Casey Trees is proud to announce that our own, Maisie Hughes, has won the 2016 National Capital Area Chapter (NCAC) of the American Planning Association’s Frederick Gutheim Award for Distinguished Leadership by a Professional Planner. The NCAC- APA represents public and private sector planners, planning academics and students, elected officials, and citizen planners in Washington, DC, and Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties, Maryland.
As Director of Planning & Design at Casey Trees since 2009, Maisie exemplifies a commitment to fostering a more livable Washington, DC by strongly advocating for planning and design techniques that integrate natural systems into the urban environment. Her outstanding leadership combined with her experience and effervescent personality is tailor-made for working with diverse audiences and finding solutions to some of the District’s most vexing environmental concerns.
Maisie led the design of Casey Trees’ unique and sustainable headquarters situated in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, DC. The small residential-scale site is furnished with solar panels, multiple green roofs, and a rain garden planted with a diverse palette of urban-hearty trees, setting an example for the entire city.
Since 2012, Maisie has organized and led Casey Trees’ Stand Up for Trees advocacy events. These workshops educate residents about the benefits of trees and showcases how a rapidly developing District can be designed for trees. This includes providing adequate soil space for street trees and designing buildings and neighborhoods that prioritize trees and community green spaces for the benefit of all District residents.
Maisie uses innovative adult training techniques to create a fun atmosphere and encourages participants to meet with their neighbors and city officials about greening DC. This is supported by the growing popularity of the workshop and abundant positive feedback Maisie receives, including this from a recent attendee who exclaimed it “was perhaps the most polished, thoughtful, impressive training session I have ever attended!”
Widely recognized by city leaders as the “go-to” expert in her field, Maisie has established relationships with many of the city’s top developers and Business Improvements Districts (BIDs). Last year, she moderated a panel hosted by the NoMa BID and the Office of Planning on the District’s rivers, tunnels and stormwater management systems that featured the Department of Energy and the Environment’s Tommy Wells, and DC Water’s, George Hawkins.
Maisie was instrumental in producing some of the most influential planning documents related to urban forests. Casey Trees’ Urban Tree Selection Guide, for instance, lays out the most important information for selecting trees that will thrive in the urban Mid-Atlantic region. From determining suitable landscape locations to noting the size and shape of almost 100 trees, the Guide is useful to landscape designers and homeowners alike to identify which trees will work best given the constraints of the urban environment.
The Citizen Advocate Handbook, which the NCAC-APA recognized in 2014, was also spearheaded by Maisie and is still considered the premiere advocacy handbook in the region. It includes sections that help residents navigate the Public Unit Development process, tree and slope zoning overlays, and other zoning bodies and regulations that impact tree canopy.
Maisie led the charge to improve the zoning code how the District implemented the Green Area Ratio (GAR), an environmental zoning measure applied to many new large developments in the District. Testifying before the DC Council in December 2010, she asked them to change how the GAR “scores” the size of a tree at the time of planting with the size of a tree at maturity so that the District could benefit from more trees surviving and growing into maturity. “By prioritizing larger canopy trees,” she told the Council, “a greater green area ratio will develop over time.”
While Maisie’s list of accomplishments and accolades are many, her character and resolve are also impressive. Maisie perpetually fosters a spirit of teamwork and innovation, and constantly encourages her staff to improve our skills and not become complacent. She is a model employee whose hard work, dedication and skillful collaboration have delivered outstanding results, not only for Casey Trees but for the entire Washington, DC community. Help us to congratulate Maisie for this well-deserved award!