Meet Planner Karen Mallo, AICP – WithersRavenel

Meet Planner Karen Mallo, AICP

Meet Planner Karen Mallo, AICP

October is Planning Month, and WithersRavenel is shining a spotlight on our talented planning team. This week, meet Karen Mallo, AICP. Karen is a planner in our Raleigh office and has been with WithersRavenel for two years. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Planning and Design from Rutgers University and a Master of City and Regional Planning degree from Clemson.

WithersRavenel: What sparked your interest in planning?

Karen Mallo: I have always been fascinated with architecture, cities, and neighborhoods. As a kid my favorite book was “The Little House” by Virginia Lee Burton, and I wanted to be an architect (thank you, Mr. Brady). However, without drafting classes nor a portfolio in high school, architecture programs in college were not an option. I tried my hand at Landscape Architecture, and those all-nighter drafting projects were fun, but it was my first urban design class (Environmental Design Analysis, aka EDA) that made me fall in love with planning! Everything from design concepts to the rules and regulations of zoning and development standards to public engagement – it has truly become a passion.

WR: Tell us about a project you have worked on/are working on that has interested or inspired you.

KM: A few projects hold a special place in my heart, but most recently, it was the Town of Sylva Unified Development Ordinance update. It was a great experience to work in a mountain community and understand the complexities of planning when steep slopes, accessibility, and other factors come into play. Sylva has a true sense of community, which was apparent in the image and standards they wanted to implement. Working with their Boards and staff was truly enjoyable. This project made me realize that small town planning, while having some idiosyncrasies, is a rewarding experience. I hope we can continue to share our WR core values with towns such as Sylva!

WR: What hobbies do you have outside of work?


  • I love to travel and explore new cities!
  • My weekends for the last 18 years have been filled watching my kids do what they love – soccer, running, dancing, wrestling, etc.
  • All things food: eating out, cooking, trying new recipes, wine pairing, baking – all of it!
  •  I enjoy photography and wish I had more time (and $$) dedicated to understanding my camera and all its functions.
  •  I quill snowflakes around the holidays.
  • Board games with my family!

Do you want to put WithersRavenel’s Planning Team to work for you? Contact Director of Planning Brendie Vega, AICP, at (919) 535-5212 or