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. 

The 2021 Call for Awards Nominations is now open! Click here to learn more > >


Awards News

2020 APA-IL Chapter Awards

The American Planning Association - Illinois Chapter (APA-IL) is proud to announce the 2020 APA-IL Project and Service Award Winners. These outstanding planning efforts from across the state exemplify the practice of urban planning and each stand as an example of ways our members are “Making Great Communities for All” in Illinois. Congratulations to all!

Thank you to the 2020 Awards Jury. It’s no small effort to read and review all the great project nominations we receive.

  • Nina Idemudia, AICP from Muse Community Design

  • Lesley Roth, AICP from Ratio

  • Cynthia Hoyle, FAICP from Hoyle Consulting

  • Mark Rinnan, AICP from Jacobs

  • Jaemi Jackson, AICP from the City of Highland Park

  • Mercy Davison, AICP from the Town of Normal

  • Steve Marciani, AICP from the Village of Skokie and Co-chair for the Awards Program. 

As the APA-IL has gone virtual with their events this year, the 2020 Awards Program is a little different. The Chapter decided to mix it up and give all of you a bit more of a peek behind the scenes. Join us via YouTube to learn a little about each plan in a brief recorded Q&A with each of our award winners, hosted by 2020 APA-IL Awards Chair, Tim Gustafson, AICP. Come with us as we explore the various zoom backgrounds, socially-distant conference rooms, and home offices used as we learned more from each of our award recipients.

2020 APA-IL Awards Program

debuted September 16, 2020 at 4:30 PM

watch via APA-IL's YouTube Channel

(CM | 2 available)


2020 APA-IL State Conference attendees can also hear from some of the award-winning plan teams during #APAIL2020 Speed Planning #2 session.


2020 APA-IL Project Awards


2020 Project Awards Details


Daniel Burnham Award for a Comprehensive Plan Award

Your Future Your Frankfort 2040 Comprehensive Plan

This year the APA-IL honors the Village of Frankfort for the “Your Future Your Frankfort 2040 Comprehensive Plan”. From the plan’s application narrative, “Frankfort is a community that is deeply committed to quality. From top‐notch parks and education to the design and construction of new homes and businesses, quality matters” a great deal to the Village and its residents."


Student Award

Village of Dolton Comprehensive Plan

The project submitted was created during the Plan Making Studio course at the University of Illinois at Chicago and showcases the team’s ability to develop a high quality comprehensive plan for the South Suburban community of Dolton, Illinois.


Opportunity and Empowerment Award - new for 2020!

Austin Forward. Together.

AFT not only established an unprecedented common agenda for Austin, it outlined concrete, community-prioritized actions to drive the improvement of Austin’s quality of life.

Healthy Active Community Award

Southeast Cook County Land Acquisition Plan: A Strategy for the Forest Preserves of Cook County

The Forest Preserves of Cook County commissioned this innovative and ground-breaking approach to strategic land acquisition planning as a new model for land acquisition.


Public Outreach Award

Bloomington and Normal Consolidated Plans

The joint effort between the City of Bloomington, Town of Normal, and McLean County Regional Plan Commission process created and implemented the most robust, multi-faceted, strategic community outreach effort in the area. Considerable thought was put into creating an outreach plan that would focus heavily on community engagement, especially with populations traditionally excluded from the planning process.


Strategic Plan Award

Urbana Park District Strategic Plan 2020

The Urbana Park District undertook this transformative strategic planning and community engagement process in-house to create the very best, and uniquely Urbana, strategic plan.


Best Practice

Matteson Streetscape Improvement Plan

The Village of Matteson developed a visionary idea to re-imagine the corridors as connectors and identity defining routes to celebrate the community’s history, commercial success, and promising future.

2020 APA-IL Service Awards

2020 Service Awards Details


Ms. Tonika Johnson

2020 APA-IL Planning Advocate Award

The APA-IL Planning Advocate Award honors an individual who’s specific or unique contributions help to advance or elevate planning as a profession. This year’s award goes to Ms. Tonika Johnson. Ms. Johnson’s work on the Folded Map ™ project has been very visible – not just in planning circles but in art, community organizing, and she’s even been interviewed by NPR.


Guided by the Folded Map™ project, the Folded Map Action Kit has just been released and helps to further the understanding of the disparities between Chicago neighborhoods, the structural reasons behind them, and ultimately to make new connections to an area you’ve never been to or only have a narrow understanding of.

Ms. Marcella Bondie Keenan

2020 Distinguished Service Award

APA Illinois’ Distinguished Service Award honors an individual whose legacy of service to the planning profession is celebrated. This year, APA Illinois honors Marcella Bondie Keenan for her dedication, passion, and still running track record of work in the planning realm. Marcella is a planner at the Center for Neighborhood Technology in Chicago. As a means of introduction, we share a few lines from the nomination for Marcella, which I think provides good insight into her nomination and award:


Leader. Activist. Change Agent. These are just some of the words and phrases one can use to describe Marcella Bondie Keenan. As a long-standing member of APA, a highly regarded volunteer for the Illinois chapter, and a respected planning expert - Marcella has helped to shape our profession and organization in invaluable ways.


Under her leadership, APA-IL's Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Committee made incredible strides in creating programming that directly addressed DEI issues through new and exciting events that the Chapter had not offered in the past.


During her tenure, she recruited many diverse volunteers to the chapter’s DEI and Executive committees, was a mentor and champion to its members, and a major contributor of DEI practices at the annual state conference.


She also was the driving force behind the “Equity in Planning” workshop grant that was awarded by the APA Chapter President’s Council in 2019. This grant will allow the chapter to continue building on the framework of DEI initiatives she began.

Jane Wilberding, AICP

2020 APA-IL Emerging Planner Award

Jane is described as an accomplished planner whose work in transportation is extensive and transforms conceptual solutions into functional policies and innovative designs. Jane was elected to serve on the Institute for Transportation Engineers (ITE) Parking Standing Committee and is a co-founder of the Parking Reform Network.

APA-IL Chapter Awards Archives