Meet R&M’s Emily Bentti, CESCL

April 18, 2018

Emily is a Planner and Public Involvement Coordinator in R&M’s Planning and Public Involvement Group. She has been with R&M for two years and has nine years of experience specializing in local, state and federal permitting, land use studies, site planning, agency and stakeholder outreach, and comprehensive project impact analysis. Emily is also experienced in environmental planning and permitting, and has been responsible for NEPA documentation, environmental assessments, and land research and site acquisition.

Emily is currently supporting planning and public involvement for a study to identify and plan for pedestrian and other non-motorized user safety within Big Lake; a site selection study and public outreach for a new municipal off-lease dog park in Chugiak-Eagle River; an update of the Title 17 Land Use Code for the Matanuska-Susitna Borough (MSB); the updated Human Services Coordinated Transportation Plan for the MSB; and community outreach for development of a new shared airport for the communities of Port Graham and Nanwalek.


What inspired you to become a planner?
During the first part of my career I was heavily involved in technical work with engineers. I learned how important planning and community engagement is to a project because the process guides the designer and contractor in achieving the end goal. Being involved in project planning and the public involvement process is also the best way possible to help the public, who many of our projects ultimately benefit.

What’s your favorite part of your job?
I really enjoy the collaboration, getting to work with engineers, clients, subconsultants and the public. I also enjoy bringing people together to rally around a common interest and getting them excited about a project.

Favorite Project?
The Big Lake Pedestrian Improvements Study project. I’ve gotten to work directly with the public and people who are invested in improving transportation facilities in the Big Lake community. It’s been interesting because some people are very entrenched in the community and the way it is now. Talking to these folks, presenting project information and showing them the benefits of the improvements to get them excited about the changes is something I’ve really enjoyed.

What do you look forward to discovering next?
Learning about the official processes of planning and public involvement. I have lots of informal experience, but learning the more technical aspects and processes from Van (R&M’s Planning and PI Group Manager) will really expand my experience.

I’ve recently started to volunteer more as I’ve have more free time. I am on the planning committee for the 2019 American Planning Association Conference and am passionate about helping those experiencing homelessness. This last winter I organized a coat drive for the Brother Francis Shelter. We have too many resources to justify anyone being homeless and alone.

I have a food blog, Momma Z’s Kitchen and also dabble in photography. I’ve always loved cooking and the blog became a platform for me to share recipes with all my friends. My dream is to publish a cookbook and open a restaurant.

The photography started as a hobby when my son was born. I wanted to have great photos of all his moments. And it evolved from the need to take food photos of all the yummy food I was cooking for my blog. You have to have great food photos!

Three things you can’t live without:
Coffee, my cat and a good dry shampoo.

Favorite Vacation Spot:
Cannon Beach, Oregon. It’s my happy place. I love the Pacific Ocean coast because it’s cold but still a beach.