The EDI Committee is proud to bring you the Planner to Leader series, featuring interviews with a diverse group of planners who now hold leadership positions in various organizations throughout the state of Florida. Follow the series to gain insights on how to make the transition in your career.

Episode 4: Challenges in the Workplace

Episode 4 of the Planner to Leader Series features Tina M. Ekblad, Director of Planning for Stearns Weaver Miller. In this episode, Tina talks about how to overcome bias and create an equitable and inclusive workplace.

Key topics: Overcoming bias, equitable workplace, inclusive workplace challenges

Tina M. Ekblad, AICP, MPA, is a certified planner and community leader with over 15 years of experience in the private and public sectors. She provides clients with strategic guidance and manages diverse project teams to facilitate solutions to a broad range of growth management, permitting and planning issues across the state of Florida. Tina is an influential leader with experience integrating teams and mentoring aspiring professionals.

Episode 3: Mentors

Tell us how a mentor has helped you

Episode 3 of the Planner to Leader Series features Heather Urwiller, Planning Manager at City of Sanford. In this episode Heather talks about how the same mentors have helped her throughout her career and how mentors are ready to help planners once they are asked.

Key topics: Importance of Mentors; Finding Mentors; Coaching; Leadership

Heather M. Urwiller, AICP, MRP, CFM, serves as the Planning Manager for the City of Sanford and as a part-time private consultant. She has 17 years of experience, 12 years of which are in planning leadership. Her prior professional roles include planning Director with the City of Tarpon Springs, Town of Princetown, N.Y., Town of Randolph, Mass and Principal Planner in Citrus County. Heather is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners and a Certified Floodplain Manager. She received her Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning from the University at Albany. Heather’s interests include developing planning talent and personal and professional leadership.

Episode 2: Career Journey

What is the best career advice you have received?

Episode 2 of the Planner to Leader Series features Lori Cox, a Senior Planner at RK&K. In this episode, Lori talks about her career journey and how she became interested in planning. She also mentions the best career advice she has received.

Key topics: career advice; career journey; planning as a profession

Lori Cox, AICP, has more than 20 years of experience working in the private and public sectors in transportation, environmental, economic, and community planning. Lori earned her Master of Urban & Regional Planning (2006) from Florida State University. Lori also earned her Health and Life Coach certification in 2020 & is dedicated to supporting the personal and professional resiliency of women navigating the seasons and demands of life. Lori also currently serves on the APA Florida Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Committee, the APA Florida Orlando Metro Section (OMS) Women & Planning Group, & serves on the WTS Central Florida Chapter’s Communications Committee.

Episode 1: Lessons from Leaders

What are some lessons you've learned from leaders?

This interview is with John Cooper, Planning and Zoning Director with the City of Rockledge, who talks about what he has learned from leaders and how they have impacted his career.

Key topics: lessons from leaders; impacts from leaders; introduction to the video series

John W. Cooper has more than 15 years of experience in local government serving at a number of levels within land development and currently serves as the Planning Director for the City of Rockledge.  Before serving in his current position, John worked in land development for Fairfax County, Virginia.  He holds degrees in Business Administration and Business Management from Strayer University. John serves as the Section Vice Chairman for APA Florida Treasure Coast Section and sits on the APA Floirda Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee.