Design Thinking in Planning Interest Group

About / History

The American Planning Association's Design Thinking in Planning Interest Group birthed from an APA Learn Design Thinking Series in 2022 taught by Thomas Fisher (University of Minnesota) where we, as Planners, can explore integrating Design Thinking perspectives, principles, and practices in our planning efforts as a way to be relevant to the constant changes in our communities. COVID-19 was the context we spoke throughout the course. Participants from this course recognized this course content as essential towards advancing a more human-centered and equitable approach in the field of Planning.

Vision Statement:

To serve as the American Planning Association's premier hub related to the topic-intersection between Planning and Design Thinking promoting human-centeredness in the Planning discipline to improve community engagement practices, collaboration, and planning transparency that results in human-centered planning, policies, and investments.

Mission Statement:

The mission of the American Planning Association's Design Thinking In Planning Interest Group is to advance design thinking by expanding awareness, advocacy, and education across the Planning industry and in related disciplines through communications, education and training, guest speakers, events, the design of innovative and best practices, and partnership development.

Join the Interest Group


Leadership Team

The APA Design Thinking In Planning Interest Group Leadership Team serves as the acting Overseer to the Working Groups and their respective Focus Areas, providing overall support, where necessary, to the Working Group Contact Leads and Contributors.

The Focus Areas include the following:

  • Advocacy;
  • Awareness;
  • Education & Training;
  • Event Planning;
  • External Communications;
  • Innovative & Best Practices Development;
  • Partnership Development; and
  • Publications & Research

LeadershiP / Co-Founders:

Eric R. Howell, NCI, brings over a decade of combined academia, government, and nonprofit sector experience focused in public policy and administration, community planning and development, transportation policy and planning, and grassroots advocacy focused in participatory budgeting. His vocation has evolved into a more public entrepreneurial spirit by delivering public service in a manner that results in community empowerment.

He is a graduate of American Sentinel University with an Associate of Science degree in Geographic Information Systems, Bachelor of Science degree in Urban Studies and Urban Policy & Planning from Tennessee State University's College of Public Service, an alumna of Michigan State University's School of Planning, Design and Construction's National Charrette Institute Program with a focus in the Charrette System™ Certificate and Charrette Management and Facilitation™ Certificate, spent two years at the University of Minnesota Masters of Professional Studies program studying Civic Engagement and Design Thinking in a Community Comprehensive Planning context, and is currently pursuing a Master's Degree of Public Administration in Urban Planning from Liberty University's Helms School of Government.

He has been an active member of the American Planning Association for over 10 years and has served in various leadership capacities within committees, chapter's, and divisions, and working groups. His most recent endeavor within APA is developing an APA Design Thinking In Planning Interest Group.

You can follow him on LinkedIn

Krysti J. Barksdale-Noble, AICP, Community Development Director with the United City of Yorkville since May 2010 with nearly 25 years of progressive responsibility within the non-profit, public, and private sectors of urban planning. Bachelor of Science degree in Urban Planning and Regional Development from the University of Southern California (USC) and courses in the Master of Public Policy and Administration program at Northwestern University. Previous positions held include: Coordinator of Real Estate Development for the Beverly Area Planning Association in Chicago, Illinois; Planner for the Village of Lincolnshire, Illinois (Lake County); and Vice President of Planning and Litigation Services for Allen L. Kracower and Associates. Mrs. Noble has testified as an expert witness for land use litigation, served as a contributor to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMA.P) publication of Formed-Based Codes: A Step-by-Step Guide for Communities, and as a guest panelist for various planning and development related seminars. Krysti is a member of the American Planning Association organization and has been a certified planner since 2007.

Working Group Contact Lead Contact Information:

Advocacy | Actively recruiting a Contact Lead for this Working Group

Awareness | Eric R. Howell, NCI

Education & Training | Marina Smart | Eric R. Howell, NCI (Co-Working Group Leaders)

Event Planning | Actively recruiting a Contact Lead for this Working Group

External Communications | Krysti J. Barksdale-Noble, AICP

Innovative & Best Practices Development | Alex Medina, AICP

Partnership Development | Actively recruiting a Contact Lead for this Working Group

Publications & Research | Jaydevsinh Atodaria (JD) | Eric R. Howell, NCI (Co-Working Group Leaders)

Learn about our Leadership Team and Working Groups and get involved.


APA Design Thinking Series

Design Thinking— a PAS Quicknotes by Thomas Fisher

How to Use Design Thinking in Transportation Planning — an APA Learn Course

Design Thinking: New Approach to Solving Planning Challenges

American Planning Association Research KnowledgeBase

Contact Us

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