Planning, Design, Communications
AICP, American Planning Association
CNU-A, Congress of the New Urbanism
CPM, Texas Tech University
APA - Texas
APA Divisions - Women & Planning, Small Town & Rural, Urban Design, Transportation, New Urbanism, Planning & Law, Economic Development, City Planning & Management
Congress for the New Urbanism
Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL)
League of Women in Government
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Achiever, Individualization, Competition, Maximizer, Strategic
B.A. Government: Angelo State University
Masters of Public Administration (incomplete): Angelo State University and the University of Texas – Arlington
My love for community comes from growing up in small rural areas where school districts and towns spring up (and disappear) based on the influence of energy, agriculture, enterprising souls, and pure necessity. I was obsessed with maps and the stories they told, and at 17, spent a week in New York City, which made a huge impression. While preparing for a career as an attorney, I found myself drawn to the study of cities in my research and presentations, no matter the class. Public policy, sprawl, mobility, engagement, historic preservation, land use law, public finance, and the interaction between people and places commanded my attention. When I traveled, I was drawn to photographing buildings, streetscapes, parking lots, public places and neighborhoods. The end result? My fascination for communities—paired with my frustrations in watching towns and cities decline and die—pushed me in a different direction. I was convinced there must be a way for communities of every size to be productive, welcoming, lasting, and healthy. A way for them to accommodate everyone and to encourage commerce and diversity. Being on the front lines in cities around West Texas in a number of positions, and holding volunteer roles in the region helped me uncover a passion for helping cities and towns go the distance, and connect with others who felt the same. My desire is to help communities confront the realities of “business as usual,” realize that it is a choice every day, and instead feel confident in making informed choices that truly help them achieve their goals.
AJ’s fifteen years of municipal experience include urban, regional, transportation, and neighborhood planning, in addition to grant and ordinance writing, historic preservation, public engagement, and group facilitation. Her passion for this work dates back to her upbringing in rural communities, and watching them weather the cycle of growth and decline. Her interest in government, sociology, and design fueled a curiosity about building cities that are lasting and resilient.
AJ’s time leading planning and multi-disciplinary development services teams in Texas cities exposed her to the challenges of providing long-term maintenance for existing infrastructure while suburban style development continues at an accelerated rate, creating generic places that are uninspiring and unhealthy. Known as a tireless and outspoken advocate, her quest to bring training opportunities to West Texas for planners and city leaders prompted her to seek out Verdunity—and bring their ideas about fiscally-based planning and placemaking to a regional event. The rest, as they say, is history.
What do you do outside of work? I soak up all life has to offer! I’m generally in the kitchen whipping something up, traveling and experiencing what places have to offer, enjoying the outdoors, or spending time with my nieces.
Favorite podcast? Serial and The History Chicks.
Music you put on while you’re working? It’s an eclectic mix. It’s not unusual for one day to include Jimi Hendrix, Sean McConnell, Otis Redding, Metallica, Swiss Beatz, Reckless Kelly, Ray LaMontagne, BB King, the cast of Les Miserables and Foo Fighters!
One book (or more, if you must) you'd recommend that you've read in the last 2 years? Happy City by Charles Montgomery, This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place You Live by Melody Warnick, and Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. If you’re as fascinated by photography as I am, I also recommend Vivian Maier: Street Photographer and Humans of New York.
Favorite childhood breakfast cereal? Cap’n Crunch.