Active Alum: Heather Wade
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"I have a passion for balancing land conservation and development and protecting life and property from hazards."

Heather Wade is the Senior Associate Director for Planning and Extension of the Texas Sea Grant College Program. She leads reporting and database management for the program and is responsible for the organization’s sponsored projects portfolio. Heather is also the Co-Director of the Community Resilience Collaborative, a research and extension based coastal planning program that provides planning assistance, education, and outreach to low capacity communities.

Wade joined the staff in June 2011 as the first Coastal Planning Specialist for the program in Texas. She developed and implemented the coastal planning program to provide planning expertise and assistance to coastal communities and natural resource managers. Her work involved helping communities assess their resilience to natural hazards and assess and update their comprehensive plans and land use ordinances. She provided technical assistance to urban planners and coordinated and facilitated small and large workshops related to land use and environmental planning.

In 2015, Wade took a position with the State of Oregon as the Coastal State-Federal Relations Coordinator for the Oregon Coastal Management Program and Department of Land Conservation and Development. In that role, she managed a statewide database on coastal development and restoration projects, performed federal consistency reviews, managed grant projects, and networked with local, state, and federal governments to reach solutions to conflicts on the Oregon coast.

She received a bachelor of science in Environmental Studies with minors in Geography and Earth Sciences from Texas A&M University and a Master of Urban Planning with a focus on Land Use and Environmental Planning with a certificate in Environmental Hazards Management, also from Texas A&M University. She is currently working on her Ph.D. in Urban and Regional Science at Texas A&M University.

Q: Which ACSP member school did/do you attend?
A: Texas A&M University

Q: What specialty did you study?
A: Land Use and Environmental Planning

Q: Why did you select your particular specialty?
A: I have a passion for balancing land conservation and development and protecting life and property from hazards.

Q: Where do you currently work?
A: Texas Sea Grant, Associate Director and Coastal Planner

Q: What are your job responsibilities?
A: Lead strategic planning, reporting, and database management. Oversee the implementation of programs in resilient communities and economies, healthy coastal ecosystems, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, and environmental literacy and workforce development.

Q: What's your favorite project you’ve worked on?
A: Helping communities assess their resilience to coastal hazards and storms by facilitating the assessment of infrastructure, facilities, planning, mitigation, transportation, and social systems.

Q: What future goals do you have in your field?
A: I would like to get my PhD in Urban and Regional Science doing research on the intersections of land use planning, coastal hazards, and community resiliency. I would like to continue working in sea grant extension, providing outreach and technical assistance to coastal communities, while participating in land use planning research that ultimately helps communities make science-based, informed decisions.

Q: How has planning school changed your daily habits?
A: I recycle more, bike more, walk more, and use more systems-thinking when addressing issues. I am better able to see all sides of an issue now than I was before going into the Master of Urban Planning program.

Q: What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A: A teacher.

Q: How many different cities have you lived in and which was your favorite?
A: I have lived in 12 cities. Salem, Oregon was my favorite.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
A: I would love to visit the Netherlands. I am especially interested in their flood control methods and technique

Q: How were you personally impacted by Hurricane Harvey?
A: I had family on the coast that had to evacuate in a house I own. We were lucky in that our home received minimal damage. We did add four adults and four dogs to our household for two weeks, which felt like a lot with already having two kids, two adults, and a cat! Personally, I witnessed many friends and family struggle before, during, and after the storm. The devastation has been incredible and I know it will take a long time for our communities to recover, including those I know personally.

Q: How did the hurricane impact you with respect to your planning position?
A: Our leadership team at Texas Sea Grant has been working around the clock since just before the storm. Between social media outreach, distribution of handbooks to FEMA centers, meeting with community officials and staff, and assisting with multiple damage assessments, we have all stayed extremely busy. The thing I’m most excited about is the launch of our Community Resilience Collaborative, which places Texas Sea Grant and Texas Target Communities in a position to assist communities with long term recovery planning and to help them better rebuild while maintaining their visions for their communities. 


The Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning promotes education, research, service and outreach in the United States and throughout the world by seeking to:

  • recognize diverse needs and interests in planning;
  • improve and enhance the accreditation process, and;
  • strengthen the role of planning education in colleges and universities through publications, conferences, and community engagement;
  • extend planning beyond the classroom into the world of practice.


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