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 III

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 III

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.

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

Project Manager I

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.

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 II

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.

Elizabeth Ferguson

Landscape Architect I

Elizabeth moved from an island along the coast of Washington state to Phoenix, to complete a master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from Arizona State University. Growing up on a farm, Elizabeth has had a love for the plants and animals around her at a young age. Choosing to combine her design background and love of the natural environment, Elizabeth found Landscape Architecture. Elizabeth is passionate about providing equitable green space, and the services that landscapes can provide the built environment. Elizabeth plans to continue to make an impact on designed landscapes after becoming a registered Landscape Architect. Outside of the office Elizabeth loves to explore the beautiful Arizona landscape, while also continuing to hone her gardening and cooking skills.

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.
Manuel D Reyes IV

Manuel Reyes

Marketing Coordinator

If you wonder where the edge is—you’ll find Manuel there. He is always exploring the new frontiers of where your brand can go. Born & Raised in Colton, CA Manuel moved to Dallas, TX where he attended Collin County Community College in 2007 receiving an Associates of Arts in Visual and Design Communications. Manuel found his way to Phoenix, Arizona in 2014 where he continued to pursue his dreams of becoming an all-around Creative & Marketing Professional. Motivated to continue those dreams in 2016 Manuel started a small business focusing on Branding & Marketing where he's partnered with CEOs, Executives and Solopreneurs to grow their personal & professional brands, human-to-human. After spending over, a decade working in creative roles and marketing for multimillion dollar brands and startups, Manuel knows what truly drives the conversions, and it’s not mastering the marketing techniques or strategies, it’s how well you connect with the heart of the people you’re trying to help communicate your message too. His personal drive and motivation is followed with an extreme passion for design leading him to opportunities with some of Arizona’s most well-known names. Inspired by design and creativity Manuel was drawn to Landscape Architecture after moving to Arizona and seeing the true beauty and emotional response that came with the desert landscape.

Outside of work Manuel is a Father of three amazing young children where he focuses most of his time and energy. Manuel also enjoys playing video games, watching sports while becoming fully immersed in the action along side his son and most of all creating works of art from a blank canvas.

Natasha Petersen

Natasha Petersen

Office Administrator

As ABLA’s office administrator Natasha offers impressive attention to detail and fine tuned administrative skills. Originally from Russia, Natasha moved to the states in the early 2000s and attended school completing her General Studies. Natasha enjoys working with the ABLA team, learning and solving interesting problems. Outside of work, she loves volunteering, being outdoors, cooking, and being an all around creative person.

Jada Blackwood

Landscape Architect I

Hailing from Toronto, Canada, Jada Blackwood is a graduate of the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture. Her artistic background and interest of the world around her has led Jada’s on a passionate journey through landscape architecture not only to the U.S.A. but across the globe to Melbourne, Australia where she spent a semester studying as an exchange student. Jada keeps her focus on her future and is inspired to become a licensed landscape architect where she can create unique and exciting spaces that are meaningful to the environment and diverse communities. Outside of work Jada enjoys flexing her creative muscles by writing and reading as well as her physical muscles exercising while exploring local eateries.

Carson McCoy

Landscape Architect II

A graduate from Arizona State University with a Bachelors of Science in Landscape Architecture Carson is technologically proficient, hard-working, timely, organized and always seeking to expand his knowledge base. Carson's love and enjoyment for the outdoors (namely hiking and the beach) and also the overall organic site planning in big urban cities and inclusion of nature is what really got him into landscape architecture. Carson enjoys the challenge of including nature into large cityscapes while bringing more life and energy into the design. When Carson is not working he enjoys watching football and most days you will find him rooting on his Kansas City Chiefs. You can also find Carson maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle by playing sports, lifting weights and hiking as well as enjoying a good movie or video game with some friends. Carson hope to one day own his own business as a Landscape Architect and get more involved in Urban Development and Land-Use Planning.

Evan Meade

Landscape Architect II

Evan is a graduate from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture. He is originally from Stockbridge, Michigan. Studying landscape architecture allowed him to imagine a better world and look deeper into the surroundings around him. Inspired by the human scale and how it relates to core concepts of a project to make it meaningful. He fell in love with the idea of designing and or revolutionizing communities with a simple pen and paper. Evan looks forward to becoming a licensed landscape architect in the years to come. Outside of work, Evan enjoys being outside and spending time with his German Shepherd, Cabo.
Jessika Byrn

Jessika Byrn

Landscape Architect II

Jessika is an Arizona native who graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelors in Landscape Architect and minors in both Urban Planning and Sustainability. Through the love of the game ‘The Sims’, Jessika found her passion for creating places and spaces for people and the desire to transform our built and natural world. Jessika has aspirations to become a double threat by becoming both a licensed landscape architect and licensed architect, with the goal of being able to create all around beautifully designed environments. Outside of the work life, Jessika enjoys trying new plants in her garden as well as playing video games with her husband.

Elliott Bartels

Landscape Architect II

Born & raised in the snowbelt north of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Elliott found his way to a warmer climate by way of the University of Arizona, where he received a Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture and an undergraduate in Environmental Science from Allegheny College. Elliott is deeply interested in the relationship between the built environment and natural spaces. Working as a naturalist in the Pittsburgh Parks Department, Elliott was exposed at a young age to park design, wetland mitigation, and interpretive naturalism, which lead to him to pursue a degree in Landscape Architecture. Elliott enjoys working in 3-Dimesional spaces bringing landscape design to life in Sketchup and Lumion where clients can visualize their designs before it is built. Elliott is working to become a Registered Landscape Architect to continue his passion for design. Outside of work Elliott enjoys hiking in the beautiful desert landscapes of Arizona, working on cars, building computers, and playing video games.