For Commission, Region 2
Barry C. Nocks, FAICP
- Faculty member and administrator, Clemson University: Professor, Program Director & Associate Dean; currently Professor Emeritus and Lecturer
- Consultant, Health Care, Economic Development, Local, Regional and Strategic planning
- Associate Director/Facilities Planner, S.C. Appalachian Health Council
- AICP Exam Committee
- APA Academic Membership Task Force
- APA Academic & Practitioner Task Force-chair
- AICP College of Fellows
- APA South Carolina Chapter (SCAPA): Executive Committee; faculty, SCAPA training program; chapter newsletter editor; Instructor, AICP Exam review course
- Planning Accreditation Board (PAB), member and Chair; Program Site Visitor
- Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Board (ACSP): Representative, Treasurer, PAB Advisory Committee Chair
City of Greenville, SC:
- Design Review Board: member, chair
- Planning Commission: member, chair
- Directed Reedy River Master Plan, foundation for award winning river corridor redevelopment and Swamp Rabbit Trail
- Distinguished Planner Award, SC Chapter APA
- Outstanding Multi-Jurisdictional Plan Award SC Chapter APA
- Ph.D. City & Regional Planning, University North Carolina, Chapel Hill
- Master of Regional Planning, UNC, Chapel Hill
- B.S. Industrial Engineering/Operations Research, Cornell University
I am uniquely qualified to advance the work of the AICP Commission into the future through my extensive background and experience connecting knowledge and action through teaching, research and practice. AICP must bring together practitioners and academics to develop stronger practices based on emerging information and experience to address future planning challenges. I have served as a teacher, practitioner, administrator, consultant, citizen planner and board member of local, regional and national planning organizations, and am currently chairing the APA Academic and Practitioner Task Force. APA and AICP continue to develop their recent collaborations and I want to apply my 30+ years of effective and collaborative planning board service to that effort. As ACSP treasurer, I led the reorganization of their financial records. As PAB chair, I engaged APA, AICP and ACSP leadership to rebuild relationships and revise PAB Accreditation Standards.
My priorities would focus on guiding AICP into the future:
- Increasing the diversity of future AICP members by connecting with the academic community to bring in a more diverse student body and engage more fully with practice and community issues.
- Strengthen AICP engagement of the academic community to: reinforce the linkage and collaboration between practice and academics; encourage further growth of practice-oriented APA knowledge resources; engage educators in national and state APA conferences; and encourage avenues for research and planning practice issues to be integrated into practice knowledge. I will work cooperatively to enhance and implement recommendations of the APA Academic Task force.
- Use my academic and accreditation relationships to provide more practice-related focus and content in planning education by working with PAB on their accreditation standards revision next year and seeking other ways of increasing practitioner influence in the accreditation process.
- Increase the effectiveness of Certification Maintenance (CM) through refining offerings by discipline and knowledge level in a way that enables planners to gain initial and then more advanced information. I will support coordination with APA Divisions, Chapters and academic members in developing and implementing a practical system.
- Continue to revise and improve the AICP exam to ensure its continued relevance to what planners do and the knowledge they need to be effective.
- Increase the value of the AICP credential through collaboration with employers, academia, and emerging planners.
In summary, spanning and working across boundaries to achieve results defines my career. I seek to apply my experience and abilities to serve AICP and the planning profession.
What do you believe is the most important member service APA provides? Why? How would you propose strengthening this and other member services?
The most important member service APA provides is connecting members with the resources they need to create great places. These resources include shared access to substantive information, current research, best practices and expertise through contacts and networking among individuals, organizations, experts and potential partners. In addition, connecting members to the most up-to-date resources available within and beyond APA membership creates the key to planning advocacy across national, state and district levels.
As a complex organization that supports a diverse profession with around 45,000 members, APA has access to many strategies and tools for action and implementation needed to "create great communities for all." These include commitment to quality of life, public engagement, diversity, inclusion and efficiency of processes.
The APA webpage outlines the range of tangible services, which have become increasingly rich in their offerings. They include the provision of:
- Professional education, academic knowledge and research in many forms across a wide range of topics
- Policy information and advocacy strategies
- High ethical standards for planning practice
- Resources for career development
- Advocacy for and representation of the planning profession in the public sphere
- Strategies to increase diversity and inclusion of minority representatives in the profession
- Support for expanding new visions and opportunities in the profession through the APA Foundation
While these are tremendously important services as defined by the organization, I believe they could be strengthened in effectiveness and impact by significantly increasing awareness of the services and the potential for their application among practicing planners seeking to create great communities.
In particular, I believe that AICP should lead in promoting, supporting and encouraging practicing planners who make a difference in their communities. Creating great places is a daunting task. Success depends on more than academic knowledge. In addition to being knowledgeable and generally effective, practicing planners are called on to act ethically and inclusively as well. Both maintaining and expanding our current levels of certification for practice will help to meet this goal.
How could APA improve and strengthen the relationship among APA and its components (AICP, Chapters, Divisions, SRC)?
The relationship among APA and its components will be improved by positive, constructive, substantive and consistent communication as well as re-energized and visionary connections among APA's components.
APA is a large organization with a variety of institutional bodies supported by a dedicated staff in Chicago and Washington DC. With member leadership and a governing board, as well as several specialized policy groups (AICP, Divisions, SRC) and state chapters/sections, there is an opportunity for a wider range of engagement with important constituencies. There is also the potential risk of these various components diverging in their specific actions, diminishing our collective effectiveness. My goal would be to prevent such divergence and encourage connectivity among the component bodies. Such relationship-building has already begun to occur within APA and we should expand these efforts. For example:
- APA has become more open and engaging in its operating philosophy through specific efforts by its past Executive Director and the Board. The current Executive Director is continuing that level of openness, which empowers each component to thrive.
- APA has also revised its web site, posting far more information in its knowledge center, communicating more frequently through its e-mailings, and promoting planning more assertively.
- APA and its constituent components have reached out to engage other organizations. The improved relationship with the Planning Accreditation Board (PAB) over the past five years is a direct result of open communication and focus on shared interest, with an outcome of more effective planning.
- APA has more explicitly focused on being inclusive and engaging more diverse population groups over the past decade.
Some specific activities that I will encourage include:
- Working with the PAB to create additional national accreditation standards for student education that address several neglected areas: working directly with diverse populations; engaging and negotiating with elected officials; and providing local leadership for implementation. As a former chair of PAB, I have a working knowledge of this arena and can be an effective advocate for this goal.
- Continuing my work as chair of the APA Academic and Practitioner Task Force to develop a recommended knowledge-based strategy that can effectively serve the needs of both academic and practicing planners. Academics provide specific knowledge and serve as stewards of the professional pipeline, recruiting and educating future planners. Practitioners hire planning program graduates, provide current issues for academic study, and apply emerging knowledge to address these challenges. I will seek ways to raise awareness and communication between the academic study of planning and planning practice to increase the effectiveness of both.
My efforts to further the work of AICP and its relationship to APA will include:
- Increasing the diversity of future AICP members by connecting with the academic community to recruit a more diverse student body.
- Strengthening AICP engagement of the academic community to: reinforce the linkage and collaboration between practice and academics; expand practice-oriented APA knowledge resources; engage educators in national and state APA conferences; and encourage the integration of avenues for research and planning practice into practice knowledge. As chair of the APA Academic Task force that is currently developing action proposals, I will work cooperatively to enhance and implement those recommendations.
- Providing more practice-related focus and content in planning education by working with PAB on their accreditation standards revision next year and seeking additional opportunities to increase practitioner influence in the accreditation process.
- Increasing the effectiveness of Certification Maintenance (CM) with refined offerings by discipline and knowledge level that offer introductory through advanced information pathways for planners. This will include coordination with APA Divisions, Chapters and their Professional Development Officers (PDOs), and academic members in developing and implementing a practical continuing education system.
- Increasing the emphasis on action-oriented skills in the Certification Maintenance (CM) program. Planning knowledge covers a wide range of topics, including theory, methods, applications and policies. While all are useful, emphasis should also be placed on ensuring that practical action skills such as leadership tactics, conflict resolution and negotiation are included in CM offerings.
- Continuing to revise and improve the AICP exam to ensure its continued relevance to what planners actually do and the knowledge they need to be effective.
- Increasing the value of the AICP credential through on-going collaboration with employers, academia, and emerging planners.
- Using chapter PDOs as a link to chapters in CM concerns and offerings, as well as best practices.
AICP must be a leader in promoting, supporting and encouraging effective practice to make a difference in the community. AICP should proactively seek opportunities to both maintain and expand our levels of certification and practice to enable planners to attain APA's goal of implementing effective planning.
State APA Chapters
State APA chapters and their sections (in larger states) provide for more accessible and focused connections for planners. Many planners connect to APA most frequently through their chapters, as the NPC is increasingly costly to attend within local budgetary constraints. The strengths of the chapters are their local and regionally focused diversities and their specific interests. Each chapter advocates for planning in their area, with needs and priorities varying by chapter. The capacity of APA chapters and sections to support local and regional planning is a vital link for effective planning practice.
Potential future actions that APA can provide for local chapters include:
- Continued sharing of APA research, case studies and advocacy information, with more specific focus on local concerns as identified by chapters.
- Support for local chapters/sections by APA staff as requested. This topic could be explored by APA through the Knowledge-based Governance process.
- Continued APA Board and AICP Commission participation in state chapter conferences,
- Provision of education and preparation for state/division officers,
- Exploration and expansion of PDO efforts in CM, as a direct link between each chapter and AICP, to identify regional issues and available implementation resources.
- Encouraging PDO participation at the National Planning Conference by reducing their registration fees and increasing scholarships to enable greater sharing of tools, resources and experiences among PDOs.
Division members are a rich resource for best practices, contacts and other information. We should expand the reach of the divisions through chapter conferences and the NPC to share and highlight knowledge applied within the divisions. In particular, best practices for motivating localities to address critical issues effectively should be explored. Increasing the availability of this information to the membership through more specific postings on the APA website would be valuable. Greater engagement with chapter conferences and PDOs offers another key point of connection.
Student Representatives Council
Students are the future of the planning profession and their interests provide a window into changing perceptions and emerging issues and priorities. It is important to listen to their representatives on the APA Board and AICP Commission. It is also vital to engage students in efforts to grow and diversify the profession. AICP Commissioners and APA Board members should reach out to accredited planning programs in their region through state chapter meetings and other formats to learn what students are thinking, identify the specific issues they find important, and acknowledge their insights, as well as encourage student interaction with chapters, APA and AICP.
Now that the Planning for Equity Policy Guide has been adopted, how should APA use this guide to shape itself organizationally?
The Planning for Equity Policy Guide identifies a range of issues in which local governments and the planning profession have perpetuated discriminatory practices against low power groups. These groups, including racial and ethnic minorities, LGBTQ persons, women, and persons with disabilities, have continued to suffer negative effects and denial of opportunities because of public and private policies that limit their participation.
To ameliorate this ongoing reality, equity needs to become a priority for planning action. For example, APA policy guidelines challenge planners to:
- Ensure that decision-makers and the public understand how various decisions and actions increase opportunities for some groups and limit opportunities for others
- Encourage outreach to the underserved and actively engage them in the planning process, giving their voice volume
- Explicitly address the distribution of outcomes and effects through impact measures that identify the effects of policy on specific populations
- Reduce barriers to participation for underserved groups
- Make funding recommendations and decisions in ways that balance opportunity rather than continue to reward those who already benefit from public services
- Promote awareness among decision-makers that a number of basic needs such as housing, transportation, education, utility location and service, health and open space cannot be met through private sector action alone and that public decisions in these realms impact various groups differently
How can APA and its components use these recently adopted guidelines to address and improve the situation?
APA set out a basic strategy earlier this year in the "Planning for Equity Policy Guide" and the "APA Diversity and Inclusion Vision, Mission and Strategy." Progress will be made through actively pursuing these priorities to promote diversity and inclusion. Making diversity a major consideration in APA actions and policies is the obvious starting point. If specific barriers are found that inhibit this process within APA and its components, structural change beyond the creation of Diversity/Inclusion committees at the chapter level should be considered. Specific initiatives may require task forces or other organizational groups to explore options.
The particular strategies proposed in the APA documents are cogent and coherent. Operationally, they will require explicit attention to matters of inclusion, specific discriminatory issues, current best practices to continue, and current practices to avoid or question. APA should find ways to engage the relevant groups and ways to educate the public regarding these issues. This important endeavor will require that funding and other resources be directed to furthering the diversity and inclusion strategies developed, extended or expanded.
The NPC has made progress in incorporating diversity into its sessions. In my opinion, additional efforts will be required to support chapters in similar action, because it is through chapter conferences that many local planners engage with ongoing diversity issues and their implications. Training and education in best practices for chapter leadership would be a significant step, assisted by national leadership and staff as well as The Planning and the Black Community, Women and Planning, and LGBTQ and Planning divisions.
Recruiting underrepresented populations into the profession has been a long-standing challenge. PAB has actively promoted diversity for decades, yet many schools have had difficulty recruiting and retaining the faculty and students needed to diversify. The APA's new Student and New Member Programs can and should broaden the pipeline for students into academic planning programs.
As a planning educator, PAB site visit chair and former PAB member and chair, I have worked with the issue of diversity in the profession for decades. Clearly, a basic initial step is to increase the awareness of everyone, particularly underrepresented populations, that planning is a relevant profession through which they can make a positive difference in the world. This includes making connections with underrepresented people with a clear message of why planning is vital to them and their communities. This will require that APA develop materials that speak to people where they are and engage such communities to spark their interest in being part of the action. Every component of APA can contribute to this effort. Expanding diversity in the profession will include growing the APA Ambassador Program, as well as working closely with existing partners such as the PAB, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and the Planners of Color Interest Group (POCIG) of the American Collegiate Schools of Planning (ASCP),
Another strategy aimed at building the capacity of planners to practice equitable planning is expanding APA's knowledge base. Developing inclusive, culturally-competent, and equitable planning practices through webinars, training series and research materials should be a priority. AICP should consider including diversity and inclusion in CM requirements and expand the coverage of this issue in the Certification Exam. This approach will also lead to an expansion of the supply of CM coverage in this area, which may overlap somewhat with the CM ethics requirement. These specifics should be worked out through the AICP Exam Committee and Commission.
It is important to develop strategies that seek partnerships with external organizations and advocate for diversity and inclusion to help create real change in our communities. As we move to external relationships, we join the fray of the many interest groups advocating for change. It is important that APA and its components assert itself in this effort. We must have the will to act and make a difference in engaging underrepresented populations.
What is the biggest challenge facing the planning profession, and how should APA address it?
Highlighted by the intensity of 2020 election campaign, the U.S. and the world face many challenging planning issues. Significant divisions, competing information bases and strong self-interest among population groups' points of view often inhibit productive conversations that could lead to mutually acceptable approaches. Governance is at a standstill nationally. Neither national nor local challenges can be addressed well when our democratic system sets a poor and dysfunctional example.
The planning profession, and APA in particular, seeks to improve quality of life by "creating great places for all." This is often undertaken at a local level, where the practical necessities of collecting garbage and maintaining basic services occupy center stage. However, locally-elected leaders need to develop a shared vision for the future of their communities that includes everyone in the community (current and future). In setting local policy, elected officials tend to respond to the most powerful voices. Planners have some influence, but the profession needs to strengthen and promote its value-added assets for the greater good of all residents.
APA's biggest challenge is to empower planners individually and collectively to take an active role in framing quality of life issues in their communities. This requires planners to encourage and guide politicians and residents to move beyond their own immediate interests to the greater good. Such action requires us to work with and encourage leaders to implement inclusivity and non-discriminatory practices when promoting change in new circumstances. Moreover, such action requires that planners have a place at the decision-making table, becoming actively engaged in the problem-solving.
As individual planners, we should be effective in bringing planning issues to the forum of public discussion, engaging a full range of local residents in the conversation, and promoting effective public and private actions to create a great community in our locality. Collectively, planners must support the role of planning in the public and private sectors to improve lives of all our residents.
As noted above, this challenge is daunting in light of the headwinds of our divisive political climate, anti-government and anti-tax sentiments, and general ignorance of planning as part of the solution to achieving efficient and effective policies, as well as suspicion of change. While we can perhaps feel some comfort in the likelihood that the pendulum of public opinion will shift over time to support more public intervention, problems such as climate change, inequitable opportunity, poverty and related impacts are likely to remain unaddressed for too many people and communities.
How should APA address this challenge?
This challenge requires action at the individual and collective levels. APA should continue to provide useful tools, information, support and best practices for local planners to effectively engage their communities in improving local conditions and creating great places for everyone in their community. This will involve engaging local leaders and elected officials, who can be encouraged by examples of other community successes and best practices.
Continuing to provide more tools and capacity for local planners is not simply a matter of maintaining current practices. It is important for APA to recognize:
- The importance of educating planners and advocating for planning locally
- The time and resource limitations of local planners; i.e., realizing the difficulty of assimilating new knowledge and tools while meeting ongoing responsibilities
- That local planners must deal with diverse populations and local misperceptions about planning; i.e., there is a need for training and resources to effectively build coalitions and support
- That local planners work within. and must respond to, local political systems; i.e., many need APA's assistance in understanding and practicing effective communication and negotiation with political entities
A practical component of local planner empowerment is for APA and AICP to provide planners with core skills and best practices in local engagement. These would include:
- Published examples of successful local planning efforts with lessons learned
- CM and other training in inter-and intra-group communication and facilitation with lessons on how to get past partisanship to implementation
- Continued expansion of APA online resources
- Engagement of divisions and chapters to provide specific issue and case studies of effective approaches, which can then be shared via workshops and online sources
- Continuation of deep dive and action-oriented sessions at NPC
- Engagement of planning academics and practitioners in issue-focused workshops or mini-conferences of invited constituents; these discussions can lead to action-oriented working papers on "best practices"
- Encouraging planning academics to focus their research on applications and planning practice
- Planning education collaboration with workshop or studio classes that engage a community on specific issues
- Focusing local attention on diversity issues (as noted in question 3 above)
- Spreading the word about planning as a profession to attract more students and future planners generally, and to diverse students specifically
- Continuing to improve professional practice through encouragement of AICP credentialing
- Expanding AICP CM to include current and timely subjects and skills
- Growing the APA Endowment to support the future of planning
Collectively, APA should continue to advocate for core planning issues and values. The difficult political climate requires a variety of efforts to create change toward better communities. We should form coalitions with related organizations to shift the political climate toward community action on core issues. Joining voices with other public-spirited groups and making our materials and knowledge available to lobbying groups is another path to changing the perspectives of local discussions.
In summary, AICP should actively seek to promote best practices in planning through case studies, a CM program that emphasizes effective planning tools, continued collection and dissemination of best practices, exam revisions that address these techniques, and through added connections with local chapters and divisions for specific planning tools and practical recommendations.
More directly, we should continue to advocate strongly for the importance of planning in creating great communities. The ability to point to a thriving local downtown with specifics of how planning created (or recreated) that special place or other similar successes can be a powerful argument for planning. We need to be bold in such assertions. We can and do make a difference in our communities.