Charting a New Path for APA

August 12, 2014

Dear APA members,

Last month, APA's leaders — members of the Board of Directors, AICP Commissioners, and Executive Director Jim Drinan and other senior staff — spent three exhilarating days in Chicago charting a fresh course for the association.

William Anderson, FAICPWith several Board and Commission members just installed and a new executive director on board, the time was right for an in-depth, organization-wide assessment, progressing based on our core values and aiming at our most-desired outcomes.

Everyone came to the meetings eager to contribute. During wide-open discussions about all things APA, observations, opinions, ideas, and "what-ifs" poured out enthusiastically from all participants. The APA office buzzed with the creative energy of collaboration as APA and AICP leaders brainstormed with APA management staff.

At one point, working in small groups, we identified the most important goals and objectives. Each one touches on multiple aspects of APA's organization, operations, and member services, and all will receive attention in the months and years to come. The group prioritized more than 20 strategic areas and identified a number of overarching goals:

  • Be relevant, nimble, and agile on the cutting edge of planning.
  • Build a spirit of collegiality and meaningful collaboration with more partners.
  • Improve communications within and outside of APA to planners, partners, and the general public interested in the issues that planners address, using multiple venues and techniques.
  • Become more user-focused and transparent to members and APA's components.
  • Ensure APA's long-term financial health to enable APA to best serve its members and mission, including an entrepreneurial approach that leverages sources other than membership fees.
  • Focus on growth and retention strategies to attract and retain more students, young and mid-career professionals, and retired members, and to engage more people who are not professional planners, but who are interested in planning issues.
  • Strengthen the link between planning education, research, and practice with other related research institutes and academia.
  • Clarify the roles and responsibilities of APA, AICP, chapters, divisions, students, the academy, etc. to empower all components, build a spirit of collegiality and collaboration, and advance our mission together.
  • Innovate.

By the retreat's conclusion, we had organized all the objectives into a broad framework for action. Now the Board's Development Plan and Budget Committee, chaired by APA President-Elect Carol Rhea, FAICP, will begin the task of refining that framework into a comprehensive strategic plan to guide the association on its new path. Development of the plan and budget — and those products themselves — will change and reflect our new focus on openness and transparency. Carol and the other members of the committee will ask for and depend on your participation throughout the process.

APA's "reset" opens opportunities we have only begun to imagine for the advancement of planning, the profession, members, and so much more. We have taken the first exciting steps as we look to the future APA.

William Anderson, FAICP

William Anderson, FAICP
APA President