Reaching the Future: Centering Youth in Community Engagement

Session 7C | Thursday | 1:00 – 2:15 PM PT

Presentation PDF
About the Session

Inspiring future planners and engaged citizens of tomorrow takes both providing youth with the building blocks to understand how planning impacts their community and creating opportunities for them to make their voices heard in real-world planning projects. Join planners from across the state (and beyond) to hear about, and participate in, a variety of activities they have used to do just that. By establishing key relationships and using innovative strategies, these planners have broken through barriers and built bridges to reach the citizens and planners of tomorrow.

About the Moderator

Stephanie Velasco, AICP
City of Seattle

Stephanie Velasco works part-time for the City of Seattle’s Office of Housing and part-time as a content creator focused on introducing city planning concepts to people of all ages, but especially to young people. Stephanie holds a Master’s degree in Urban Planning from the University of Washington, and she regularly teaches summer classes on city planning for middle school and high school students around Seattle. As a co-chair of the APA WA Youth In Planning Task Force, Stephanie is currently collaborating with Bellevue School District to develop a curriculum introducing city planning concepts to elementary school students.

About the Speakers

Alex Hunt 
City of Burien

Alex Hunt is a Planner with the City of Burien Community Development Department. He graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor's Degree in City and Regional Planning and has worked for the City of Burien since 2020. He previously worked as a consultant planner for the City of Irvine, California. Alex is passionate about urban design and forming authentic relationships between local government and the communities they serve. In his free time, Alex enjoys skateboarding at the many skateparks found in the Puget Sound Region.

Donna deBit
City of Spokane

Donna is an Associate Planner and has been with the City of Spokane for 7 years. She has been involved with the Washington Youth in Planning Task Force since 2017 and enjoys bringing Youth in Planning activities into classrooms throughout the Spokane School District. She has been on the WA APA Inland Empire Section Board since 2016 and continues to be an advocate for the Urban and Regional Planning program at Eastern Washington University (her alma mater. GO EAGS!).

Evan Hietpas
City of Edgewood

Evan Hietpas is an Associate Planner for the City of Edgewood, working there since 2018 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Evan focuses on long-range planning projects and leading the City's public engagement efforts. In 2020, he created a program for high school students called the "Edgewood Experience" to better engage with youth in the local community. In his free time, Evan enjoys listening to music, cheering on Wisconsin sports teams, and spending time outside with his golden retriever, Olive.

Katherine Nesse, Ph.D. 
City of Bellevue

Dr. Nesse was a professor of urban and regional planning for 7 years and led the Urban Studies program at Seattle Pacific University before returning to the public sector in 2019. She has a passion for public service and enjoys sharing that passion with the community. Her research and expertise is in data-informed long range planning. In her free time she collects and plays planning-themed table top games (yes, you can come to Planning Game Night at her house!).

Shelley Denison

Shelley Denison is an Associate Planner for Sandy, Oregon. She has masters degrees in Public Administration and City and Regional Planning from The Ohio State University (O-H!). Shelley is passionate about equitable public involvement, communicative planning, and future-proofing Sandy. In her free time, Shelley likes doing all things crafty, reading YA novels, and going to Portland Timbers games.

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