Change is afoot at the chapter office as we say goodbye to Amanda Pickles, APA Florida Administrative Assistant and Bookkeeper, and Tyler Griffin, Graduate Student Intern.  While change is always good, we will miss them. We are excited to welcome Denise Johns-Smith, who will take over administrative and bookkeeping duties, and intern Grayson Taylor, who is a FSU DURP graduate student.

So long!

Thank you, APA Florida, for an incredible 4.5 years. I’m so thankful for the lifelong friendships I made during my time. It’s been great working with you all, and I’ve learned so much throughout my time here. It’s always tough to say goodbye, but I just wanted you all to know how much I appreciate the vast range of opportunities and helpful guidance I’ve been given during my time with the association. 

Even though I will miss everyone, I’m looking forward to starting this next chapter in my career. I will be taking part in running our family business with my husband and am excited to see what the future holds. 

Thank you so much again! 

~ Amanda

Working for APA Florida during my time in graduate school has been an amazing opportunity, allowing me a more in-depth perspective on planning within Florida. I had the opportunity to work on the CDC-funded Plan4HealthyFL initiative, which would bring public health professionals and land use planners together to plan healthier communities throughout the Sunshine State. Through this, I was able to broaden, and really dig into my interests both as a planner, and a lifelong Floridian.

And getting hands-on, behind-the-scenes experience in organizing the Annual Conference last autumn, I was better able to appreciate how much work and how many moving parts are required to host such an extensive event each year.

I will most miss the women that I have worked with in my time as an intern. I felt welcomed onto the staff immediately, and always felt valued both as an intern, and for the work I helped to produce.

Soon I will be moving to the Fort Myers area to work as a planner for the Lee County Community Development and Planning Department, where I’ll mainly be working in comprehensive planning and zoning. Working with APA Florida highlighted the importance of ground-level work with the community, and how small interactions with residents can impact a community. I’m excited to take what I have learned, and the interactions I’ve had at APA Florida, and apply them to my new position.

Welcome to the Team!

Denise Johns-Smith is the new chapter Administrative Assistant/Bookkeeper. She brings with her decades of experience in office management and bookkeeping. Her desire is to serve Florida and assist in its planning and development while enhancing its beauty. 

Denise was born in Philadelphia and moved to Fort Lauderdale at the age of 18 and instantly called Florida her new home. Her hobbies are fishing, hiking, and kayaking. Denise is a volunteer for Samaritan’s Purse U.S. Disaster Relief Team. Denise and husband Randy are parents of three children adopted through Florida Foster Care.

When you call the chapter office next time, welcome Denise to the team!

Hello, fellow planners. I’m Grayson Taylor and I’m the new intern with APA Florida.  I am a graduate student with the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at Florida State University.  Although I specialize in land use planning, I am just as interested in transportation and environmental planning, and the issues that connect them all. 

I was born in Greenville, S.C., and moved to Orange Park, Fla. when I was 13.  I went on to attend Florida State University to receive a Bachelor of Science in International Affairs and History.  After graduation, I moved to South Korea to teach English for two years. Now, I’ve returned to Tallahassee to pursue a Master of Science in Planning.

My interests include traveling, trying new cuisines, spending time with friends, current events, social issues, and of course, planning.  After returning from South Korea, I found myself even more fascinated by the built environment around us.  It was then that I chose to work to improve our urban spaces by seeking a career in planning.  This is also what has led me to APA Florida.  After attending last year’s conference in West Palm Beach, and interacting with several APA Florida members, I saw how much the organization benefits the planning community.  Now, I find myself in the incredible position of being an intern with APA Florida. Moving forward, I will be helping prepare for this year’s conference as well as several other projects that will enhance the planning process in Florida.