Every two years, the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) inducts a handful of individuals into its College of Fellows (FAICP), a tradition that began with the inaugural Class of 1999. These individuals are selected for their profound impact on the planning profession, demonstration of leadership and visionary spirit, as well as their commitment to mentoring future generations of planners. Induction into AICP’s College of Fellows is a distinguished honor, and this year’s class included local SDAPA member, Mr. Brian F. Mooney, Managing Principal and Practice Leader at RICK Engineering Company’s Community Planning and Sustainable Development Division.

As described by APA’s California Chapter President, Mr. Hing Wong, Mr. Mooney is “a visionary leader dedicated to being a student of the past, molder of our present, and leader of our future.” In 1975, he was recruited right out of San Diego State University, where he earned his Bachelors of Arts in Anthropology with a concentration in Urban Anthropology and Cultural Resource Management, to become an Environmental Planner for the County of San Diego. After five years of service, he left the County to serve as Principal at American Pacific Environmental Consultants, Inc. Here his work integrated environmental values into the design of development projects. Continuing this work, Mr. Mooney has led several firms bearing his name, including Mooney Lettieri and Associates (1981-1986), Mooney & Associates (1986-2004), Mooney Jones and Stokes (2004-2007), and the Mooney Planning Collaborative (2010-2015). In 2015, the Mooney Planning Collaborative merged with RICK Engineering Company, where Mr. Mooney presently manages the Community Planning, Landscape Architecture, Urban Design and Environmental Studies groups within his division. His experience is a legacy of leadership, one which continues after more than 40 years of service to the field.

Described by Mr. Mooney as a sort of familial heritage, his leadership is deeply rooted in his belief that, “if you want to make a difference you’ve got to participate.” Almost more importantly, he continues, “if you want to participate – if you have the ability – then participate at the highest levels; and that usually means you have to lead in some fashion.” Mr. Mooney’s commitment to participation at the highest levels is paramount to his success, and can be seen throughout his career. As a young professional, inspired by Ian McHarg’s Design with Nature, he led an effort to integrate the work of various environmentally focused “-ologists” (i.e. biologist, geologists, anthropologists), as he refers to them, and the more bureaucratically focused planners. Presently, Mr. Mooney is leading the development of RICK Academy, a learning platform that will institutionalize corporate knowledge and mentorship related to a wide range of topics, including: planning, engineering, urban design, history, and ethics.

Consistent with his commitment to leadership, Mr. Mooney continues to pledge his time and insight to encourage the next generation of planners. Teaching and mentorship is just one of the categories for which an AICP member can be nominated for the FAICP distinction, and the category for which Mr. Mooney received this honor. A cornerstone of his business practices, Mr. Mooney actively supports individuals who also aspire to participate at the highest levels, and understands the numerous benefits of mentorship for everyone involved. Mentoring is also where his commitment to diversity derives, “I recognized right away, ultimately, that I have certain strengths, but I also have certain weaknesses – so I need a team. People,” he explains, “who have diverse experiences that aren’t the same as mine…that is the key to success.”

In addition to the inspiration he gains from working with a great team, Mr. Mooney is also motivated by his personal commitment to the field of planning. “I have a passion,” as Mr. Mooney reveals, “I really believe and love what I do; and I think it makes a difference in the world. I am willing to put myself out there to do that.” It is this passion that fuels his desire to lead, mentor and teach. In a formal capacity, Mr. Mooney teaches as an adjunct professor for both the University of California, San Diego and the New School of Architecture and Design. Informally, he has hosted a “lunch and learn” for local student members of the SDAPA, and focused on community education as a key component of his many projects.

Furthermore, Mr. Mooney, in association with SDAPA, University of San Diego’s History Department, and San Diego Historical Society, created The Nolen Plan Documentary: Vision, Politics, and Memory in San Diego, a 30-minute documentary about one of San Diego’s original city planners, John Nolen. It is projects like this that represent another component of what makes Mr. Mooney unique, he understands that history plays an important role in shaping future development, in both understanding our mistakes and capitalizing on the successes.

Mr. Mooney joins the legacy of SDAPA members who have been inducted into the AICP College of Fellows. This year, Mr. Mooney was the only AICP member to become a Fellow from the San Diego region. Please join the SDAPA in congratulating Mr. Mooney for his many contributions to planning in the San Diego region and beyond, and for receiving this distinguished life-time honor. If you are interested in learning more about Mr. Brian F. Mooney, FAICP, or his current projects, visit www.rickengineering.com. Congratulations Brian!


By Lisa Maier, MCP, 619-577-8510, www.lisaamaier.com/portfolio (Lisa is a recent graduate from the SDSU City Planning Program)