Get to know the Chapter’s incoming President-Elect, Yorik Stevens-Wajda 

APAWA Incoming President, Yorik Stevens-Wajda

Current Position:

My current day job is Senior Legislative Analyst for the Snohomish County Council. We have five analysts in central staff; my role is to support the council’s planning-related work.

Total years in planning:

I’ve worked in planning-related jobs for 18 years, though not all of that was consecutive.


Hiking (wilderness and urban), cooking, skiing, visiting libraries, looking at maps, dreaming about travelling, walking around the neighborhood for the 285th time since the pandemic started, and playing with my daughter Lucy.


Seattle. I was born in Brussels, Belgium (where my mom is from), and took my first steps in Chicago, IL (where my dad is from), but I’ve lived in Seattle for 90% of my life and it’s certainly home for me.

Favorite place to escape from the office:

Cascade mountains, no matter the season.

Why did you choose a career in planning?

I’ve been enamored with cities, maps, infrastructure, and planning since I was a kid. I think that having roots in such vibrant and varied places as Brussels, Chicago, and Seattle helped me really pay attention to urban form, placemaking, and transportation. The difficulty in getting my curious hands on planning documents before the internet really added to the mystique, too. College surely broadened my horizons, as it’s designed to do, and helped me develop my technical skills, better understand the history of planning, and realize a strong sense of social justice.

What projects/initiatives are you currently working on?

One of the great things about working for a council is the wide variety of projects. Some great ones I’m working on right now include researching how to provide a smoother transition for active mining sites to post-reclamation use, finding out who’s in charge of enforcing a 1881 state law against spite fences, and how to work effectively through the various challenges this year has brought.

What was your first planning-related job?

Comprehensive planning intern for the City of Bellevue, while I was at UW getting my B.A. in geography. I prepared an analysis of brand new Census 2000 data for the city and collected data from recent developments for the city’s buildable land capacity analysis.

Internships are a great way to develop skills and become familiar with workplace cultures. It can be a lot of work for a supervisor, but it’s essential for developing the next generation of planners.

What advice would you give a new planner?

Always keep learning. Think beyond the immediate task at hand, reflect on how it fits into the bigger picture, and be an advocate for continuous improvement. By all means speak truth to power, but also pick your battles carefully. Finally, embrace plain language (I use newspapers as a standard for writing) and ditch acronyms – good ideas, arguments, and explanations should be accessible to anyone.

If you could have any job for a day, what would it be?


Favorite planning related book or resource:

I had a great time reading Washington By and By this year, but otherwise I hate to say it but almost all of my recreational reading time is taken up by newspapers.


Travel by train or plane?

I grew up wanting to be a pilot, and that for sure seems more fun than train conductor. But as a passenger or a planner, it’s trains hands down.

UW or WSU?

I’m so husky it’s kind of gross. My mom was a husky, I went to UW for undergrad (Geography), then UW-Tacoma for a bit, then UW again for grad school (public policy and governance). Even my wife Alicia just this month started a master's in social work at UW.

Jane Jacobs or Robert Moses?

While I definitely grew up sketching grand infrastructure plans for fun, I think the heart and soul of our cities is the people, the interactions, the social fabric. All of which is of course in really sore shape this year.

Stand or sit on the bus?

I would be thrilled to do either right now. Usually my time on the bus is when I do my best work on a laptop, or read the paper, so I’ll sit as long as there’s a seat for me and everyone else.