2023 URP Student Awards Celebration
April 20, 2023
The UF Department of Urban and Regional Planning (URP) is excited to announce the recipients of the annual department awards for 2022-2023. The awards recognize graduate planning students in the masters (campus-based and online) and doctoral programs for achievements overall and for specific planning topics. Several awards were created by, or in honor of, persons and organizations of special significance to the URP Department and the planning field. Awards come with monetary supplements to assist the students with their continued academic and professional endeavors.
On Thursday, April 13, URP Faculty, Staff, Students, and Alumni gathered at Cypress & Grove Brewing Company and via Zoom to celebrate. Congratulations to all the award recipients!
APA/AICP Outstanding Student Award
The APA Outstanding Student Award is presented by the American Planning Association to one student in each accredited planning program. This award recognizes a student who has performed well in class, demonstrates leadership, and shows promise of early achievement in the planning profession.
The recipient of the 2023 APA/AICP Outstanding Student Award is Sam Braverman.
Peter J. Kanavos, Sr. Memorial Award
The Peter J. Kanavos award is given in honor of Mr. Kanavos, who was the president of the Flag Development Company, and is funded by his family and friends. This award is usually presented to a student who is interested in real estate development but not limited to it.
The recipient of the 2023 Peter J. Kanavos, Sr. Memorial Award is Ian Wickstead. Congratulations, Ian!
Ulla Rydberg Memorial Award
The Ulla Rydberg award is given in honor of Ms. Rydberg who was a researcher in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the time of her death in 1991. It honors her commitment to gerontology and other forms of social planning by recognizing an outstanding student focusing on one of these fields.
The recipient of the 2023 Ulla Rydberg Award is Shangde Gao. Congratulations, Shangde!
Margaret E. Raynal Memorial Award
The Margaret E. Raynal award is given in honor of Margaret E. Raynal, who was the state trainer for the Florida Traffic and Bicycle Safety Education Program until her death in a bicycle crash in December 1996. This award is presented to students who specialize in environmental or transportation planning or health education.
The recipient of the 2023 Margaret E. Raynal Award is Maggie Heigl. Congratulations, Maggie!
Mario Ripol Memorial Award
The Mario Ripol Memorial Award is presented in memory of Mario Ripol, who was a research associate in GeoPlan when he was killed in an automobile crash in December 2000. This award is made possible by Mario’s family and friends and a major contribution from WRS Infrastructure & Environment Inc. This award is presented to an outstanding student who specializes in information technology for planning.
The recipient of the 2023 Mario Ripol Memorial Award is Simone Kenny. Congratulations, Simone!
Jim Beeler Public Service Memorial Award
The Jim Beeler Public Service Memorial Award is given in honor of James Nevin Beeler, Jr., who graduated from the URP program in Spring 2011, and passed away in Fall of 2012. Jim was active in local political and civic circles everywhere he lived. He was not afraid to get involved in public controversy and public service. Before becoming a URP student, he served on Tampa-Hillsborough County Planning Commission and worked on several campaigns for area politicians. This award is presented to students who engage in public service and make a difference in their communities.
The recipient of the 2023 Jim Beeler Public Service Memorial Award is Jeremy Griffith. Congratulations, Jeremy!
Paul and Malea Zwick Graduate Student Award
The Paul and Malea Zwick Graduate Student Award is a new award established by URP Professor Paul Zwick and his wife, Malea. The award recognizes a student who has best integrated innovative use of technology into their solution for urban and regional planning problems or research
The recipient of the 2023 Paul and Malea Zwick Graduate Student Award is Haiyan Hao. Congratulations, Haiyan!
Carl Feiss Urban and Environmental Design Award
The Carl Feiss Urban and Environmental Design Award was established by URP alumni and friends in honor of Carl Feiss, who was among the founding faculty of URP. He was trained as an architect and was instrumental in founding the planning professional nationally through his work on affordable housing, historic preservation and other regional planning priorities. This award is given to a URP student whose interests align with Urban and Environmental Design and who has demonstrated significant promise relative to future professional or academic success, based upon studio work, papers, or presentations in urban and environmental design.
The recipient of the 2023 Carl Feiss Urban and Environmental Design Award is Emilee Aguerrebere. Congratulations, Emilee!
2023 URP Alumnus of the Year
This year’s Distinguished Planning Alumnus of the Year is awarded to Ashon Nesbitt. Ashon graduated from the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program in 2005. In December, Ashon was named CEO of the Florida Housing Coalition, the state’s leading nonprofit provider of training and technical assistance dedicated to affordable housing. Ashon regularly contributes to our department through guest lectures and providing technical expertise to research and course curricula. Thank you, Ashon, and congratulations!
2023 Emerging Planning Alumnus of the Year award
Rachel Mandell & Jarrell Smith
The Emerging Planning Alumnus of the Year award is a new award this year. An emerging planner is defined as a planner that has been in the field for 5 years or less, or are more recent graduates of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning program. These planners are making a difference in the planning field, as well as the department, through their contributions and commitments.
This year, we have two award recipients! Our first award recipient is Rachel Mandell. Rachel is a 2020 graduate of our program. She is currently a Senior Planner with the UF Office of Planning, Design, and Construction. Rachel is a frequent guest lecturer, internship coordinator, and serves as a mentor in our MURP Mentorship program. Thank you, Rachel, for your dedication to URP!
Our second award recipient is Jarrell Smith. Jarrell is a 2017 graduate of our program. He is currently a transportation planner with VHB in Orlando. Jarrell is a member of the URP Advisory Board. He is also a member of the APA Florida Executive Board and the Secretary of the APA Florida Emerging Planners Group, where he has been involved with APA Florida’s efforts on DEI. He recently authored an article in Florida Planning called “An Emerging Planner’s Perspective on the Future of Planning in Florida.” Thank you, Jarrell and congratulations!
2023 URP Outstanding Teacher of the Year
The 2023 Outstanding Teacher of the Year recipient is Thomas Hawkins. Thomas serves as the program director of the online Master of Urban and Regional Planning program, where he instructs courses such as Land Use Planning Law, Planning Administration and Ethics, Development Review, and Growth Management Seminar. The Student Planning Association (SPA) recognized Thomas as the Outstanding Teacher of the Year, citing his dedication to the students of the Urban and Regional Planning Department. Congratulations and thank you, Thomas!