Al Zelinka

Al Zelinka



+1 (714) 815 6403

Leave a messagearrowCreated with Sketch.

Al Zelinka is a director with Baker Tilly’s public sector advisory practice. He has served local governments, public agencies, business improvement districts, and downtown and neighborhood associations throughout California and the U.S. in consulting and public staff capacities, including as vice president of a nationally recognized engineering firm and principal of a national urban design and planning practice, as well as community development director and/or city manager for three cities.

His 30-year career is focused on advancing his original career objective: to “make a difference” in communities. Al’s work experience on hundreds of projects and programs in 30 states (plus the District of Columbia) spans a diverse array of sustainability initiatives, strategic planning, municipal operational work plans, community development process improvements, economic development strategies, downtown and neighborhood revitalization, food systems planning, open space/parks/trails planning, and local and regional plans and zoning. Additionally, he has supported local governments in addressing customer service excellence, financial health and budgeting, homelessness solutions, community engagement, and has led management and organizational reviews, team building and organizational goal setting, department performance assessments, performance measurement systems, and municipal revenue generation strategy.

Al is a fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners, a certified main street manager and is certified in both community economic development and crime prevention through environmental design. He is the co-author of two books, SafeScape and Placemaking on a Budget.

  • Developed financial health indicators systems for strategic decision-making and public awareness, led financial planning for financial solvency and structural fiscal stability, oversaw grant writing program development and guided strategic budgeting to achieve organizational priorities
  • Organized sustainability, environmental, social and governance (ESG), and resiliency including: environmental strategies ranging from green building programs and public education and information campaigns to procurement/purchasing policies, partnership-based food systems advancement, green fleet development, food and green waste to energy initiatives; social responsibility via diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) assessment/audit and implementation programs, Municipal Equality Index score improvement strategies, civil rights landmarks and trails planning, workforce training, public art, etc.; and, advanced governance and implementation to include strategic plans, organizational structures, operational master plans and procurement systems built upon a triple bottom line sustainability framework
  • Facilitated economic development strategies and implementation plans for cities and business districts, tapping local assets and strengths to achieve greater prosperity (for example, local food system development, cultural heritage tourism, industry and business attraction focused on addressing climate change, etc.)
  • Conducted hundreds of community engagement activities and processes to achieve authentic outputs guiding community change and addressing issues, challenges, assets, and aspirations. Developed public participation policy and toolkits, as well as training programs, for local governments and agencies to build capacity for civic participation
  • Coordinated multiple town and gown (i.e. city/town and university/college) strategies for economic development (e.g., incubators, industry attraction, local food system, etc.), transportation, arts and culture, infrastructure, housing development, public engagement and neighborhood stability
  • Led community development process improvement programs (for both in-person and online systems) to result in efficient and effective planning, zoning, building, and other municipal functions and to facilitate community investment and enhance customer experience
  • Innovated organizational service excellence programs that included training, process improvement, performance measurement and reporting systems, departmental reorganization, public information, audits and in-person and online real time satisfaction surveys
  • Conducted strategic planning programs, and related implementation action plans and operational work plans, to prioritize areas of focus and measure progress for governing bodies, staff and the public. Included team building, leadership goal setting, organizational committee-based change programs, executive and group coaching, language translation and other variations
  • Led downtown and Main Street placemaking, revitalization and development programs utilizing community-based approaches and entailing promotion, economic restructuring, design and organization strategies that result in transformative, positive change
  • Prepared organizational assessments and development plans for alignment with key strategies and improving the functionality of operations for the benefit of efficiency and effectiveness for decision-makers, employees and customers
  • Provided training and education on subjects including public participation, city management, downtown development, neighborhood revitalization, crime prevention through environmental design, placemaking and urban design, leadership, economic development and numerous other topics
  • California Planning Roundtable
  • American Planning Association
  • National Main Street Center
  • Orange Home Grown Farmer’s Market and Education Farm
  • Santiago Creek Greenway Alliance
  • Hilbert Museum of California Art at Chapman University
  • National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • Northern Arizona University, Advisory Board for College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Neighborhood Watch Program
  • Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America
  • Resource Apprenticeship Program for Students in Northern Alaska, volunteer in Service to America (VISTA)
  • Hall of Fame Leadership in Public Service Award, issued by Northern Arizona University College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Oct 2021
  • NAACP Freedom Fund Award Winner for Government & Community Relations, issued by NAACP Riverside Branch, May 2019


Orange County, CA


Master in regional planning

Cornell University (Ithaca, New York)

Bachelor of Science in public planning

Northern Arizona University