Each year the Planner Emeritus Network Honors Committee nominates persons for their outstanding contribution to the planning profession. PEN is devoted to recognizing the efforts of those senior members of the planning profession who have contributed to California planning by their leadership and service to the profession. This year, Sheri Vander Dussen, AICP, is one of the recipients of this honor award and was recognized for her contributions to the planning field at the California APA Conference in Sacramento. Sheri has contributed to planning in Orange County for over 30 years working in the Cities of Anaheim, Irvine, and Newport Beach. Sheri is recognized for her unparalleled work ethic, organizational leadership, and dedication to strengthening the profession. Sheri served as the City of Anaheim’s Planning Director for 11 years and the City of Irvine’s Community Development Director for 7 years. As the Planning Director of the first and third largest cities in Orange County, Sheri’s contributions to the planning profession have helped shape the development landscape of Orange County.
Throughout her 30+ year career, Sheri has always been a staunch believer in giving back to the profession. She has been actively involved in the Orange Section of the American Planning Association, California Chapter (Orange Section APA), as well as the Urban Land Institute, Orange County/Inland Empire District Council (ULI). Sheri also serves on the Advisory Board for the University of California at Irvine’s School of Planning, Policy and Design.
In 2014, Sheri served a crucial role as the Local Host Committee Co-Chair for the APA State Conference in Anaheim. For more than two years, Sheri dedicated tireless hours to implement the highly successful conference. Her contributions to envision, organize, and implement the State Conference brought forward a record-number of attendees, attracting planners from across the country. In addition, Sheri oversaw the Special Events Committee providing unmatched leadership to create an unforgettable Opening Reception at the Disneyland Hotel and California Adventure. Additionally, Sheri served on the Local Host Committees that organized the 2006 APA State Conference in Garden Grove and 1998 APA State Conference held in Costa Mesa. As the Mobile Workshop Chair, she organized speakers, tours, and content and oversaw the communication and marketing of the workshops.
Sheri has volunteered as a mentor in the ULI Mentorship/Protégé Program. She has mentored several groups of young professionals sharing her expertise and experiences to guide future leaders in the development industry. Sheri is currently an Advisory Board Member to the local ULI District and has contributed to numerous initiatives, including the Low Income Housing Task Force and Placemaking Initiative Council.
In addition to the numerous leadership positions held, Sheri recognizes that no contribution to the profession is too small. She is a consistent contributor to panel discussions, a regular donator of time and auction items to benefit student scholarships (including the California Planning Foundation and Bob Goldin Memorial scholarships), and an ambassador for the State and Section professional development programs.
On behalf of the Orange Section Board: Congratulations, Sheri! The honor is well deserved and your contributions to to the field have helped blaze the trail for great places in Orange County!