Melissa Dickens, AICP (Candidate for Vice President of Professional Development)

Professional Experience:

  • Strategic Planning and Policy Manager with the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission (2016-Present)
  • Staff Planner/Project Manager with the Southwest Florida Water Management District (2013-2016)
  • Planner with Engelhardt, Hammer & Associates (2007-2013)

Educational Background:

  • Master of City and Regional Planning, University of Pennsylvania (2007)
  • Bachelor of Arts, Urban Studies, University of Pennsylvania (2006)

APA/APA Florida Experience:

  • VP of Communications, APA Florida (2021-2023)
  • Vice Chair, Women & Planning Division, APA National (2021-2023)
  • Water and Planning Network Steering Committee, APA National (2018-2020)
  • Director of Membership, Women & Planning Division, APA National (2019-2020)
  • Chair, Sun Coast Section, APA Florida (2017-2019)
  • Various Positions, Sun Coast Section, APA Florida (2013-2017)


  • Award of Excellence – One Water Comprehensive Plan Chapter, APA Florida (2021)
  • Award of Excellence – Large Jurisdiction Comprehensive Plan, County Planning Division, APA National (2021)
  • FPRA Image Award – Southern Water Use Caution Area Stakeholder Outreach Campaign (2015)

Position Statement

I appreciate the opportunity to outline factors for your consideration related to my candidacy for Vice President for Professional Development. If selected for this role, I hope to pursue additional avenues for Chapter members to enhance their skillsets, gain professional recognition through AICP and FAICP, and participate in continuing education sessions and learning opportunities.

Since 2013, I have served in a variety of positions at the local, state, and national levels of APA. Throughout this time, my focus has been on enhancing professional development, certification, and continuing education for our profession. Examples include providing over 30 continuing education events annually as Sun Coast Section Chair, spearheading the inaugural nationwide mentoring program for the Women & Planning Division, contributing to coaching programs and resources for planners, and participating in Division FAICP nominations and application review. I have also served as a mentor to students and emerging professionals throughout my career.

The longstanding VP of Professional Development has done a tremendous job developing AICP exam certification training materials and information. I hope to build upon this strong foundation via the following areas of focus: 1) Ensure AICP exam training materials continue to be updated and accessible, 2) Work with Sections to develop additional local events focused on AICP prep and professional development opportunities 3) Enhance resources for Chapter members considering applying for FAICP, 4) Work with the Chapter FAICP Nominating Committee and APA National to enhance transparency and information sharing regarding the FAICP nominations process and selection.