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This biannual awards program recognizes individuals, organizations and communities for outstanding contributions to planning in Ohio. Any APA Ohio member may nominate plans, projects, programs, individuals or organizations in seven (7) categories:

  • Best Practice Award
  • Because We Plan Award
  • Comprehensive Plan|Large Jurisdiction
  • Comprehensive Plan|Small Jurisdiction
  • Planning Student(s) Showcase
  • The Allor Planning Champion Award
  • The Norman Krumholz Equity Award

The 2023 nomination period has ended. 

2023 Award Winners

Our biennial awards program honors outstanding planning and planning leadership in Ohio, recognizing the highest levels of achievement.

APA Ohio presented the following awards at the 2023 APA Ohio Statewide Planning Conference on September 29 in Columbus, Ohio.

The nominations were reviewed and winners selected by a jury of 8 professional planners from the APA Michigan and APA Illinois Chapters. The Jury evaluated nominations based on a set of criteria. This year’s award winners:

  • Demonstrate creative problem solving
  • Are well presented, clear & accurate, and communicate ideas successfully
  • Include an interactive public feedback process
  • Demonstrate appropriate and applicable solutions to common issues
  • Illustrate successful planning processes

Press Release


Lee Road Action Plan, Community Engagement

This Best Practice Award recognizes the community engagement portion of the Lee Road Action Plan, a plan focused on the predominantly black Lomond and Moreland neighborhoods. For many decades, residents felt neglected by their leaders, left out of the greater Shaker community, and overlooked for the investment they saw elsewhere. Over the last decade, the City of Shaker Heights has dedicated staff to creating sustained engagement, supporting neighbors, fostering partnerships, and building trust with those who have mistrusted the government.

The community engagement’s multipronged approach was conceived to show the city listened to input, set expectations for involvement in future plans, and solidified that citizens can affect the future of their neighborhoods.

Jurors commented, “Residents of the Moreland and Lomond neighborhoods in Shaker Heights deserve to be proud of this plan, which was prepared with their active involvement throughout the planning process.”


Cuyahoga County Lakefront Access Plan

Cuyahoga County encompasses 30 miles of the Lake Erie shoreline. Historic, often discriminatory development patterns and economic pressure resulted in only 22% of the lakeshore being publicly accessible – a number that decreases to 13% outside downtown Cleveland. As concerns rose over inequities in public lakefront access, so did coastal erosion that continues to threaten properties, buildings, and infrastructure.

The Lakefront Public Access Plan engaged residents, lakefront landowners, municipalities, and key regional stakeholders to create a framework prioritizing investment in public access and erosion control.

When reviewing the plan, one juror commented the, “numerous maps and other visual aids help convey lots of information rather than text,” and, “The plan focuses on not just one solution, but alternatives to help provide flexibility and guidance to incrementally realize the collaborative vision.”

Recommended outcomes increase public access to 50% of the Cuyahoga County shoreline and support direct access for underserved and underinvested populations.


Plan Springdale

Plan Springdale defines the community's wish to enliven Springdale's city centers into more vibrant and thriving spaces.

The identified challenges, recommended strategies, reinvestment opportunities, design guidelines, and action items were driven by engagement and resulted in a plan with community ownership. One juror commented, “I appreciate the specific elements that take the plan’s recommendations to the next level.”

Discussing the final document itself, a juror stated, “By laying out the plan thematically, readers are well engaged and the implementation steps are logical and apparent. The plan uses design well to set out a hierarchy of recommendations. The plan should be considered a best practice for the profession moving forward.”


Balancing Broadway

Balancing Broadway is a comprehensive planning process focusing on the historic downtown district of Lorain, Ohio. The project was a partnership between the City of Lorain and capstone students, envisioning a vibrant downtown that balances the city’s rich history with its environmental assets.

The team collected and analyzed the city’s history and market data, culminating in a comprehensive current conditions report and market study. Building on this, an extensive public engagement process was undertaken, including tabling at the Lorain Public Library, a survey that gained 481 responses, and a series of interviews with key community leaders and officials. The jury commented that the robust community engagement process was impressive, especially for a project with a short four-month timeline.

For many of the 10-student team, this was their first real-world experience with a planning project. Since the plan’s conclusion, the City of Lorain has moved forward, implementing several of the recommended actions.   


Kareem Usher

Dr. Usher’s accolades are best exemplified in these excerpts from a letter written by Dr. Jennifer Clarke of the Knowlton School recognizing his outstanding record of extensive community outreach and engagement anchored in equity planning. “Though Kareem is a professor in the City and Regional Planning Section of the Knowlton School, he is also a planner embedded in Columbus’ communities, focusing on the nexus of food, the built environment, and social interactions.”

“This nomination is motivated by Dr. Usher’s well-established, impactful work here in Ohio with the underserved Linden neighborhood. Kareem leads efforts to develop a ‘food processing hub’ that would provide employment for previously incarcerated persons of color while supporting Ohio State University’s efforts to increase the amount of local and sustainable food served to its students.”

Dr. Usher leads the collaboration between OSU's Initiative for Food and AgriCultural Transformation (InFACT) and Building Responsibility, Equality and Dignity (B.R.E.A.D.) a nonprofit coalition of 40 diverse religious congregations in Franklin County. In working with community coalitions beyond the traditional public sector partners, Dr. Usher and his team establish a foundation for sustained and sustainable community outreach.

One juror noted: “Dr. Usher is a reflection of Norman Krumholz - An advocate for aiding minority populations who need it most.

Another commented: “Dr. Kareem Usher appears to be one of those rare individuals who is intrigued by complex societal problems and is fully capable of devising unique solutions to those problems. Dr. Usher's success reflects great intelligence, expansive thinking, and compassion for fellow human beings.”


Joyce Braverman

Ms. Braverman is the Director of Planning for the City of Shaker Heights, but that’s only part of the many reasons we are honoring her. Through her time at Shaker Joyce has united transit-oriented development, parks planning, grant writing, short- and long-term planning, zoning, design guidelines, transit infrastructure, and public participation to transform the city – constantly looking towards a sustainable future. This includes projects ranging from the massive VanAken District redevelopment to the grass roots community engagement efforts.

Following a Bachelor of Urban Planning from the University of Cincinnati and a Master of Public Administration from Cleveland State University Joyce joined the APA in 1980. Since that time, she has donated countless hours furthering the APA’s efforts in education, legislation, advocacy, empowering new planners, and ensuring we’ve all had fun together along the way! She was on the APA Ohio Board of Trustees from 1994 – 2022 – (28 years!) - serving as President of APA Ohio from 1998-2000. Joyce’s legacy in the Cleveland Chapter’s leadership has shaped the organization and region, and she continues to inspire us all through her insight, motivation, and friendship.

Previous Award Winners






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