Environmental Science Associates (ESA), a leading environmental science and planning firm headquartered in San Francisco, with 11 offices in the state of California, strengthens its Community Development practice to keep pace with continued growth in the country’s most populous state. Building momentum since last fall, when principal planners Beverly Choi and Mary Laux and nationally recognized acoustic air quality and specialist Dr. Tony Chung joined ESA’s California team, the firm’s most recent hire, principal planner and Southern California community planning program manager Shane Burkhardt, AICP, brings additional planning expertise to the Southern California region.

Burkhardt has more than two decades of experience in land use planning, economic development, public engagement, and urban design. His planning career has spanned both the university setting and the private sector in the Midwest and California—first as an adjunct professor and research fellow at Ball State University and the Hudson Institute. Upon entering the private sector, he quickly advanced, most recently to his position as the leader of the Community Planning and Urban Design Team at Michael Baker International, before joining ESA. He is also active in the American Planning Association (APA) national leadership and California Chapter, and formerly served on the national APA Board of Directors.

“My time in academia taught me to address community planning like you would a living creature…you have to take a holistic approach, treating the entire system—not just a single organ—to bring about change,” said Burkhardt. “It is this mindset that helps me incorporate community engagement, finance strategies, and climate adaptation and resiliency/sustainability when working to revitalize and build our communities.”

Burkhardt will be working closely with Bobbette Biddulph, who has transitioned from Southern California regional director to a client-focused role that advances strategic opportunities for the region and the Community Development practice in Southern California. With nearly 30 years of experience directing integrated teams in the region, Biddulph will continue to build out the practice to capitalize on the growth potential in Southern California. The team is currently looking to hire a senior air quality specialist as it ramps up work on a number of large-scale planning projects, including the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) Southern California Regional Climate Adaptation Framework and Hollywood Center Environmental Impact Report.

“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Shane to ESA,” says ESA president Leslie Moulton-Post. “His unique skillset and depth of commitment to integrated community planning—paired with Bobbette’s focus on strategic client development—positions ESA to tackle the existing and emerging challenges related to urban growth and development here in California.” Learn more about ESA’s community development and planning capabilities here.