The MPCA Recognizes the Great Work of Maryland’s Citizen Planners 

MPCA Corner 

At its 38th Annual Conference, hosted October 25 – 27, the Maryland Planning Commissioners Association (MPCA) was honored to recognize the impact of the following citizen planners. Please join the MPCA in celebrating engaged citizens and board members that contribute so much to Maryland’s communities.

Kimberley M. Knox, Greening Coordinator for the Baltimore City Department of Planning, heeded the MPCA’s call for citizen planner recognitions with great interest and submitted two nominations:   

Fig 1 – MPCA Recognizes and Celebrates Citizen Planners at its 38th Annual conference.
  • Jules Dunham-Howie, Director, Upton Westside Community Development Corporation, for her leadership on the Historic Upton Neighborhood 2026 Master Plan. Ms. Knox described Director Dunham-Howie’s work as “instrumental in providing support for the successful launch of the redevelopment of 38 historic rowhomes on the 800 block of Edmondson and the 800 block of Harlem Street in the Upton Neighborhoods with the developer, Upton Renaissance LLC.” The project is called the Upton Gateway and sales started in 2021. Fifteen homes have already been sold. The submission went on to note that “Ms. Dunham-Howie worked to ensure that potential homeowners could get $80,000 in incentives to help reduce the cost of the homes and provide instant intergenerational wealth for the homebuyers.” Baltimore City approved the Master Plan in 2018.  
  • Cynthia Gross, President of the C.A.R.E Community Association, for her dedicated work on  Baltimore City Bill 21-0023, Amendment to the Middle East Urban Renewal Plan, which Mayor Brandon Scott signed into law in July 2021. The original 1988 Urban Renewal Plan (URP) includes neighborhoods surrounding the Johns Hopkins University in East Baltimore. Ms. Knox’s submission explained that “the C.A.R.E. community, under the leadership of President Cynthia Gross, felt that the URP limited direct engagement of the C.A.R.E. residents. Over a four-year period of meetings, the C.A.R.E. community created a strategy to provide a greater say in how their neighborhood was developed.” The URP came up for renewal in 2021, and under President Gross’s leadership, the C.A.R.E. Community Association successfully advocated to remove the association from the URP. The submission went on to note that President Gross is an “alum of the Baltimore Planning Academy for community residents.” As part of the Academy, “Ms. Gross gained insight into resident planning strategies and leveraged her community network to educate community members on the pros and cons of removing their community from the URP to enhance the community’s voice in the future of development.” 

Katheleen Freeman, AICP, Director of Caroline County Planning & Codes nominated:

  • John C. Schmidt for MPCA recognition because of his decades of service to the county, which started in 1992! This includes serving as the Planning Commission Chairman from 2001 to the present. Chairman Schmidt is a lifelong Caroline County resident and farmer. Director Freeman’s submission highlighted Mr. Schmidt’s leadership in comprehensive plan updates in 2003, 2006, and 2010 and the county’s 2012 county-wide comprehensive rezoning, which was the first since 1982. Chairman Schmidt also coordinated and led public outreach and planning workshops for the comprehensive rezoning effort and guided economic development initiatives supporting small, rural, and home-based businesses. He led the development of Rural Village Center and Village Neighborhood zoning districts to support neighborhood revitalization and coordinated interjurisdictional collaboration on septic tier, growth area, and sewer service planning. In her submission, Director Freeman expressed what a lot of county residents think when she stated that “we are grateful to John for his many years of valuable service to Caroline County.” 

North Beach Mayor Michael Benton nominated:

  • The North Beach Stormwater and Flood Mitigation Advisory CommitteeThe important work of the Committee is best described in Mayor Benton’s submission, which states “North Beach is undergoing a renaissance as a waterfront resort.  With the renaissance, however, comes headwinds.  We’re up against what every coastal town now faces—climate change, flooding, and the impact of both on living conditions.  As the town plans for the future, it’s critical to understand and address those risks.  The volunteer members of our Stormwater and Flood Mitigation Action Committee are leading this effort for the town.  They are currently working to implement both short- and long-term projects to deal with the flooding and protect our infrastructure, our residences, and our businesses.”

The members of the Committee are:  

  • Lauren V. Kabler, Council Liaison 
  • Jay Loveless, Committee Member 
  • Gary Koopman, Committee Member 
  • Donald (Donnie) Bowen, Committee Chair 
  • Sarah Lipkin Sularz, Maryland Department of Planning Representative (Non-Appointed) 
  • Elena VanOudenaren, Committee Member 
  • Dave Damalouji, Committee Secretary 
  • Luke Johnson, Committee Member 
  • Carola Wilson, Committee Member 

The MPCA hosted the recognition ceremony on day three of the conference and is awed by the commitment of those nominated this year. One of the MPCA’s most significant responsibilities is supporting the work of dedicated individuals like those described above, and the organization cannot wait to do it again next year. 

If you know a citizen planner or board member deserving of recognition, please contact Joe Griffiths, Local Assistance and Training Manager for the Maryland Department of Planning, at  

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