31 Oct Para Smith to become newest member of WithersRavenel planning team
With a background in planning and a passion for problem-solving and collaboration, WithersRavenel Project Coordinator Para Smith has been promoted to a new position with our Planning staff.
Para is currently helping to train several new WithersRavenel project coordinators as she transitions to her new position. Project coordinators handle key administrative tasks that help keep project work on track, make deadlines, and assure a positive client experience.
“The project coordinator team in general was just absolutely fantastic,” Para said. “When it was brought to my attention that WithersRavenel was hiring for a planner, I did kind of sit on the fence for a minute and say, ‘I hate to give up what I have going with this great group of people.’ I was really grateful to work with them and have the opportunity that I did.”
Para’s planning experience includes stints as the Development Services Coordinator for the Town of Clayton, where she basically served as a one-stop shop, coordinating developers’ work with the staff professional in the town. Later, as a Planning Technician for the Town of Apex, she worked with applications for everything from zoning compliance to rezoning site plans and permitting. She enjoyed working together with developers to help them navigate obstacles and collaborate with municipalities on successful projects.
Her background working for municipal governments will be valuable on the consulting side of the planning process. She said the move to WithersRavenel has been eye-opening, and she appreciates the resources that our employee-owned firm can provide clients, from due diligence to comprehensive engineering services, to make the planning process run more smoothly.
And while the COVID-19 pandemic threw curveballs at a lot of professions, Para appreciates the opportunity that a hybrid role working from the office and her home offers. She also believes the pandemic encouraged municipalities to embrace more digital submittals of paperwork, which has helped make the planning and overall project process more efficient. Para also cited the benefits of virtual meetings and online communication, in addition to in-person gatherings, for equitable public engagement.
“To have some government, planning, and community meetings move online, that’s really fantastic,” she said. “Because then people who may not have been able to go to them before actually can participate.”
Outside of work, Para has a passion for dogs. She spent several years working as a veterinary technician and a groomer, and has three dogs: Bear, Flash, and Artie. She loves getting outdoors with them, and also participates with them in various dog sports including flyball, a fast-paced team competition that blends speed, focus, and agility.
Para majored in Business Administration at York (PA) College. She also has a degree from Wake Technical Community College and has taken leadership courses at N.C. State. She’s considering specializing in a specific aspect of planning in the future, such as environmental planning or long-range planning.
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 email@example.com.