Planner of the Month: Karen Kendall 

  • Current Position: Planner, City of Spokane Valley
  • Years in position: 13
  • Total years in planning: 15
  • Hobbies: Scuba diving, hiking, and tending to two and one half acres with 20 varieties of bamboo.
  • Weirdest non-planning related job: The past 12 years my husband and I have owned and operated a scuba diving shop.
  • What is a typical work day like for you? There is never a typical day, which I love. I have the benefit of working on a number of diverse projects as well as fielding a multitude of citizen inquiries. 
  • Why did you choose the planning profession? Or did it choose you? While taking a kick-starter career development class offered by my boss in the internship office (college job) at the Spokane County Building and Planning Department was one stop of many that changed my life. I thought of the maps and codes like pieces of a puzzle to find the best fit for an individual or community. 
  • What part of your job do you find most rewarding? Navigating the requirements to help individuals accomplish their dreams.
  • What is the oddest thing a citizen has ever asked or said to you? Which time? That’s every day in the life of a planner.
  • What was your first planning related job? Internship with the City of Auburn. I was exploring the field of planning prior to starting the program at Eastern Washington University. I was introduced to great mentors that sealed the deal to pursue planning.
  • What advice would you give a new planner? Give yourself the grace to grow and learn. The foundation is built in school. The challenge and reward is to help the community think big and into the future. Coach and ask questions to help guide the citizen and community to plan for their future. 
  • What are you looking for when you hire a planner? A great personality. The profession takes a lot of patience, charisma and stamina. Secondly, someone who listens beyond the questions being asked to get to the root of what the citizen and/or staff member needs.
  • What do you wish you had known when you started your career? Naïve perhaps, it took time to understand planning is not black and white. Codes are written to anticipate 90% of all scenarios and the remaining is interpreted in different shades of grey.
  • If you were not a planner what profession would you likely be in? A role in which I can add significance to others lives.    

Return to the October issue of The Washington Planner