Laura Kessel Named to Des Moines Business Record’s Forty Under 40 Class of 2020

A respected landscape architect and urban planner, Kessel has been honored for her professional success and civic contributions.

RDG Planning & Design Partner Laura Kessel, PLA, AICP has been recognized as a member of the Des Moines Business Record’s Forty Under 40 class of 2020. The Forty Under 40 awards are given annually to 40 local business leaders under the age of 40 in recognition of their career achievements and community involvement. Winners are selected by a panel of past recipients and will be officially recognized during an award ceremony on April 1, 2020.

“Whether out in the community, when working with clients or as a leader within RDG, Laura is a tireless advocate for equity, wellness and inclusion,” said RDG Principal and President Justin Platts, PLA, ASLA, LEED AP. “Her approach to design is rooted in collaboration, and it’s no surprise to those of us who work with her that the Business Record saw fit to recognize her professional and community contributions with this honor.”

Kessel has practiced landscape architecture and urban planning for 15 years. In her time at RDG, she has offered critical leadership for designs across multiple markets, including development of the Gray’s Station Master Plan and visioning for the reimagined Douglas Avenue Corridor.

As a studio leader, Kessel provides guidance and mentorship to a team of 14 creative designers.

“It is a true honor to be recognized by the Des Moines community I love. But, more than anything, I look forward to continuing meaningful work with colleagues, clients and non-profits as we work to solve complex challenges,” said Kessel.

As a past chair and early member of Iowa Women in Architecture (iaWia), Kessel led efforts to develop a Best Practices Manual outlining recommendations for the development and implementation of policies that address work-life balance and career development challenges to enhance recruitment, retention, and engagement of design firm employees at all career stages, which she has presented both locally and nationally. She provides student mentorship through participation in programs such as the Iowa Architectural Foundation’s Adventures in Architecture camps, the Waukee APEX program and as a resource for students in Iowa State University’s Landscape Architecture and Community and Regional Planning departments. A strong advocate for climate change action and sustainable design, Kessel was a volunteer for NextGen Climate and has developed neighborhood plans and design standards to enhance communities across Iowa and beyond.

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