April President's Message

Writing a newsletter article is tough for me right now because, to paraphrase a currently popular tune, “You know I'm all about that conference… 'bout that conference… no chapter …I'm all about that conference… 'bout that conference… no chapter”.

That said, there are many interesting planning activities, other than the 2015 National APA Conference in Seattle, April 18-21, which I would like to share.  But first, a reminder about the conference.

Sign up for the add-on events now before they sell out. This includes the Opening Reception…food, drinks, MOHAI, music by Seattle’s own Pearl Django …what’s not to like? (thanks Marj!) And, the chapter's Enhanced Underground Tour (thanks Anna and Leonard).  And, the 50+ Mobile Workshops (thanks Joe and Quanlin). And, the Orientation Tours (thanks Ben and David). Last, keep your eyes open for the excellent Planners Guide (thanks Kevin and Marty).  'Nuff said.

As part of my recurring theme of “It's worth the cost to be part of national APA because it creates opportunities for you, as a planner to be part of something bigger than your day-to-day job, to give something back to the community, the profession, the planet."  I’d like to highlight some of the other happenings at the national APA. 

This month, I'm sharing highlights from The APA 2015 Leadership Winter Retreat.  Held in February, the APA National Board and AICP Commission conducted business meetings and participated in a daylong workshop on the next development plan. A draft of the plan will be available for leaders’ and members’ input later this month – look for this in an Interact email from National APA. Other business conducted is described below.


A. National Conference Site Selections
The Board approved a process for selecting future NPC locations. Potential host cities include:

  • East Coast: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Washington
  • West Coast: Anaheim, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle
  • Southeast: Atlanta, New Orleans, Orlando
  • Southwest: Austin, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Phoenix, San Antonio
  • Midwest: Chicago, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Minneapolis

The potential host cities were selected based on their ability to address these considerations and criteria:

  • Required number of concurrent breakout sessions
  • Adequate exhibit hall space
  • Appropriate configuration for keynote and Awards Luncheon productions
  • Required number of hotel sleeping rooms
  • Desired mix of hotels (convention center hotel for headquarters and select-service hotels within walking distance)
  • Accessibility (ease of travel) from several markets
  • Weather
  • Relationship to current planning issues
  • Walkability
  • Potential for good mobile workshops and orientation tours
  • Ability to accommodate APA’s current Saturday-Tuesday conference schedule
  • Recent history of conference location and attendance numbers 

Each year the Site Selection Committee reviews the list of potential host cities and selects 5 to 10 cities to receive a Request for Proposal. The Committee will review all proposals and select up to three cities for a site visit. The Committee will notify the chapters in which these cities are located, query the chapters’ interest in hosting the NPC, and solicit input on relevant planning issues, good mobile workshop opportunities, walkability, and other factors.

(President's note: future chapter leaders – be on the lookout for another opportunity to host the national conference.  It's been a lot of fun and is a great chance to showcase the work we are doing and the challenging issues we are facing). 

B. Fall Leadership Meetings
The Board decided to continue the practice of holding Leadership Meetings and the APA Policy and Advocacy Conference each fall in Washington, DC; to add a specialty focus to the PAC whenever possible; and to explore opportunities for specialty conferences at chapters and outside partners. 

C. Offer Free Division Membership for Participants in the Early Career Membership Program
The Board endorsed offering free unlimited division memberships to all participants in APA’s Early Career Membership Program, contingent on affirmation by the Divisions Council at its next meeting.

D. Legislative Priorities
The Board adopted six legislative priorities:

  1. Reauthorize the nation’s surface transportation law with a focus on promoting planning innovation; stable, long-term funding; and multimodal, performance-based investments.
  2. Advance federal tax and fiscal policies to better support stable, strategic, and place-based investment in critical infrastructure and economic development.
  3. Encourage communities to improve planning for water hazards, use, and quality.
  4. Provide high-quality federal data resources that support the needs of local governments, planners, and decision-makers.
  5. Assist communities working to address affordable housing, encourage economic mobility, and build stronger neighborhoods.
  6. Respect state and local planning authority.

E. International Outreach
The Board discussed APA’s international outreach and capacity building programs.  Staff will propose a process to help the Board define APA’s international mission and goals.

F. Board Policy Manual
The board reviewed a draft of a consolidated board policy manual that incorporates all Board-adopted policies currently in force. Another draft will be available by April and assigned to either the Governance Committee or a task force designated by the President. That group, with staff assistance, will finalize a Policy Manual for Board consideration. 

(President's note: thanks to past-president Jill Sterrett and past-secretary Steve Pilcher, the Washington Chapter has already done this. We also have a Board Member Handbook, which makes serving on the chapter Board almost effortless. I mention this because chapter elections are coming up soon. Contact me if you are interested in serving at the chapter or section level.)


A. Mission of the Commission
The Commission is developing a Mission Statement to help AICP members understand what the Commission does and how it serves them. The Commission will discuss a refined draft prior to and during the April meeting in Seattle.

B. AICP Exam in China
Pending review of additional details, the Commission supported investigation of promoting the credential to members in China, developing or translating in-person exam preparation classes with partners in China, and launching a CM pilot program.

C. CM Provider Approval and Fees
The Commission agreed to shift focus from approving individual CM events to approving provider qualifications. Providers will be responsible for developing educational events that meet CM guidelines. The Commission discussed the possibility of simplifying CM provider fees. 

D. Bylaws Approved
The Commission approved the bylaws as published in the January 2015 issue of Planning magazine.

E. Credentials other than AICP
At the recommendation of the College of Fellows Committee, the Commission accepted a new policy on the use of credentials other than AICP/FAICP:  It is appropriate to list credentials within APA/AICP controlled publications, reports, internal documents, etc., as long as they are:

  • Limited to three;
  • Earned credentials for use in professional practice; and
  • Placed after the AICP (or FAICP) and Advanced Specialty Certification credentials.

The Commission approved the creation of a training webinar on mentoring, sponsored by the College of Fellows. Fellows will share mentoring tools and best practices with other APA members at no cost.

Regarding Fellows whose memberships lapse but who want to continue to use the FAICP designation, the Commission affirmed that the honor of Fellowship comes with the responsibility to maintain active AICP membership in order to keep the designation. 

F. Ethics
The Commission directed the Ethics Committee to recommend to the Commission in the next few weeks an Interim Ethics Officer, preferably an AICP member with an appropriate amount of planning experience

G. New Community Assistance Committee
The Commission appointed Deborah Lawlor, FAICP, to serve as the first Chair of a new AICP standing committee. The Community Planning Assistance Services and Outreach Committee will be responsible for AICP community assistance programs, including the Community Planning Assistance Teams program.

There you have it, the work of national APA volunteers and staff to support the members and the profession.  I appreciate the broad sweep of topics but still think chapters are where the fun is at.  Particularly when we get to host the national APA conference, which I know will be excellent!   

Ivan Miller, AICP
President, APA Washington
[email protected]

Return to April issue of The Washington Planner