Staff Spotlight: Jen Higginbotham

MPO News
| Monday, March 04 | 10:54AM

Jen Higginbotham grew up in Brazil, Indiana, enjoying outdoor adventures with her cousins. She went to college to be an architect and was exposed to planning during her freshman year. Struck by the idea that planning was about improving entire communities on a larger scale, rather than one building at a time, she chose to focus on planning. She earned a bachelor’s degree in urban planning and development from Ball State University and is in the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). Here’s some Q&A so you can get to know her better.


I consider myself a serial hobbyist (I like to learn a new skill then move on to the next one). I knit, sew, am OK at a couple of instruments. I also like to build things, read comic books, and more.


I have a small fuzzy dog who is an excellent cuddler.

Favorite place to visit or vacation?

I like to go to new places where I can stay busy. My favorites have been New York, London, and Prague. I also like beach vacations, but I get antsy pretty quickly. Visiting the Island of Antigua was an experience because they drove on the left and the drivers were crazy!

Most underappreciated aspect of planning?

Good planning tries really hard to engage everyone in the community. It’s all about trying to guide development in a way that benefits all of the people—business owners, residents, people going to school, or anyone else.

Most important recent trend in planning?

Planning used to be motivated by top-down decision-making. During the past 30 years or so, it’s tried to focus on more bottom-up decision making. The way to know what’s best for a community is by asking the people who live there.

What is the best-planned city in America?

I think it depends on who you are and what you like. I personally like cities where I don’t have to drive and where there are a lot of things to do, like New York, but I also like somewhere like Hilton Head, where they have made sure that there are trees absolutely everywhere.

If you could wave a wand and improve Central Indiana infrastructure, what would you do?

I’d make sure that every street had a sidewalk, and that all crosswalks are really easy to see and for people to walk across.

If you could change one thing about the way Indianapolis has grown over the years, what would it be?

I’d make sure there were more streets that go from one end of town to the other.