Marya Morris

Marya Morris – Editor

Chicago-based writer and editor with 20+ yrs experience. I get up to speed on new topics quickly and enjoy supporting all writers.


I am a freelance editor and writer based in Chicago. While my professional background and much of my writing and editing have been on urban planning and public policy topics, I also edit memoirs, essays, peer-reviewed academic journal articles, short story collections, and poetry and, in 2023, I will be ghostwriting two autobiographies. As your editor, I will do everything I can to support you through the writing, editing, and revision process. As an author myself, I understand the highs and lows of getting words from the brain to the page. You will find that as a collaborator I am flexible, fun, and honest. In my spare time, I design perennial gardens and I also perform stories on stage. I am a two-time Moth GrandSlam winner and a regular on the Moth Mainstage.
Biographies & Memoirs Design Law Political Science & Current Affairs Transportation
English (AUS) English (CAN) English (NZ) English (US)
  • Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners

Work experience


Oct, 2008 — Present

Recently Edited Manuscripts
Denn, Jon. 2023. Politics 4.0: Where Can We Agree? Gamification, AI, and a national idea leaderboard of winning public policies. 280 pp. Publication forthcoming.

Bargi, Walid. 2022. Pedestrians’ traffic gap acceptance and crossing decisions, for mid-block street crossing." 14 pp. Forthcoming.

Graizbord, Carlos. 2021. Planning theory and
 decision-making for southwestern and border cities. 200 pp. Published independently.
Nixon, George. 2020. Some people take flowers to childbirth, A Memoir. 200 pp. Published independently.
Podemski, Matt. Workers housing: How common urban housing shapes our cities and how we live in them. 92 pp. Publication forthcoming.


Oct, 2006 — Oct, 2008 (about 2 years)

I worked with municipalities, neighborhood groups, advisory committees and individuals to prepare plans and zoning and development regulations that support healthy, sustainable and equitable communities. In 2016 I was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners, the highest honor conferred upon professional urban planners.
• Consultant, Downtown Champaign Zoning Policy and Form-Based Code Rewrite, City of Champaign, Ill. (Subcontractor to Teska Associates, Evanston)
• Lead consultant, Zoning Ordinance Rewrite, City of Blue Island, Ill.
• Senior consultant, Zoning and Subdivision Code Rewrite, Territorial Government of the U.S. Virgin Islands (In affiliation with Rutgers University and Duncan Associates)
• Co-lead consultant, Zoning Ordinance Rewrite, City of Wauwatosa, Wis. (In affiliation with Duncan Associates)
• Consultant, Missoula County (Mont.) Lolo Regional Plan Update Implementation. (Subcontractor to Soapbox Enterprises, Inc., Corbett, Ore.)

Duncan Associates

Oct, 2006 — Oct, 2008 (about 2 years)

• Managed and completed large- and small-scale projects for municipal clients that included white papers, policy analysis, special studies, and revisions to zoning, subdivision, and land development codes.
• Drafted proposals, statements of qualification, and budgets to market the firm to prospective clients.
• Built relationships with outside subcontractors to meet specific client needs and requests.
• Prepared and delivered conference presentations and lectures at national and regional planning conferences, graduate schools of planning, public health seminars, and other events.
• Prepared and monitored project budgets and work plans for all projects.
• Assisted the firm’s principal-in-charge on other client projects.
• Conducted in-depth assessments of plans and development codes; presented recommendations to clients.
• Drafted new or substantially revised sign and billboard ordinances for city and county clients: Henderson, Nev.; Los Angeles County, Calif.; Gurnee, Ill., Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Alaska and Tyler, Tex.

American Planning Association

Jun, 1988 — Oct, 2006 (over 18 years)

• Directed large, multi-phase research initiatives on built environment and public health, comprehensive and sub-area planning, urban design, state enabling legislation, zoning, and transit-supportive land use regulations.
• Worked with senior personnel at private foundations, federal agencies, and state agencies to secure project funding and to meet program goals and requirements of funders.
• Raised more than $1 million in project research support between 1999 and 2006 from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, among other sources.
• Authored research monographs, magazine articles, and website content for each project (see list below).
• Developed and led training programs as part of each research initiative including professional trainings, conference presentations, audio conferences and webinars, invitation-only workshops, external briefings, and testimony.
• Served as APA’s chief spokesperson to national print and broadcast media on planning matters.
• Represented the American Planning Association on international training initiatives in the Czech Republic, Brazil (in partnership with the World Bank), and the UK.
• Served as editor of the PAS Memo, a bi-monthly publication for professional planners.
• Served as assistant editor for Planning Advisory Service reports.
• Worked with senior management on internal initiatives and committees, including the national conference program selection committee, APA Bookstore book selection committee, and the APA National Planning Awards.
• Launched and managed “Tuesdays at APA,” a monthly speaker series open to the public.
• Managed and mentored research associates and graduate students.
• Represented the Research Department on organization’s re-branding committee.


Spectrum 2022

Beach Writers, The Royal Palm

They thought it was the worst year of their lives. But when they reflected deeply on the events of 2020, a year that took so much from so many, they realized they had a lot to be thankful for. In this short anthology, a group of friends write letters to the ye... read more
Green Community

National Building Museum

The health of our planet and ourselves depends on how we plan, design, and construct the world between our buildings. Our increasing dependence on fossil fuels over the last century has given us unprecedented individual mobility and comfort, but the consequenc... read more
Why are so many of our urban environments so resistant to change? The author tackles this question in her comprehensive guide for planners, designers, and students concerned with how cities take shape. This book provides a fundamental understanding of how phys... read more

Marya has 3 reviews





Lissedia B.

Lissedia B.

May, 2022

Ms. Marya M. was the perfect professional to work with for my first project. She was always available to answer my questions and easy to communicate with. I would definitely work with her again.
Rashad S.

Rashad S.

Oct, 2021

Marya was excellent! We will be working together again soon.
Don C.

Don C.

Aug, 2019

Marya was extremely professional and worked well with our parameters on a group anthology. She gave well thought out feedback and advice. We would highly recommend her.
Marya M.
Thank you, Don! And Ginny! And Virginia! And everybody else. The pleasure was mine. The group created a beautiful collection of engaging, funny, poignant and compelling pieces for the anthology.

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