GPA recognizes outstanding work in the planning profession in the State of Georgia with the annual GPA Awards Program.

How it Works

The annual GPA Awards Program is GPA’s opportunity to recognize outstanding work in the planning profession in the State of Georgia. The 2023 awards nominations has closed. The awards will be announced at the Fall Conference.

New for 2023, GPA will invite special recognition for plans on behalf of small communities.  Recognizing such jurisdictions have limited resources and particular needs, local plans can now be submitted either for the general Outstanding Planning Document category or for the Outstanding Planning Document for Small Communities category. To be eligible for the Small Communities category, the jurisdiction must be a municipality with less than 1,000 residents or a County (including municipalities) with less than 10,000 residents.

We are looking for projects that range from transportation to land use, environment to public health, and beyond. The list below represents some of the most common types of projects, but we encourage you to submit any outstanding projects that advance the state of the practice. We are looking for distinguished planners and elected officials as well.

  • Transportation/mobility
  • Land use/zoning
  • Comprehensive plan/master plan
  • Neighborhood/community revitalization plan
  • Public health (e.g. Community health needs assessment)
  • Environmental
  • Parks/recreation/open space
  • Housing
  • Hazard mitigation/community resiliency
  • Economic development
  • Historic preservation
  • Student projects

The awards will be judged based on the following criteria:

  • Innovation of concept
  • Transferability to other areas or projects
  • Quality of thought, analysis, and character
  • Effectiveness of, or promise for, Implementation
  • Comprehensiveness of principles observed
  • Strong effort to solicit Public Participation
  • Use of Technology in planning processes
  • Demonstration of Equity in planning processes and implemented projects
  • Integration of Sustainable practices to mitigate adverse impacts from development and everyday living
  • Demonstration of collaboration and partnerships with state and local governments, other public entities, private entities, nonprofit entities, or other non-traditional partners

NOTE: All awards will need to meet the criteria above. Each award category may have a particular emphasis on one or more of the above criteria or additional criteria not included, which will be noted below.

If you wish to serve on our awards review committee, please contact Adam Hazell.

Submit a Nomination

Award Categories

  1. Outstanding Planning Process: Recognizing the quality and completeness of the overall planning process

    This award honors the most comprehensive and holistic overall planning process. This includes the comprehensiveness of technical and data analysis, stakeholder and community outreach, documentation and deliverables, and positioning for implementation.

    Focus Criteria: Emphasis on public involvement, technical analysis, and the transferability, equity, and sustainability of the process.

  2. Outstanding Planning Document: In recognition of a specific planning document/ deliverable that goes above and beyond the traditional planning document in terms of communication, graphics, storytelling, and overall quality of thought and delivery.

    The focus of this category is on the quality of a document/ deliverable (including comprehensive plans) that is created using a planning process. This document should be the culminating product or report of significance as opposed to a singular exhibit used part way through the process.

    Note: Given the diversity of scope and scale in planning projects the Awards Committee reserves the right to give special recognition to multiple nominees in this category. Submittals for this award should stipulate if they are applying for the General or Small Communities category. Eligibility for the Small Communities category is restricted to municipalities with less than 1,000 residents or a County (including municipalities) with less than 10,000 residents.”

    Focus Criteria: Emphasis on quality of narrative and graphic communications, representation of a sound planning process, and applicability to the host community.

  3. Outstanding Plan Implementation: Recognizing an effort that demonstrates a significant achievement for an area (a single community or a region) in accomplishing positive changes as a result of planning.

    This award emphasizes long-term, measurable results. Nominated efforts should have been in continuous effect for a minimum of three (3) years, not including the time for plan preparation and approval. Examples: Plans for smart growth, signage, farmland preservation, urban design, wetland mitigation, resource conservation, capital improvements, citizen participation, neighborhood improvement, transportation management, complete streets, or sustained economic development.

    Focus Criteria: Emphasis on connection to the original plan; effectiveness of implementation, equity, and sustainability

  4. Outstanding Public Involvement: Recognizing an initiative where a region or community involves the general public in a planning activity above and beyond the minimum state or local requirements, and where that involvement contributes greatly to the final product.

    This category emphasizes successful efforts to engage the public, as well as programs to raise the overall level of understanding of planning, economic development, environmental, or integrated issues. Nominations should demonstrate the role of outreach and public education in improving planning results and may include initiatives such as media programs, newsletters, consensus building, interactive systems, electronic participation, audio and video programs, and similar efforts.

    Focus Criteria: Strong effort to solicit public participation, demonstration of equity, use of technology, and demonstration of collaboration and partnerships

  5. Outstanding Student Project: For a student-led or completed project associated with one of Georgia’s undergraduate or graduate planning, policy, or related programs

    This award recognizes a student project that exemplifies the state of the practice across an array of planning fields. Professional planners and academics may be involved, but the core of the work must be completed by a group of students.

    Focus Criteria: Demonstrates a contribution to contemporary planning and best application of planning processes

  6. Distinguished Leadership and Service Contribution Awards: Given to individuals for sustained, significant contributions to the planning profession. These awards are non-competitive, meaning there may be multiple recipients or no recipients in a given year depending on the merit of each nomination.

      1. Distinguished Planning Leadership – Presented to a member of the Georgia Chapter for sustained contribution to the profession through distinguished practice, teaching, or writing.
      2. Distinguished Elected Leadership – Presented to an individual for service as an elected official at the local, state, or national level who has significantly advanced or promoted the cause of community planning.
      3. Innovation in Planning – In recognition of a specific planning tool, practice, program, project, or process that is a significant advancement to specific elements of planning. This category emphasizes results and demonstrates how innovative and state-of-the-art planning methods and practices helped to implement a plan. This category is intended to recognize specific initiatives that may not fall into the category of a traditional planning process.
      4. Distinguished Service in Journalism – Presented to an individual who has used public media to significantly advance and promote the cause of community planning. Journalism nominations must have appeared in publications of general circulation or specialized circulation statewide, or appear on media that has significant audience reach and impact within the host community or across Georgia. 
      5. Leadership in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion – In recognition of an individual, specific planning tool, practice, program, project, or process that demonstrates an outstanding commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. The nominated effort demonstrates a sustained commitment to advocacy by addressing the concerns of women, minorities, and underrepresented groups through specific actions or contributions within the planning profession or through planning practice.

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