American Planning Association Announces Joel Albizo as New CEO

CHICAGO (February 19, 2019) — The Board of Directors of the American Planning Association (APA), a nonprofit educational organization dedicated to creating great communities for all, is pleased to announce the selection of Joel Albizo, FASAE, CAE, as the new Chief Executive Officer of APA and the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), effective April 8, 2019. Albizo succeeds James M. Drinan, JD, who announced his retirement last fall after five years of service.

Headshot of Joel Albizo.

Joel Albizo, FASAE, CAE

"Following a thorough national search, we have found in Joel a talented association leader with deep strategic and operational expertise," said APA President Kurt Christiansen, FAICP. "His impressive work in the natural and built environment makes him a perfect partner to APA and AICP as we advance planning education, research, advocacy, and ethical practice."

Albizo has more than 30 years of association management experience and is seen as an innovator within the association CEO community. In addition to original research and presentations on the competencies and development of future association CEOs, he is attuned to digital transformation and other trends impacting the nonprofit sector.

Since 2007, Albizo has been the CEO for the Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB), a regulatory body that works to protect the public's health, safety, and welfare by establishing licensure standards for the practice of landscape architecture. While at CLARB, he led the formation of new coalitions within the design professions (architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, and interior design) to defend regulation and promote friction-free licensure. He also facilitated development of a strategy to better understand well-being as a critical component of licensure justification, which resulted in the publication of a landmark study on the topic. These and other efforts earned Albizo an Honorary Membership in the American Society of Landscape Architects in 2015.

"I am thrilled to join the APA team," said Albizo. "The association has a well-earned reputation as a welcoming destination for all who value and work toward safe, healthy, equitable, and sustainable communities, and I look forward to collaborating with President Christiansen and our elected leaders, members, staff, and partners to accelerate progress and create breakthroughs in pursuit of great communities for all."

Albizo's career has included senior management positions with trade and professional associations including the Society of Actuaries, where he led an award-winning corporate branding campaign and piloted numerous change initiatives around product development and project management. He has raised significant venture capital funding as part of an entrepreneurial venture and understands how to assess opportunities, prove concepts, and think creatively about problem solving.

With APA and AICP membership at their highest levels in more than a decade, and successful launches of major initiatives including the APA Learn online learning platform, AICP Candidate Pilot Program, and the APA Foundation signature cause garnering positive feedback, the expectations to continue engaging members and providing value are high. Albizo's track record of innovation and visionary leadership are exactly the characteristics that APA leaders sought in a new CEO.

"APA and AICP have come very far over the past five years," said AICP President Debbie Lawlor, FAICP. "Joel's expertise in building strategic maturity and strong organizational brands will ensure we are poised for a new era of growth as leaders in the planning profession."

A graduate of Towson University in Maryland, Albizo earned his bachelor's degree in mass communications. He is president of the Federation of Associations of Regulatory Boards, and a former board member and treasurer for ASAE.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Learn more about the CEO search process.

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The American Planning Association is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides vital leadership in creating great communities for all. APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, are dedicated to advancing the profession of planning, offering better choices for where and how people work and live. The 44,000 APA members work in concert with community residents, civic leaders and business interests to create communities that enrich people's lives. Through its philanthropic work, APA's Foundation helps to reduce economic and social barriers to good planning. APA has offices in Washington, D.C., and Chicago. Learn more at


Harriet Bogdanowicz, APA,, 312-786-6719.

February 19, 2019