Congratulations to the 2022 Florida Class of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners

The highest honor that the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) grants a member is election into the College of Fellows.  Fellowship is bestowed to planners who have provided outstanding contributions to the profession for an extended period of time and have been a member of the AICP in good standing for a minimum of 15 years.   Those nominated have demonstrated excellence in professional practice, teaching and mentoring, research, public and community service, and leadership. These planners exhibit exceptional leadership, innovation and excellence, creating a legacy for their community, and exceptional accomplishments in planning over the extent of their careers.  Recognition of these professionals as model planners who have made significant contributions to planning and society is shown by the AICP by elevating them among their peers and the public by inducting them into the College of Fellows.


On behalf of APA Florida and your colleagues in Florida and elsewhere, thank you, Florida Class of 2022, for inspiring us to do better, to contribute more, and to advance planning as a profession and within our communities by leading by example.  

Let’s learn more about the exceptional qualifications of the 2022 Florida Class of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners.

Lucia Garsys, FAICP

Lucia’s leadership is grounded in the breadth of her perspectives and robustness of her experience. She is a thought leader pushing the edge of an issue and providing relevant and timely planning advice. She addresses broad public policy and technical details with ease and is recognized for her consensus building outcomes. She is patient and persistent with policy outcomes. For 35+ years she has been a respected voice for planning and transforming communities worldwide.

James LaRue, FAICP

Jim LaRue’s humanitarian passion focused first on neglected communities and grew into educating citizens for community engagement and public leaders for clearer understanding of community planning. His award-winning vision studies and local plans sought equity through revitalizing economically disadvantaged areas into sustainable communities. He's influenced over 1,000 public employees, and his creation of a citizen training academy taught over 5,000 people how to engage in the civic process. He's transformed development patterns through collaborative efforts, forged fairness and diversity, and educated entire communities, all of which will clearly have a profound effect on future generations throughout Florida.

Friederike Mittner, FAICP

Friederike Mittner is a local Historic Preservation Planner, with extensive volunteer service at the national, state and local levels. She works with the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions assisting communities in over a dozen states to strengthen historic preservation ordinances.  She has served as President of the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation for multiple terms, is a longtime volunteer member of the Palm Beach County Historic Resources Review Board and has taught the Historic Preservation portion of a nationally renown, award winning AICP exam preparation course that has resulted in over 700 certified planners in 35 states and 5 countries.  

Luis Nieves-Ruiz, FAICP

Originally from Puerto Rico, Luis Nieves-Ruiz’ career contributions have enhanced economic development, regional food systems, and community revitalization planning. Luis’ exceptional leadership in Central Florida includes many years of volunteer service to underserved communities and initiatives to diversify the profession. Luis holds a Master of Regional Planning degree from Cornell University and serves as Economic Development Manager for the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council in Orlando, Florida. His accomplishments have been recognized by the National Association of Development Organizations, Urban Land Institute, Next City, Wallace Center at Winrock International, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Florida, and Leadership Florida.

Kristine Williams, FAICP

In her 34-year career in urban planning, Kristine Williams has shaped transportation planning practice in Florida and nationally through innovative planning and regulatory models and tools. As a national authority on access management, she advanced multimodal corridor planning best practices in countless communities across the U.S. and abroad. She also focused on social equity through applied research and new tools for practitioners. For these areas of practice, she created model curricula with service-learning components to create generations of skilled and reflective planners. Kristine’s award winning resources have helped high-growth areas in Florida achieve more livable, walkable and sustainable places.

Melissa E. Zornitta, FAICP

Melissa E. Zornitta is a transformative leader whose work makes a positive and substantial difference in the jurisdictions she serves - Tampa, Hillsborough County, Plant City and Temple Terrace. Her highly skilled ability to build consensus, to navigate the politics of planning, and to work collaboratively has led to measurable improvements to the outcomes of the planning process. Her service to the American Planning Association as the Florida Chapter President, her development of community education programs on planning, and her personal mentoring demonstrate a long-standing commitment to advancing the profession that already is creating a lasting legacy.