Sonja Caldwell Kos, AICP
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.