November 20, 2013

Paul Farmer, FAICP, APA Chief Executive Officer Since 2001, Will Leave His Position in Mid-2014

WASHINGTON, DC —Paul Farmer, FAICP, Chief Executive Officer of the American Planning Association and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, announced his plan to leave his position next July. A search committee, headed by APA President William Anderson, FAICP, will begin the process of finding a successor next month.

Paul Farmer, FAICPFarmer, a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners and an Honorary Member of both the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Royal Town Planning Institute in the United Kingdom, served in senior management positions for 20 years in Eugene, Oregon; Minneapolis; and Pittsburgh before joining APA. He also held faculty positions at several universities.

"Paul Farmer's tireless efforts and dedication have led APA in its growth, education, membership, and impact for almost 13 years, and APA today is a far more effective organization. Paul is a forceful, forward-thinking advocate for our profession and the importance of planning to improve our communities for all people, regardless of their economic standing," said Anderson. "We will now begin the process of finding our next chief executive who will join APA's leadership in providing value to our members and results for the people, places, and environments our profession serves."

As CEO of APA and AICP since early 2001, Farmer and the APA team have been responsible for:

  • Expanding educational offerings: the National Planning Conference — the world's largest annual gathering of planners; in-depth Planners Training Service workshops; Institutes for Directors, Managers, and Emerging Professionals; and webcasts, podcasts, streaming media, and e-books.
  • Developing an extensive communications program with key messages, user toolkits, the annual celebration of National Community Planning Month, and the Great Places in America Program that annually reaches more than 20 million Americans. The Great Places Program has spawned state-level initiatives and it has been replicated in Canada and Australia.
  • Directing implementation of the Board's Growth Strategy with membership increasing from 31,000 in 2000 to 45,000 pre-recession, including a doubling of academic members and the addition of thousands of student members, who benefitted from APA's Free Student Program, now in its 10th year. An Early Career Program, which builds on the student program, is now under way as well.
  • Establishing the National Centers for Planning — in the areas of hazards, health, and green communities — as a component of APA's independent research efforts that began in 1949.
  • Implementing three major initiatives of the AICP Commission: Certification Maintenance, the mandatory continuing education system for planners; three Advanced Specialty Certifications (in environmental planning, transportation planning, and urban design) that allow planners to demonstrate advanced expertise; and the Community Planning Assistance Team Program to provide pro bono services to communities in need of planning assistance.
  • Strengthening chapters and divisions, which now provide many times more local and distance education offerings to meet the needs of professional planners, allied professionals, appointed officials, and engaged citizens.
  • Creating strong and effective partnerships with many organizations such as ASLA, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, the National Building Museum, UN-HABITAT, the Royal Town Planning Institute, the Planning Institute of Australia, the Canadian Institute of Planners, many federal agencies, the Royal Dutch Embassy and Dutch colleagues, and others.
  • Founding the Global Planners Network with partners representing 35 nation-based planning organizations, with APA hosting two of GPN's four Congresses, in Zhenjiang and Los Angeles.
  • Providing post-Katrina assistance with governmental organizations, NGOs, elected and appointed officials, private firms, and the Netherlands. The alliances have continued in other situations such as Superstorm Sandy, professional study tours, and assistance to other countries.
  • Establishing the annual Federal Policy & Program Briefing — with Planners' Day on Capitol Hill — that brings together APA leaders and members, partners, and elected officials to engage in discussions regarding federal policies that are critical to the success of all of America's communities.
  • Filing numerous amicus curiae briefs in federal and state courts on issues affecting planning, our communities, and key legal principles that benefit from planning knowledge as a critical element of APA's knowledge-based advocacy efforts.
  • Publishing dozens of books and advisory reports, giving voice to planners and allied professionals in disseminating best practices and challenging accepted practices.
  • Becoming a leader in the use of all forms of digital technology, with 60,000 webpages, increasing interactivity through social media, and electronic transactions and marketing that reduced reliance on printing and traditional mailing.
  • Relocating and designing APA's offices in Washington and Chicago to increase staff collaboration, maximize natural light, and minimize use of materials and negative environmental impacts. Both locations also maximize accessibility to non-automobile travel options.
  • Guiding APA through the Great Recession, leaving APA in a strong financial position so that its good work and that of its members can continue to address the needs of planners, engaged citizens, and communities of all types throughout the world.

Farmer and his wife will continue to live in downtown Chicago. The APA Board has asked that he remain as an advisor to APA for a period of time. He will continue to be involved professionally in the planning profession.

Commenting on the news, Farmer said, "I was lucky enough to discover this profession in high school and my three careers have all been in planning — teaching for almost 10 years, practicing for 20 and, ultimately, having the privilege of leading APA. It's been incredibly gratifying to work with our dedicated leadership, our terrific staff, and our committed members on key issues that we address for people and communities."

APA is an independent, not-for-profit educational organization that provides leadership in the development of vital communities. From the 1909 National Conference on City Planning, it has become an open membership association with about 40,000 members in 50 states and almost 100 countries.


Roberta Rewers, APA Public Affairs; 312-786-6395;