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Charlottesville Mayor, Albemarle County Planner Named To Prestigious College of Fellows

The American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) will induct Albemarle County planner Elaine Echols, AICP, and Charlottesville Mayor Satyendra Singh Huja, AICP, into the elite membership of AICP’s College of Fellows April 27 at a black-tie ceremony being held in conjunction with the American Planning Association’s (APA) 2014 National Planning Conference in Atlanta.

“The AICP College of Fellows recognizes planners who have made exceptional contributions to their communities and to the planning profession,” said AICP President Lee Brown, F AICP.  “They represent the vanguard of the profession, demonstrating outstanding achievements and excellence whether through professional practice, planning research, teaching and mentoring, or community service and leadership,” he added.

Albemarle County’s principal planner and a former adjunct instructor with the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Elaine Echols has promoted inclusiveness, education, and good planning practice in Texas and Virginia for more than 30 years. Her nationally acclaimed Neighborhood Model has made Albemarle County more livable through good urban design. Bikeways and walkways in Blacksburg, Virginia have been built following plans she created.

Her persistence, organization and strong guidance helped a disparate, 22-member committee find common ground and create a plan to manage growth and contain sprawl in Albemarle County. As a recognized mentor, teacher and leader, planning commissioners and students have gained essential knowledge from her classes and presentations. And as a volunteer, she has helped non-profits envision and realize their goals.

Echols, who is recognized as a Fellow for contributions to community service and leadership, received her master of urban and regional planning from Texas A&M University in 1982 and a bachelor of arts in geography from the University of Texas at Austin in 1980.

Charlottesville Mayor and City Councilor Satyendra Singh Huja has compiled a 40-year record of public service to Charlottesville, including 25 years as Director of Planning and Community Development, six years as Director of Strategic Planning, six years as a city councilor, and two years as mayor.  During this time he has been involved with plans and plan implementation that have resulted in revitalization of the city’s downtown and creation of a vibrant pedestrian mall; improvements to West Main Street;  and preservation and enhancement of Historic Court Square.

Mayor Huja also was a leader in organizing an historic preservation program for the city, including a preservation plan, designation of historic districts and an historic landmark study; the revitalization of several neighborhoods including Page, Star Hill and Woolen Mills; and creating home ownership programs for low-income families as well as housing programs for the elderly and disabled, and a house bank program to assist with rehabilitating vacant structures.

Mayor Huja, who also teaches as an adjunct faculty member at the University of Virginia, is recognized as a Fellow for contributions to professional practice. He received his master’s degree in urban planning from Michigan State University in 1968 and his bachelor of arts in psychology from Roberts Wesleyan College in 1966.

Every two years a new class of AICP Fellows is honored in recognition of outstanding achievements by individual planners in one of four categories: professional practice, research, community service and leadership, or teaching and mentoring. Visit for a list of the 38 other planners from 17 additional states being inducted April 27 during a ceremony at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel.

Planners who have been certified through the AICP education, practice and exam process use the letters “AICP” after their names.  Fellows of AICP are designated with the letters “FAICP.”  Currently there are over 15,000 practicing planners in North America and elsewhere with the AICP certification.  Of those, approximately 500 belong to the AICP College of Fellows.

The AICP College of Fellows, begun in 1999, is concerned with mentoring and future advancement of the profession of planning. For more than 80 years, AICP, the professional institute of APA, has promoted professional excellence in the field of planning by setting high standards for competence, education, experience, and ethical conduct, and by articulating the future of the planning profession.

The 2014 National Planning Conference, the world’s largest annual conference for professional planners, takes place April 26-30 at the Georgia World Congress Center. The country’s first national planning conference occurred in 1909 in Washington, D.C.

The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science and profession of good planning -- physical, economic and social -- so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live. Members of APA help create communities of lasting value and encourage civic leaders, business interests and citizens to play a meaningful role in creating communities that enrich people's lives. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, Ill. For more information, visit

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