The American Planning Association Mississippi Chapter (APA Mississippi) honors innovative planning efforts and inspiring individuals with its 2018 Annual Awards. APA Mississippi’s awards program is a proud tradition established to recognize outstanding community plans, planning programs and initiatives, public education efforts, and individuals for their leadership on planning issues. These efforts help create communities of lasting value throughout the state.

These awards are selected through a juried process and were awarded at the October 11th, 2018 Annual Alabama/Mississippi Joint Conference Awards Luncheon.

Public Outreach/Advocacy –City of Jackson D3: Downtown Design Dialogue

Dr. Mukesh Kumar, Director of Planning and Development City of Jackson, Long Range Planning Team Members: Salam Rida, Travis Crabtree, Biqi Zhao, AICP.

Nominated by: Jordan Rae Hillman, AICP, Deputy Director of Planning City of Jackson

The Public Outreach Award recognizes an individual or program that uses information and education to raise awareness about the value of planning. The public outreach effort will focus upon advancing the benefits of planning among communities, and locales.

The D3 was an interactive community engagement event aimed at imagining the future of the 8.45 acres of city-owned undeveloped land adjacent to the Jackson Convention Complex. The site is the largest area of undeveloped land in downtown and has potential to transform Downtown Jackson.

The D3 event was organized into four sections: Introduction to the Site, Market Study, Design, and Community Engagement. Each section had several panels that were presented jointly by the project partners. Groups passed from one section of the dialogue to the next within a 15-minute session block. The final community engagement section included an interactive activity involving program cards, a map, pins, and yarn to gather input

Department of Planning and Development provided additional engagement opportunities through social media platform, posing questions like "What would you like to see happen downtown?" and collecting the responses. Following the event the department produced a series of videos summarizing the event for those who may not have been able to attend.

The engagement and input will be combined with the Downtown Jackson Market Study to outline a concept plan for the site. The City of Jackson expects to announce a Request for Proposals (RFP)/Request for Qualifications (RFQ) to select a master developer for the site toward the end of August 2018.

The process used to design the engagement was very different from most engagement processes and is deserving of recognition for its innovative approach to engaging, educating, and creating transparency on a very significant project.

Best Project/Outstanding Project Award – Downtown Natchez Master Plan

Philip Walker, FAICP of The Walker Collaborative, Keith Covington, AICP AIA of Common Ground Urban Design + Planning, Lee Jones, AICP PLA of Common Ground Urban Design + Planning, Randy Grove President of Development Economics, Tron Moller Community Organizing Consultant, Chesney Doyle President of FOR Natchez, Darryl Grennell Mayor of Natchez, Ricardo Giana Director of Planning Zoning City of Natchez.

The Best Project/Outstanding Project Award is for an outstanding plan for a neighborhood, community, region, campus etc. It may be a plan prepared for a local, state or federal agency or for a jurisdiction. Examples and Categories include, but are not limited to: Master Plans, Comprehensive Plans, Neighborhood Plans, Regional Plans, University Campus Plans, Military Base Plans, etc. The award in this category will recognize the achievement of a group, not an individual. Size of the jurisdiction or agency for which the plan was prepared is not a factor in selection. Emphasis is on best practices, results and state‐of‐the‐art planning methods.

Downtown Natchez Master Plan.jpg

Natchez has an international reputation for its antebellum architecture and picturesque setting on the Mississippi River. Despite its strong heritage tourism success, the downtown has continued to flounder both physically and economically. The planning process included dozens of meetings, a six-day charrette, and over 200 citizens the charretteworkshop and the concept plan presentation. While the plan addressed the entire downtown area, a particular focus was paid to the river bluff area (“Old Spanish Parade Ground”) on the west end and the MLK Triangle (hub of African American history) on the east end.

Among the plan’s many ideas were the following: a stage pavilion on the bluff, infill development along Broadway (including higher density housing), relocation of the post office for development of a green space flanked by a farmers market pavilion, conversion of several one-way streets to two-way streets, a parking structure, expansion of the convention center, enhancement of the “triangle” of the MLK Triangle area into a plaza interpreting the area’s history, and historic building rehabilitations and infill development in the MLK Triangle area. The project’s housing and retail market analysis also resulted in an optimal tenant mix and housing types, and detailed recommendations were provided to establish a Main Street organization.

The plan was adopted by the City as a new element of its existing citywide comprehensive plan and can be downloaded in full here.

Emerging Planner Award - Ramina Aghili, AICP and Willie Davidson

The Emerging Planner Award is presented for the first time by the Mississippi Chapter. This award is given to a professional planner, with up to 10 years experience, who has demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to leadership, professional development and the advancement of the field of planning in Mississippi. Recipients of this award demonstrate significant promise in contributing new and innovative ideas to APA MS.

APA MS Awards20182.jpg
APA MS Awards2018.jpg

Willie Davidson

Planning Director

City of Horn Lake, MS

Ramina Aghili, AICP

Planner, Zoning Division

City of Jackson

Randy Meador Overachiever Award – Ed Shambra, AICP

Recognizes individuals who have gone to great lengths to better themselves, their profession, and their communities. Recipients have demonstrated a willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty. The Overachiever Awardees have transcended expected limitations -to study, learn, and impart their extensive wealth of knowledge, skills, and expertise upon their associates, their peers, and their Chapter.


President’s Award – Jay Estes, AICP and Joan M. Wesley, Ph.D.

Special award presented by the Chapter President to recognize exemplary, sustained service to the Chapter.


Jay Estes, AICP

Senior Principal Planner and Chief Administrative Officer

Allen Engineering and Science


Joan M. Wesley, Ph.D.

Associate Professor and Interim Chair

Department of Urban and Regional Planning Jackson State University