AICP Commissioner Recaps the National Planning Conference

By Karen Wolf, AICP
AICP Commissioner, Region V

As a newly elected AICP Commissioner, the National Planning Conference (NPC) in Seattle started promptly at 9:30 on Friday morning with the meeting of the Commission.  I am the elected representative from District V, which includes most of the western US, with the exception of California and Nevada. I was thrilled to have my fellow commissioners meet in Seattle following previous meetings in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and San Diego. We had great weather to greet them despite my dire warnings of grey skies, rain, and cold. They asked why I had insisted that they each bring a waterproof coat with a hood and sensible, water resistant walking shoes. Because, this is the Pacific Northwest in April, I told them. (I think may have a bit of a credibility problem now.)

The AICP Commission is responsible for overseeing the AICP credential including qualifications for certification, the AICP exam, professional standards, and the ethical code. Highlights of the Commission meeting include:

  • Agreement on the proposed AICP mission statement: “Elevate the value of the AICP credential to our members, to those who employ them, and to the communities they serve”; 
  • Appointment of James Peters, FAICP, as the new Ethics Officer. He will be based in Chicago and will be responsible for working on ethics complaints and inquiries; 
  • Consideration of the schedule for updating the AICP Comprehensive Planning Exam, which will take place over the next few years; and
  • Implementation of the new Certified Maintenance approval process, which will focus on approval of providers rather than individual events.

On Saturday, six of the eight AICP Commissioners joined staff from the City of Seattle and members of the Belltown community in the APA-sponsored Community Planning Assistance Services Workshop. Following a walking tour of the Belltown neighborhood, we worked together in teams to evaluate options for affordable housing, transportation, and parks and open space. Each year, the host chapter for the NPC works with the Commission to select a site for the workshop. This was a very rewarding experience and I encourage you to consider signing up to participate in the workshops at future NPC’s. 

I also served as a mentor through the Mentor/Mentee match-up. This is another activity I encourage you to sign up for while at future conferences. The next generation of planners is an intelligent group who understand the power of communities in shaping a sustainable future. We talked about planning projects as well as basic career advice ranging from résumé development to what to wear to an interview.

Then there were the dinners and the receptions. Since the conference was shortened by one day—that also meant shortened by one evening—each night offered multiple opportunities to nibble, drink, and meet fellow planners from across the country. The Lake Union Extravaganza at the Museum of History and Industry, sponsored by our Washington Chapter, was the highlight of all the receptions I attended. The float planes landing on Lake Union just outside the entrance certainly added a nice Seattle touch to the evening. As one Northwest employer stated, “we’re likely to get 6,000 applications for the next posting of a planning job!”

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