Healthy Regions Planning Exchange

RPA has been working with a group of planners, public health officials, and community advocates from 11 regions across the country to exchange methods and ideas which promote health equity in regional planning work. 

From New Orleans, Louisiana to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, Planning Exchange participants represent a diverse group of organizations that approach planning from different perspectives. These groups include long-standing municipal planning associations, advocates, and grassroots community organizers and a few government officials committed to creating healthier regions.

The Healthy Regions Planning Exchange is part of a broader effort at RPA to do more to promote social and racial equity within our organization and in the policies and projects we promote across the region. It is made possible through generous funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies. 


Pine Ridge Reservation, SD: Thunder Valley CDC


In April 2019, RPA hosted the group in our offices in Manhattan for the Opening Symposium of the Exchange, three days of discussions that centered around how meaningful community partnerships inform better planning and how race and racism shape planning, often to the detriment of communities of color. The second symposium takes place March 4-6, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Webinar Series

The Planning Exchange facilitated a series of webinars to follow up on discussions from the initial April 2019 conference. RPA staff summarized the webinars in our blog, RPA Lab. 

Oakland Offers Example of Transit Equity in Action 

The Oakland Department of Transportation is challenging the status quo in transportation planning, engaging the community, and incorporating equity into all aspects of their work. OakDOT Director Ryan Russo describes this work.

Tamika Butler Calls for “Ethics, Equity and Empathy” in Transportation Planning

Tamika Butler, Director of Equity and Inclusion and Director of Planning, California at Toole Design, emphasizes that inequitable transportation systems are reflective of the broader lack of equity in planning and in the United States as a whole. Creating equitable transportation, then, is about more than transportation: it’s also about uprooting systems of institutional oppression.

Addressing Racial Inequality in Planning

Since it began, regional and urban planning has perpetuated racial inequality. Dr. Mindy Fullilove, professor of urban policy and health at The New School, and Molly Rose Kaufman, Provost and Program Director for the University of Orange, to present their work on this subject

Development Without Displacement in the Twin Cities & Beyond

Planning Exchange participants Asad Aliweyd and Tia Williams from the Twin Cities region and RPA's Moses Gates highlight how speculative development by bad actors acutely hurts communities of color and immigrants, and how locally-driven planning efforts can better position communities to respond to displacement.


RPA program leads for the Healthy Regions Planning Exchange include Vanessa Barrios, Senior Associate for State Programs and Advocacy, Carlos Mandeville, Research Analyst, and Kate Slevin, Senior Vice President, State Programs and Advocacy.