RVi staff across the country have found it increasingly valuable to pursue public service roles in their communities, reaping rewards both professionally and personally from contributing to the policy-making process and serving the communities that they live and work in.
Serving in volunteer public service roles and citizen advisory boards offers numerous benefits including the fostering of civic engagement and participation in community growth and development.
We currently have 13 staff across RVi’s 10 office markets volunteering to serve on citizen advisory boards in their respective cities and counties.
RVi Scottsdale’s Vice President Doug Craig, PLA, currently serves on the City of Scottsdale’s Design Review Board, which helps maintain the quality of development through review of architectural design and layout of proposed development plans. Doug got a taste for public service initially through the Scottsdale Leadership program, which drew him to serve a term on the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.
“I enjoy seeing new projects come to the community, listening to the arguments for and against each, and the relationships created over the years,” Craig said. “I’ve become friends with council members, architects, land use attorneys, developers and more. Volunteering has helped make the city a smaller place, and provided me a different perspective on its growth.”
RVi Austin’s Director of Park Planning & Design Drew Carman, PLA, sits on the Board of Directors of local non-profit Austin Outside, which champions vibrant and thriving outdoor places for all in Greater Austin.
Drew also serves on the Projects Committee for local non-profit The Trail Conservancy, which is dedicated to protecting, enhancing and connecting the 10-mile Ann and Roy Butler Trail that wraps around Lady Bird Lake in downtown Austin.
“I’ve had a career-long focus on parks, trails and open space planning, so I very much enjoy bringing my experience to these organizations,” Carman said. “I read a quote one time that went something like ‘You make a living by what you get, but make a life by what you give.’ By using the expertise I’ve developed in my professional career to support non-profit work in the public realm, I’m threading together what I do for a living with things that are important to my life.”
RVi’s President, Chris Crawford, serves on the advisory board for the Masters of Property and Land Development at Texas A&M University, a degree program which approaches real estate from a holistic, interdisciplinary perspective that’s rooted in land development education.
RVi Denver’s Director of Planning, Will Wagenlander was recently appointed by Denver Mayor Mike Johnston to a six-month task force that will identify a new director of Community Planning and Development. They’ll also provide suggestions to the mayor on ways to improve the City’s permitting system and entitlement process.
RVi Denver’s Director of Landscape Architecture, Matt Small serves on The Valley at Winter Park Water District as an Elected Director to own, administer, and operate on a permanent basis the water augmentation plan and water distribution system installed for and provide water services to the residents of the Valley at Winter Park.
RVi’s Bonita Springs office has three staff serving on prominent local boards. Planning Project Director Jeremy Frantz, AICP, serves on Lee County’s Land Development Code Advisory Committee, which advises the Board of County Commissioners on changes to the land development code.
“That was a rare instance where something so arcane as the LDC has the potential to affect individual homeowner’s lives,” Frantz said. “It’s nice to be part of the process.”
Project Manager Josephine Medina, AICP, LEED Green Associate, serves on the Collier County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)’s Citizen Advisory Committee. She and peers make recommendations to the MPO on proposed long-range transportation plans, individual projects, priorities for state and federal funding, and other transportation issues.
“This is the county where I live and work, so it’s interesting to know what transportation changes are coming, and nice to be able to give my perspective to the committee of how land development may be impacted,” Medina said.
And Project Director for Landscape Architecture Sabrina McCabe, RLA, was recently appointed in June to the City of Naples’ Design Review Board, which reviews the architectural design of new buildings or additions proposed for properties that are zoned for commercial, multifamily, planned development and public service use.
RVi Sarasota’s Kurt Hackwelder, PLA, project manager for landscape architecture, was also appointed in June to the Sarasota/Manatee County MPO Citizen Advisory Committee, which advises on cooperative transportation planning between the two counties.
RVi’s Orlando office has four staff serving on public boards. Ryan Seacrist, PLA, ASLA, principal in Florida, sits on the City of Orlando’s Municipal Planning Board, the no. 2 review body for new development projects just below City Council.
“Serving as member of the Municipal Planning Board has afforded me the ability to take on a broader role in the development of my community,” Seacrist said. “Professionally, I certainly continue to experience hands-on involvement in the shaping of our built environment in Central Florida and beyond.
“But in my role as a citizen advisor, I’m placed in the direct pathway of community-impacting decisions. Through this volunteer role, I’m on a platform that leverages my voice and expertise in guiding a progressive and equitable future for my neighbors across Orlando.”
Project Director Robert Bias, PLA, serves on Orange County’s Development Advisory Board, which reviews the County’s land development regulations and recommends needed changes or revisions to the Board of County Commissioners.
Planning Project Manager Patrick Murray serves on his hometown City of Mount Dora’s Downtown CRA Advisory Committee, which reviews new investments for the CRA and makes recommendations to City Council.
And as Business Development Director for RVi in Orlando, I currently serve as president of the Orange Blossom Trail Development Board, a joint city-county board that promotes revitalization of the Orange Blossom Trail corridor that runs through Orlando directly west of downtown, and into unincorporated Orange County. The OBTDB oversees a multi-million-dollar annual budget for the 898-acre OBT CRA, a special district intended to provide rehabilitation and/or redevelopment of housing, commercial property and public infrastructure in the area.