The Maine Association of Planners is proud to represent planners and others involved in planning across this great state. One of the best contributions we can make to support planning is to connect and support our professional planning community. 

Maine is a big state and the planning community is a busy bunch. The Planner Profiles series gives us a chance to meet each other and learn about our skills, interests, and experiences online.

Meet Jane Lafleur, Executive Director of Friends of Midcoast Maine:

HOW MANY YEARS IN PLANNING PROFESSION? Almost 35 years. I have been a professional planner since 1981 when I graduated from my master’s degree program in City and Regional Planning.  However, I also worked in the Lewiston Planning Office as an intern prior to 1981.

CURRENT JOB: Executive Director of Friends of Midcoast Maine and The Community Institute, a Program of Friends of Midcoast Maine

Tell us about your background: I grew up in Lewiston, Maine in a large family with 4 brothers and a St Bernard dog. My parents were very involved in local government, especially my mother who started Student Government Day for local high school students to give youth an opportunity to experience elections, public office, and municipal management. I received a BA in Public Management from the University of Maine at Orono and a Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from Harvard University.

What led you into planning? As a junior at UMaine, we were required to intern in local government offices to complete our Public Management degree. I interned in the Lewiston Planning Department and learned about urban development, city planning, paper streets, site planning, block grants and the public process. While at UMaine, I enrolled in a graduate level course in City Planning and learned about master’s degree programs, including the one I attended at Harvard. Over the years I have worked as a city, town and regional planner, a private planning consultant, a federal bureaucrat, and most recently as director of a regional smart growth non-profit organization.

What is unique about planning in Maine? Like most people, Maine people care deeply about their communities and work hard to keep them strong. I find it very easy to get involved in our communities, to have a voice and make a difference. It just takes passion, commitment and a willingness to engage.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your work? Maine community members are working so very hard to help Maine grow and prosper without hurting the very place that keeps us competitive and unique, including our vibrant downtowns and village centers, our scenic landscapes, and our working waterfronts, forests and farmlands. It is rewarding when people are willing to engage in the process, to work to shape their future, and when they realize that historic patterns of growth and development are more productive and economically and socially healthy than sprawling along our roads and streets.

What is the most challenging aspect of your work? The most challenging aspect is when people either don’t get involved in community issues or don’t seem to care.

Tell us about your dream project – what kind of planning work would you like to be more involved with? My dream project involves travel around the world to all the great cities, towns and villages to study and experience the places, people and land use patterns that have made them last.

What is your niche or main expertise? I guess it is 1) sharing community planning principles in plain language with the general public, 2) explaining the costs of sprawl and the benefits of compact development, 3) public engagement and facilitation to ensure everyone has a voice, and 4) connection to thought leaders around the country who are willing to share their knowledge and passion with Mainers.

This profile was originally published on October 27, 2015.