Melissa Zornitta elected to prestigious AICP College of Fellows

The Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission is proud to announce the election of our Executive Director Melissa Zornitta to the prestigious College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners (FAICP).

February 2022 -The Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission is proud to announce the election of our Executive Director Melissa Zornitta to the prestigious College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners (FAICP). Induction to the College of Fellows is the highest honor the American Institute of Certified Planners bestows upon a member.

Fellowship is granted to planners who have achieved certification through the American Planning Association’s professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, and have achieved excellence in professional practice, teaching and mentoring, research, public and community service, and leadership. Invitations to join the College of Fellows come after a thorough nomination and review process, ensuring the candidate has had a positive, long-lasting impact on the planning profession.

“Individuals who make up the College of Fellows are the true leaders of the planning profession,” said past AICP President Valerie Hubbard, FAICP. “These individuals have made lasting contributions to the profession and have inspired generations of new planners. They are truly awe-inspiring.”

Melissa Zornitta, FAICP, is a transformative leader whose work for over 20 years at the Planning Commission has made a positive and substantial difference in the jurisdictions of Tampa, Temple Terrace, Plant City and Hillsborough County. Her highly skilled ability to build consensus, navigate the politics of planning, and work collaboratively has led to measurable innovative improvements to the outcomes of the planning process. Her service to the American Planning Association as the Florida Chapter President, her development of community education programs on planning, and her personal mentoring demonstrates a long-standing commitment to advancing the profession that has already become part of her legacy.

A transformative leader, Melissa has continually looked for collaborative ways of approaching issues to break down silos, hear from the community in inclusive ways, and build relationships. This collaborative planning process has resulted in focused growth and redevelopment in Tampa, preservation of important rural areas, and meaningful connections between new development and transportation improvements. Melissa has taken a unified approach to planning within her agency to look at land use and transportation issues in concert in projects such as the concurrent scenario planning for the Imagine 2040 Long Range Transportation Plan and Comprehensive Plans.

  • Innovative Outreach: Recognized, award winning Imagine 2040 outreach process using innovative and state-of-the-art methods and resulting in over 6,000 survey participants.
  • Nationally Recognized Comprehensive Plans: Created plans for Tampa, Temple Terrace, and Plant City that are Gold and Silver level APA Sustaining Places recognized.

Melissa continues to be a consensus builder and innovator. She has created unique solutions and uses innovative planning techniques to achieve community goals. She has positioned Tampa and Hillsborough County well to be prepared to address emerging planning issue by developing comprehensive policies, best practices and implementation programs and tools on topics including but not limited to community health and food access, resiliency, shared mobility, and equity.

  • One Water: Award winning chapter of the Hillsborough County Comprehensive Plan that is an innovative, comprehensive, and systemic approach to water planning.
  • Transit Oriented Development (TOD): Developed first TOD policies in the state of Florida to be adopted into the Comprehensive Plan, positioning the community well for future transit investment.

An advocate for the planning profession, Melissa has been a leader in APA Florida culminating in her service as APA Florida Chapter President. Her tenure has been focused on providing high value services for APA members, advocating on behalf of the profession, and educating youth about the planning profession; these focus areas also are reflected in her work and volunteerism. Melissa has been a steadfast supporter of higher education in Planning, serving as the Chair of the Advisory Board of the Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) program at the University of South Florida and serves on the Advisory Board for the Florida State University Department of Urban and Regional Planning Program. In the community, she has focused on innovative education approaches such as using tactical urbanism, such as painted intersections and crosswalks and pop-up gardens to demonstrate planning policies in the community and created Future Leaders in Planning, a well-regarded, annual multi-day program for high school students to explore urban planning as a potential career and learn about civic engagement.

Melissa Zornitta, FAICP, is one of 53 inductees into this year’s College of Fellows. This year’s formal induction will take place during the American Planning Association’s National Planning Conference in San Diego, on Sunday, May 1, 2022.

APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the art, science and profession of good planning — physical, economic, and social — so as to create communities that offer better choices for where and how people work and live. The American Institute of Certified Planners provides recognized leadership nationwide in the certification of professional planners, ethics, professional development, planning education, and the standards of planning practice. For more information, visit

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