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Employee Spotlight: Kyle May, AICP

By June 19, 2018September 11th, 2018Staff Activity

For over seven years, Kyle has helped reach past the typical voices and engage a broader, more representative range of citizens in the planning process. His work has focused largely on engagement and technical analysis. While not at work, Kyle spends his time playing guitar, travelling the world, playing street hockey and volleyball, and previously lectured on land use planning at his alma mater, Ohio University.

Helping places become better than “good enough”. Kyle’s interest in planning was sparked during a course at Columbus State Community College, while completing his Associate’s degree. This lecturer encouraged Kyle to think more about his own neighborhood, an area that for years has seen haphazard growth and is described by Kyle as “good enough”. Thinking about his own hometown, Kyle developed a passion for improving communities. Kyle believes, “If you’re going to build something, it should be something that makes people fall in love with where they are from. It should have value. It should be a contribution.”

Learning through experiences. “In America, we’ve only been at this city-building task a short time. We don’t have the thousands of rounds of trial and error like in Europe.” Kyle ‘s perception on quality communities shifted when he first travelled to Europe with his girlfriend, now wife, Stephanie. They visited Greece—an eye-opening experience for Kyle. In Greece, Kyle realized, with time, places find a balance; you either let this form through evolution over millennia, or you can intervene and emulate the characteristics of these places in your own community.

Inspiring community change. One of Kyle’s favorite projects is the Vibrant Communities Action Agenda for Elkhart County, Indiana. Before the plan, the county had recovered from an economic disaster but was failing to mitigate the next one. A singularly-focused economy left the community vulnerable to downturns. To attract talent, inspire new businesses and the diversify its economic base, Elkhart County needed to think critically about the quality of its built environment. The Vibrant Community process focused solely on quality of place with 77 actions, five community goals and an overarching vision for growth—one of the first in the county’s history. Kyle will continually tell you, “Elkhart is an inspiring community that continues to challenge the idea of what a small midwestern community can or should be.”

Building relationships. Kyle’s favorite part of his job is getting to have conversations with residents about their passions for their community and tuning into that to create impactful plans. He believes, “If you do this work well, your plans become a microphone for the people who’ve never been asked to stand on the community stage. Planning provides a pathway to prosperity for all. It is a fully optimistic endeavor. You don’t plan without hope, and it’s rewarding to provide that light.”

Kyle’s Key Projects

Check out some of Kyle’s talents highlighted in his recent projects: