Dennis Gordon, FAICP, has been award The William BOwdy Award for outstanding lifetime achievement by a Kentucky planner.
Dedication to the Profession. Dennis Gordon, FAICP, exemplifies what it means to be a planner and serves as a model that future professionals should strive to achieve. In his career of nearly 50-years he has actively worked to make the communities he serves better places that are more well-prepared to face the future. Mr. Gordon has spent twenty-seven of his forty-five-year planning career within the Commonwealth. He served as the Kentucky APA chapter president as well as the Indiana chapter president during the late eighties and early 1990s. Following this service, he went on to serve the APA at the national level.
In addition to his work with APA at the chapter and national level, Mr. Gordon has constantly worked to further planning and share his experiences in the profession. He has written numerous published articles and spoken a countless national, state, and local conference throughout his tenure. His breadth of knowledge has led him to be a resource on topics like citizen engagement, zoning flexibility, and planning for community growth. Additionally, from 1991-1995, Mr. Gordon also served as an adjunct professor within the Department of Urban Planning at his alma mater, Ball State University. During his tenure at PDS, he has fostered a robust relationship with local universities to support co-op programs and hire both planning and GIS interns.
Challenging the Status Quo. Mr. Gordon has never been one to accept that just because something has historically been done one way that it needs to continue down that same path. In his first Director role at Hardin County, he was instrumental in establishing the community’s first comprehensive plan, zoning ordinance, and subdivision regulations. In 1988, Mr. Gordon took on a new role as the Executive Director of Allen County (IN) Department of Planning Services. His efforts here helped solidify his acceptance into the Certified Planners College of Fellows in 2001. Mr. Gordon returned to the Commonwealth in 2002 to begin his role of Executive Director of the Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission (NKAPC, now PDS). Upon accepting this role, he replaced the namesake of this award, Mr. William Bowdy, FAICP—unquestionably a large role to fill. Mr. Gordon introduced an agencywide mission statement and core values to help set a clear direction for staff.
In 2005, PDS launched the One Stop Shop program to provide efficient and effective professional code administration services to the 19 jurisdictions within Kenton County on a contractual basis. Under Gordon’s leadership, the Long-Range Planning department began working shortly thereafter to begin a completely new comprehensive plan. This plan, now known as Direction 2030, was groundbreaking for Kenton County and the profession on national level. The plan content itself was a breath-of-fresh-air for the County, which had not benefited from new Goals and Objectives or completely new content since 1972. The plan was revolutionary on a national scale because it was one of the first in the country to only exist online. Mr. Gordon could have just been satisfied with the status quo, but instead challenged his teams to think differently and be bold. Today, that same boldness continues with the Zoning for the 21st Century (Z21) project. This effort seeks to coordinate the 20 different zoning ordinances found with Kenton County and help set clearer expectations for those wishing to build and make improvements in Kenton County. Even as he has announced his retirement for August 2020 he continues to push the envelope and challenge people to strive for excellence.
Throughout his tenure in professional planning, Mr. Gordon has always had the best interests of his community and furthering the profession in mind. Hislifetime of work exemplifies the William Bowdy Award and he should
undoubtedly be awarded with this honor.