Engaging APA Members to Plan for Equity

Planning is both about the process and the outcome. The same can be said for the continued work by APA members developing the Planning for Equity Policy Guide.

Our committee understands the urgency in having a final policy guide; planning for equity is one of the most pressing issues in our field. That said, we also understand the need to get this policy guide right by engaging members in a thoughtful process with ongoing opportunities for feedback and delivering an actionable guide that members can put to use immediately.

The Process

As you may know, this effort was launched in 2016 and since that time a team of APA members — all volunteers — have produced a white paper as well as draft framework and outline, engaged hundreds of APA members at NPC17 and NPC18, and received and reviewed input from APA members from all over the country.

Every step of this process has been critical to ensuring that our team understands what APA members need to see in the final policy guide. We thank each member that has contributed to this process to date. Your ideas, questions, stories, and challenges are actively informing this iterative process.

In fact, it was member input during NPC18 that helped our team determine that our work would result in not one, but two complementary documents:

  • A framework document focused on key recommendations for APA and the field on building equity skills.
  • The policy guide document, which will include specific, actionable policy guidance for planning for equity.

Planning for Equity Framework

Over the summer, our committee worked diligently to craft the Planning for Equity Framework and continue development of the full policy guide. It’s important to note that these documents, when adopted, will be just one component of APA’s work on equity. As the professional association for the field of planning, APA must continue to undertake actions of its own to advance the field. Included in these efforts are the work of the Diversity Committee and the Social Equity Task Force. This work is also informed by a number of grassroots efforts led and supported by APA members across the country.

The framework makes the case for an “equity-in-all-policies” approach in the policy guide and offers ideas and actions, including some already under way, that APA will carry forward to advance the field.

The recommendations cut across all aspects of APA including membership, research, policy, professional development, and leadership. The framework was presented and discussed with members representing APA chapters at the Delegate Assembly at the APA Policy and Advocacy Conference in September 2018 in Washington, D.C.

The framework document is also under review by APA’s Diversity Committee as well as the recently formed Social Equity Task Force. The goal is to advance the Framework document to the APA Board at their January 2019 meeting.

The Policy Guide is also nearing an important milestone as it will be ready for public review by APA members later this fall. This review period will be your opportunity to preview the full guide in draft form and share your feedback and additional ideas with the committee. That feedback will be reviewed and incorporated before the final draft of the policy guide is presented to members at the Delegate Assembly in April 2019. The goal is to have the Planning for Equity Policy Guide approved at NPC19.

We encourage you to be on the lookout for the public review period later this year and to engage in that process by sharing your feedback. In the meantime, APA members can pose questions, continue to share feedback, and sign up to receive updates about the Planning for Equity policy guide by sending an email to policyguide@planning.org. You can also visit and bookmark the policy guide website.

Top image: Oakland, California's Uptown District, one of APA's 2014 Great Places in America. Photo Greg Linhares, City of Oakland.

About the Authors

Lynn M. Ross, AICP, is based in Miami Beach, Florida, where she is the founder and principal of Spirit for Change Consulting, LLC, a strategic consulting firm serving mission-driven organizations working in the realm of planning, public spaces, housing affordability, and evidence-based public policy. She is the co-chair of the APA Planning for Equity Policy Guide Committee and a member of the APA Social Equity Task Force.

Susan A. Wood, AICP, is based in Denver where she serves as a planning project manager with the Regional Transportation District, the Denver metro region transit provider. Wood is the co-chair of the APA Planning for Equity Policy Guide Committee and a member of the APA Social Equity Task Force. She also serves on APA’s Legislative and Policy Committee and as co-chair of the APA Colorado Chapter Legislative Committee.

October 12, 2018

By Lynn Ross, AICP, Susan Wood, FAICP