Jim Bergdoll, AICP, who had been a senior planner for housing at the City of Dublin, is now Senior Associate at Raimi + Associates. He has a passion for more equitable and sustainable cities, neighborhoods, and housing developments. Over the course of his career, he was a housing and urban planning consultant, a director of real estate development and government programs with Habitat for Humanity, and an urban designer/planner with the San Francisco Planning Department. Bergdoll holds a master of city planning from UC Berkeley and a B.S. in architecture from the University of Virginia. He has resided primarily in Oakland for the past 30 years and enjoys biking on the regional park trails and in the city.
Danae Hall, AICP, has been appointed as Awards Program Director for the Northern Section Board. She previously served as the Young and Emerging Planners Director. Hall is a Project Manager with Kimley-Horn where she leads CEQA/NEPA efforts for a variety of projects around the Bay Area. She holds an M.S. in environmental management from the University of San Francisco and a B.A. in environmental economics from California State University, Chico.
Dhawal Kataria, AICP, joined Kittelson & Associates in Oakland as a Transportation Planner after two years with TJKM Transportation Consultants. In addition to a master’s degree in city and regional planning and a GIS certification from the University of Texas at Arlington, Kataria earned a bachelor’s in planning from the School of Planning and Architecture, Vijayawada. He is experienced in transportation safety, long-range transportation plans, streetscape improvements, complete streets design, and transportation funding projects in California, Texas, and Illinois. Kataria is passionate about multimodal transportation and creating healthy, sustainable, and safe communities. When not wondering about how to plan great communities, he enjoys hiking, biking, playing chess, taking road trips, and trying adventure sports.
Prathna Maharaj, AICP, has been appointed the new Young and Emerging Planners Group Director on the Northern Section Board. She is an Environmental Planning Analyst at Kimley-Horn who has worked as a teacher in Irvine and San Mateo assisting college-bound students to develop reading skills, clarify ambitions, and prep for standardized testing. Maharaj has a master’s in urban planning from UC Irvine, and a B.S. in environmental science and management from UC Davis. She previously was the UCI Student Liaison for the APA and AEP Orange Section. Maharaj has built her career in sustainable development, with an emphasis on climate adaptation and mitigation, and urban resiliency.
Sonja Caldwell Kos, AICP, is now Diversity Co-Director on the Northern Section Board. She has been a planner for the City of San Carlos and the City and County of San Francisco, a lecturer for San Jose State University, and a mediator. During her eight years as a code enforcement planner with the City and County of San Francisco, Kos worked proactively with the departments of Building, Health, Police and Fire as well as the office of the City Attorney and the District Attorney’s Office as a representative of the Mayor’s Bayview Neighborhood Rescue Team. She has a BArch. from Hampton University (Virginia) and a master of regional planning from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Ramon Meraz recently returned from several years in Hawaii as an Americorps VISTA member and separately as a Tobacco Health Education Manager for the Malama Pono Health Services. Meraz is now working with Generation Housing in Santa Rosa as their Community Engagement Director. He is excited to be working to increase the political and community will for increased housing, educating elected and appointed officials and the community about the link between housing and quality of life in Sonoma County.
James M. Moore is also back on the mainland as Community Development Director for the City of Sausalito. He had been a senior planner at the County of Maui. Before that he consulted on land use, environmental planning, urban design, and mixed-use infill development strategies for private clients and Bay Area municipalities from 2017 to 2021. Moore served as director of planning and building services for the Town of Fairfax from 2009 to 2016. He holds an MCP and a BA in political science from UC Berkeley.
Kohar Kojayan, AICP, has joined the Sares Regis Group of Northern California as Vice President after working with Theravance Biopharma US, Inc. as head of real estate strategy and workplace planning. Kojayan is a former Community Development Director for the City of San Mateo, with over 16 years of public sector experience in land use planning and development. She is known for providing innovative solutions for real estate, workplace strategy, and master planning projects. Her passion is to add value to the built environment and bridge the gap in the public and private sectors through collaborative problem solving, negotiation, and consensus-building to provide innovative solutions for real estate development and workplace projects of all sizes, types, and complexities.
Garrison Rees, AICP, is now a member of the Northern Section Board as Redwood Coast Regional Activity Coordinator (RAC). He is a Senior Planner and Project Manager for SHN in Arcata, California. Rees has a bachelor of science degree in natural resource planning from Humboldt State University, and has 14 years of experience assisting public and private clients with planning, permitting, and environmental review services. His primary focus has been as a project manager overseeing CEQA/NEPA work and he also serves as the contract planner for the City of Blue Lake. Rees is an active member of both APA and AEP and has helped organize programs and social events for planners in Humboldt County over the last several years.
Carlina Rose is a graduate student in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at San Jose State University. In addition to her MUP, she is working on certificates in environmental planning, transportation and land use planning, and GIS. Rose’s current experience includes internships with the Department of Transportation for the City of San Jose and the Office of Sustainability at San Jose State. She is most concerned with low-income and underserved communities taking the brunt of climate change impacts. Among many other endeavors, Rose sees her degree in urban planning as a tool that can be used to promote accessibility, update infrastructure, and build more resilient communities.
Laura Simpson has begun an Interim Community Development Director position at the City of Los Altos starting December 2021, after retiring from the City of Hayward as Development Services Director. Simpson is managing the Planning, Building, and Sustainability staff for the City and leading the Housing Element update for 2022-2031 together with Lisa Wise Consulting. Together they are working toward providing a public draft of the Housing Element in April. Simpson holds a a master of city planning from UC Berkeley and a BA in urban studies from Vassar College. She has worked for more than 30 years in planning, housing, and community development in Bay Area cities. After this interim position, she plans to travel around Portugal.
Antara Tandon is now a Senior Planner/Designer at Raimi + Associates. An architect and an urban planner, she is passionate about creating sustainable and inclusive communities. She has worked in social, non-profit, private consulting, with international organizations and as an urban planner for UN-Habitat in Nairobi, Kenya. Tandon’s strong design sensibilities, with a social conscience, have led to responsive and innovative design solutions. She holds a master’s in urban planning from Harvard University and a bachelor’s of architecture from the School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi.
Benjamin Ulrey is a Planning Technician for the City of Concord, the main person in the Planning Division providing front line customer service and processing building permits, business licenses, and other approvals. Prior to this, Ulrey was an intern at Concord Planning providing support to the city’s Housing Element Update, SolSmart application, and several other projects. He hails from Alameda and has a diverse professional background having worked for a BART Board Director, the Alameda County Complete Count Committee, and the Measure RR campaign. Ulrey has a master’s degree in city and regional planning from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in international security and conflict resolution from San Diego State University.
Ami Upadhyay is joining Interwest Consulting Group as a Senior Planner, having worked as a planning consultant for several Bay Area communities in current and long-range planning. With 12 years of experience in urban planning and architecture, she will be working with the City of San Jose assisting with the Citywide Rezoning and General Plan Alignment Initiative. Upadhyay’s experience with local government planning was instrumental in the approval of large-scale residential and office developments in the Bay Area, specific plans/urban design, and active transportation plans. She has a master’s degree in urban planning from San Jose State University and a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Central Lancaster.
Savannah Van Akin has been promoted to Assistant Planner in the Community Development Department, Town of Los Gatos. She worked as a transportation intern in the Parks and Public Works Department from April 2020 to November 2021, and as a planning intern for the Community Development Department from November 2021 to December 2021. Van Akin holds a master’s in urban planning, with a focus in community development and technology in planning, from San Jose State University. For her BA, she double-majored in sociology and geography and minored in earth science at UC Santa Barbara. In her free time, Van Akin enjoys hiking, baking, and exploring urban environments.