Meet Your Planning Commissioners

The Planning Commission, the official local planning agency for all jurisdictions in Hillsborough County, provides consolidated planning services and makes independent recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners, Plant City Commission, Tampa City Council, Temple Terrace City Council and other agencies regarding smart growth and development of Hillsborough County.

Led by ten citizen appointees from all four jurisdictions and two ex officio members representing MacDill Air Force Base and the Hillsborough County Public School District, the Planning Commission provides innovative leadership and long range vision that contributes to the creation of a thriving, prosperous community that offers opportunity, fairness, and choice in how we live, move, learn, work, and play.

View the Guiding Principles of the Planning Commission.

Nigel M. Joseph | Chair - A resident of Hillsborough County since 1990, Mr. Joseph has a Bachelor of Design Architecture from the University of Florida, a Master of Architecture with Distinction from Lawrence Technological University, and is a current Ph.D. student at the University of South Florida. With professional experience in both architecture and planning services, he plans to apply...
Cody Powell | Vice Chair - A resident of Hillsborough County since 2010, Mr. Powell is a licensed broker and Vice President of Powell Realty. He currently serves on the Affordable Housing Board and its Land Trust Sub-Committee. He has previously served on the Hillsborough County Land Use Appeals Board and is currently a Board Member on the American Cancer Society’s...
Karen Kress, AICP | Member-at-Large - Karen Kress serves as the Director of Transportation and Planning at the Tampa Downtown Partnership. A true advocate for transit and transportation, Ms. Kress leads the Partnership’s Transportation and Urban Design Committees and its Parking Task Force. She is an avid biker, a champion for safe walking and bicycling, and has actively volunteered for the...
Steven Bernstein - Steve Bernstein is a partner with the Tampa law offices of Fisher Phillips. For the past three decades, he has maintained a traditional labor practice on behalf of employers throughout the United States in both the state and federal courts, as well as before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the U.S. Department of Labor...
Giovanny Cardenas - Giovanny Cardenas has Bachelor’s Degrees in Criminology and Political Science from the University of Miami and a Master’s Degree in Homeland Security. He brings a variety of skills acquired through his mixed experience in Real Estate, Financial Services, and Program Management for the Department of Homeland Security. His ability to find common ground and understanding...
Matthew Buzza - Matthew Buzza is a Senior Vice President with The Bank of Tampa and has over 30 years of commercial banking experience in Hillsborough County. He also has 20 years of experience in the planning arena, having served on the Plant City Planning & Zoning Board from 2002 – 2014 (Chair from 2011 – 2014), and...
Michelle Orton, MPA Michelle Orton, MPA (Ex-Officio) - As the General Manager, Growth Management for Hillsborough County Public Schools – the eighth largest school district in the country – Ms. Orton is directly involved in short and long range facility planning, school concurrency implementation, real estate transactions, intergovernmental coordination, attendance boundary changes, and bike and pedestrian safety initiatives. She has a Bachelor’s Degree...
Vivienne Handy, PWS - Vivienne Handy is a community advocate with more than 30 years of experience in natural resource management and environmental permitting. She has conducted and managed a diverse range of field studies, impact assessments, and environmental documentation for roadway and bridge studies to mine reclamation projects to a focus on Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs), the development...
Jess Louk - A resident of Hillsborough County since 2009, Jess Louk is a graduate of Kansas State University with a major in Mass Communications. He also brings more than 20 years experience in real estate development. Appointed in 2021 by: Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners Current term expires: September 30, 2025  
Steven Fernandez headshot Steven Fernandez - Steven Fernandez is a Research Assistant Professor in the Master of Urban and Regional Planning Program at USF.  His expertise is in geospatial technologies, including GIS, UAS, Lidar mapping and analysis.  He has developed four graduate courses that focus on Urban Planning and Lidar applications of GIS. Steven also has 20 years of experience in...
Tony Rodriguez, AICP (Ex-Officio) - Mr. Rodriguez is Base Community Planner. He brings with him more than 25 years of public and private sector experience in policy, management, planning, and engineering. Mr. Rodriguez previously represented MacDill as an Ex-Officio Planning Commissioner from 2005 – 2007.   Appointed by: MacDill AFB  
Hemant Saria - Hemant Saria grew up in Kathmandu, Nepal and has been a Hillsborough County resident since 2018. He works as a First Officer for United Airlines and has a Bachelor’s degree in Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Analytical, detail oriented, an avid traveler, pro-environment with varied interests like photography, sports, aviation, volunteering, motor-sports, technology, etc. Appointed...
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