional planning from San Jose State University and a bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Oregon. Ruhl regularly speaks in California and nationally on autonomous vehicles and the future of cities. She was recognized on the “40 under 40” Mass Transit Magazine list in 2019. Ruhl served on the APA California Northern Section Board from 2014 through 2016. 


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