Title: Economic Development Program Manager
Organization: East Central Florida Regional Planning Council
Location: Orlando, FL
Originally from Puerto Rico, Luis Nieves-Ruiz holds a Master’s Degree in Regional Planning from Cornell University and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners. Luis currently serves as Economic Development Manager for the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council, a state agency located in Orlando, Florida. There he provides technical assistance to governments and organizations from an eight-county area. Luis’ interest in health is mainly driven by his food systems planning work, which includes the completion of the Orange County Food Production Strategic Plan and the formation of the Good Food Central Florida Food Policy Council. He has also assisted with several health planning projects including three Health Impact Assessments and the Central Florida Community Health Needs Assessment. Besides food systems, his other areas of professional expertise are industry cluster studies, economic impact analysis, and planning research methods.
On his free time, Luis volunteers with several community and professional organizations including APA Florida, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Jobs Partnership Florida. At ten years, he is one of the longest serving Big Brothers in East Central Florida. Luis is also an active member of the Downtown Orlando Toastmasters Club, where he has received the Advanced Communicator Bronze designation. Luis is a graduate of two state and national leadership programs, the Connect Florida Statewide Leadership Institute (Class I) and Next City’s Vanguard Class (2012). He was also recently awarded a NADO Innovation Award for his work on the Kissimmee Medical Arts District Program.
Why are you motivated to participate in the Health Leaders Network? How will your participation enhance your current and future work?
This ULI Health Leaders Network Program recognizes that health and wellness starts at the local level. At a time when federal elected officials are still contending with changes to the nation’s health care system, this initiative provides a forum where land use professionals can seriously discuss how modifications in the built environment can improve community health outcomes. I am particularly interested in gaining more knowledge on how to create land use policies and regulations that promote connectivity, walkability, and access to fresh affordable food. Another interest of mine is learning about small scale-low cost interventions that can increase the quality of life in urban neighborhoods. My office is currently collaborating with several county health departments and planning agencies on several projects that could benefit from this information. On a personal level, I am excited to connect with professionals from across the nation interested in identifying opportunities to better integrate health into land use planning processes.