Director’s Notes

By Michael P. Cass, Director, APA California – Northern Section

On September 29, 2023, the United States lost a true trend-setter, leader, and policy-maker with the passing of Senator Dianne Feinstein. Feinstein, a native of the Northern Section’s Bay Area, was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1969 and became the Board’s first female president in 1970. She served as Mayor of the City and County of San Francisco from 1978 to 1988, again as the first woman to hold that position. In a 1992 special election, Feinstein was elected to the U.S. Senate, becoming California’s first female U.S. senator, where she served for over 30 years.

Earlier this month, Governor Gavin Newsom chose Laphonza Butler to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the death of Feinstein. Butler became the first openly LGBTQIA+ member of the U.S. Senate from California and its first black lesbian member. Before her appointment, Butler was a union organizer, a regent of the University of California system, and the president of EMILY’s List.

These two breakers-of-glass-ceilings represent why we must continue to diversify the planning and planning-related professions by encouraging and supporting more female planners, LGBTQIA+ planners, and planners of color. Diversifying our profession makes it possible for trend-setters and new leaders to emerge. It will lead to more meaningful representation and generate a greater sense of belonging in the communities we serve.

  • Continuing the commitment to make 2023 the year of action, I encourage you, my fellow Northern Section members, to take one or more of these tangible steps to help diversify our profession:
  • Make a donation to the California Planning Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization established by the California Chapter of the American Planning Association, to help bridge student financial gaps and bring diversity to the planning profession. Please join me in visiting to make a scholarship fund donation.
  • Participate in the Northern Section’s Mentorship Program. This popular and successful career development program offers one-on-one mentorship matching between mentees and mentors. Learn more about this program and how to participate by viewing our corresponding article in this issue of Northern News.

Invite an emerging planner or student to attend our 2023 Awards Gala on Thursday, October 26th, at Nile Hall, Preservation Park in Oakland starting at 6 p.m. Join us in celebrating excellence in our work and our commitments to our profession. To order tickets, please visit the event page.

Wishing you a wonderful Community Planning Month. Here’s to building our Northern Section together!

Illustration for National Community Planning Month with dark gray, light gray and peach blocks, also with California poppies.
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