Each year, the Illinois Chapter recognizes the best in planning across Illinois with our annual awards program. These plans exemplify the tremendous planning efforts across the State of Illinois. 

2020 APA-IL Chapter Awards

Thanks to everyone that nominated an outstanding plan and person!

Award winners we be announced this fall and honored at our 2020 virtual State Conference. Stay tuned!


Awards News


2019 APA-IL Chapter Awards

We are proud to announce the 2019 APA-IL Award Winners! These outstanding planning plans and people from across Illinois exemplify the practice of urban planning and each stand as an example of ways our members are “Making Great Communities Happen”. Service Award Winners will be announced during the 2019 State Conference. Congratulations to all!

Thank you to the 2019 Awards Jury. It’s no small effort to read and review all the great project nominations we receive.

  • Lacey Rains Lowe, AICP, City of Champaign

  • Emily Egan, AICP, City of Elmhurst

  • John Paige, FAICP, Urban Planning Services

  • Justin Keller, Metropolitan Planning Council

  • Malika Hainer, AICP, City of Chicago, Department of Aviation

  • Chris Wallace, AICP, City of Carbondale

  • Kim Porter, AICP, Village of Woodridge

  • Romina Castillo, Muse Community + Design


2019 Project Awards

Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan

ON TO 2050’s innovative approaches make regional data accessible and distill years of research and outreach into meaningful regional priorities. Plan principles of Inclusive Growth, Resilience, and Prioritized Investment will be translated by the region’s municipalities and counties to inform their own slate of planning, infrastructure, and economic development projects in the coming decade. Click here to view a video about the plan!

Strategic Plan Award

Designed to be 17-acre floating eco-park, the Wild Mile will transform the formerly industrialized Goose Island Branch of the Chicago River into an open space that serves people, wildlife, and the environment. The project is a guide not only for the Chicago River, but also for any community looking to remediate urban waterways.

Strategic Plan Award

A strengthening real estate market meant that residents of Chicago’s North River neighborhoods were feeling housing pressures they feared would threaten the area’s cherished diverse character. This neighborhood plan focuses on preserving housing affordability with strategies developed by ULI Chicago, improving transit access, and mitigating flooding.

Implementation Award

Evanston rallied around an idea to reclaim, expand, improve, and program their underutilized Fountain Square, a historic gathering space in the heart of downtown. Since opening in May, the redeveloped plaza, which includes a new, interactive fountain and other placemaking features, has become THE place to be downtown.

Best Practice

This multi-jurisdictional approach a river corridor plan provides a consistent framework for planning decisions along a dedicated length of the Fox River in McHenry County. It utilizes a Climate Vulnerability & Risk Assessment which explores climate-related hazards affecting the ecosystem, infrastructure, and communities in the Fox River corridor.

Community Outreach Award

The North Lawndale Quality-of-Life Plan’s participatory planning process empowered residents as citizen-experts. This approach revealed a strong desire to focus on topics beyond those associated with a traditional neighborhood plan, including public safety, education, and health.

Healthy Active Community Award

BikeConnect HOI: Heart of Illinois Regional Bike Plan integrates the many bicycle transportation improvements that were popping up across Greater Peoria, which had largely occurred in the absence of formal regional coordination on the issue. Importantly, it also identifies a proposed network improvements and missing connections.

Student Award

Students in UIUC’s Small Town & Rural Planning course learned about the opportunities and challenges of planning for small towns and rural communities with their immersive project for the redevelopment of an entire block in Downtown Viola.

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2019 Service Awards

Our 2019 Service Award winners were announced at the 2019 APA-IL State Conference during our Awards Program on September 25, 2019. Our Service Awards are nominated by the general membership and selected by the voting members of our APA-IL Executive CommitteeAfter the Awards Program, guests and attendees mingled with award winners and exhibitors at a Meet and Greet. 

Mark Koplin, AICP

Distinguished Service

The Distinguished Service Award honors an APA-IL Chapter member who has made a
substantial contribution to the development and objectives of APA Illinois.

Mark is an urban planner who also practices economic development, arena management, and,
unofficially, law in his role as Assistant Village Manager- Development Services, for the Village
of Hoffman Estates.

During his career, Mark oversaw an enormous amount of growth and change within the Village.
He was hired by Hoffman Estates in 1989 as the Economic Development Area Coordinator for
the 800-acre Prairie Stone business development. This included project’s first phase- the
relocation of Sears, Roebuck, and Co. from downtown Chicago to their 2 million square foot
complex in Hoffman Estates. Mark oversaw development of 5 million square feet in Prairie
Stone alone, including the construction of the Sears Centre Arena in 2006. He now acts as the
Village’s representative to the arena’s management, so he knows more about arenas then any
planner probably should!

In 2006, he was promoted to the Director of Development Services where he oversees
economic development, planning, transportation, engineering, and code enforcement. His most
recent work has been focused on the redevelopment of the former AT&T campus into Bell
Works, a Metroburb concept that seeks to mix the urban amenities of office, retail, service,
dining, fitness, hospitality, multi-family residential, and open space in a great suburban
location. He was instrumental in courting the developer to the site and negotiating the deal.


Mark has also been involved in our Chapter leadership throughout his career. He served as both
APA-CMS and APA-IL Treasurer, and in 2005 and 2006 he served as APA-IL Chapter President. In
his tenure as President, Mark was forward thinking to realize that if the Chapter was going to
grow and flourish, it would need more formal administrative support, and he brought on both
John Paige and Paula Freeze as paid staff. We all have a lot for which to thank him.

Karen Kreis

Planning Advocate

The Planning Advocate Award honors an individual or organization that has advanced or
promoted the cause of planning in the public arena as a Planning Advocate.

Karen is a Trustee for the Village of Midlothian where she has served her community for over
20 years. Thanks to the immense efforts of Floodlothian Midlothian, a citizens group founded to
raise awareness of flooding, Karen has since led the Village’s efforts to tackle its issues head on.
Karen was instrumental in the development and adoption of RainReady Midlothian. She was
also the driving force behind the Village’s successful applications to CMAP’s Local Technical
Assistance Program for a complete, green streets plan for 147th Street, which was adopted in
2017, and a stormwater management capital plan adopted in 2019.

Midlothian is a small community of less than 15,000 residents and, as such, elected officials,
Village staff, and volunteers often have their hand in many different projects. Karen sincerely
respects the time that everyone dedicates and always gives credit to the immense support from
resident leaders alongside her.

Karen constantly advocates for Midlothian to connect the community to resources. She has
built an extensive network of partnerships with other communities, government entities, non-
profits, and professionals in the field of planning to promote flood relief, sustainability, and
non-motorized transportation. This often means dedicating considerable free time for
meetings, trainings, and speaking engagements.

She is an active member of the Calumet Stormwater Collaborative, one of few representatives
from a Calumet community. Her participation in the Collaborative not only gives Midlothian a
seat at the table to coordinate actions around flood mitigation, but she also provides valuable
insights into local needs, priorities, and challenges to implementation. She recently helped
bring Midlothian into the national spotlight where it was featured as a Chicago case study in
Framing the Challenge of Urban Flooding in the United States, a report released in 2019 by the
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, & Medicine.

Through many changes in leadership at the Village and obstacles to overcome, Karen remains
committed to improve the quality of life of Midlothian residents and to ensure a sustainable
and livable community for future generations.

Vitaliy Vladimirov

Emerging Planner

The Emerging Planner Award honors an APA-IL Chapter member between the ages of 18 and 35
who has made exceptional contributions to the planning profession and is recognized by their
peers as an emerging leader.

Urban planning is a vehicle for Vitaliy’s great passion: getting people interested in the world
around them and how to build more inclusive communities. Vitaliy’s work is characterized by
innovative and creative public engagement, expanding the traditional outreach toolbox in his
work to include ‘zines, pop-up events, walking tours, and inventive uses of social media. His
approach is grassroots– he strives to reach people where they are and to engage them in
conversations about their communities and the intersection of history and planning.

Vitaliy has demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to the planning field particularly through
his voluntary initiatives. He created a pop-up museum to document and celebrate the
multicultural history and character of the Argyle Street neighborhood in Chicago. In partnership
with the APA-IL Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee, among other partner organizations,
he created and led walking tours of Chicago’s neighborhoods as the local liaison for the national
Jane’s Walk movement, which honors of Jane Jacobs. This year alone he organized tours for six
neighborhoods. These walking tours incorporate planning issues such as gentrification and
displacement, and he amplifies voices not often heard, including those of the immigrant and
LGBTQ communities.

Vitaliy has created ‘zines on topics like parking, displacement, and redlining which help make
these complex topics more accessible to the general public. Other recent projects include
creating a card game on gentrification, a workshop on Mobility Equity for the Obama
Foundation, and a pop-up museum gathering oral histories in Uptown.

He will also speak about urban planning to anyone who listens. This has included 3rd and 5th
graders, college students, and recently WGN radio's Rick Kogan. Currently, he's planning yet
more walks as part of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, and developing an anti-segregation
Action Kit. As Community Designer at Muse Community + Design, he works to bring ideals of
equity and justice to all Muse does– and to have fun while doing so!

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APA-IL Chapter Awards Archives


The American Planning Association - Illinois Chapter (APA-IL) is the premier authority on urban planning issues and professional development for Illinois' urban planners.


The APA-IL is the official membership association for practicing planners in the State of Illinois.  We strive to inform, educate, and connect our members to resources and tools that advance the practice of planning throughout the state.  We pride ourselves on "Creating Great Communities for All" in Illinois.  




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