A Culture Built on Collaboration

At ABLA, we bring everything we have to every project. It’s easy for us to be passionate about what we do because we believe in what we do. Our work is meaningful, and it impacts people’s lives—from the infrastructure of a masterplanned community to the layout of a playground. For us, there is no project too big or too small. This is what we live and breathe, and we are inspired by it all.

Meet your Team

Andy Baron

President - ASLA, LEED AP

As founder of ABLA, Andy brings more than 25 years of experience to the art of Planning and Landscape Architecture. Andy’s design standards innovate the way we experience the world around us and ABLA inspired spaces are grounded in the cultural nuances, community character, and surrounding natural environment. His experience, from local grass-root projects to large scale developments gives him a balanced understanding of design, planning, and execution. Whether it’s a sports complex, luxury resort, sprawling master planned community, or a community garden in his hometown - Andy has mastered an ability to distill the true essence of living into spaces that impact our lives positively. His ability to communicate project complexities through design concepts, speaking engagements, and critical board room decisions, makes him a natural leader and adviser. Andy believes that exceptional design and its integration are products of passion and team collaboration. His craft is displayed throughout ABLA’s diverse portfolio of projects including commercial developments, campuses, park planning, resorts, healthcare, master planned communities, multi-family complexes, and city sponsored projects.

Thomas Durant

Vice President - RLA, LEED AP

Tom’s experience in the landscape architecture industry spans more than 22 years and covers a broad range of project design and management. At ABLA, his focus is primarily on master-planned communities, project management, business development, and client relations in the Vice President role. As an LEED Accredited Professional, Tom has the unique ability to process complex ideas into workable solutions, providing an important component to our Quality Assurance Program and the ABLA experience. He has a keen understanding of natural processes and the ability to respond to challenges in innovative and creative ways. Tom’s analytical approach to his work broadens the collaborative perspective of our team and makes him a natural leader of ABLA’s mission to create inspiring spaces that impact lives. Tom enjoys spending time camping in Northern Arizona, riding at the Imperial Sand Dunes, gardening, and playing with his two rescued Boxer pups.

Brian Rogers

Associate Principal - RLA

Hailing from the Texas Tech University Landscape Architecture Program; Brian has experience working across the southwest from California to Texas, as well as having served on the Parks & Recreation Board for the City of Plano (Texas). These credentials make Brian an ideal leader at ABLA and a great advocate for the trailblazing stewardship that best serve clients and communities. His strategic approach to design has been two-fold over the past 18 years: creative artistry backed by industry experience and fundamental analysis. This effective blueprint of assessing project feasibility and constraints in the initial stages of design has yielded award-winning communities such as Meridiana and Cane Island in Texas. Partnering with Brian means expert direct project management, design development, and site planning. As a true powerhouse who loves sharing his passion for design and creating inspiring spaces, Brian’s canvas can be seen throughout a diverse portfolio of large-scale master planned and multifamily communities, hospitality destinations, commercial developments, institutional centers, and upscale residential neighborhoods.

Chris Szabo

Associate Principal

Chris leads the design, management, documentation and construction efforts for several landscape architecture and planning projects. Chris’ underlying focus is to provide the utmost satisfaction to the Client by way of ensuring projects are not only aesthetically pleasing, but functional as well.

With 20 years of passion and continued perseverance in the landscape architecture industry, Chris’ work includes the design and implementation of ecologically and socially inspiring spaces across a range of project sizes including top-selling master-planned communities, mixed-use developments, municipal parks, association parks, recreation trails, and streetscapes.

Chris is passionate about design solutions that are responsive to site constraints, drawing on his technical experience as well as communication with the project team to develop an impactful and lasting landscape project.

Chris’ personal drive and motivation makes it challenging for him to step away from his passion of landscape architecture. When he does get away, he enjoys an active lifestyle including spending time with his wife, playing with his rescued Stafford pup, attending concerts, mountain biking, hiking and vacationing in Summit County, Colorado.

Lauren Colone

Landscape Architect II

Lauren is a native Michigander from Hartland, Michigan but escape the cold for the Valley of the Sun. She attended Arizona State University and received her Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture and Minor in Urban Planning. Lauren is excited about the endless opportunities within landscape architecture and enjoy being able to make a positive impact on the world around her. She believes daily life can be improved through landscape design’s ability to create the environmental awareness for community growth and health. Lauren looks forward to becoming a license landscape architect as well as continuing her education within a Master of Landscape Architecture program. Outside of work, Lauren loves staying active by exploring the uniqueness of each city along the west coast, spending time with family and friends, and enjoying her chihuahua, Honey.

Jim Beckman

Project Manager III

Jim has extensive experience on master planned communities and private estates in both the Phoenix and Las Vegas metro areas. His resume also includes parks, streetscapes, major entry monuments, gated entries into parcels, and water features. Throughout Jim’s 23 years of experience within various capacities of landscape architecture, he has developed a passion for project management and brings that flame of expertise to the planning side of ABLA. Jim is originally from Omaha, Nebraska but has made Phoenix, Arizona his home. He spends his free time taking advantage of the desert climate with activities such as competitive mountain biking.
Veronica Luna

Veronica Luna

Landscape Architect II

Veronica is one of bright lights shinning from the star of Texas. She was born in Laredo, TX but was raised on the Mexican side of the border in Nuevo Laredo. As a Texas A&M University alumna with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree and Minor in Park and Natural Resource Management, Veronica is passionate about creating the perfect spaces where memories happen through inspiring environmental design that foster the joy and happiness communities grow by. Overall, her career goal is to become a licensed landscape architect and she’s determined to complete every challenge along the way. Outside of work, Veronica loves traveling and exploring new areas across the world as well as going back to the places that fulfill her personally and spiritually. With a motto of “There is always a bright side!”, you understand why.

Mark Panza

Project Manager III

Mark is an Arizonian to the core. He was born in Arizona and has spent his entire life living in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. Growing up in the valley has given Mark an opportunity to grow his appreciation for desert plant life and the beauty of the Sonoran Desert. Impacting lives through inspiring spaces right in your own backyard, has been fulfilling for him. Mark graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture, and his professional experience has navigated him from single and multi-family design to commercial design for various firms throughout the valley. Outside of the office, he enjoys hiking, golfing, and fishing.

Selena Arandia

Planner II

Selena is an artistic savant originally from San Diego, California with a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from Northern Arizona University. For the past twelve years, she has been experiencing the desert beauty of Arizona and is super excited about the opportunities in planning and landscape design from plant diversity to discovering ways to build a better environment. With vast knowledge in interior design and special skills in hand and digital drawing, Selena believes exterior design will complement her interior design knowledge very well and looks forward to the adventures of creating inspiring spaces at ABLA. Outside of work, Selena likes to draw, hang out with friends and family, read a variety of books (especially fiction), and play video games.

Kimberly Rodriguez

Landscape Architect III

Kimberly is an Arizona State University graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture. She believes that the details within our nature reflect who we are. Kimberly seeks to elevate the importance of connections and detail in design because it’s what makes a project whole. Inspiration is found in the details just like when we discover it in nature’s vast character. Her drive to impact lives through design can be witnessed along every milestone into becoming a registered landscape architect. Outside of work, Kimberly enjoys reading, spending time with her family, and hiking the trails around the Sonoran Desert.

Sarah Jackman

Landscape Architect III

Originally from just outside of Dallas, Texas, Sarah moved to attend Kansas State University in pursuit of a master’s degree in Landscape Architecture with an emphasis on Horticulture. She moved to Phoenix immediately after graduation to immerse herself in the unique desert landscape of Arizona. Her ideology of the landscape revolves around creating a balance between beauty, functionality, and environmental stewardship. Before moving to Arizona, she spent time working for the City of Garland in Texas learning about the way landscapes impact communities and how people shape their environments. Since moving to the desert, Sarah has enjoyed the educational value found within the native plants and climate patterns of Phoenix, while maintaining her own small collection of cacti. In her downtime, Sarah enjoys spending relaxing days at home reading, painting, caring for her small garden, and experimenting with new recipes.

Francie Baron


Francie is affectionately referred to as the “ninja” of the ABLA office due to her stealth behind-the-scenes role. As the Controller, she works closely with client and vendor billing departments and manages the firm’s accounts including general, sub-consultant, and other vendor invoicing. Her role is vital at ABLA, and Francie’s acute attention to detail makes her a significant part of the team. She also excels at other accounting related duties that are intricate to the culture of connection for which ABLA is known. When the ninja mask comes off, Francie enjoys traveling and spending time with her family, bike riding, relaxing at her cabin in Northern Arizona, and of course, all things Kate Spade and wine.

Jason Malpass

Landscape Architect III

Jason is originally from Olympia, Washington and moved to Arizona in 1994 to study architectural design at Arizona State University. He graduated from technical college with a focus in computer-aided design (CAD). Throughout his career, Jason has held various positions within the construction and design industry. With the extensive experience gained, Jason has carved out a niche for landscape architecture including a diversity of projects from master planned communities to commercial properties throughout Arizona. ABLA is ecstatic to have him as a valuable member of the team. Outside of work, Jason enjoys driving his jeep through various parts of the Sonoran Desert, spending time with friends, and watching movies.

Catherine Ruggiero

Landscape Architect III

Catherine is a graduate from Smith College with a bachelor’s degree in Architecture and a master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from Arizona State University. She believes that inclusive design is the key to functional and beautiful spaces within communities. Her passion towards residential design stemmed from her time at ASU learning and innovating with neighborhood participatory design. Catherine is enjoying every experience the industry is offering her as she progresses towards LARE accreditation. When out of the office, Catherine loves to ride horses, camping, and sketching the Arizona landscape.

Colin Hanson

Project Manager III

Colin is an Arizona State University graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture. As an Arizona native, he grew up hiking, biking, and embracing the Sonoran Desert beauty; so a career being able to design the outdoor experience and create inspiring spaces was a dream come true. His professional experience includes educational campus design, master planning, multi-family design, community design and theming, as well as residential design. Working on notable and award-winning projects such as Altis in Beaumont, CA (a world-class active lifestyle community), Summit at San Marcos in Chandler, AZ (a premier urban development), and the I.B.S. 2019 Competition Show Home ProjeKt 2.0 with KB Homes, gives Colin the motivation to continue his impact on the future of community design. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with his wife (a fellow landscape architect) and his 2 kids, riding motorcycles, taking road trips, and going to the movies.
Nick Salazar

Nick Salazar

Landscape Architect I

Nick developed a love of nature, wildlife, and art early on as a young child growing up in Scottsdale, Arizona. Those passions eventually led him to Arizona State University, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Landscape Architecture. Nick strives to learn and grow in the field of design, construction, and development and aspires to further make an impact on the environment as a registered as a Landscape Architect.
Nick is also very passionate about health and fitness. When he is not in the office, he typically can be found in the gym, in the kitchen trying out new recipes, or getting in touch with his artistic side sketching or painting.
Shelby Hollman

Shelby Hollman

Landscape Architect I

After growing up in small town Kansas, Shelby graduated from Kansas State University with her master’s degree in Landscape Architecture, with a minor in Regional and Community Planning. She decided to move out to the Phoenix area to enjoy what the desert landscape has to offer and escape from the freezing cold winters of the Midwest. Shelby is passionate about designing spaces that balance the natural and built environment in order to help people create a lasting connection to the landscape. The thing that excites her most about landscape architecture is the opportunity to create spaces for people that are meaningful, and she is always striving to learn more about the world around her to come up with creative solutions. When she is not at work, Shelby enjoys spending time with her husband and two cats, or out at brunch with friends. She is also excited to explore the many outdoor hiking opportunities the Phoenix area has to offer and to form her own connections to the desert landscape.

Alex Fish

Senior Planner

Alex was born and raised in Mesa, Arizona and is one of the bright cornerstones of ABLA. He holds the multi-faceted position of Senior Planner, where he coordinates and reviews site plans and designs to ensure compliance with design specifications and standards, city zoning ordinances, and site regulations. Alex is a perfectionist of stewardship, and coordinates a review of design recommendations, as well as prepares concept, design, cost analysis, bidding, award, and installation plans with optimal care. He regularly works with clients and consultants to take projects from the conceptual planning/PAD stage, all the way through construction document approval, and into construction. Alex’s watchful eye of communities done right, comes from his joy of nature and the outdoors. He enjoys hunting and spending family time with his two daughters.
Paula Wheeler

Paula Wheeler

Landscape Architect II

Before finding her true calling in landscape architecture, Paula worked as a 4th/5th grade teacher for five years where her classroom door opened right to the playground. Influenced by this daily view of how the design of outdoor spaces had such a strong impact on the human experience, she pondered ideas of designing better outdoor spaces and returned to Arizona State University to pursue Landscape Architecture. While working on her master’s degree, she researched innovative communication tools and their application for landscape architecture where she received multiple awards such as Design Excellence, Master’s Student Honor Award, and an Excellence Award from the Arizona State chapter of ASLA for the collaborative project in New Zealand “Whakaora – Daylighting the Waitangi Stream”. Her work utilizes video, animation, and virtual reality in conjunction with industry-standard tools to communicate design intent while using educational psychology strategies and the art of storytelling to inspire bold design. As one of the nationally recognized 2017 University Olmsted Scholars, Paula plans to become a leader in how landscape architects can leverage innovative communication tools to engage and involve people in the design process.
Outside of work, Paula continues to practice her storytelling as the game master of several table-top roleplaying games, as well as miniature painting, watercolors, and a passion for 3d design and printing.
Nicholas Knoebel

Nicholas Knoebel

Landscape Architect I

A native of Indiana, Nicholas moved to Arizona after nearly eight years in the United States Army. He had spent some time in Arizona when he was training with the Army and was drawn to the unique natural beauty and processes of the Sonoran Desert.
Nicholas’ interest in art, nature, and construction led him to pursue his Masters of Landscape Architecture at Arizona State University. He is excited by the idea that quality landscape design can emphasize the unique attributes of a place while also making it more enjoyable and functional. In his free time, Nicholas enjoys watching motorsports, learning, reading, and relaxing with friends and family.

Sandra Friedlander

Accounting Manager

As ABLA’s accounting manager, Sandra offers impressive attention to detail, sharp investigation skills, and a love of all things math. She graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and has dedicated her professional career solely to working with Planners and Landscape Architects because she thrives off their creativity. Outside of work, she loves spending time with her family, reading, camping with her husband and daughter, and playing softball.