2021 APA Virginia Awards program

about the awards program

Every year, the American Planning Association’s Virginia Chapter honors and showcases the best in planning throughout the Commonwealth with its Awards Program, coinciding with our Annual Conference. The Awards Program recognizes the tireless work of individuals who bring great planning and places throughout Virginia. As a professional association, recognizing members and their high quality work is a core function of the Chapter. APA Virginia convenes a panel of peers each year for its Awards Committee representative of the profession’s depth and diversity to identify, acknowledge and promote great planning. Under this program, the Chapter strives to accomplish many objectives, including:

  • Helping Planners Plan, by highlighting best practices and inspiring our members;

  • Helping Virginia Plan, by promoting sound planning and decision-making in the Commonwealth;

  • Making Planning and Planners Matter, by promoting the value and enhancing the credibility of planners among elected and appointed officials, the public and related professions;

  • Meeting Membership Needs, by endorsing our members and their work;

  • Getting Planners Involved, by engaging volunteers to steer the awards committee and evaluate the work of their peers; and

  • Making Great Places Happen, by helping members and localities replicate and build on the success of others.


Please join us to honor our Award Winners On Thursday, October 21, 2021 

The Awards Ceremony can be attended in person at Hotel Roanoke or virtually.

Contact APA Virginia Staff for more information


awards categories

individual awards

The Individual Awards categories honor individuals who are great practitioners and advocates of planning in Virginia.

The Nelsonite Award

Virginia’s Planning Advocate of the Year

Named for Virginia’s State Rock, the advocate award represents the bedrock of good planning in the Commonwealth. The award recognizes an individual or organization that advocates for planning on a local, regional or statewide scale.

The Dogwood Award

Virginia’s Citizen Planners of the Year

This award honors an outstanding Planning Commission that serves as an example for all citizen planners, by being: dedicated, objective, open, moral, balanced, and knowledgeable of the framework of planning in Virginia.

The Cardinal Awards

Legislator of the Year

Named for the State bird, the Cardinal Awards recognize elected officials that can see the big picture and find solutions through the field of planning. Local and State legislators are eligible for these recognitions.

Planning Efforts

The Planning Efforts category recognizes planning documents, a program or initiatives that make great places happen in the Commonwealth.

Holzheimer Economic Development Award

In honor of Terry Holzheimer, the Chapter will recognize great planning efforts for improving Virginia’s Economic Development. Eligible nominations include: planning studies, initiatives, programs, or site development. The successful nominee will show how these efforts resulted in economic development results to the locality, region, or state.

Old Dominion Innovative Approaches Award

Virginia has many unique challenges, where innovative planning solutions are critical for making great places happen. The Innovative Approaches Award recognizes pioneering planning efforts in the Commonwealth. Nominees may include innovative planning processes, plans, programs, initiatives or site developments that have or will result in real results.

Resilient Virginia Community of the Year Award

This award recognizes a community’s effort and commitment to build resilience through responsible planning practice and innovation. Successful nominees will present real-world solutions for buffering their community from the adverse effects of critical changes related to, for example, inadequate infrastructure, climate change, natural disasters, food and water shortages, economic restructuring, or institutional/organizational capacity changes.

Commonwealth Connectors Award

Planners diligently work, sometimes over many years, to implement new ideas to solve the Commonwealth’s transportation challenges. From distribution centers to autonomous vehicles, each community is finding creative ways to meet the diversity of today’s modern-day transportation needs. This award highlights innovative and exceptional transportation-focused planning.

Commonwealth Plan of the Year Award

The Commonwealth Plan of the Year Award honors the best planning document of the year. A successful nominee will show that the effort included outstanding planning processes, vision, implementation strategies and innovative approaches. The planning document can be local, regional or a statewide effort.

Planning Efforts

The great places category recognizes great places, developments, and communities in Virginia.

The Jamestown Award

Locality of the Year

In honor of the first local government in Virginia, the Chapter will recognize a locality that has undertaking a sound and innovative planning practices, not in a single plan but through various efforts. This award recognizes a town, city or county that is dedicated to the principles of planning.

The Red Clay Award

Development of the Year

Virginia’s red clay is the Commonwealth’s traditional building material, making it an appropriate name for Virginia’s Development of the Year Award. This recognition honors a development that exhibits the values of great planning, helping to create a great place in Virginia. Eligible nominees include infill developments, building rehabilitation projects, brownfield redevelopments, downtown redevelopment, and other similar projects.

Open Submittals

The Awards Committee leaves room for flexibility in the awards program. If there is a great individual, effort or initiative that does not neatly fall within the defined award categories, then the Committee reserves the right to make special recognitions or awards.

2020 Award winners!

old dominion

innovative approaches

Public Schools Planning Workshops

Roanoke County

Received by

Cecile Newcomb

old dominion

innovative approaches

Manassas Community Conversations


Received by

Matthew Arcieri

red clay award

development of the year

Railroad Cottages

Falls Church

commonwealth connectors 

Virginia Breeze Intercity Bus Service


Received by

Jennifer DeBruh

resilient virginia community of the year

Sea Level Wise

Virginia Beach

Received by

Toni Utterback

commonwealth plan

of the year

Manassas 2040 Comprehensive Plan


Received by

Matthew Arcieri

dogwood award

virginia's citizen planners of the year

Olde Huntersville Plan Book


Received by

George Homewood

commonwealth plan

of the year

Denbigh-Warwick Area Plan

Newport News

Received by

Sheila Mcallister

Woo Kim

cardinal award

local legislator of the year

Chairman Billy W. Martin, Sr.

Botetourt County BOS

Received by

Nicole Pendleton

Chairman Bill Martin