Planning Welcomes Senior Planner Jessie Hillman

Help us welcome Senior Planner Jessie Hillman!

Jessie grew up in Texas, living in both Austin and San Antonio. After graduating high school, she headed to Reed College in Portland, OR, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in cultural anthropology. She had been exposed to the field early in life by her father, who was a cultural anthropologist and also the first person to expose her to planning when he enlisted her help in creating a public arts master plan.

After college she moved to Sarasota, FL with her now-husband. He made the move to pursue a job designing boats and she began working as a health educator. Through that work she noticed the impacts that sprawl and a lack of walkability had on the surrounding communities and started getting more interested in planning from a public health perspective. She was also starting to recognize the role planning had in the preservation of the natural spaces she was so drawn to in all her travels.

The next stop for Jessie and her husband was Baltimore, MD, where they found themselves immersed in the city’s waterfront. Jessie began working for the environmental nonprofit Blue Water Baltimore, her husband was working to make water sports more accessible by designing sailboat kits, and they lived on a 40-foot sailboat in the harbor. They loved living on the water and enjoying waterfront amenities, and the experience gave her an even closer connection to her work as she saw the effects of stormwater runoff every time it rained.

While working on green infrastructure projects at Blue Water Baltimore, Jessie also earned a master’s degree in city and regional planning from Morgan State University, a historically black university. She developed placemaking projects for things like rain gardens, pocket parks, and tree plantings that made the area’s neighborhoods more engaging and sustainable. After graduation she began working at the Baltimore County Department of Planning as a community planner focused on waterfront communities.

Jessie began her work with us in February, and we are excited to have her. We are confident that her past work in the public sector and experience with planning and community engagement will serve us well. At Planning she’ll be working in the Planning Services division, focused on rezonings, plan amendments, and development plans.

In her spare time, you are likely to find her sailing, hiking, or playing the musical saw.

She loves spending time outside with her husband and son and is excited to explore all the outdoor recreation the Knoxville area has to offer.

If you see Jessie, be sure to extend a warm welcome!