Stephanie Cadena is an urban planner with 5 years’ experience in urban and regional planning, climate change, and environmental justice planning. She has worked on climate action and adaptation plans, general plans, housing elements, and specific plans.

What is your favorite ESA moment/memory so far?
I first met some of my ESA peers when working as an Assistant Planner for a Council of Governments in 2017. We were working on a Climate Action Planning Framework for 27 communities that make up the southeast LA region, and I got to see the kind of planning and technical work that ESA was doing. I said to myself that I wanted to be on that side of the project and be “just as cool,” and though it took a couple of years I’m stoked to be part of the ESA team now. I love getting to do the research, analysis, and writing for the plans that I used to just review, and taking those projects from start to end. I also like getting to know communities across the state, whether it’s for climate action planning, vulnerability assessments, General Plan elements, GIS mapping, or other projects.

There was also a nice transition moment in my mind from getting to work with ESA on that CAP Framework project to coming onboard with the same team to work on other climate projects. On my second day here I was asked to participate as a speaker for the CAP Framework and got to share my experience working with ESA back in 2017/18. I also shared on upcoming and related projects that came from that first one, but now looking at it from my new role within ESA.

What keeps you coming to work here at ESA every day?​
For me it is the people first and then the projects. I get to work with a diverse and talented group of people who are passionate about making the environment and our communities a better place. It is an honor and privilege to be part of that, and I’m grateful to be able to do what I love every day. I also like the variety of projects that we get to see and ‘nerding’ out or deep-diving into topics that are newer for me.

What’s your favorite thing to do when you are out of the office?
I’m more of an indoor night-owl: I enjoy movie nights, video games and discord nights, puzzles and cheese nights, wine & paint nights… however, I’ve been exploring more of the outdoors lately thanks to some new friends, and facing my fear of bugs/darkness/no technology. Recently, I got to visit a friend in rural Georgia and we spent an evening in front of a lake stargazing – amazing! I also learned how to fish (caught a bass) and heard cicadas for the first time. I’m looking forward to more of that, especially seeing new places and meeting people outside of my city bubble.

What are three skills that you bring to the ESA team? In other words, what should colleagues know to reach out to you about?

  1. Climate action and adaptation planning
  2. Environmental justice and equity
  3. GIS mapping​​
Stephanie and her dog “Odin” at the Lizardsniffer lake in Greensboro, Georgia.