Urban Planner - Community Engagement Specialist

Alexandria, VA
$62,657.92 - $83,933.72 Annually
Jul 24, 2021
Aug 09, 2021
Program Manager
Full Time

The City of Alexandria is located in Northern Virginia and is bordered by the District of Columbia (Potomac River), Arlington and Fairfax counties. With a population of approximately 160,000 and a land area of 15.75 square miles, Alexandria is the seventh largest City in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Alexandria has a charming waterfront and is a unique and historic place to live and work. About one-quarter square miles in the City have been designated as a national or local historic district. We proudly embrace our rich history and seize the endless opportunities that lie ahead. If you are interested in working for the vibrant City of Alexandria, we invite qualified candidates to apply for this Urban Planner - Community Engagement Specialist position, classified with in the Urban Planner III job classification, within the Department of Planning & Zoning (P&Z).

An Overview
P&Z considers the Alexandria community an active partner in planning for the future of the City, as articulated in Alexandria’s civic engagement policy establishing principles for inclusive, meaningful, and collaborative engagement. As the City of Alexandria looks ahead to future challenges, it is essential that all members of our diverse community and neighborhoods have an equal and meaningful opportunity to shape the agenda, evaluate options, and reach decisions. This position will play a lead role in expanding, improving, and executing the City’s approach to inclusive community engagement in planning for the future.

The Urban Planner - Community Engagement Specialist must be an experienced and innovative planning professional with community planning experience in comparable urban settings and the ability to translate complex planning topics into clear concepts that the community can understand. This incumbent must have experience communicating with and building relationships among historically marginalized populations in order to ensure an inclusive vision for the future.

P&Z’s work program has a broad spectrum of planning projects requiring community engagement and dialogue. One current example is the update to long range plans in the Mount Vernon Avenue Corridor. The communities along this corridor are among Alexandria’s most diverse and are among the most proximate to the Amazon HQ2 and Virginia Tech Innovation Campus. This position will develop and execute inclusive engagement strategies that ensure that all diverse perspectives are heard and understood to help shape the resulting plans.

What You Should Bring
  • Experience applying urban planning concepts and topics, such as housing affordability, urban design, open space, and development economics;
  • Demonstrated ability to convert technical and complex planning concepts into clear terms for all audiences;
  • Understanding of how racialized origins of land use and planning policy in the U.S. contribute to current disparities and inequitable outcomes by race, ethnicity, income, and geography, and
  • Experience designing and implementing equitable community engagement strategies, for planning processes.
  • Fluency in written and verbal Spanish to engage members of the community who may not otherwise participate;
  • Proven track record of leading community engagement that successfully applies a variety of low- and high-tech strategies to involve the community in decision making;
  • Demonstrated skill and ease in presenting to a range of small and large audiences, and the ability to explain complex concepts in a clear and engaging manner;
  • Experience creating graphics and concise messaging for a variety of audiences; and
  • Experience with media relations.
  • Experience in local government and communicating with policymakers, senior level managers, interdepartmental staff and intergovernmental entities.
  • Demonstrated ability to be proactive in quickly assimilating complex information, discerning challenges, and devising effective innovative solutions.
  • The successful candidate will be outgoing and enjoy interacting with members of the community and community leaders to develop positive relationships; and
  • Demonstrated expertise in building trust among historically marginalized populations, including members of the public who speak languages other than English.

The Opportunity
  • Collaborate on an update to the City’s Community Engagement practices and policy, taking into account lessons learned during the pandemic and focusing on engaging historically marginalized populations;
  • Develop community engagement plans for individual projects that incorporate a variety of high- and low-tech engagement strategies tailored to meaningfully engage a broad variety of stakeholders,
  • Work with City’s Race and Social Equity Officer through the P&Z Equity Core Team and P&Z's representation on the Interdepartmental Core Team to ensure the implementation of the City's All Alexandria vision with regard to community engagement and equity efforts in general are effectively implemented;
  • Meet with stakeholders (non-profit organizations, civic/homeowner organizations, faith-based groups, educational institutions, individuals, etc.) around the City to establish and grow relationships to ensure that current and future planning initiatives are informed by broad community engagement;
  • Utilize a range of social media platforms to promote community engagement initiatives;
  • Serve as a community engagement resource to other City departments;
  • Work closely with other departments to promote/educate the public on City planning related Strategic Plan goals, such as housing affordability, equitable access to amenities, and others; and
  • Other duties as assigned.

About the Department The Department of Planning and Zoning works closely with communities to carry out the City's Strategic Plan, fostering equitable, amenity-rich neighborhoods. In developing neighborhood plans, reviewing development proposals, we continue our commitment to collaborate with all stakeholder groups to honor the character of each neighborhood and to strengthen and sustain them, and Alexandria as a whole, for now and in the future.

Minimum & Additional Requirements

Four-Year College Degree from an accredited college or university in Regional, or Urban Planning, or a closely related field such as Architecture, Landscape Architecture, Geography, Urban Studies, Public Administration, Physical Sciences, Historic Preservation, or Environmental Studies and five years of relevant planning experience or two years and a Master's Degree; or any equivalent combination of experience and training which provides the required knowledge, skills and abilities.

Preferred Qualifications

Minimum requirements above plus five or more years of progressively responsible work experience in the field of urban planning, with a focus on community outreach and engagement, and demonstrated success in reaching historically marginalized communities; knowledge and experience in equity related principles; fluency in Spanish; proficiency with graphic software to produce creative, engaging and informative material for a variety of audiences; demonstrated expertise in oral presentation and writing; media relations experience; experience with social media and digital engagement. Proficient in Microsoft and Adobe Creative Suite or equivalent and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).


This position requires the successful completion of a pre-employment background check.

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