News from Around the State: District Eight

Matt Martin’s Service to the Georgia Planning Association

Matt Martin and Elizabeth Backe at the Hahira Depot for the Hahira Studies Open House

2022 marks the end of Matt Martin’s service to the Georgia Planning Association as the District 8 Director for the past ten years. We thank Matt for his integral role as part of our organization, and wish him the best on his next adventures!

In addition to his service on the GPA Board, Matt Martin has served as the Planning Director for the City of Valdosta since 2010. Prior to working for the City of Valdosta, he worked as a private planning consultant, as a planner for the South Georgia Regional Development Center (now the Southern Georgia Regional Commission) and as a planner for the City of Fort Myers, Florida. 

Elizabeth Backe, Planning and Transportation Director for the Southern Georgia Regional Commission, will be the new District 8 Director, beginning her two-year term on January 1, 2023.  Elizabeth spoke recently with Matt about his role on the GPA Board.

Elizabeth: Matt, as you near the end of your term as the District 8 Board member for GPA, what are your thoughts about the role of planners, both to our respective communities where we live and work and to the profession as a whole?

Matt: As urban planners, we are called upon to not only render our best service but also to give back to the local communities that we serve.  For many of us, this means putting in extra time and going above and beyond the minimum that is required.  This is mainly because we see the extra “needs” of our community and feel a sense of civic obligation.  However, we must try to remember that we are part of an important profession that is also its own community, and that it is asking for our service as well.  For some it is easy and others it is hard, but we should all look for ways to give back to our profession — whether it be through teaching, mentoring, helping with conferences or other gatherings, or even participating in the vital discussions that shape the future of our profession and the others that come behind us.  We all have something to give, and we all have the ability to learn from others.

Elizabeth: Did you consider running for another term on the Board?

Matt: I feel honored to have served on the GPA Board these past 10 years, but the time has come to pass the torch and give someone else this privilege and honor to serve our profession.  I am certain that you will take up the task and be a contributing vital member.