A note from Melissa Zornitta

Commitment to our mission and our community

Melissa Zornitta PortraitAs this is the first Beyond Today since I have begun serving as the Planning Commission Executive Director,  I wanted to take a moment to share a little bit about myself and my philosophy about planning for Hillsborough County.

I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead the Planning Commission.  Having worked here for close to 14 years, I truly believe in the mission articulated by the Planning Commission last year in their Strategic Plan:

“The Planning Commission promotes, coordinates, and facilitates the involvement of all people in the long range planning and vision for our community to improve economic development, quality of life, and provide value-added services.”

Our agency is in a unique position to develop plans addressing community-wide issues – issues that transcend jurisdictional boundaries. At the same time, it is critical that we provide valuable service to the four jurisdictions and the community as a whole and that all sectors of our community truly view us as a collaborative partners.

I also serve as the current President of the Florida Chapter of the American Planning Association. This gives me a unique vantage point on planning issues across the state. I’m often proud at our meetings to see how Tampa Bay is leading on economic and community development across the state. Not unlike others across the state, we still have many opportunities for improvement. At APA Florida’s recent Public Policy Workshop, there was a robust discussion about many of the challenges facing our state and local communities (what I identified as the major planning challenge for 2015 is pictured below). I am confident serving as APA Florida President will enhance my ability to stay on top of best practices and great ideas from throughout the state to better help our community.

Challenge for Planning CommissionWhen asked during the interview process about what I value most, the top of my list is my family.  I have twin daughters and a wonderful, supportive husband who mean the world to me.  Having my children and raising them here in Hillsborough County has renewed my passion for planning for our future. By building upon the amazing assets we have in Tampa, Temple Terrace, Plant City, and Hillsborough County – the reasons we all love living here, from the Bay and its wildlife to the strawberries and our beautiful neighborhoods, we can grow a legacy for all of our children.  It is my hope that our plans support creating thriving communities filled with choices – types of places to live; ways to get around; education and employment; and cultural and recreational opportunities. If we are successful in achieving this type of quality of life, my girls will love living here as much as I do.

I look forward to working with all of you, as we strive to achieve the Planning Commission’s mission and plan for an even brighter future for our neighborhoods and our region.