I was honored to serve you as the President of the California Chapter of APA from 2013-2014 with an additional year leading the organization as past president in 2015. (I also served on the Board as Communications Coordinator in 2011 and as Section Director for San Diego from 2009-2010).  Thank you for allowing me to serve you over the last several years.  With over 4,500 members, APA California exists for the core central purpose of equipping planners in California to create communities of lasting value. I believe strongly in this organization’s purpose and am thankful for the opportunity to lead and move it forward to better serve and support you.

My observations from having served in APA leadership at both the local and state level is that there are a number of critical challenges facing planners and our profession cultivating leadership for change in our profession and promoting planning’s value in a public lead planning era.  How do we raise up leaders for change in our profession? How do we affect the groundswell of NIMBY-driven planning decisions? How do we – as an organization and a profession – equip planners to be conscientious and industrious innovators and risk takers? As President, I had to make an honest admission that we needed to improve and expand our administration, communications, and operations to fulfill this mission and tackle these challenges. APA California’s mission is to provide the vision and leadership to foster better planning and to provide each of you with the tools, services and support to equip you to advance your career and good planning.  We were not doing that.

It was a time of sea change at APA California – we concentrated on effecting systematic changes to operations and services and focused on an ambitious set of priorities to propel the organization and its members into the 21st century:

  • To embed better communication to our members and to the public;
  • To better equip our members to be leaders innovators and risk takers;
  • Promote a strong message that focused on the value of planning; and
  • To increase the transparency of the organization processes and improve administrative efficiency.

Key to tackling these issues I re-discovered one fundamental strategy – breaking down silos. By joining with our affiliates – California Planning Roundtable (CPR), California Planning Foundation (CPF), and the Planners Emeritus Network (PEN) – we could bring together our existing leaders to leverage our efforts and experience and develop new workshop, training and coaching opportunities. By enhanced communication and partnership between our eight California Sections and the Chapter – we could work together to tackle the issues of APA visibility, promote the value of planning, and provide more real-time and relevant information through our programs.

I believe our focus on implementation of our Strategic Plan priorities but most importantly the commitment to breaking down our silos, will have fundamental implications for the nature of planning in our communities, leadership today, and most importantly, the leadership of tomorrow.  Our priorities however were not revolutionary.  The challenge didn’t lie in identifying a plan and list of priorities and actions; it was – and in my opinion still is – about building up a system of leadership that delivers results.

I hope you agree APA California has made great progress and is charging forward. There is much more to do and much underway as new leadership gets underway in 2016.  I know that progress will continue.  I hope that APA inspires you to pursue excellence in your work and your commitment to the communities you serve throughout our San Diego region.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Section Director and President!

Brooke Peterson, AICP

San Diego Regional Director