Member Spotlight: Dr. Marty Rozelle
This is the second installment of what we hope will be a monthly series of interviews featuring individual IAP2 USA members to share a bit about their background, the work they do and their involvement with the organization. Please let us know if you’d like to recommend anyone we should talk to. Thanks!
1. Who are you and what do you do?
I’m an early riser and look forward to greeting the day sitting on my patio looking at the Phoenix Mountains with coffee, newspaper, crossword puzzle, and my dogs. Oh? Do you mean professionally? I’ve been a public participation practitioner full time since 1979. P2 is my passion. The first 20 years I grew and led a P2 practice unit in an international engineering firm. For the past 15 years, I’ve been a sole practitioner facilitating lasting decisions through collaboration. The type of projects I most enjoy are those where I can work with a diverse group that needs to solve a problem. First, I help them clearly define the problem (which they never think to do) and then design a collaborative decision process that will come up with an answer that will last — facility permitted, built, policy enacted, etc. I like to take the “labor” out of collaboration.
2. You were one of the co-founders of IAP2 and even served as President from 1997 through 1999. What was the world of public participation like around the time of IAP2’s founding (late 1980s, early 1990s)? And what was your motivation behind starting the organization?
The primary motivation for founding IAP3 was to provide a space where P2 practitioners could come together, share techniques, and get advice on alternative ways to approach a project. Jim Creighton, my mentor, was the prime initiator and brought 6 people together to form the first working group in 1989.
The most obvious difference between the late 80’s and today is the role social media and technology plays in citizen engagement. We also have a larger network of people around the world who understand and practice authentic public participation. However I don’t see much difference in the types of decisions that would benefit from good P2. It is still rare to find the enlightened decision maker who will appreciate the benefits of early and effective involvement, embrace uncertainty in outcomes and trust the process. Institutionalizing the principles of good P2 is still a challenge. When we initiated the Organization of the Year Core Value award category — it was to recognize such organizations. Some agencies have developed and adopted P2 policies — a good start. I was on the phone yesterday with a colleague asking me for examples that she could use with her client that show the benefits of spending money on P2 and doing so early in the process. As I gave her some examples, I thought — “this is the same question I’ve been answering for 35 years.”
3. For the first time in its three-year history as a national affiliate of the IAP2 Federation, IAP2 USA this year hosted its own Core Values Awards. You were in charge of running the inaugural program. What can you share about the experience? And what’s in store for next year?
The Core Values Award program began during my tenure as President, and I am proud of the integrity of the program. This year was the inaugural year for Affiliate award programs, and the judges were very thorough and discerning. This was not the first time the judges decided not to give an award in a category because they did not feel any of the submissions were worthy enough. This year was especially cool because we also had the international awards presented at the conference — and the US winner became the international winner in the Project category. Next year I expect that we double the number of submissions. I hope that in the future when a person or organization begins a new project, they review the core values and award requirements and make one of their goals to win a Core Values Award.
4. At the conference last week, there was a lot of good energy from both long-time members and newbies. With most of the transition-related work behind us, where do you see the organization headed? Any key opportunities or challenges you’d like to point out?
Regretfully, I had to miss this year’s conference. I’ve heard wonderful reports from many directions, including the number of younger folks present. I think it is important to know and respect our history, and to begin turning the organization over to the “next” generation. A big challenge for the affiliates (speaking from a US perspective) is to stay financially viable. We can’t exist solely on membership dues or conference revenue. I know the USA Board has explored many ideas for services that we can provide and ways to remain solvent. I’m impressed with our new international Executive Director’s vision and look forward to next year.
5. And finally, how can people get in touch with you (online or off)?
All my contact information is on my website — www.rozellegroup.com is the easiest way. I’m happy to talk and share ideas with any of our readers.