HEIDI THOMAS, PLA, ASLA
Heidi Thomas is a Professional Landscape Architect with 20 years of experience as a lead designer and project manager. Her work is grounded in visioning and placemaking projects spanning a wide variety of sectors and site scales and all phases of project development - from planning and design through documentation and construction administration. In addition to partnering with architects and engineers as a landscape architectural consultant, Heidi has led multi-disciplinary teams of professionals as a prime consultant. Over the course of her career she has worked directly with municipalities, county and state governments, real estate developers, institutional clients, and non-profit organizations.
Heidi’s recent graduate studies in Cultural Sustainability focused on the co-creation of environment, culture, and community in urban agricultural contexts - a theme which continues to serve as the cornerstone of her engagement and design approach across the breadth of her professional work. She aspires to enhance the visibility of and increase access to the field of landscape architecture, particularly among women, minorities, and under-served communities. Her experiences as an adjunct instructor, a community advocate, and a neighborhood organizer for environmental projects in Baltimore have furthered this aim, while also helping to illuminate with others the correlation between social equity and access to nature.
CHERISSE OTIS, PLA, LEED AP, CBLP
Cherisse Otis joined EnviroCollab in 2019, sharing her passion for ecological and community-driven design. She comes to the EC team with 13 years of experience engaging communities, generating concepts, and seeing through the construction of public parks, plazas, and streetscapes, institutional landscapes, and retail developments. She has honed skills and knowledge in native-centered planting design and stormwater/green infrastructure design and has a heart for urban vacant lot renewal and agriculture. Cherisse is honored to collaborate with EnviroCollab and the firm’s recent, current, and prospective partners.
Cherisse is a Professional Landscape Architect in the state of MD, LEED Accredited Professional, Certified Chesapeake Bay Landscape Professional, and Baltimore City TreeKeeper & Weed Warrior. She is also an avid home, church, and community gardener, a wife, and mother to a tiny future master gardener, two fur babies, and many plants.
AMY SAMETSHAW, MLA
Amy Sametshaw is a landscape designer with experience in community engagement and design, transportation design, public health policy and planning, and environmental assessments. She is certified in public interest design by the Social Economic Environmental Design (SEED) Network.
While earning her Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Maryland, she specialized in designing urban agricultural landscapes and GIS analysis for urban planning. Her interests in the planning and design of food systems has led to her return to the University of Maryland as an instructor in the Plant Sciences & Landscape Architecture Department.
Amy is excited about the opportunity to work with EnviroCollab on environmentally sustainable, community-driven design projects. She lives in Baltimore with her daughter, husband, and cat, and enjoys gardening, cooking, and hiking.
KATIE DRUMMOND, PLA, ASLA
Katie Drummond is a Professional Landscape Architect with an interest in the collaborative design process that fuels environmentally and culturally sustainable designs. Katie has over nine years of professional experience on a wide variety of project types and scales including public parks, urban design, healthcare and academic campuses, multifamily housing, and retail developments. She is well versed in all phases of the design process from site analysis and concept development through construction administration. With a keen attention to detail, Katie strives to create timeless spaces that respect the land and its history.
Recently returning to her Maryland roots after practicing in New York City, Katie and her husband currently reside in a small town on the Eastern Shore. Together they own and operate their family’s organic farm and homestead. A strong believer in the healing power of landscape, you will most likely find Katie outdoors gardening, hiking, canoeing, or simply going for a stroll.
CANDACE CHANCE, FOUNDER + CEO, THE VPI FIRM
ENGAGEMENT + EQUITY PARTNER
Candace, in her role as Founder and CEO of The VPI Firm, is redefining what's possible in community development initiatives.
The firm pushes beyond building "buy-in" and the traditional "doing just enough" effort to get stakeholders to say yes to something. Instead, they support mission-aligned real estate developers, entrepreneurs, and social impact leaders in the equitable transformation and healing of disinvested communities. The firm is working towards a world where previously distressed communities are thriving, regenerative ecosystems creating and supplying what they need to flourish.
They integrate the following principles, approaches, and frameworks:
1) Human-centered design to ensure that those who will be impacted are included in the design process.
2) Trauma-informed and healing-centered care to acknowledge systemic impacts and prevent retraumatization in communities.
3) Equity-centered framework to push the boundaries on community and stakeholder ownership, influence, and agency.
GRAPHIC DESIGNER + MURALIST
An experienced designer for over ten years in the creative industry – from landscape architecture to graphic design – Saba leverages her strong visual communication skills and a lifelong commitment to the creative arts to effectively share ideas. With a human-centered approach, her focus lies in driving an idea from conceptualization to implementation through storytelling, installations, exhibits, digital graphics, and print collateral. Saba is skilled in design strategy, conceptualization, and visual storytelling, with expertise in digital renderings, illustration, and medium to large scale mural installation.
As a ‘Visual Storyteller,’ Saba gravitates toward media and subject matter that can be used as tools to heal, unit, inspire and bridge divides. For her, the most important works are those that, through collaboration and listening, generate dialogue, enhance a sense of community, and tell stories that need to be heard (and seen).
MEGAN OLIVER, AICP
URBAN PLANNER + GRAPHIC DESIGNER
Megan Oliver is an AICP-certified planner and urban designer rooted in Baltimore—her hometown and the city where she earned both a BFA in Environmental Design at Maryland Institute College of Art and her Master’s of City and Regional Planning from Morgan State University.
Megan is an urbanist and happiness enthusiast with an acute awareness of the influence environments have on driving choices, behaviors, and feelings. Recognizing the power of places to either nourish or discourage us, Megan focuses her work on improving well-being through urban design and planning. Over the past 12 years, she has utilized a holistic and person-centric approach to help more than one hundred communities share their stories, celebrate identity, shape public spaces, and craft visions of the future. Megan formed her own research-based design practice, Hello Happy Design, to apply the science of human experience and perception to environmental design strategies. Through storytelling, public art, placemaking, livability planning, and responsive spatial design, she fosters strong communities and cultivates happier spaces and places.
SHANEK KUMI, MA
Shanek Kumi is one of our team’s newest collaborators! She is a talented architectural designer who is also experienced in landscape architecture, graphic design, and interiors. We asked her to share with us what inspires her in design and in life:
“I am always researching and exploring across areas of design for inspiration (textile, fashion, industrial, graphic) as well as aspects of nature, human interactions, and art forms (cliche but just the truth). Due to observation, lived experience, and research I became interested in the design and development of low-income housing and use of sustainable materials globally. In general, I try to break down life to simple desires, and my ultimate contributions - playfulness, abundant health and inner peace, community (family & friends), culture, and most importantly faith. Art and design are my means at living out these purposes. I've had the pleasure of incorporating furry pets Gizeppi and Luna into my adult life - something seemingly trivial but, over the years has really helped to mold the ways in which I view us as animals, and our interconnectivity to our surroundings.”
ALICE STURM, PLA
LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT + ECOLOGICAL RESEARCHER
Alice is a licensed landscape architect and ecological researcher - her publications have covered topics as varied as theory of climate-adaptive waterfront design and meadow maintenance planning for institutions, but these days her focus is on establishing evidence-based goals for the aesthetics of sustainable landscapes. When she's not working, you can find her encouraging her toddler to get as dirty as possible.