The Northwest's Legacy of Successful Planning Conferences

By Ron McConnell, FAICP

In 1983, I was President of the Washington Chapter of APA, and with Bob Burke, was Co-Chair of the National Planning Conference in Seattle.  At that time, we had a little over 600 members in the Chapter and our Host Committee consisted of about 125 people (a quarter of our members).  Then as now our local planners really came through.  

The American Planning Association was less than five years old at the time of our '83 conference, as the American Institute of Planners and the American Society of Planning Officials had merged to become APA in the fall of 1978.

There were approximately 2,500 attendees at the '83 conference held at the Seattle Center, and it was one of the largest National Planning Conferences to that date.  The conference was a success and many attendees told us the Washington Chapter had really raised the bar with respect to hosting a national conference.  It could have been that—like this year—the weather cooperated and Seattle looked its best.  But, we accepted the compliments anyway.

Over the years, I have attended approximately 35 national AIP, ASPO, or APA conferences, including the outstanding conference in Seattle in 1999 (which I know others will write about).  I am now retired and have not attended a national conference for a number of years, but I was impressed by and enjoyed the 2015 conference so much I thought for a millisecond it would be fun to go back to work.

Unfortunately, Bob Burke passed away two years ago, but if he was still alive I know he would have been at the 2015 conference and would agree with me when I say THE WASHINGTON CHAPTER HAS RAISED THE BAR ONCE AGAIN.



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