The American Planning Association Mississippi Chapter (APA Mississippi) honors innovative planning efforts and inspiring individuals with its 2017 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 5th, 2017 Annual Alabama/Mississippi Joint Conference Awards Luncheon. Eight recipients were selected to receive APA Mississippi’s various awards.

BEST PROJECT - Plan Brandon! Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Code – City of Brandon

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.

Project Team: Mayor Butch Lee; Brandon Board of Alderman, Community Development Director Jordan Rae Hillman, AICP, City Planner Matthew Hinton, Orion Planning and Design, Alta Planning, Arnett Muldrow, and Wier Boerner Allin Architects.


Plan Brandon! has resulted in a reorientation of planning in Brandon from sprawl development patterns to place based planning. In the Summer 2014 the Board of Alderman voted to engage Orion Planning + Design to complete a new comprehensive plan and zoning code.

The planning process began in October 2014 and was divided into four phases: Discovery, Direction, Design, and Determination. The Discovery phase kicked off immediately and focused on data collection, mapping, history, past plans, and interviews. These data were analyzed, organized and presented to the Brandon Planning Commission in early January 2015 followed by the Direction Phase, which focused on public engagement. During the Design Phase, a place type planning model was used rather than a conventional land use model. The plan is deliberative about the design treatment of those place types to ensure future development reflects the desired character of the neighborhood.

The final phase of the process was the Determination phase. A list of projects was created based on the prior phases and placed into the Implementation Matrix. Each project has a time frame for action, identified partners to implement with, and expected outcomes. This matrix has become the city’s checklist for plan implementation. Since the October 2015 adoption, over 40 of the 55 implementation projects have been completed or are in progress. Completed projects include the adoption of a completely updated zoning code and publicly accessible online GIS tools for easy access to the zoning code and maps.

Best PUBLIC OUTREACH - Marking the Mule — Marks, Mississippi

Supplemental Materials: 

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.

Project Team: Carl Small Town Center at Mississippi State University, Marks Residents

In July 2015, the Carl Small Town Center at Mississippi State University was awarded a $25,000 Our Town grant by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to create a trail and make plans for an interpretive center that tells the story of the 1968 Mule Train, a program of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign. This was a integrated planning process that engaged local residents, along with historians, architects, planners, and state tourism and historic preservation officials to create a vision for a cultural trail and interpretive center focused on the events surrounding the Mule Train.

The yearlong public outreach campaign brought people to the table who often lack formal influence with these types of projects and gave Marks residents the opportunity to have a meaningful impact on the development of a tangible project in their community. Innovative efforts were made to expand citizen engagement beyond the typical public hearing to include documentation of oral histories, outreach at a local blues festival, a hands-on design charrette, and multiple feedback loops, which culminated in the design of an interpretive center and trail and the construction of a trail-head marker that doubled as a welcome sign.

Randy Meador overachiever award - Corey Proctor and Micheal Hershman, AICP

The Randy Meador Overachiever Award 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. The Randy Meador Overachiever Award is named in honor and memory of Randy Meador, AICP, a “true Planner’s Planner” who contributed tirelessly in service to his community and profession.

Mr. Corey Proctor is the Planning Director for Forrest County, Mississippi, where his responsibilities include managing the geographic information system, developing and implementing ordinances, preparing plans and administering numerous grants. Mr. Proctor holds Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Community Planning and Geography from the University of Southern Mississippi. He has been a member of the American Planning Association (APA) and the Mississippi Chapter of the American Planning Association (APA MS) for approximately twelve years. Mr. Proctor is also affiliated with the APA Economic Development, APA Technology and APA Transportation Divisions. He was the Secretary for APA Mississippi Chapter from 2009-2011, Treasurer from 2011-2014 and presently serves as the President. Prior to working with Forrest County, Mr. Proctor worked with Neel-Schaffer, Incorporated in the capacity of Planner II. While working with Neel-Schaffer, he assisted and led to the development and implementation of numerous comprehensive plans and developed GIS systems for both small and large communities.

Michael Hershman is Senior Planner for Lamar County. His planning career spans almost 30 years in the states of Indiana, Kentucky and Mississippi. He has served nearly 20 years (19 years 10 months) in managerial positions as Planning Director and Department Head. Michael’s tenure in the Mississippi Chapter has been stellar. He served as APA MS Southern Representative, Editor for the Chapter’s Newsletter, the Mississippi Planner, held membership on the Nominating Committee and the Awards Committee, and provided direct and support service during the planning, coordination and implementation of APA MS Conferences. He has been a major contributor to a myriad of Chapter events and activities.

As Southern Representative, Michael represented the diverse needs of the planners throughout the district, from Natchez to McComb, the Hattiesburg area, and down to the Coast. He encouraged more social networking throughout the region while he advanced more training opportunities for planners, planning commission members, and elected officials. Expanding training and networking opportunities to planning professionals and their supporters became the cornerstone of his tenure as Regional Representative. Having come up through the ranks, and working in small, medium, and large offices, he understands the needs of planners.



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.

Charles L. Finkley, Jr. is an urban planner and currently the Director of Planning and Development for Tunica County, MS. He has previously worked for planning departments in Memphis, TN; Mobile, AL; and Huntsville, AL. Mr. Finkley is an alumni of Alabama A&M University's Department of Community & Regional Planning where his professors stressed the importance of planning at all levels. As an urban planner, he believes that one of a planner's greatest responsibility should be to create and maintain the best possible quality of life for residents in his or her community. Some of Mr. Finkley's associations include the Mississippi Chapter of the American Planning Association, Urban Land Institute, and Congress for the New Urbanism. In his spare time, Charles enjoys traveling, going to the movies and watching football.


PRESIDENT'S AWARD - Jackson State University, University of Southern Mississippi, and University of Mississippi

This year, the President’s Award is presented to Mississippi’s three State Universities that have educated, mentored, and graduated planners who work to improve communities at every scale throughout the state.



  Rhamina Aghili, AICP

Rhamina Aghili, AICP

  Arash Ghahramani, AICP

Arash Ghahramani, AICP

  CatherineLee, AICP

CatherineLee, AICP