A Legacy of Excellence and Distinction; Meet New Mexico’s Newest Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners

My Post (10).jpg

by John M. Valdez, AICP, and Brad Stebleton

When the new Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners gathered for their induction ceremony at the APA National Conference in New Orleans, New Mexico, the Western Planner was well represented. For anyone who knows Dan Pava, FAICP, and/or Jim Strozier, FAICP, it is no surprise that both have achieved this distinguished milestone representing a feather in the cap of their long and illustrious planning careers. Becoming a fellow requires a comprehensive nomination package containing resumes, lists of major accomplishments, and perhaps most importantly, letters of recommendation from those intimately familiar with a nominees’ work, all of which a panel of peers closely scrutinize. While many planners are nominated each year, only a select few are able to call themselves Fellows at the end of this grueling process.

Dan Pava, FAICP

Dan Pava, FAICP

Both Dan and Jim are pillars in the community of planners in New Mexico and the west, each making significant contributions to jurisdictions throughout the region. These contributions demonstrate why these two men are more than deserving.  While their careers have followed slightly different trajectories, they both share common values that shape who they are as planners and prove why they belong among this group of elite planners.

Ten Gallon Hat Planners

As planners, we know we often wear different hats. It’s fitting that a ten-gallon hat is often associated with the West since anything smaller would not be able to fit the many diverse roles Dan and Jim have fulfilled during the course of their planning careers. Dan has held virtually every type of planning position imaginable, working in current, long-range, and facility planning. Whether working the counter as a City of Albuquerque staff planner or helping to write the comprehensive plan for Rio Rancho, New Mexico’s fastest growing city, Dan has very nearly done it all. Among other things, he’s plied his trade at two of our national laboratories overhauling a complex development code, creating policies for affordable housing, and managing campus site plan preparation.

Jim Strozier, FAICP

Jim Strozier, FAICP

Like Dan, Jim’s experience planning experience is as vast as the western landscapes in which he has worked. Like many great planners before him, Jim’s career began with an internship, in his case with the City of Salt Lake City, in which he documented housing conditions. After completing his planning degree at the University of Utah, Jim headed to points south where he gained experience as a graduate intern for the City of Phoenix’s “urban village” initiative while earning a Master’s Degree in Environmental Planning from Arizona State University. He diversified his planning repertoire when he switched to the private sector managing large scale master plan projects in Arizona and New Mexico. Out of this experience, came Jim’s crowning achievement, the birth of one of the Southwest’s leading planning, design, and landscape architecture firms – Consensus Planning, located in Albuquerque.

Collaboration and Leadership

We get into planning because we have ideas of ways to improve our communities. This often involves a significant degree of risk-taking and courage to lead the way. In looking at their communities, Dan and Jim have not been afraid of challenges, as both have suggested and implemented improvements to process and design while recognizing that collaboration between stakeholders is necessary for successful planning initiatives. Peers call Dan a “Collaboration Catalyst” because of his approach to planning, something that has been a cornerstone in his career of 35 years. His emphasis on participatory planning has earned him a great deal of respect from others, allowing him to demonstrate the leadership expected of all successful fellows. For example, during his tenure as a City of Santa Fe Planning Commissioner, he won the respect of fellow commissioners, city staff, two mayors, and the general public for his desire to seek collaboration on all development proposals, some of which were not popular.

Similarly, Jim has also utilized FAICP worthy leadership skills to build consensus. Jim recognized early in his planning career that navigating a sea of divergent opinion is vital. He now ensures that all the planners who work for him are highly skilled in the art of public participation. His own people and leadership skills have also served him well over the years.  This ability to relate well to others and to use humor to diffuse conflict helped to calm a group of concerned citizens who were opposed to a county comprehensive plan in rural Colorado. The meeting ended with laughter, handshakes, and understanding. 

Spirit of Innovation

The college’s review committee emphasized innovation as part of a successful nominees’ planning work, something both our new fellows easily met. Upon arriving in Albuquerque, Jim immediately noticed that planning and urban design did not play a significant role in the development entitlement process. After establishing the firm, Jim set out to ensure that Consensus Planning master plans would feature innovative design techniques and quality of life amenities. He also used his leadership skills to convince property owners, developers, and city officials that good design is a win-win for everyone involved.  Jim has also been instrumental in making community dialogue part of the development review process in Albuquerque. In fact, the City of Albuquerque has now implemented a process similar to that used by Jim in his practice.
For Dan, his focus on collaborative planning helped him bring about innovation in his role as chair of the Trails Working Group in Los Alamos, which addresses public trail access on lands crossing different jurisdictions. This innovative program is not easy to manage, particularly since it involves the ultra-high security Los Alamos National Laboratory. His work as a federal planner at the labs has also involved site planning for the installation, involving innovative techniques to involve program managers in planning the 40 square mile site. In 2000, the APA’s Federal Planning Division recognized Dan’s efforts in program excellence.

Planning is About People

Throughout their careers, neither of our two Fellows have lost sight of the fact that planning is about people, using their expertise and talents to give back to the community. Dan used his collaborative skills in building support for the Los Alamos National Lab Employee Giving Campaign, part of which involved raising $50,000 for the United Way by selling t-shirts with crazy slogans. He also hosted a delegation from China’s Shandong Province when they visited Santa Fe, introducing them to the New Mexico staple of chile peppers, both red and green. 
Jim often exhibits the same tireless zeal on pro-bono work as he has on his firm’s biggest and most lucrative projects. He is a founding Member of STEPS, an organization helping local small businesses in economically challenged southeast Albuquerque gain access to coaching, advice, and networking. As president of this organization, Jim has been instrumental in helping to create a vibrant food truck community in Albuquerque as well as contributing to the city’s growing craft beer industry.

As new fellows, both of our new FAICPs know their new designation brings with it even more responsibility in giving back to their profession and communities. Becoming FAICP stipulates that all fellows continue to work in the development of their colleagues. You will be sure to see Dan and Jim involved in future Western Planner and APA conferences, mentoring the planning stars of tomorrow, and working on other professional development projects.

Sons of the West


This article would be remiss if it did not highlight the significant contributions Dan and Jim have made to professional planning organizations. Both men have been heavily involved with both the Western Planner and their state APA chapters throughout their careers. In the early 90s, Jim played a key role in getting New Mexico’s APA chapter to affiliate with Western Planning Resources (WPR), hosting the national leadership, four corners, and western planning conference in Santa Fe, and he continuously supports the Western Planner through conference sponsorships, making presentations, and assisting the organization in other ways. Dan is currently President-Elect of the WPR Board and will assume the Presidency (for the second time) in 2019. He chaired the Host Committee for the 2011 Western Planner Conference in Santa Fe, which involved close coordination with WPR and other state chapters. That conference is still the largest planning event ever held in New Mexico.  Both men have been presidents of the New Mexico Chapter APA and have held other leadership positions on the chapter’s Board.

Legends of the West: Hiking, Fly Fishing, and Pechanga

Although Dan and Jim both live and breathe planning, they do recognize that planners need to be well-rounded individuals. They are colleagues and good friends with shared experiences, in and out of the planning commission chambers, and they also share a voracious love of the outdoors. You can often find Dan on one of New Mexico’s famous hiking trails.  Jim, one of the state’s most renowned catch and release fishermen, once instructed a Consensus Planning junior planner to market the firm’s services to communities along fly fishing streams.

A fellow New Mexico planner who knows Jim and Dan well remarked that you could write a book on the career of each of these planning giants. New Mexico, and indeed the west, are thrilled that the College of Fellows recognized something we already know. The planning community and our New Mexico communities are better because of Jim Strozier, FAICP, and Dan Pava, FAICP. There hasn’t been a challenge so great that Dan and Jim have not been able to overcome it during their planning careers. That is unless you count an extreme bout of food poisoning at a planning conference reception oddly called the “Pechanga” in the NM Borderplex. Perhaps that is a story best told at their induction ceremony.


James K. Strozier, FACIP, (Jim) is Principal and Co-founder of Consensus Planning, Inc. a Planning, Design, and Landscape Architecture Firm in Albuquerque, New Mexico working on projects throughout the State and Western US. He lives in Albuquerque with his wife. They have two children.

Daniel S. Pava, FAICP, (Dan) has a distinguished 35-year career in collaborative federal and local planning. He is a facility planner and technical staff member at the Los Alamos Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Los Alamos. He lives in Santa Fe.

John Valdez, AICP is a planner with the New Mexico Public School Facilities Authority. He currently serves as Secretary for the American Planning Association- New Mexico Chapter and is a member of the Western Planner Editorial Board.
Brad Stebleton is a Senior Planner at Sandoval County, New Mexico and a Certified Floodplain Manager (CFM).   He currently serves as the Secretary of the Western Planning Resources Board of Directors and is the Chair of the Western Planner Editorial Board.

Published May 2018

Print Friendly and PDF Email this page