I had the honor to be elected to serve you and the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) planners of California and Nevada (Region VI) as one of eight (8) Commissioners of the AICP from 2010-2014. The AICP Commission basically provides the policy direction to APA staff on the AICP credential, and provides leadership in advancing the skills and status of AICP planners and role and prestige of professional planning. The AICP Commission also works with the APA Board of Directors in providing policy direction and leadership. There are approximately 15,000 AICP planners in the world.
Prior to my service on the AICP Commission I served as APA California Chapter (approximately 4,500 members) Vice President for Public Information, a position now held by our own Greg Konar; and APA San Diego Section (approximately 500 members) Director and Board member.
One of my observations from having served in all the APA/AICP leadership levels is that as membership increases, the organizational diversity, complexity and activity increases. The Sections are the most homogenous, direct and nimble, and I believe are the seed beds for progress and advances in planning and professional planning practice. Successful Section programs and local innovations many times work their way up to become California Chapter, and national/international APA/AICP programs and part of broader professional planning practice. So it is important to have vibrant, progressive, diverse, and active San Diego Section with a fairly large Board of Directors to build a diverse and large leadership group that can produce a lot of programs. The Section also should effectively communicate program and practice successes to the California Chapter and national APA/AICP to advance best practices.
That said, one can learn a lot from the practice of planning from National APA/AICP and the California Chapter (as we all know when we go to the annual State or National APA Conferences). Learning perspectives, approaches, and tools from others removed from your local environment make you a more knowledgeable and skilled planner. Using the National APA/AICP and California Chapter resources to research and evaluate best practices to see if they can help in your planning practice can be very helpful and is many times an underutilized resource available to members.
In using APA/AICP resources, it is best to connect with the appropriate level – APA/AICP for international/national practices and programs, the California Chapter for State planning issues and practices, and your local Section for local planning issues. It is always a good idea to share your inquiry or resource needs with your local Section as the Section is your most direct contact with your professional organization and helps your Section and Chapter to best plan programs. Please also be comfortable in communicating with national APA/AICP staff https://www.planning.org/customerservice/contact_form.htm and your APA/AICP representatives. Many times I was able to quickly help facilitate a member’s service request. Currently the best location for your national APA/AICP representatives and California Chapter resources is the California Chapter website http://www.apacalifornia.org/about/apa-california-board/
I thoroughly enjoyed my years of elected leadership service to APA/AICP members. I encourage you to try getting involved in APA/AICP leadership – maybe helping out the San Diego Section Board with a program. The experience of engaging in APA/AICP leadership with your fellow planners is both professionally and personally rewarding, and typically can take as much or as little involvement as you want.