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UDP Alum Paul Inghram to be honored as FAICP

Photo of Paul Inghram

Recently, the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) accepted UW Urban Design & Planning alum Paul Inghram into the College of Fellows. The College of Fellows is one of the highest honors in the planning profession. Fellows of AICP are nominated and selected by their peers. The award recognizes outstanding contributions as a professional planner. Paul currently serves on the UDP Professionals Council. Over the course of his 15 year tenure, he has been a dedicated supporter of the Department. and h to provide mentorship to many students.

Ultimately, this exciting news comes during a challenging time. Covid-19 is impacting the way that communities work together to stay healthy and prevent further spread of the virus. In reflecting on being awarded this great honor, Paul touched on some of the concerns and challenges that planner face in the midst of a pandemic.

UDP: This is very exciting news! How does it feel to be selected to join the College of Fellows?

Paul: First of all, it is a great honor and I’m proud, humbled, and thankful to be so recognized. It’s something that I’ve dreamed of and worked towards for a long time. Obviously, this news comes at a time when the nearly hourly updates about coronavirus overwhelm our thoughts. The quickly changing news has been hard to keep up with. Moreover, the immediate effect on families that are suffering with the virus’ impact makes it clear that, while I’m grateful for the honor to be part of the College of Fellows, there are more important things in the world.

UDP: How do you foresee the Coronavirus impacting the planning profession?

Paul: Planners are in a funny place. We’re used to talking about significant issues like housing, homelessness, transportation, climate change, public health, and equity. These are topics that our communities care about and planning can make a difference. And now, in today’s moment, those issues take a backseat to the more pressing challenge of slowing the virus.

At my work, we’re trying to figure out how to keep moving forward even as many our elected leaders are preoccupied and won’t have space for working on planning for some time. We have a once in a decade plan adoption anticipated for the end of May at our annual meeting. Whether it occurs or not is now in jeopardy. The annual event usually draws several hundred people from around the region. We’re now quickly thinking of what our options are to hold a large, public meeting. What was meant to be a celebration of completing a plan that will be an example for the country may now need to be conducted online.

UDP: Are there also opportunities that might exist in this situation for planners?

Paul: This is requiring all of us to rethink how we plan. How do we talk with coworkers when we aren’t at work every day? How do we hold public meetings while maintaining separation between people? Can boards effectively engage in policy debates if they can’t meet in person? In the Seattle area, we’ve spent a lot of time preparing for the ‘big one,’ an earthquake that would disrupt business and make buildings unusable. Subsequently, that preparation is paying off as we use it and learn to adapt to our new virus world. Population growth isn’t likely to stop and planning issues won’t go away. Most importantly we now have to be creative about how to engage our communities and address these still important issues even if we can’t use traditional techniques.

UDP: Do you have any final thoughts to share about the nomination process and receiving this honor?

Paul: Above all, I want to thank my community of supporters. They gave me the confidence I needed get through the nomination process. I am also thankful for their encouragement throughout my career. They have inspired me to have faith in our communities, to aspire to a better future, and to work hard toward a greater good.

All about balance

How a hotshot firefighter manages a demanding career and the rigors of graduate school

There are just over 100 hotshot firefighter crews in the United States. They’re part of U.S. Forest Service’s elite firefighting team, a group of specially trained professionals that fight fire in some of the most extreme conditions. During fire season, they work an intense schedule, staying on-call for 16-hour days, for 14 days straight, for about six months a year.

In the off-season, hotshots work to keep up their endurance and stay fit. Some also choose to take on other challenges outside of firefighting. Will McKinney, for instances, is earning a master’s degree in Infrastructure Planning & Management from the University of Washington.

Becoming a Student

Will, who just finished his eleventh Hotshot season, says the MIPM program was a no brainer.

“I came to the realization that if I stay in firefighting, hotshot is [where I want to be],” Will shared. But it’s a really hard lifestyle and the physical labor made me realize I need something else – year round work. How can I use my fire experience so I can grow in another direction?”

Will McKinney on the Pipeline Fire near Yakima, Washington. The crew is in the background engaged in direct line construction on the fire’s edge.

One of the biggest challenges for anyone balancing a career and school is finding time to study. It takes creativity and the right team to create a personalized plan. Part of the strength of the Department of Urban Design and Planning’s two-year, part-time, online graduate degree is the flexibility of the program. MIPM can often be tailored to the individual student, regardless of situation.

Will reached out to the department’s academic director, Wendy Freitag, before enrolling. He shared his job, schedule, and goals, and together, they came up with a way to customize the program so Will could earn his master’s.

Making it work

Fire season can be unpredictable. If it starts early or runs late, Will has to put his studies on hold, take an incomplete grade or work double-time to catch up. What’s more, there are no breaks in fires. Will says major fires are now back-to-back-to-back.

“‘Fire season’ is now a ‘fire year’ because there are so many big, destructive fires outside the season.”

Resources, including the number of firefighters available, are limited. That puts stress on crews and puts more land in danger. “We have fewer ‘slow’ years and we don’t have the resources to fight the more difficult fires.”

During fire season, Will keeps in touch with his professors and program administrators so they’re aware of his situation and whether he’ll be able to start classes on time. Will says the availability of UW’s faculty and staff, the ability to accommodate a non-traditional work schedule and the quality of education make UW’s program stand out among other online programs.

Joining the team

Will took the advice of a friend and got certified as a firefighter. He was drawn to a job that required physical fitness and teamwork. In 2006 he started firefighting on what’s called a Type 2 team. These teams focus on fire suppression and fuels management. It’s been go, go, go for Will ever since. “I applied; the next week I was working, and two days later, I was at a fire.” Soon after, he applied to be a hotshot.

The federal government established hotshot crews in the 1940s to fight fires in Southern California’s Cleveland and Angeles National Forests. The hotshot teams work in the hottest part of the wildfires. They are trained to handle the strategic and tactical aspects of firefighting.

Looking to the future

Will says he’s seen a lot of change in the time he’s been on the job. “The way we engage fire has completely changed. The old way was to put every fire out. Now, fire is so intense that we just can’t do that,” he explained. He says teams are looking at how they manage fire. They even use it as a tool through prescribed burns. This subsequently decreases the amount of underbrush and other material that feeds wildfires near communities.

“It’s not sustainable to put all the fires out. Some areas need fire so there’s less fuel, and when they do burn, it’s not so intense that we can’t put it out.”

Will hopes to combine this practical, hands-on experience with his master’s degree to build a future career. He says, “The cool thing about MIPM is that it exposes you to so many different realms. I haven’t decided which direction to go, but I want to use my knowledge of fire in some capacity along with what I’ve gotten from MIPM in planning.”


> To learn more about the Masters in Infrastructure Planning and Management Program (MIPM) program, visit the MIPM website.

LCY Bellevue Civic Center Project Wraps Up

Master of Urban Planning (MUP) Studios – Livable City Year, Bellevue

Urban planning studio students at Bellevue City Hall following their final presentation. Instructor Branden Born is second from left. Photo by Teri Thomson Randall.

Recently, students of the LCY Bellevue Civic Center Vision Development studio released their final report. Led by Professor Branden Born, these planning students joined nearly 300 of their fellow classmates across UW during the 2018-19 academic year. Together they collaborated with City of Bellevue staff on various projects. Ultimately, the goal of this collaboration was to develop ideas that could help advance the City Council Vision document. Subsequently, many projects focused specifically around livability and sustainability.

Civic Center Vision Development Studio

This planning studio explicitly focused on exploring and refining concepts for a connected Civic Center. The site of the proposed Civic Center is centrally located. Its adjacent to Bellevue City Hall, the new East Link light rail station, and the Meydenbauer Center. Most importantly, the new Civic Center would function as a hub of community activity in Bellevue. Additionally, it would create a place of grounding and community connection in a space that presently lacks these qualities. Generally speaking, Bellevue’s downtown core was not built to correspond to human scale. One key goal of this studio was to create a public space created specifically to welcome people to Bellevue.

To begin with, students developed an analysis of the site. Next, they investigated case studies from around the world. Finally, they created different design alternatives to present to the City. The three student teams developed their designs with attention to one of three different core values:

  • The first team focused on “Intimacy” and applied a green infrastructure lens
  • Team two created a “Civic Home” with a focus on housing
  • The third team developed a “Cultural Center” that developed economic potential on the site

The Final Report

In conclusion, the comprehensive report includes the student’s findings, and ultimately key recommendations for developing the site. These recommendations by and large propose innovative ways to fully integrated the Civic Center into the fabric of Bellevue’s downtown core. Ultimately, this plan will be used by the City to help generate new ideas and spark innovation around the possible future for this site..



> To learn more about the Master of Urban Planning (MUP) program, visit the website here.

> To learn more about the Livable City Year (LCY) program, visit the LCY website.

Related Articles
The Department of Urban Design & Planning Newsletter | 2018-2019 Reflections
“Making Local Impact”, June 2019

Livable City Year Blog
“Livable City Year concludes partnership with City of Bellevue”, February 7, 2020

Professionals Council Lecture – Mitchell Silver


Planning for People

Commissioner Mitchell Silver
New York City Department of Parks & Recreation

LectureJanuary 29, 2020 | Architecture Hall, University of Washington Campus (Seattle)

On January 29, 2020 Commissioner Mitchell Silver joined the Department of Urban Design & Planning for the winter quarter Professionals Council lecture. He presented insights from his 30-year career as a professional planner and international leader on contemporary planning issues.

Commissioner Silver oversees management, planning and operations of nearly 30,000 acres of parkland for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. His lecture, entitled “Planning for People”, spoke to the importance of centering planning work, particularly in the public realm, around communities:

As the country urbanizes and demographics of the American population shifts, planning and urban design is gaining greater importance to attain public health, social interaction and equity. However, equity has emerged as the new buzzword in the past decade. What does equity mean for the planning profession and how can planners implement it in the work they do?

To answer this question, Commissioner Silver shared practical examples from New York City, Washington, D.C and Raleigh, NC to show how planners can create equitable, healthy and just communities.

Mitchell Silver – UW Department of Urban Design and Planning Lecture Series from UW College of Built Environments on Vimeo.

Professionals Council Lecture – William Riggs


Disruptive Transport

William Riggs
University of San Francisco

LectureNovember 20, 2019 | Architecture Hall, University of Washington Campus (Seattle)

Professor William Riggs joined the Department of Urban Design & Planning for the autumn quarter Professionals Council lecture. He spoke about the rise of shared and networked vehicles, autonomous vehicles, and other transportation technologies.

Currently, technological advancement is outpacing urban planning and policy. Professor Riggs discussed how these transformations can result in profound changes for cities. He also shared insights into how these changes can be used to catalyze a more livable, sustainable and socially just future.

William Riggs – UW Department of Urban Design and Planning Lecture Series from UW College of Built Environments on Vimeo.

Students in Service – Alyssa Cummin, MIPM

U.S. Army Captain Alyssa Cummin will soon complete her Master’s in Infrastructure Planning and Management degree. Just over two years ago Alyssa started her academic journey at UW. When she discovered the online MIPM program she thought, “This is a great opportunity and I want to get my master’s degree in an area that interests me instead of a standard MBA.”

Balancing Military Service and School

Most MIPM students work regular 9 to 5 desk jobs while attending online courses in an asynchronous format. For Alyssa however, she has served her country overseas as a Captain in the US Army Reserves. She planned logistical training for African militaries in Nigeria, Somalia, Djibouti, Tunisia, Morocco, and Malawi. Twenty-eight months and many countries later, Alyssa is graduating with both rich academic and practical experience in critical infrastructure management. “The hardest part of this degree was identifying my capstone project,” Alyssa explained. Ultimately, Alyssa selected the logistics infrastructure of Africa as her topic.

For Alyssa, managing her time during the degree program while also working was essential. “I adopted new habits, Alyssa shared. “I know I work best in the mornings so I started waking up earlier than usual to complete homework prior to leaving for work and I took advantage of my lunch breaks to squeeze in homework time.”

Achieving Goals

Alyssa also volunteered as a high school swim coach over the past two years and enjoys training for triathlons. During this past year Alyssa completed her first Iron Man triathlon, finishing 3800 meter swim, 112 mile bike ride and a full marathon in 13 hours and 28 minutes. When asked how she was able to successfully complete the program despite all the deployments, travel for work, and physical training she said “I was surprised myself when I realized how much time there actually is in a day when we want to make the time to achieve our goals.”

Article researched by Morgan A. Zantua.

Honoring Our Veteran Students

On Monday, November 11, we will be observing Veteran’s Day. We will honor the students, alumni, faculty, and staff in our department that have served in the military. Join us in thanking these individuals for their service, and for their continued dedication to bettering our communities and cities through planning and design.

Department News – Autumn Quarter 2019

Our goal in the Department of Urban Design and Planning is to provide more than excellent teaching and research. Our real mission is to have an impact on the lives and careers of our students, the future of the planning profession, and the health and welfare of our urban and regional communities.

We’ve selected a few stories and events that we think illustrate this impact. Some of them are personal, such as the story of MUP graduate student Asela Chavez-Basurto whose internship is helping her make the leap from student to professional. Others illustrate the impact our students and faculty are having on our communities and planet. For example, MIPM graduate student Danté DiSabantino is helping develop King County’s Climate Action Plan, while professors Bob Freitag and Dan Abramson are partnering with Washington coastal communities to make them more resilient to tsunamis and other natural hazards. This work is innovative, urgent, and could one day save lives.

Global Impact

Our impact is not just local. Assistant Professor Rachel Berney, for example, talks about her work in Colombia and the Global South. Through her research and teaching she also reminds us that learning from other cultures and global cities makes us better – and more impactful -planners here at home. The students in the study abroad group led by Professor Emeritus Fritz Wagner to Quebec City would certainly agree. So too would the members of the Berlin Studio, led by Ph.D. student (and now faculty at the University of Chicago) Evan Carver and CEP Program Manager Megan Herzog, who spent 30 days exploring and learning from one of the most interesting and historic cities in the world. Be sure to check out their website and blog, as well as the quirky films made by the students (my favorite is A Trophy of Democracy.)

Of course, none of what we do in the Department of Urban Design and Planning would be possible without the partnerships and support of our alumni, friends, and professional community. Planning is always a collaborative process and so is the project of educating the next generation of professionals and discovering the solutions to our most pressing urban problems. We are grateful for your help with this important work and want you to know that our success is yours as well.

Very best –

Christopher Campbell, Chair

Featured Stories

Bridging to Professional Practice

Master of Urban Planning (MUP) student, Asela Chavez-Basurto, dove into professional practice during a summer internship at Sound Transit. She took on real-world planning projects in Seattle, further exploring the dynamics of collaborative teamwork.


Providing a Platform for Youth on Climate Change

Master of Infrastructure Planning and Management (MIPM) student, Dante DiSabatino, is working on King County’s 2020 update of the Strategic Climate Action Plan (SCAP). His team recently implemented the first Youth Summit on climate change.


Students Explore Berlin Through Film

What makes a city? Who decides how a city grows and changes, and what criteria do they use? These are just a sampling of the questions that UDP students tackled while traveling to Berlin over summer quarter 2019.


Providing a Platform for Youth on Climate Change

Photo of MIPM Student, Danté DiSabatino

Master of Infrastructure Planning and Management (MIPM) student, Danté DiSabatino, is working on King County’s 2020 update of the Strategic Climate Action Plan (SCAP). In fact, his team recently implemented the first Youth Summit on climate change. The summit was held at UW’s SCAP Public Workshop on Saturday, October 12th. Most importantly, it gave young people in King County the platform to voice their opinions about addressing climate change within our region.

King5 News subsequently featured the King County Youth Summit in a recent segment:

To summarize, SCAP is King County’s 5-year plan to reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for climate change impacts. Significantly, it focuses on supporting resilience in communities disproportionately impacted by climate change. Danté is presently working with a team of colleagues, including King County Climate Engagement Specialist Jamie Stroble, to solicit public feedback and cultivate strategic community partnerships.

“More often than not, youth haven’t had a seat at the table as stakeholders in governmental processes.” Danté explained. “The youth of today, and many of their surrounding communities, will be on the frontline of climate change. As as a result, they need to be part of the conversation and will be impacted by their government’s actions or lack there of around climate change adaptation, mitigation, and preparedness.”

Students march on Market Street in San Francisco during the Global Youth Climate Strike on September 20th, 2019. Photo by Ronan Furuta.

A Global Movement

The SCAP Youth Summit is part of a much larger movement amplifying the voices of young people around climate change. Beyond King County, youth all over the world vehemently represented their concerns during the Global Youth Climate Strike on September 20th. Youth climate activists joined together in many major cities to march in support of taking urgent action. Likewise, young people in Seattle also participated, taking time away from their studies to stand in solidarity.

Celebrating Our First-Generation College Students

On Friday, November 8, we will lift up the experiences of our first-generation students, faculty, and staff. UW is joining universities across the country in the third annual National First-Generation College Celebration. Danté is a first-generation college graduate (Florida State University) and holds a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science. He joined the MIPM program to focus on equitable community driven resilience and social infrastructure systems.

> To learn more about the Master of Infrastructure Planning and Management (MIPM) program, visit the website here.
> To learn more about King County’s 2020 update of the Strategic Climate Action Plan (SCAP), visit the King County climate action website here.

Related News

Bridging to Professional Practice

Photo of Master of Urban Planning (MUP) student Asela Chavez-Basurto.
Image provided by Sound Transit.
“I’ve spent the last year acquiring knowledge, and this was the chance to translate all of that into tangible work that’s useful to others.”

Master of Urban Planning (MUP) student, Asela Chavez-Basurto, dove into professional practice during a summer internship at Sound Transit. She took on real-world planning projects in Seattle, further exploring the dynamics of collaborative teamwork. Specifically, Asela joined the Sound Transit Planning, Environment and Project Development department. As a result, she focused much of her time on alternative transportation. She worked to assess and improve the Sound Transit bike program in particular.

The internship experience

Asela managed two projects that studied morning peak-hour bike ridership. Notably, she focused on studying bike commuting trends at busy light rail stations. The projects included conducting time-intensive bike count surveys. Subsequently, Asela employed the help of multiple volunteers to successfully complete this work. Through this process, she provided key leadership in the field. Asela specifically organized survey schedules and directly trained volunteers to collect data. Above all, she gained valuable perspective in a project management role. Accordingly, Asela integrated classroom lessons with her growing on-the-ground knowledge. Most significantly, she completed work that has a measurable impact for her community.

“For me, the most valuable part of my internship experience has been the opportunity to apply my skills directly,” Asela shared. “I’ve spent the last year acquiring knowledge, and this was the chance to translate all of that into tangible work that’s useful to others.”

Image Asela with fellow 2019 Sound Transit Interns touring the Northgate Link Light Rail Station construction site.
Image provided by Sound Transit.

Looking at the bigger picture

“I observed that sometimes buildings were built for the architects and not its users and I wanted to have a broader impact.”

Asela is originally from Mexico, where she initially studied architecture. She’s lived in the Seattle area for the past five years. Presently, Asela in her 2nd year in the University of Washington MUP program. After graduation, she wants to focus on addressing the larger, interconnected issues around urban design and planning.

“Architecture gave me valuable skills and experiences, but I felt it did not include the kind of problems I was passionate to resolve,” she explained. “To me, site analysis and user input were as pivotal as design styles. I observed that sometimes buildings were built for the architects and not its users and I wanted to have a broader impact.”

Ultimately, Asela learned about professional practice directly. In addition, she shared the insights she gained with others. She presented her work at the 2019 Sound Transit Intern Presentations. This annual event, open to the agency’s entire 800 plus workforce, gives interns a platform to showcase their projects.

“My most memorable experience at Sound Transit [was] giving my internship presentation,” said Asela. “I loved sharing my experience at the department and the projects I worked on. The presentation was an opportunity to introduce myself, my goals, and my contributions.”

Photo of Asela Chavez-Basurto presenting at the 2019 Sound Transit Intern Presentations.
Photo provided by Sergio Lira.

Laying a strong foundation

For planning students like Asela, the combination of academic and internship experience is often helpful for career preparation. That is to say, internships can compliment academic learning. They offer an important glimpse into professional practice. Moreover, having the opportunity to contribute to team projects, and accordingly network with established professionals, can create rich opportunities post-graduation.

“Through the MUP program, I’ve acquired knowledge of regional regulations and professional processes that allow me to understand the current issues and potential solutions. It’s not difficult for me to know where my contributions could fit into the work of the agency and also on the development of the city and the region; this inspires me to work hard every day.”

> To learn more about the Master of Urban Planning (MUP) program, visit the website here.

Related Articles
The Platform (Sound Transit News)
“Inside Sound Transit: The Intern Experience”
By Katie Metzger – July 26, 2019

Department News – 2018/2019 Reflections

MUP Graduates (from left to right, Jarrett Piel, Ishmael Nunez, Laura Durgerian, and Mary Xiao) at the College of Built Environments Commencement Ceremony

The Department of Urban Design and Planning celebrated our 2019 graduates on June 14 & 15th. Additionally, we welcomed Samuel Assefa, Director of Seattle’s Office of Planning and Community Development as the keynote speaker for the College of Built Environment’s commencement. Notably he spoke to the importance of maintaining strong connections with fellow graduates in years ahead. He specifically shared the ways in which his career has been positively shaped by that.

In reflecting on the past year, we wanted to share a few of the stories about the smart, creative, passionate students who are using their degrees in uniquely innovative ways. You can read more about them below.

Additionally, we’ve included a short story about the Livable City Year (LCY) program. LCY was co-founded and is now co-directed by Associate Professor Branden Born. Now in its third year, this program has been remarkably successful at leveraging the talent of UW faculty and students on behalf of local cities. Significantly LCY has served as a platform for innovative teaching and learning.

I hope you will join me in congratulating all of the 2019 graduates, and furthermore welcome them into your communities. Thank you for being part of the Department of Urban Design and Planning.

Very best –

Christopher Campbell, Chair

Featured Stories

Making Local Impact

Master of Urban Planning (MUP) Studios – Livable City Year, Bellevue
Over the past year, a group of UW Master of Urban Planning (MUP) students took their skills and knowledge from the classroom into the local community.


Beyond the Classroom

Dolores Velasquez utilized the knowledge she gained as a Master of Infrastructure Planning and Management (MIPM) student to navigate her community’s recovery in the aftermath of the Thomas Fire.


Let the Record Play

This past year, Community, Environment and Planning (CEP) student Nyles Green shared stories of local black musicians in new podcast.