Get a Seat at the Table: Landscape Architects Needed for Federal Positions

ASLA 2017 Student Collaboration Honor Award. The White House Kitchen Garden, Washington, DC. University of Virginia / image: UVA School of Architecture / Mary McCall, Associate ASLA

The White House recently launched a website inviting the American public to apply for political appointment positions, and ASLA encourages its members who want to make a difference and want a seat at the table to use the White House “get involved” portal to apply for opportunities including full-time policy positions and volunteer advisory boards and committees.

Every four years, after each presidential election, about 9,000 federal civil service leadership and support positions in the legislative and executive branches of the federal government become available. These positions, commonly known as political appointments or “plum” positions (named after the color of the original publication listing these positions, The Plum Book), must be filled by the incoming president and are subject to noncompetitive appointment.

The White House notes that our nation is facing some of its most challenging issues, including a pandemic, an economic crisis, a call for racial justice, and climate change. While these crises are certainly daunting, they are surmountable with landscape architects leading many of the solutions. From deploying nature-based solutions and sustainable projects to address climate change, to creating healthy economically-vibrant communities, to providing open spaces as respites from COVID-related isolation, to working with communities to create safe equitable places to live, work, and recreate, landscape architects are uniquely suited to lead these solutions.

Through the White House “get involved” portal, interested landscape architects should fill in the required fields, upload a resume, and select a desired policy area of interest, which include agriculture, civil rights, environment, infrastructure, and natural resources.

The portal also asks for desired department, agency, board, and/or commission. While the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development are natural fits for landscape architects, the profession is also needed at the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (also known as the U.S. Access Board), Council on Environmental Quality, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Commission of Fine Arts, and more.

You are able to select multiple policy areas and multiple boards when filling out your application. ASLA encourages you to select as many as you are interested in and qualified to participate in. Having landscape architects serve in key federal departments, agencies, and commissions is critical to advancing the profession and the communities they serve.

ASLA is here to help. Once you have applied for positions, please let us know what you are applying for and how we can provide assistance.

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