A Senior Environmental Planner with the Environmental Planning Division, San 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).
Michael Cass is an experienced land use planner with 17+ years in the public and non-profit sectors. Cass has served as Director-Elect on the Northern Section Board since January 2021; he previously served as Treasurer (2019-2021) and East Bay Regional Activity Coordinator (2018-2019). Professionally, Michael currently is a Principal Planner for the City of Dublin, where he focuses on advanced planning. Before Dublin, Cass was Principal Planner of Long-Range & Sustainability Policy with the City of Concord (2016-2019) and a planner with the City of Lafayette (2004-2016). He holds a B.A. in communication from St. Mary’s College of California and a certificate in land use and environmental planning from UC Davis Extension. Cass also serves as an Advisory Board Member for Sustainable Contra Costa.
Veronica has been Northern Section’s Administrative Director since 2019. She had been Co-director of the Emerging Planners Group and played a role in creating the YPG Steering Committee in 2017. She is a senior planner in the Legislative Affairs Section of the San Francisco Planning Department. Flores holds a master of urban planning from San Jose State University and a B.A. in sociology from UC Berkeley.
Ashley is an Associate Planner for the City of Berkeley. She holds a Master’s of Urban Planning and Economic Development from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, and a B.S. in Environmental and Resource Economics from the University of New Hampshire.
Prior to taking over the Awards program, Danae was co-director of the Young and Emerging Planners (YEP) group since 2018,. She is a CEQA/NEPA Project Manager at Kimley-Horn and 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.
Edgar is a Senior Planner with the City of Mountain View. He had previously been an associate planner with the City of Hayward. Maravilla grew up in South Central LA and was the first in his family to graduate high school. He holds a master’s in urban and regional planning (certificate in transportation planning) from San Jose State University and a BA in community studies (immigration and social justice) from UC Santa Cruz. Maravilla is Northern Section’s liaison to the California Planning Foundation.
Alex is a Transportation Communications professional driven to solve problems by helping thinkers translate their complex world into stories that people can connect with. He brings a record of innovating marketing/communications strategies for transit agencies, city government, and public health. His love of transportation started with childhood planespotting, memorizing airline route maps, and later came full circle with a Master of Science in Transportation Management from the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University. Having started out in film and media production, Alex now leverages his narrative skills to help foster informed, civic-minded communities, one story at a time.
Cherise is an Associate Planner at Santa Clara County Parks, a County of Santa Clara Department she joined in 2015. She was previously a Community Planner with the U.S. Army Reserve 63d Regional Support Command. Cherise holds a master’s in city and regional planning from Morgan State University and a B.S. in finance and international business and economics from Mount St. Mary’s University. She has been an active APA member since 2011 and serves as Co-Diversity Director for the Northern Section.
Advocacy for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has driven Sonja’s planning career and continues in her role as Co-Director of Diversity for CA Northern APA.
I earned a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Hampton University as well as a Master of Regional Planning
degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. During my career, I’ve worked for municipalities,
planning consulting firms and affordable housing organizations. I have cultivated relationships with
professionals and politicians at the highest levels of local government and other realms. I forge relationships
across multiple strata. I attribute this to my ability to actively listen coupled with my sense of humor, kindness,
My strengths lie in the following:
- Land Use Planning and Management
- Zoning administration
- Community Advocacy/Community Engagement
- Project Management
- Conflict Resolution
- Team Building
During my eight years as a code enforcement planner with the City and County of San Francisco, I routinely
collaborated with a broad cross-section of the public, stakeholders, and public policy makers to fundamentally improve the functioning of the city. I coordinated the Department’s efforts as a representative to the Mayor’s Bayview Neighborhood Rescue Team, focused on one of the lowest-income and most dangerous sections of the city. Together, we endeavored to abate code violations to improve the quality of life for residents of the culturally rich but perennially-challenged Bayview. To accomplish my mission, I 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. One of my most challenging tasks was managing the Medical Cannabis Dispensaries (MCD) program for the San Francisco Planning Department. This involved successfully settling numerous (and often emotional) disputes between dispensaries and neighboring residents and businesses.
As Senior District Planner, for the City of Newport News, Virginia I produced a long-range plan for the deteriorating industrial core of the city, balancing historic preservation with targeted economic development. As a Project Planner/Analyst at BTG, a private planning firm, I managed comprehensive plan updates for Gloucester County, Virginia including the Environmental, Economic Development, and Parks Elements. I also conducted a study of state mental health facilities using an economic input-output model. As Site Acquisition Manager for a major telecommunications company, I managed a team of three people to negotiate with property owners and local governments
I look forward to serving the California planning community to foster greater diversity, equity and inclusion in
our day-to-day and longer-term endeavors. Without question, building this aspect of our field can only serve
to improve our work and the perception of our profession to the public we serve.
Libby is the planning manager at the City of San Pablo. Previously a senior project manager at MIG, Tyler was also a consulting planner in the Bay Area and adjunct lecturer at the University of Illinois. Before that, she was the community development director for Urbana, Illinois, 2000-2017. She holds a PhD in regional planning from the University of Illinois, a master of landscape architecture in environmental planning from UC Berkeley, and a BA in environmental conservation from the University of Colorado Boulder. A resident of Albany, CA, Tyler has been Northern Section Ethics Director since 2018 and Vice Chair of the American Planning Association’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee since January 2020.
Jonathan is Manager of Transportation Planning and Optimization for Facebook, where he oversees planning, analysis, and project management for the Transportation team. Before joining Facebook, he had been a planning associate with Alta Planning + Design and a lecturer at San Jose State University. He has been active on the Northern Section Board since 2013, serving as South Bay Regional Activity Coordinator, Professional Development Director, Treasurer, Director-elect, Director, and Immediate Past Director as of January 1, 2021. He holds a BS in city and regional planning from Cal Poly–San Luis Obispo.
Hing retired after 33 years with the Association of Bay Area Governments. He served concurrently as an adjunct professor at San Jose State University, where he plans to teach occasionally during his retirement. Hing’s influence on California planning includes continually giving back to the profession. He was President of APA California (2015-2016) and the Director of Northern Section (2003-2006). He was the Local Host Chair for the 2019 National Planning Conference in San Francisco, the Conference Co-Chair for the APA California 2007 Conference in San Jose, and the Conference Co-Chair for the 2005 National Planning Conference in San Francisco. Hing holds a master of urban planning from San Jose State University and a bachelor’s degree in geography from UC Berkeley.
Alex is best known for updating the Marin Countywide Plan in 2007 to address climate change, our ecological footprint, diversity and other then trend setting topics, The Plan and its implementation program received top APA California and National honors. Alex is a former Fulbright recipient, university lecturer at Cal Poly, and SSU and co-founder of the Center for Sustainable Communities at Sonoma State University. Previously, Alex served as community development agency director for Marin County, 1999-2008, planning and building director for San Luis Obispo County, 1990-1999, and Lake County planning director, 1984-1990.
Stephen is a well-respected land use and environmental law attorney with over 20 years of expertise advising and representing public agency and private clients in administrative proceedings and before state and federal trial and appellate courts. While Stephen has extensive advisory and litigation experience with myriad environmental, land use and planning laws, he is best known for his CEQA expertise, having represented parties on all three “sides” of the CEQA coin. Mr. Velyvis’ extensive and broad-based experience gives him unique and invaluable insight into what all sides in a given project are thinking, enabling him to develop cutting-edge legal strategies aimed at spotting issues early on, resolving conflicts, and prevailing in litigation when necessary. A resident of the San Mateo County Coastside, Stephen has been the Northern Section Legislative Director since 2016.
Ellen is a senior planner with the City of Mountain View and previously worked as a design and research assistant at Sub-Art (a non-profit promoting art in transit projects), an outreach intern at M.I.G., and most recently as an associate planner at the City of Cupertino. Ellen earned her master’s degree in planning with an emphasis on sustainable land use from USC and her bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from UC Davis. She is the Mentorship Director for the Northern Section.
Naphtali has been editor of Northern News since 2005. He was Director of Planning and Construction at the University of Chicago, then Director of Planning and Community Environment for Palo Alto, and had a successful general plan practice in California — Knox and Associates — from 1981 until his retirement in 2009 at age 76. Knox holds a master in city planning from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.Arch from the University of Minnesota. He and his wife live in Palo Alto in the house they bought in 1972.
An associate editor on Northern News since 2020, Davis has been a survey researcher at UC Berkeley’s Transportation Sustainability Research Center and a graduate research assistant at San Jose State University’s Mineta Transportation Institute. He has co-authored several publications, including Mobility on Demand: Planning and Implementation, published by USDOT. Davis holds a master’s in urban planning from San Jose State and a BA in screenwriting from Loyola Marymount University.
Diana is the Planners4Health coordinator for Northern Section. In 2020, she was recognized by APA California for the development of the Planning and Health in the Time of COVID webinar series. Diana is an Urban Planning Justice Manager with Just Cities. Previously, she was an Intermediate Planner at Raimi+Associates in Berkeley and a Research and Data Analyst at Advancement Project California in Los Angeles. Diana holds a master’s degree in urban and regional planning from UCLA, with a focus on community economic development and the intersection of the built environment and health. Her B.A. is in urban and regional planning with a minor in GIS from CSU Northridge.
Afshan is Planning Director for the Town of Moraga and oversees long range and current planning with 20+ years of experience. Previously as Planning Manager for the City of Vallejo, she led the zoning code update, development process improvements and advanced and current planning efforts. Hamid is known for her efforts in working with communities and building consensus on challenging projects. Before that, she worked for the City of Concord, City of Walnut Creek, Village of Arlington Heights, Illinois and Skidmore Owings & Merrill. She holds a MA in architecture from MIT and a BA in industrial design from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Hamid, her husband, and their two daughters live in the Town of Danville.
Mr. Borrelli serves as Section Historian on the Northern Section Board. He has served previously on this board in various roles, including Director Pro-Tem/Director-Elect (2002-2006), Northern Section Director (2007-2008), the Section’s Co-Chair for the APA California Planning Conference (2007), and Immediate Past Director (2009-2010). In 2009, he received Northern Section’s Recognition of Excellence Award for “Outstanding Service and Professionalism.” With more than 30-years of professional planning, placemaking urban design, and architecture experience, Mr. Borrelli has worked in both the public and private sectors. He currently serves as the Development Services Small Business Ally Program Manager for the City of San Jose’s Planning, Building and Code Enforcement Department. He holds a Masters in City Planning and a Certificate in Building Construction from the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Bachelor of Design in Architecture from the University of Florida.
Carlina is a Master’s of Urban Planning student at San Jose State University. She holds a B.S. in Environmental Studies, also from San Jose State, with a concentration in environmental impact assessment.
Leslie is an environmental planner at Rincon Consultants in Oakland. She was previously an intern for Rincon Consultants and was promoted in late 2020. Leslie holds a master of urban planning from San Jose State and bachelor’s degrees in communications and environmental sustainability studies from the University of Northern Colorado (Greeley). She serves as the Social Media Coordinator for the Northern Section.
Tom is founder of Totally Doable Consulting, an independent firm which focuses on strategic planning, project management, and geospatial data analysis for nonprofits and the public sector. His current focus is on equitable community engagement processes for bicycle and pedestrian programs. He blogs on cycling cultures at https://bike-lab.org.
Mary studies at UC Berkeley, where she is currently in the dual-master’s program in city planning and public health. Her experience in the health and wellness field varies from clinical patient interactions, to data analytics, and personal training. She is passionate about helping people live healthy lifestyles.
Izanie is an emerging Urban Planning professional that has a passion for community development and affordable housing, and the University Liaison for the Board.
Throughout my academic and professional journey, I’ve developed strong written and oral communication skills, qualitative data analysis skills, and I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate in many different team environments.
While interning with the San Francisco Planning Department, I produced a Best Practice Report for the Fillmore Western Addition that informed their community engagement work. As University Liaison for the Northern California American Planning Association Chapter, I work with the Student Representatives to put on workshops and events for urban planning students and recent graduates.
I am excited about opportunities that allow me to be creative and that facilitate strategic and critical thinking, particularly in urban planning, equity and inclusion, housing advocacy, community outreach.
Regional Activity Coordinators
Emily is a Planner I with the City of Richmond. Before that, Carroll was a planning technician with the City of Lafayette. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Smith College. When she’s not in the office, you can find her trail running in Redwood Regional Park.
Sarah joined APA California–Northern Section’s board as Regional Activity Coordinator (RAC) for the East Bay in 2017. Allen, who has 14 years of planning experience, began her career with the city of Lafayette’s planning department as an intern and rose through the ranks as planning technician, assistant planner and associate planner. Now a senior planner, she works with both current and long-range planning projects, including the City’s General Plan Update. Allen holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Sacramento State University and a master’s degree in urban planning from the University of Southern California.
Justin is a Principal Planner at the City of Watsonville. He has over 20 years of professional experience on planning and environmental projects in both the public and private sectors. In that time he has provided planning services and environmental documentation for projects involving land development, retail, recreational, redevelopment, business parks, transportation, desalination facilities, and solid waste facilities. His work has included a wide array of public experience, from long range planning (e.g., general plan updates and specific plans) to all types of current planning projects (e.g., use permit, design review). His past work also includes managing the preparation of the Marina Municipal Airport Master Plan and teaching a community assessment course at San José State University in the Urban and Regional Planning Department. He currently serves as the APA California – Northern Section Monterey Bay RAC Chair and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. Mr. Meek received his MURP in Urban and Regional Planning from San José State University and his BA and BS in Environmental Studies and Earth Sciences from UC Santa Cruz.
Richard (Rick) Smeaton is a Principal Planner at Interwest Consulting Group, and also has been appointed to the Northern Section Board as South Bay Regional Activity Coordinator (RAC). He previously had been a department manager with Michael Baker International in Oakland for seven years. Before coming to the Bay Area in 2014, Smeaton worked with municipal governments in a variety of roles, either as a member of the staff or a consultant in the Chicago area. He holds an MPA in public administration from Northern Illinois University and a BA in urban and regional planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign.
Brendan Hurley is an urban designer and planner at Dyett & Bhatia and is the newly appointed North Bay Regional Activity Coordinator (RAC) for APA California – Northern Section. He previously served on the Northern Section Board as UC Berkeley Student Representative, 2016-2018. Before coming to the Bay Area in 2016, Brendan was a service and outreach coordinator for the Emerging Planning Professionals Committee of APA Colorado for two years. He holds a master of city planning from UC Berkeley and a bachelor’s degree in environmental design from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Brendan lives in Napa and enjoys exploring wine country.
Michael is a transportation professional committed to enhancing mobility. I value independent thinking, connecting the dots, and problem solving. I am passionate about multi-modal transportation, helping to promote the enhancement of our built environment by creating more dynamic, healthy, livable urban spaces. My experience includes managing multidisciplinary transportation planning projects, encompassing transit operations, urban design, site planning, project development/entitlement review, public policy, data analytics, and vendor management.
We love providing opportunities for APA members to contribute to our work. Please see our Board Vacancies page for more information about these available roles.
- Publicizes the Section’s annual awards program and solicit nominations
- Arrange judging and selection of winners
- Organizes annual awards banquet
- Manages advertisements for Section newsletter and eNews
- Reviews and posts job listings
- Organize and provide a forum for mid-career planners to develop career building programs, social events, and mentoring opportunities
- Maintain social networking platforms and publicize events
- Solicit and edit news stories for the Northern News
- Assist Northern News editor with production of Northern News editions
Past Section Directors
- 2020: Jonathan Schuppert, AICP
- 2019: James Castañeda, AICP
- 2017 – 2018: Sharon Grewal, AICP
- 2015 – 2016: Andrea Ouse, AICP
- 2013 – 2014: Jeff Baker
- 2011 – 2012: Hanson Hom, AICP
- 2009 – 2010: Darcy G. Kremin, AICP
- 2007 – 2008: Juan F. Borrelli, AICP
- 2003 – 2006: Hing Wong, FAICP
- 2001 – 2002: Jeri Ram, AICP
- 1999 – 2000: Mark Rhoades, AICP
- 1995 – 1998: Wendy Cosin, AICP
- 1993 – 1995: Steve Noack, AICP
- 1991 – 1993: Don Steiger
- 1990 – 1991: Ann Bogush Millican
- 1987 – 1989: Marlene Stevenson
- 1983 – 1987: Steven C. Orlick
- 1981 – 1983: Myrna Valdez
- 1980 – 1981: Charles Q. Forester
- 1979 – 1980: Thomas O. Merle
- 1978 – 1979: Walter Rask, AICP
- 1977 – 1978: Gordon Jacoby, AIP
- 1976 – 1977: Ted Kreines, AIP
- 1974 – 1975: Frank Ehrhardt, AIP