For LGBTQ+ planners, designers and engineers their identity informs their work and worldview. With an evolving professional field and work place, LGBTQ+ individuals are able provide a different perspective that is necessary to assess existing systems and practices. This conversation will focus on three questions.
How do LGBTQ+ identities inform the planning and design practice?
What is the experience of LGBTQ+ identifying planners and designers?
Why is it necessary to include LGBTQ+ voices in the planning and design fields?
It is important that the voices of all practitioners, LGBTQ+ identifying and otherwise, are
Included in the planning, design and engineering fields. Only by querying planning and design can an inclusive and intersectional practice be established.
Danielle Skidmore is Professional Engineer; developing transportation and drainage design solutions for the TxDOT, cities, counties, and other public sector agencies throughout Texas. In 2018, after working 24 years as a design professional, most recently as a vice president in a 40-person engineering company, she took a pause from her engineering career to run for Austin City Council. As a special needs parent and transgender woman, Danielle has been a strong advocate for disability and LGBTQIA rights in Texas and nationally. In 2017, working with a broad coalition of equality and business groups, she helped to defeat the infamous “bathroom bill” in the Texas legislature.
In 2018, Danielle received the Rosa Parks Diversity Leadership Award from the Women’s Transportation Seminar. Her activism and campaign have been covered by Austin Monthly, Outsmart Magazine, Logo NewNextNow, CNBC, The Daily Beast, and The Young Turks Network. Danielle was an inaugural member of the City of Austin LGBTQ Quality of Life Advisory Commission. She is currently on the Board of Directors of Equality Texas. Danielle holds a BS in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Awais Azhar is a Community and Regional Planning Ph.D. student and Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Texas at Austin. Awais’s research focuses on strategies and policies that help achieve affordability goals at the local government level, with an emphasis on linking transit and affordable housing.
He has a Master of Science in Community and Regional Planning and a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin. Previously, Awais worked as Program Manager for the Austin Community Investment Collaborative at HousingWorks Austin, focusing on affordable housing policy and research. Currently, Awais serves on the board of Equality Texas, on the City of Austin LGBTQ Quality of Life Advisory Commission and the City of Austin Joint Inclusion Committee.
As the Leader of Asakura Robinson's Urban Ecology Studio, Katie works on planning and design projects focused on balancing scientific rigor with meaningful incorporation of community and equity considerations. Katie holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Ecology from the University of Florida and dual Master’s degrees from the University of Texas at Austin in Community and Regional Planning and Sustainable Design. In Katie’s free time she serves on the City of Austin Environmental Commission, City of Austin Joint Sustainability Committee, The Trail Foundation Ecological Restoration Committee, and on the Board of Directors for Equality Texas, the state’s largest LGBTQ lobbying and advocacy organization dedicated to ensuring equality for ALL Texans (#yallmeansall).