Morgan Dunay is a landscape designer and community planner in Gresham Smith’s Land Planning market. Since joining the firm in 2020, she’s played a role in driving positive change, making significant contributions to notable projects such as the Louisville Metro Broadway All the Way Master Plan.

Morgan embarked on her Gresham Smith journey through a shadowing opportunity during her senior year at the University of Kentucky, where she was working toward a bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture. Despite the positive experience, her initial career aspirations leaned toward research and teaching, with the ultimate goal of earning a Ph.D. However, two years later, while pursuing her master’s degree in Regional and Community Planning at Kansas State University, fate intervened at a conference where she was honored with a student award for her outstanding undergraduate work.

Recalling the significant turning point, Morgan recounts, “Louis Johnson, then a senior landscape architect at Gresham Smith, approached me, asking about my goals. After talking with Louis, it became clear that many of the projects in the Land Planning market aligned with my environmental interests, particularly their focus on urban stream systems. It didn’t take long to decide to take a summer internship at the firm. During that summer, I was exposed to a lot of the planning and early conceptual work they did, which included projects like Beargrass Creek, the Chattahoochee Riverlands Greenway Study, and the Lexington Multifamily Stormwater Retrofit Manual. That experience truly hooked me!”

Upon completing her studies at Kansas State University in 2020, Morgan officially joined Gresham Smith as a landscape designer. However, her first full-time role coincided with the unexpected emergence of the COVID19 pandemic, requiring her to adapt to the challenges of a new job, a new home, and a new city—all while working remotely.

“Gresham Smith’s offices, like most workplaces at that time, had to close for the safety of our employees,” remembers Morgan. “As a lifelong learner, I used the isolation to intensify my learning efforts, especially in the areas of technology. I seized every opportunity that came my way. The importance of my job and social network took on a whole new meaning, and I’m deeply grateful to my supervisor and team for providing the support and guidance that helped me navigate through such unfamiliar territory.”

During this unique phase of her career, Morgan’s primary project focus became the Broadway Master Plan—a collaborative effort between the firm’s Land Planning and Transportation markets that reimagined Louisville’s 6-mile Broadway corridor. Beyond contributing her expertise in graphic communication skills to create a community-centric approach that bridged landscape architecture and transportation planning, Morgan played a crucial role in the development of the RAISE grant application in collaboration with Louis Johnson. This successful effort secured a federal match of $5 million for Louisville Metro to advance their “Broadway All the Way” project.

“RAISE is a highly competitive federal funding program. Morgan’s dedication and passion played a pivotal role in Gresham Smith successfully completing the work on an incredibly tight timeline that demanded extended hours over weekends and nights,” says Louis Johnson, executive vice president of Gresham Smith’s Land Planning market. “What’s so important about this grant is that it opens doors for us for future opportunities. Morgan has always shown exceptional persistence and commitment to consistently deliver quality results across a spectrum of diverse projects, but her work on the grant process for the Broadway project reached a level of dedication that truly sets her apart.”

Her work on the grant process for the Broadway project reached a level of dedication that truly sets her apart. Louis Johnson Land Planning Executive Vice President, Gresham Smith

Morgan’s passion for diverse projects and collaborative teams is complemented by her dedication to continuous learning, as evidenced by her goal to someday earn a Ph.D. Morgan shares, “I’ve always strived to learn something new—be it in business development or understanding design projects. I ask a lot of questions! And while some might call me nosy, it’s driven by genuine curiosity. Learning from those around me, whether they’re more experienced or learning alongside me, has been truly rewarding. It’s had a big influence on how I approach and think about projects.”

Beyond her professional commitments, Morgan is deeply engaged in community service. Having served as a co-chair for United Way and holding key positions such as chair for Kentucky ASLA’s Emerging Professionals and secretary for APA Kentucky, she emphasizes her commitment to her favorite mantra: “We can make a difference.” “Everything I do is guided by the belief that each of us has the power to make a difference,” says Morgan. “Every project becomes an opportunity to explore ways to contribute positively, whether it’s environmentally, as a community asset, or enhancing an experience. I think this mindset applies to projects of all scales. I always strive to move beyond the status quo and consider how we can make a lasting impact.”

Illustrating Morgan’s philosophy is Parkland Plaza in Louisville’s historic Parkland neighborhood—a once-thriving commercial center adversely affected by urban renewal in the 1960s. Morgan reflects, “This was a pro bono project. Despite a limited budget and a simple design, we successfully transformed an empty lot in the Parkland neighborhood into a cherished space that the community now regards as sacred. Witnessing their joy and genuine love for a space that had previously seen little investment encapsulates why I am so passionate about my profession.

“For me, this project symbolizes the essence of making a meaningful impact—creating spaces that become integral to a community’s identity. My aim is to walk away from every project, whether it be for a client or the community, with that same sense of accomplishment.”

Witnessing their joy and genuine love for a space that had previously seen little investment encapsulates why I am so passionate about my profession. Morgan Dunay Landscape Designer, Gresham Smith

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