Nelson Institute alumna selected as a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners

May 29, 2018

Mary Ann Heidemann, PhD, Land Resources, Institute for Environmental Studies (now Nelson Institute), University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1985-1989

On April 22, 2018, Nelson Institute Alumna Mary Ann Heidemann, PhD was officially inducted into the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) College of Fellows at the National Planning Conference in New Orleans. The highest honor awarded to AICP professionals, the College of Fellows is a select group of experts who have demonstrated exceptional, sustained leadership in the field of planning, and left a positive legacy to benefit their community.

Heidemann was nominated to the College of Fellows in the category of professional planning practice. Much of her work has taken place in the small towns of Northern Michigan, near her home in Rogers City, where her firm served more than fifty client communities, creating hundreds of environmentally based master plans, zoning ordinances, park plans, historic preservation and infrastructure improvement projects.

“When the Michigan Association of Planning called and asked me to be their nominee, I actually laughed, because serving small towns and rural areas, especially those that are economically challenged, is considered a non-traditional path in planning,” Heidemann said. “Most planners prefer to seek work in big cities and large multi-national firms, so I never imagined that they would select me as a Fellow. But, the Michigan planners wanted to demonstrate to young professionals that alternate career paths do exist, and I’m honored to serve as one example.”

Utilizing the training she received during her doctoral work at Nelson Institute, Heidemann takes a multidisciplinary approach to planning. Though small by industry standards, her staff held professional degrees in planning, landscape architecture, architectural history, forestry, land resources, public administration and business administration. Heidemann says it was this unique, multidisciplinary approach combined with her passion for small town planning that led her to be nominated for this award.

“I will be forever grateful to the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Nelson Institute for their support of a multidisciplinary approach to learning and problem solving,” Heidemann said. “It was not just about environmental science, it was about gaining new perspectives from many different fields and parties. It’s entirely possible to become a planner and not know about the environment, but having that knowledge allowed me to see new perspectives. I learned that a healthy environment is at the center of everything we should be doing in planning, and frankly, in life on this earth.”