Meet CAED’s 2023 Honored Alumna

Vicki estrada

Click on the photo to view a video narrative of Vicki Estrada by Cal Poly UDAE.

On Friday, Oct. 27, Vicki Estrada was celebrated as CAED’s 2023 honored alumni.   

For 60 years, the Honored Alumni Award has served as the highest honor bestowed upon Cal Poly alumni. The awards recognize alumni from the university’s six academic colleges, Cal Poly Athletics and the Cal Poly Alumni Association. This year, honored alumni received the high honor during a distinguished ceremony held at the Performing Arts Center with a reception immediately following the event.   

Vicki graduated from Cal Poly with the landscape architecture class of 1975 as a transfer student who came to Cal Poly with an AA in Architecture from San Diego Mesa College. For over 40 years of her career, she has nurtured community engagement to reflect diverse values and create responsive, community-centered environments that enrich and celebrate.   

Vicki’s extraordinary commitment to community service through distinguished and impactful roles includes her contributions as a founding member of Cal Poly’s Landscape Architecture Advisory Council. She has been a long-standing advisor, helping the program evolve and improve to become one of the highest-ranked programs in the nation. Currently, she is the Vice Chair of the California Arts Council, where she shares her passion for the arts, her expertise in incorporating public art into landscape design, and her commitment to bringing the arts to underserved communities. Other service roles include: 

— Past president of the San Diego Chapter of Lambda Alpha International. 

— Past president of the Media Arts Center San Diego Board of Directors. 

— Past chair of the San Diego Foundation Opening the Outdoors action team. 

— Past member of the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture. 

— Past chair of the City of San Diego Public Art Committee. 

— Past chair of the San Diego Airport Public Art Committee. 

— Board member of the San Diego Canyonlands Board of Directors. 

— Board member of the San Diego Maritime Museum. 

— Board member of the Groundwork San Diego Board of Directors. 

Vicki’s distinguished professional career, for which she has been honored as a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects, includes founding her San Diego-based firm, Estrada Land Planning, which provides land planning, urban design and landscape architecture design services for projects that range from community and master planning to parks, streetscapes and infill solutions that engage stakeholders in consensus building to help clients achieve environmental and cultural sustainability. Examples of the range and impact of her projects can be seen in the Balboa Park Master Plan, the Las Palmas Ranch Land Plan, the Ocean Beach Skatepark, the Broadway Medians, and the San Diego State Trolley Station.  

In addition to being a role model in her professional life, Vicki has generously shared her personal stories through various interviews. As a young child, she immigrated from Mexico with her family, learning English as a second language. Confronted with prejudice as a young adult, she persisted past it and found strength in her ethnicity, culture and, later, womanhood. As a transgender woman, Vicki has lived and worked both as a man and woman, bringing the lessons and insights gained through her transition to her work as a designer, her service to communities and her talent as a musician. An accomplished pianist, she has composed pieces inspired by her fellow students at Cal Poly and performs in a Grateful Dead cover band.   

A leading voice in her profession, her community of San Diego and the State of California, Vicki is a role model for Cal Poly students and alumni who aspire to apply their creative talents and rich backgrounds to advance the public good. 

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