July 11, 2022

Alumni Profile: David Efland, MCRP ’96

Alumni Profile

David Efland, FAICP

Master of City and Regional Planning, 1996

Job Title
City of Delaware, Ohio – Planning & Community Development Director

City of Oxford, Ohio – Planner and Director of Community Development

City of Cincinnati, Ohio – City Planner and Senior City Planner

Awards and Recognition
AICP Fellow, 2022

Columbus, Ohio

Describe your typical day as a planner.

With local government planning, and it might be a cliché but it’s true, there is no typical day. That keeps things interesting, ever-changing, and fast-paced. If I had to define it, a typical day would be problem-solving, mentoring younger planners, interacting with City Council and the City Manager, and, of course, serving the public in a wide variety of engagements every day. There are typical months filled with casework serving Boards and Commissions and Applicants as well as City Council. There is a particular rhythm to these meetings. We spend a lot of time and effort analyzing proposals followed by preparing staff reports and recommendations, answering questions, and presenting cases.

Why did you choose a career in planning?

Growing up I loved transportation and the geography of cities. As a kid in my grandparent’s apartment in New York City, I would sit under the typewriter table (which had folding leaves on each end that I would put up or down depending upon which ‘direction’ I was going) and pretend to be a subway train driver—I just loved trains, castles, and cities as a child and got to travel a lot to Europe to visit family. But, like most folks, I did not even know it was a profession until about the last part of my freshmen year. I took a seminar course on the city, and I was hooked. Ultimately, I came to understand that I could positively impact my community through the application of planning principles and techniques.

What is one piece of advice you can give a Knowlton student who is searching for a job or internship?

Do not confine yourself early in your career to one aspect of planning—explore, explore, explore. You are likely to find an avenue that you did not know even existed. You are also likely to find that there is a difference between your academic knowledge from the classroom and your working knowledge as a planner. You must know how to do both and translate between the two to be successful. Local government is an experience that is hard to beat. It exposes you to virtually every aspect of the profession. The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) has a great program to connect students to internships throughout Central Ohio.

What were your most memorable moments at Knowlton or Ohio State?   

I loved my classmates and many of us still keep in touch. We were pretty close-knit, worked long nights, and took tough classes together. Several of us even attended a couple of national planning conferences together where we learned, had fun, and searched for jobs!

In the classroom, many of us worked on a plan for a local township during one course. We produced the township’s comprehensive plan including great public involvement. When I returned to the Columbus area years later, I heard from officials in that township that they still used elements of that plan to advance their community. Having that type of impact on a place is awesome and rewarding. It was only possible as a member of the Ohio State University and Knowlton family who was guided by tremendous teachers and mentors.

What do Ohio State and the Knowlton School mean to you? How do you stay connected as an alumnus? 

My father was a renowned professor in the Ohio State Art Education department for over 40 years, and I have fond memories of exploring his building (and the Oval) as a kid. Becoming a graduate student here was both surreal and fully expected. It just does not get any better than graduating at the Shoe and from one of the best planning programs in the world!

I have the current honor of being on the Knowlton School Alumni Society Board, which provides a unique way to stay connected with what’s happening on campus and also to help connect Knowlton alumni around the world.