Member Spotlight: Francesca Patricolo
1. Who are you and what do you do?
Hi, I’m Francesca Patricolo and I’m a sole-proprietor public involvement specialist in Portland, OR. My business is Voice Public Involvement, offering community engagement and outreach services and specializing in conflict and dispute resolution. I currently subcontract to other small firms that do public involvement and facilitation. I’ve been practicing solo for nearly two years and got my start while I was in graduate school.
2. How did you learn about IAP2 USA and what made you join?
In 2008, I was in an AmeriCorps program designing and implementing an important public involvement process. During a general program training session, I was given a handout on the IAP2 Spectrum of Public Participation that turned out to be urgently pertinent to my planning. I then found tons of free information from the IAP2 website that supported me in my work.
In graduate school I presented IAP2 Core Values and Code of Ethics to my project management class and got a reputation for being the public involvement person. I was still on the outskirts of the IAP2 community until they came to me though. The Cascade Chapter started offering a scholarship at my university. I applied, interviewed and won the award. I became a member just as soon as I received the scholarship application though. It was as if IAP2 was still kind of nebulous until they reached out and said, “We’re here, we’re even local, you can join us and we want you to!”
When I decided I loved public involvement, I was still figuring out if it was a career or not. Being an IAP2 member has put me in touch with a supportive community of PI professionals with varied interests, concentrations and specialties and it’s helped me figure out my place in the field. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for IAP2 –I’m a BIG fan.
3. Last year you founded Students for Public Participation (SP2) at the University of Oregon. Could you tell us more about this initiative?
In graduate school, I was an active part of a few different student organizations that were interesting but I noticed they didn’t captivate me like they captivated some of my peers. They were passionate about these other subjects, were getting scholarships to present at conferences, winning awards from organizations and forming relationships with professionals and organizations that helped them launch great careers. I felt isolated: public involvement didn’t have a community for me to be a part of at my university. Over time it dawned on me that the community existed but it wasn’t going to pull itself together and present itself to me: if I wanted it, I had to coordinate it. My local IAP2 chapter provided me with the support I needed to make it happen.
The University of Oregon (UO) SP2 is a “diverse group of emerging practitioners dedicated to learning and expanding public engagement in ways that are collaborative and inclusive.” The SP2 is an official committee of our Cascade Chapter and the SP2 President has a seat on the chapter executive board. We believe the SP2 model provides invaluable support that emerging practitioners need and we hope our efforts will increase diversity in P2 fields. So far it’s been a great success and I see it growing stronger and stronger over time as the community builds and opportunities multiply.
The vision is to have other schools create their own SP2 chapters so that students can network together as peers and also with their local professionals. Since we already did start-up work of creating a structure, bylaws, voting method, mission, credo etc., it might be easier for other SP2s to not reinvent the wheel, but to take what we did, keep what works, fix what doesn’t work for them and elaborate from there. Everyone can join in co-creating a supportive, collaborative learning network to positively impact P2 culture in our communities and beyond borders.
4. Will we see you at the 2013 conference in September?
I’ll be there and would love to meet folks! My colleague, current UO SP2 President and recent Cascade Chapter scholarship winner herself, Jo Niehaus and I are hosting a session on how to start your own SP2. It’s geared towards professionals who support emerging and diverse practitioners as well as to current students. Please find us at the conference and ask us anything SP2!
5. What are some of your favorite P2 resources (books, other media)?
I have a Pinterest for this. Search “Books for the PI Professional” on there and you’ll see my interesting array of titles. Frankly, some of them I’ve read and some I’ve been referred to but haven’t yet. If you have a good one, let me know! I’m an avid reader of PI-related material.
My favorite book, bar none, is Be Quiet, Be Heard: The Paradox of Persuasion by Susan & Peter Glaser. I’ve made many mistakes when I was (even) younger and I wish I knew then what I know now thanks to this simple, fabulous little book. I use frameworks from it in both my personal and professional life on a daily basis. After reading it for the first time in 2009, I’ve found myself turning back to it again and again.
6. How can people get in touch with you?
Visit the contact section of my website where you’ll find a list of ways to reach me: VoicePublicInvolvement.com
Or send me an email: Francesca@VoicePublicInvolvement.com
For more information on SP2, search “SP2: Students for Public Participation” on LinkedIn and join our global community on there. And then search “UOSP2” on Facebook and feel free to join our local community too.