Meet Our 2016 Mentors and Mentees!

Top Row (Left to Right): Mina Brown, Mentor; Kristin Blackson, Mentor; and Brianna Logasa, Mentee.

Bottom Row (Left to Right): Connery Cepeda, Mentor; Kathryn Certaino, Mentee; Mimi Morisaki, Mentee; and Secundino Arellano, Mentee.

The fifth annual call for applicants for the Young Planners Group (YPG) of the San Diego Section of the American Planning Association (SDAPA) Mentorship Program was launched on October 28, 2015. The Mentorship Program has been coordinated by SDAPA’s YPG since 2012, with a mission to foster professional growth and career development in a team setting through an exchange of professional expertise and innovative planning practice. With over 230 program participants to date, the number of those who have and will benefit from this program is expected to grow.

2016 APA Mentorship Program Partcipation

Unlike traditional one-on-one mentorship programs, the SDAPA YPG Mentorship Program establishes mentorship pods comprised of 3-4 members at differing levels of career development, ranging from student to seasoned planner. The goal of the program is to successfully match students and young planning professionals, also known as protégés, with experienced planners for guidance and support, while offering mentors an opportunity to strengthen ties with future leaders of the planning community and SDAPA.

At the start of the program, protégés complete a Professional Growth Plan that outlines their goals and objectives in specific areas of professional development. Throughout the program, mentorship pods engage in at least four Program Sessions, working collaboratively toward meeting the goals set forth in each protégés Professional Growth Plan. Program Sessions are intended to be formal 1-hour activities but can take a variety of different forms. Previous mentorship pods have engaged in resume review workshops, mock interviews, job shadows, case study presentations and site visits.

The YPG Mentorship and Education Committee also coordinates mentorship-oriented events, such as lunch hour site visits and informational panels, in order to facilitate mentorship session opportunities. The program year typically lasts about 6 months, from October through June, with a Milestone Celebration event in May. The event serves to recognize the efforts of all program participants and to celebrate not only increased knowledge and enhanced career development, but also new and long-lasting relationships between participants.

In the Fall of 2015, the SDAPA Young Planners’ Group (YPG) held its Kick-Off & Orientation for the fifth year of the Mentorship Program. It had a great turnout – this cycle of the program includes the largest group to participate thus far! Check out what some of our Mentors and Mentees had to say about why the decided to join the 2016 Program.

Mina Brown, Mentor

“I am Mina Brown, an Associate/Assistant Level Mentor, a role I’ve played in this program before. I enjoy benefitting from the mentorship of a senior level planner while I serve as a co-mentor to entry level professionals or students. This year I am hoping for advice on transitioning from the private sector to the public sector. I’m also looking forward to helping the students in our “pod” to find resources related to their interests, and to serve as a sounding board for their thoughts on grad school and careers. I would urge my fellow AICP members to think about how they are contributing to the development of students and younger colleagues. This program is a great opportunity to do that.”

Kristin Blackson, Mentor

“I am Kristin Blackson, Mentor. I am employed with Michael Baker International as the Environmental Services Manager. I wanted to be a part of the APA Mentoring Program for a few key reasons. First, I hope to provide a bit of guidance to up-and-coming professionals. Also, working with young professionals helps mentors understand what is important and of interest to the next generation of our work force.”

Brianna Logasa, Mentee

“I am Brianna Logasa. I decided to be a mentee because of all the connections it would provided me. As someone interested in a career in urban planning, it is very important for me to step out of my preconceived ideas of the field and gain a true understanding of urban planning from someone who lives it.”

Connery Cepeda, Mentor

“I am Connery Cepeda, a mentor in this years program, and have been a transportation and land planner for just over ten years, eight of those years with the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in San Diego and Oakland. Based on my experience as a mentee in the APA Northern California Section Mentorship Program, I joined the San Diego Section Mentorship Program simply to give back to the planning profession by providing support (however I can) to the protégés in achieving their goals, all while learning from the protégés themselves.”

Kathryn Cartaino, Mentee

“I am Ketheryn Cartaino and I am a mentee in the YPC Mentoring Program for the 2015-2016 year. I decided to participate in this program because I am looking to further professional networking/connections and to strengthen my resume/interviewing skills within the environmental planning field. YPG seemed like a great avenue to pursue these goals. I ‘m very excited and hopeful for the opportunities presented with this organization in the coming months.”

Mimi Morisaki, Mentee

“I am Mimi Morisaki and I’ve participated in past APA Mentor Programs and each Mentorship group I have been involved with has expanded my knowledge of planning. Now, as a graduate student in my last year, I feel that this year’s APA Mentorship group will help prepare me with the right tools for when I start applying for a full-time job.”

Secundino Arellano, Mentee

“I am Secundino Arellano, currently working at Fehr & Peers where my main role is within transportation engineering, though I have been exposed to a bit of transportation planning. I’ve realized that they both go hand-in-hand depending on the project. A co-worker informed me about the mentorship program and since I am still rather new to the field, I thought it’d be an excellent opportunity to meet people who are in the same line of work as me and have had a great deal of experience. As a mentee, I hope to build a solid relationship with my mentor, group, and other APA YPG members and learn about the different types of work and/or opportunities within the planning field.”

We would like to thank all the participants, especially our mentors, for volunteering in this fun and exciting program!