Active Alum: Jacqueline Wells
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“I hope to continue working to advance the field of community development and the functions of local government through research and resident engagement.”

Jacqueline Wells is a recent graduate of the University of Kansas' Urban Planning Master’s program and is currently the Housing and Development Planning Specialist for the City of Danville in Southside, Virginia. She passionately advocates for her community through her position with the City as well as positions with local non-profits that focus on community engagement, health access, and workforce development such as the Health Collaborative, Middle Border Forward, Goodwill, and the Virginia Statewide Neighborhood Conference. In her short time with the City, Jacqueline has worked diligently to establish a Community Gardening program that will break ground this summer.

Q: Which ACSP member school did you attend?
A: University of Kansas

Q: What specialty did you study? 
A: Housing and Community Development 

Q: Why did you select your particular specialty?
A: I chose to specialize in Housing and Community Development because I am passionate about the fundamental importance of safe, affordable, and decent housing for every other aspect of life whether that be education, workforce training, healthcare access, etc. Additionally, I believe that resident engagement in local government is vitally important and I therefore chose a specialty that would allow me to work beside the community and develop plans and programs that fill needs and gaps for them.

Q: Where do you currently work? 
A: City of Danville, Virginia

Q: What are your job responsibilities? 

  • Develop, implement and monitor the City's five-year Consolidated Plan and Annual Plans
  • Apply for and administer local, state and federal grant funding
  • Insure compliance with Davis Bacon Act and environmental review requirements
  • Act as a liaison between the City, neighborhood and non-profit groups
  • Spearhead the City's targeted efforts in the Schoolfield neighborhood Plan and manage the City's “Make Danville Shine” campaign
  • Assist in the planning and coordination of the Fair Housing and Homeownership Symposium

Q: What's your favorite project you’ve worked on?
A: I have spearheaded the development of the City's first ever Community Gardening program that transforms vacant and underutilized city owned property into sites for food production. City property is licensed to City residents for one year renewable terms for the purpose of community gardening. The project required cooperation from all City departments, a local foundation, and passionate residents. The first garden will break ground this summer. 

Q: What future goals do you have in your field?
A: I hope to continue working to advance the field of community development and the functions of local government through research and resident engagement. 

Q: How has planning school changed your daily habits?
A: I drink way more coffee now.

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

Q: How many different cities have you lived in and which was your favorite? 
A: I have lived in 4 different cities and Chicago was my favorite.

Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? 
A: If I could travel anywhere in the world I would go to Alaska to see the glaciers and the northern lights.

Q: What is the title of the last book you read? What did you learn from it?
A: The title of the last book I read is This Is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving the Place you Live by Melody Warnick. I learned that loving where you live is as much a choice we make as anything else. It was a great book to read as a planner because it emphasized those places where the city can make investments to increase quality of life.

Q: What’s your favorite color and how would you creatively incorporate it into a planning project?
A: My favorite color is yellow. To me it represents optimism and new beginnings. It can easily be incorporated into the branding for comprehensive plans, campaigns, and exciting projects to come.


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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