About Me

I'm a planning project manager with a penchant for breaking into song.

With nine years of private planning consulting experience, I've assisted cities, towns, villages, and counties across the Midwest to create visions and implementable strategies to ensure their plans get used.

I draw from my undergraduate degree in architecture to lend a design spin to my planning work. I care about how places look and feel as much as how they function for residents and visitors. I make plans clear, informative, and user-friendly, to be readable for a wide audience of officials, planners, and the public alike.

In this loud, social-media driven landscape, I have expertise in how to get the public involved and keep projects on message. I thrive at creating interactive processes to hear from a wide range of stakeholders. I listen, engage, and educate. I draw from my network of colleagues to tailor outreach opportunities to help gather information and tell the story to draw stakeholders into the planning process, in turn helping to inspire implementation.

I love history, art, placemaking, problem-solving, and leaving things better than I found them. I am inspired by Detroit and similar struggling cities in which I've worked including Saginaw, Flint, Pontiac, Kalamazoo, Lansing, and Battle Creek. I want to be part of the designing, planning generation that returns our communities to their vibrant, walkable, friendly selves.

When I manage projects, I seek to keep my team as efficient as possible. I make sure they are aware of their roles and deadlines and keep an open line of communication. I remind colleagues not to hesitate to interrupt me if they need me or have a question. Staying on track is always a goal of mine, when working independently or facilitating a group discussion, but in the office I enjoy the flexibility of bouncing ideas off my teammates. Nothing gets me more energized than gathering around a whiteboard strategizing or going out in the field to brainstorm and collaborate. I love my job most when I am mutually learning from my peers and teaching a skill or practice that I have developed - working together to find a solution.

My colleagues would describe me as enthusiastic, organized, and creative, and I like to think that those traits permeate every initiative I undertake.

That includes my "extracurricular" activity of community theatre. While I (mostly) refrain from singing or dancing at work, I spend evenings at the theatre (when I'm not at planning commission meetings), rehearsing or meeting to help run the non-profit. I've been involved at several theatres across Metro Detroit, but I make my "home" at Birmingham Village Players. I've chaired the Strategic Planning and Play Reading Committees and just finished my two years of service on the Board of Directors - this last year, leading the organization as President. My creativity, problem-solving, long-range thinking, conflict resolution, organization, and delegating skills were put to the test daily after work in my "volunteer job". I'm happy to commit my spare time to further the arts in our community and recharge each night as I stretch my brain (or tap dancing feet) in new ways.

I'm always looking for ways to lend a hand, and that includes helping my sisters: one is program director for the Internal Medicine Residency program at the University of Minnesota and the other teaches high school choir at my alma mater in Wisconsin. When they ask for a logo or design assistance, I jump at the chance to help them. I've SketchUp-modeled my parents' new Prairie Style house interior, designed logos for my brother-in-law, and crafted costumes long-distance. My personal to-do list seems endless some days with all my ideas to create, fix, and design for my house, my family, and the theatre. My multi-tasking at work extends to my personal life - staying busy and staying happy.

  • Energetic private planning consultant with 9 years of providing a range of community planning services to clients across Michigan and in several other states
  • Experienced project manager - coordinate multiple concurrent projects, organize subconsultants, clients, stakeholders, and the public for effective processes and consensus-building
  • Strong writing and graphic design skills combine for user-friendly, innovative, implementation-focused plans
  • Statewide expert trainer for redevelopment-ready plans and public involvement
  • Valuable and loyal team player who thrives on collaboration and creative problem-solving

My goals as a Planner

  • To create strong places
  • To build communities' capacities
  • To educate and empower the public
  • To develop new best practices
  • To train new planners
  • To be challenged and to challenge, to continually improve
  • To thoughtfully blend what worked best in the past with new possibilities for the future

Planning Experience

  • Senior Planner // LSL Planning (now SAFEbuilt) // Royal Oak, MI // since 2008
  • Planning Intern // City of Urbana, IL // 2007


  • University of Illinois // 2008 Master of Urban and Regional Planning
  • University of Michigan // 2006 Bachelor of Science in Architecture // Minor in Art History

Training // Certifications

  • American Institute of Certified Planners
  • National Charrette Institute
  • Form-Based Code Institute
  • ULI Larson Center for Leadership

Volunteer Work

  • Community Theatre (president, actor, costumer, committee chair)
  • Church Choir
  • Cat Rescue Group
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Rackham Symphony Choir
  • Church (Ghana sewing mission, worship committee, and administrative council secretary)
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© 2017 Kathleen Duffy