Member Spotlight: Tom Parent

October 19, 2016 Leave a comment

Tom Parent accepts the 2016 Core Values Award for Respect for Diversity, Inclusion & Culture on behalf of Saint Paul Public SchoolsThree years ago when Tom Parent, Facilities Director for the Saint Paul Public Schools in Saint Paul, Minnesota, embarked on the process to renew the 10-year Facilities Master Plan, he didn’t foresee winning the 2016 IAP2 USA Core Values Award for Respect for Diversity, Inclusion & Culture. What he did see was a district-wide commitment to honoring diversity and inclusion that he was determined to embed in every aspect of the facilities planning process.

To give you a sense of the magnitude of this project, Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) is Minnesota’s second largest school district serving more than 38,000 students with 78% students of color, 72% in poverty, and more than 100 languages and dialects spoken. The district has 72 facilities (68 of which are schools), 7.3 million square feet of space, and 465 acres of land constituting a 2.1 billion dollar portfolio.

Tom was introduced to IAP2 in 2012 by IAP2 USA board member, and then Board of Education member of Saint Paul Public Schools, Anne Carroll, when she delivered a training to district leaders in the three IAP2 pillars: the Core Values, Ethics, and Spectrum. He joined IAP2 USA at the onset of the Master Planning work when he realized how the tools would play a critical role in changing the process.

“Getting off the ground was as important as anything. We understood facilities master planning from the perspective of technical experts, and we needed to be clear with everyone involved that we had a lot to learn from community aspiration, and how to capture that for our vision for the learning environments we create for students.”

Tom relied on the IAP2 Spectrum to help his team make the transition from “technical experts delivering design conclusions to the community” to engaging the community in every step along the way.

“It was important to consistently establish where we were on the Spectrum and target our activities based on who would be at the table. It was an iterative process of defining first where we were and where we wanted to be and being inclusive in the ways we chose to get there. Using the Spectrum in this way became very aspirational. We set ambitious process goals and were excited to see them come to fruition.”

Another early critical decision was to require every district employee as well as external consultants who participated in the Facilities Master Plan to undergo intensive racial equity training – the district even invited all members of the local chapter of the Institute of Architects to participate.

“From the onset a key focus was having people show up authentically in the process. We didn’t want people to show up with administrative privilege. The people facilitating the meetings had to have the ability to navigate the challenges of structural racism and honor different perspectives. The 16 hour training we went through helped us develop a framework for how we identify, talk about, and address issues of systemic racism. It’s about understanding these topics are hard, and there a lots of challenges that come with them that make it too easy to shut down, but we all have to live in the discomfort of addressing them.”

Throughout the process, Tom was most personally impacted by the student voice.

“Hearing what students had to say was the most powerful work we did. When we hear the perspective of students who spend 13 years in our educational system, and learn about how they work, socialize, and learn, that’s when some really great work happened. To give them the ability to have input into end design was as empowering for us as it was for them.”

All too often Facilities Master Plans are driven by compliance and destined to sit on a shelf. In contrast, this plan is intentionally not complete, but rather is set up to support ongoing engagement and planning to honor the process. “We’ve changed the culture around how the the district does master planning. It’s a living document that reflects how we approach managing our buildings and grounds moving forward.”

Tom ParentAnd Tom is sharing his department’s learning with principals and administrators across the district.

“This August, we did a workshop with systems leaders – the academic and operational staff dedicated to student learning – about how the master planning process unfolded, and how we used stakeholder mapping and identified the various levels of communication and engagement in daily practice. We were able to share how it doesn’t need this big process like a master plan to be intentional about including the end-users of decisions.”

Tom has presented locally and nationally on issues of long range educational facility planning, equity, and the intersection of the two.

President’s Message – Leah Jaramillo

October 19, 2016 Leave a comment

Leah JaramilloWho cares about P2? It turns out there are a lot of us, and for many reasons. I had the pleasure of attending the (sold out!) 2016 IAP2 North American Conference in beautiful Montreal and meeting some really inspiring and impressive IAP2 members, partners, and friends – people who have or are building P2 programs and implementing processes for clients, for their own employers, within their own municipalities and for others. P2 continues to grow and gain traction across North America…and the “who” in “who cares” is diversifying.

As I reflect back on the people I met and sessions I attended, I can say that there is a growing sense of introspection about P2 as a practice, not just how to do “good P2,” but how we as practitioners promote, advocate for and influence the practice. The take-away of this conference for me was that as we strive to improve our practice, the practice is changing. Connections across municipalities, work divisions, and job titles are taking shape more rapidly and the impetus for decision-makers to look into P2 is growing stronger. Many people touch P2 in their work-roles, and a significant percentage are not full-time practitioners. We’re talking about communications professionals, PR managers/PIOs, planners, engineers, administrators, and more. How do we implement “good” P2 across this diverse level of need? And all this before we take into account the public affected by the decision-making process!

You’re talking about it, and so are we. Not surprisingly, this is a conversation your IAP2 USA board of directors has been as well. We know you and your organizations/clients are doing great things in P2…check out this year’s Core Values Award winners! So, how do we continue to support and advocate for best practices?

Last month I encouraged you to support our Core Values by making P2 valuable and accessible across the US. Today, I’d like to encourage you to take a more active role in shaping how we, as an organization, do that. Please consider running for the US Board of Directors or joining one of our committees. Volunteer some time to make this organization work for you.

Categories: President's Message

Sign up for training at IAP2 USA’s “Virtual Training Academy!”

October 17, 2016 Leave a comment

IAP2 USA is pleased to announce the launch of our new online training courses. This is an exciting opportunity for you to update your professional skills — in collaboration with colleagues and without leaving your office.


These courses are designed to support ongoing learning, and are more than a set of worksheets or templates. They include videos, exercises, interactive multimedia examples, case studies, interaction with fellow participants and your trainer, and more.

The best online learning goes beyond the content. Our trainers teach skills and knowledge in a way that connects to your goals, hopes, and values AND demonstrates how these connect to your work and world.

Welcome to Virtual Training @IAP2 USA!


onlinecourseChoosing the Right P2 Tools
This course focuses on the critical and oft-neglected professional development “zone” between process design and detailed instructions on specific techniques – that space where practitioners and decision makers decide which tools and techniques to employ.

Too often those decisions are based on the practitioner’s experience or comfort with a particular technique, a project lead or decision maker’s new favorite tool, fears about stakeholder influence or conflict, and so on. While there are always demands and constraints on choices, this course offers a more thoughtful and efficient approach to wisely choose tools and techniques to support stakeholder engagement, meet your project and engagement objectives, and account for key variables including schedule, budget, opportunities, and risks.

Who should take this course? What are the learner outcomes? Got questions? Read more!

October 31 through November 11
LIVE SESSIONS: Thursday, November 3 and Thursday, November 10, 1:00-3:00 pm US Central

December 5 through December 16
LIVE SESSIONS: Wednesday, December 7 and Wednesday, December 14, 1:00-3:00 pm US Central

What is involved? This course will be delivered in a mixed format with two live sessions, some offline preparation, and an open-source resource directory of materials and links.

Price: IAP2 Members – $99.00 (USD) – For members of IAP2 USA, the IAP2 Affiliates, and members of the IAP2 Federation. International Members, should contact for the registration code. Non-Members – $109.00 (USD)


onlinecourseDeliberative Forums – A Deep Dive
What kind of tools and techniques do you use in your P2 processes? Are you keen to learn about a deep, rich conversational process that allows for critical thinking and productive discussion that results in a decision all while bringing participants together to jointly explore the pros and cons of a variety of alternatives? This course is intended to provide you with a comprehensive, in-depth understanding of how to design and implement a deliberative forum all while complementing and building on the content introduced in the IAP2 Foundations for Public Participation course.

Who should take this course? What are the learner outcomes? Got questions? Read more!

Dates: November 9 through December 12
Tuesday, November 15, 11:00 am – 12:30 pm Eastern Friday, December 2, 12:00 – 1:30 pm Eastern

What is involved? Week 1, participants will complete course activities on their own with formal online support. In Week 2, a live session with all participants will take place on Tuesday, November 15, 11:00 am – 12:30 pm Eastern. Week 3 will also provide a live session on Friday, December 2, 12:00 – 1:30 pm Eastern. In Week 4, like Week 1, participants complete course activities on their own with formal online support.

Price: IAP2 Members – $139.00 (USD) – For members of IAP2 USA, the IAP2 Affiliates, and members of the IAP2 Federation. International Members, should contact for the registration code. Non-Members – $169.00 (USD)

Categories: Uncategorized

Member Spotlight: Traci Ethridge

September 13, 2016 Leave a comment
Traci Ethridge

Traci Ethridge

Traci Ethridge, Assistant Director of Corporate Communications & Marketing for the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, first learned about IAP2 from colleagues who had attended the IAP2 Foundations in Public Participation program. “I was part of a working group tasked with examining how the city was engaging with the community and developing an overall strategy moving forward. We wanted to make sure that we were bridging the gap between the community and local government. Our organization has success around a lot of projects and initiatives and we wanted to implement a standard practice such as the IAP2 Spectrum.” The Spectrum will become the foundation to community engagement planning and a key piece in shaping the city’s overall strategy.

The City of Charlotte was one of the first municipalities to take advantage of the IAP2 USA Government Membership program when it was introduced in January 2015. “We definitely saw it as an investment in the direction we were moving and wanted to make IAP2 resources accessible throughout our organization. As we continue to engage the community in initiatives like the Community Investment Plan, we recognize that various projects can be in different places on the Spectrum. The important thing is that the community engagement plans begin with a high level overview of the Spectrum and the understanding that we are connecting with the community throughout the life cycle of the project.”

Beginning in the fall of 2014, the city conducted a series of community meetings to begin planning efforts for the Cross Charlotte Trail (XCLT). “The team decided to organize pop-up meetings to engage with the community and this method proved to be very successful. They attended neighborhood meetings, participated in weekly bike rides and connected with people at local festivals and events at locations along the proposed trail route.” This spring the trail project was awarded the Region of Excellence Award by the Centralina Council of Governments.



For the City of Charlotte, community engagement isn’t just about planning capital improvement projects. It’s about reaching people, listening and even tackling tough, sensitive issues impacting the community. The work being done by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) is a great example. An initiative called Cops & Barbers provided a forum for open, honest dialogue on police and race relations in the African American community. It is an opportunity to meet people where they are and where they routinely go (the barber shop) and start a conversation between officers and people of all ages in the community. Last year, CMPD partnered with the North Carolina Local Barbershop Association to coordinate town hall meetings throughout Charlotte. The program was recognized by the White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing. A simple, yet impactful idea turned into a form of community engagement that brings diverse groups together.

“It is exciting to see the connection grow between our organization and the community we serve. We have a unique opportunity to effectively engage with our community through many platforms and cover a variety of topics that matter to those who live, work and play in our city. I look forward to seeking out ways to incorporate more of the IAP2 Spectrum into all aspects of our engagement.”

Traci volunteered to serve on the IAP2 USA Communications Committee in 2016, and has gotten involved in the organization’s communications planning initiative. “IAP2 USA is committed to helping organizations figure out where they are on the Spectrum and helping them be successful with their community engagement initiatives. I’ve learned so much from other committee members and from members in other cities who are trying new things and engaging in different ways. IAP2 USA is a perfect fit for what we’re doing here at the City of Charlotte.”

And she’s excited about bringing community engagement to the next level at the city. “There are people who do some form of community engagement in every department. Whether it’s employees out in the field, project managers, city leaders or elected officials, there is interaction with the public on a daily basis. As an organization, we want to engage, build relationships and actively collaborate with the community.”

Traci is hoping to reconvene the working group to look at embedding P2 in the city’s overall strategy for planning and delivering city services. “We’re seeing the positive impacts when we listen to what matters to the community and bring back what we’ve learned. Now I want to look more holistically at how we put all of the pieces together to establish community engagement at the core of everything we do.”

Traci recognizes the city can’t use a one-size-fits-all approach, but is asking questions around “What does engagement look like from an overall standpoint? Are we hitting the target to engage effectively? Are we being intentional about looking for ways to engage the community?” While these questions will be answered over time, she sees the IAP2 Spectrum as the foundation to build a lasting strategy for engagement.

President’s Message – Leah Jaramillo

September 12, 2016 1 comment

Leah JaramilloThis is an exciting time to be a member of IAP2 USA. The US affiliate recently surpassed in membership the total amount of international members that existed before our organizational restructuring in 2010. We now have over 850 members, and we’re continuing to grow. We’re branching out from an organization founded by P2 practitioners to an organization that serves a variety of people in roles that touch P2. This poses some great advantages for all of our members and gives us the opportunity to provide a more robust level of P2 in a variety of processes throughout our country.

We strive to promote best practices in P2. As more members join us from a variety of disciplines we can enhance our knowledge base by including additional applications, processes and projects that affect Americans in their daily lives. We have a wonderful opportunity to learn more from members and friends who are doing P2 across the spectrum of engagement. As members, it is our responsibility to ensure our Core Values are reflected in these opportunities to engage.

As we look forward to the 2016 North American Conference in Montreal and the 2017 skills symposium, I’d like to encourage you to consider promoting the benefits of IAP2 membership to your clients, colleagues and peers. Participation in these events can allow peripheral P2 practitioners to learn the value of IAP2 membership, network with practitioner – members, and enhance their tool boxes with new skills. My practice has certainly benefitted from participation in IAP2 events and trainings, as well as by networking with others at all levels of the field. Help us expand our knowledge base and reach by inviting others to learn more about what we stand for. Let’s truly support our Core Values by making P2 valuable and accessible across the country.

I look forward to meeting many of you in Montreal.


Public Agenda Series: Ten Key Talents for Better Public Participation

September 7, 2016 Leave a comment

Are you looking to hone your P2 skills?

talentTo supplement the book Public Participation for 21st Century Democracy, Matt Leighninger, former IAP2 USA Board Member and Director of Public Engagement at Public Agenda, and co-author Tina Nabatchi outline 10 skills and capacities foundational to deeper and broader public participation at the Public Agenda blog.

In this Series

Part 1: Ten Key Talents for Better Public Participation

Part 2: Building Coalitions and Networks

Public Participation for 21st Century Democracy from Tina Nabatchi and Matt Leighninger

Public Participation for 21st Century Democracy from Matt Leighninger and Tina Nabatchi

Part 3: Cultural Competence and Engaging Youth

Part 4: Recruiting Participants

Part 5: Communicating About Participation

Part 6: Managing Conflict

Part 7: Providing Information and Options: Issue Framing

Part 8: Providing Information and Options: Sequencing Discussions and Writing Discussion Materials

Part 9: Managing Discussions, Blog 1 of 3

Part 10: Managing Discussions, Blog 2 of 3

Part 11: Managing Discussions, Blog 3 of 3

Part 12: Helping Participants Generate and Evaluate Ideas


Part 1: Ten Key Talents for Better Public Participation – These skills and capacities – or talents – can contribute to a system where public engagement processes, tools and technologies are not just “civic hacks.” Rather, they are qualities and characteristics of a political system in which people have a wide variety of ways to participate on a broader range of issues and decisions, June 22, 2016.

Part 2: Building Coalitions and Networks – Finding and connecting with other potential participation leaders, and strengthening those relationships in coalitions and networks, is an important step in planning and sustaining public participation, June 28, 2016.

Part 3: Cultural Competence and Engaging Youth – In both coalition building and recruitment, participation leaders should think explicitly about youth involvement. Engaging young people can galvanize all kinds of public participation efforts, July 6, 2016.

Part 4: Recruiting Participants – Participation is more likely to benefit the community as a whole when it involves a broad cross-section of the community. And interactions will be more lively and rewarding when there is a diverse mix of participants. In this case, diversity not only means demographic diversity, but also diversity of views, perspectives, backgrounds and experiences, July 12, 2016.

Part 5: Communicating About Participation – While the media landscape has changed dramatically in the last decade, some basic communication skills are useful whether one is working with traditional media organizations, such as newspapers and television and radio stations, or new media organizations, including hyperlocal and purely online outlets, July 19, 2016.

Part 6: Managing Conflict – Although public participation projects rarely include formal conflict resolution processes, a general sense of how to manage conflict can be invaluable for building coalitions and facilitating meetings, July 25, 2016.

Part 7: Providing Information and Options: Issue Framing – Getting people to the table is not sufficient for improved public participation. The table must also be set in a way that gives citizens more of what they want (problem solving, civility and community) and treats them like adults in the process. This requires participation leaders to think more deeply about how to provide information and describe options, August 1, 2016.

Part 8: Providing Information and Options: Sequencing Discussions and Writing Discussion Materials – Many participation processes require some kind of agenda or guide that establishes a helpful, flexible structure for addressing a particular issue or problem. From years of experimentation, a successful sequence has emerged for these kinds of guides and the discussions they support, August 9, 2016.

Part 9: Managing Discussions, Blog 1 of 3: Facilitating Face-to-Face Groups – The basic definition of “facilitate” is to make easy or easier. Within the context of public participation, the word facilitate means to lead (and make easier) a group discussion. This is done, for example, by guiding conversations, asking questions, mediating between opposing viewpoints, ensuring that all participants’ views are heard, reflecting and summarizing what is said, following the agenda and keeping time. The facilitator’s main task is to create a safe environment where each participant feels comfortable expressing ideas and responding to those of others, August 15, 2016.

Part 10: Managing Discussions, Blog 2 of 3: Recording and Online Moderation – Ensuring that participant interactions work well for everyone requires a number of key skills centered on managing discussions, including facilitating face-to-face groups, recording, moderating online forums, setting ground rules and giving feedback, August 22, 2016.

Part 11: Managing Discussions, Blog 3 of 3: Ground Rules and Feedback – Today, we close out our exploration of managing discussions with two critical skills: establishing ground rules and providing feedback, August 30, 2016.

Part 12: Helping Participants Generate and Evaluate Ideas – A common practice in all kinds of participation settings is generating, refining, evaluating and ranking ideas. Two skills are particularly helpful for supporting these activities: brainstorming and visioning to generate ideas, and using ABC standards to evaluate ideas, September 6, 2016.

August 2015 IAP2 Learning Webinar: “Meet the Authors – Public Participation for 21st Century Democracy”

PowerPoint Deck • Some of the free downloads that go with the book

Subscribe to the Public Agenda blog • Subscribe to the Public Agenda mailing list

Join the conversation! UNC CELE invites IAP2 USA members to respond to recently released resources posted to assist with improving relations between the police and black communities

August 31, 2016 Leave a comment

The University of North Carolina School of Government Community Engagement Learning Exchange (CELE) recently released three resources to help public participation professionals plan for highly charged community conversations around policing in black communities. Read the resources and share your experience via the comments.

“…we can work through racial divides in this country when we realize the worry black parents feel when their son leaves the house isn’t so different than what a brave cop’s family feels when he puts on the blue and goes to work, that we can honor police and treat every community fairly. We can do that… acknowledging problems that have festered for decades isn’t making race relations worse, it’s creating the possibility for people of goodwill to join and make things better.”  —President Barack Obama



CELE Resources


  • Steps for Working on Police-Community Relations – Where do we Start? – Learning about structural racism, engaging communities of color in authentic conversations, and demonstrating a commitment to action (more than just talk) are good starting points to helping communities address the inequities that have led to the current climate of mistrust, published August 3, 2016.

Be part of the solution. Share the wisdom in the room by adding your comments today. Then subscribe to the CELE blog to continue the conversation.

“Racial inequity is not simply a black person’s problem, nor a white person’s ignorance. It’s a systemic issue that permeates all aspects of our society, especially the criminal justice system and particularly law enforcement who are on the front line of heightened tensions.”  —Chief District Court Judge Marcia H. Morey, Durham County North Carolina

The CELE blog was featured in the October 2015 IAP2 USA webinar on “Getting Engaged – Staying Engaged”