Member Spotlight: Marcille Durham
This is the third installment of our monthly series featuring individual IAP2 USA members from around the country to share a little 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?
My name is Marcille Durham. I am a native Oregonian, but have lived in Nashville, Tennessee for many years – which means I’m blessed to have lived in two of the country’s most enjoyable places! I currently serve as the President of The Ingram Group, a strategic consulting and lobbying firm with offices in Nashville and Washington, DC. I’ve been with the Group for more than 25 years, (we celebrate our 30th Anniversary this year) – having joined after serving several years on the staff of then-Governor and current U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander. My professional time is split between lobbying both at the state and federal level, and consulting on business and political issues. We’ve also managed a number of public involvement projects over the years and enjoyed it so much that we’ve decided to create a practice area under our corporate umbrella specifically for public participation projects. I’m married and the mother of two wonderful young women!
2. How did you first learn about IAP2? When did you join?
I’ve known about IAP2 for several years, believing it to be the gold standard for “doing public participation right”. I first trained years ago in public involvement for NEPA projects with the USDA Forest Service and EPA, but felt I needed a more comprehensive view of both the work and the profession.
I just recently joined IAP2 (in September 2013) and jumped in with both feet by attending the Salt Lake City conference, and then IAP2 training in public participation planning in Santa Fe. I should mention that there were four of us joining IAP2 from Nashville this fall – including three principals of Tennessee Volunteer Solutions. It was beneficial approaching IAP2 membership with those three – particularly with their extensive background in conflict resolution.
3. Speaking of the IAP2 2013 North America Conference, how did you like it? Any key take-aways you’d like to share?
Attending the IAP2 2013 Conference in Salt Lake City was the perfect start to training and planning for the PP profession. I was immediately struck by the dedication and commitment of the practitioners – and the precision with which they approach their projects. I was also exposed to a wide variety of techniques and technologies designed to involve the greatest number of people in solving a problem or taking advantage of an opportunity. One interesting takeaway: the public involvement profession seems to be much more developed in the western states than in the south. Those of us at The Ingram Group – along with our friends at Volunteer Solutions – hope to change that! It was in a meeting of “emerging chapters” in Salt Lake that we also got the idea of the possible integration of public participation into Lipscomb University’s School of Conflict Resolution. Hopefully we can introduce the importance of public participation in making public decisions at an early age.
4. Will Tennessee soon see the launch of a new IAP2 chapter? What can you confirm?
There is interest in launching a new IAP2 chapter in the Southeast – either as a stand-alone Tennessee chapter, or as a regional chapter that might include surrounding states. We’d like to get the full IAP2 training under our belt (we passed Public Participation Planning in Santa Fe last month!) and make a decision at that point. Regardless of the direction we go, we’re committed to growing IAP2 standards and best practices for southern projects.
5. Name something you’d like to see IAP2 USA accomplish next year, e.g. content, events or services.
Based on the “take-away” named, above, it might be helpful for IAP2 to sponsor occasional regional events through which those currently involved in public involvement in a multi-state area could be exposed to the “science” of true public participation, and learn best practices developed by IAP2. I would also like to see IAP2 offer guidance (either in a conference workshop or at the conclusion of training) on the business side of PP and answer such questions as: (1) Who needs/utilizes public participation services? (2) What type of projects typically rely on public involvement to resolve issues? (3) Where/how can new practitioners find local or regional projects requiring public input? (4) Is a practitioner limited to projects in their area, or does their work generally extend to projects in other cities or states? (5) Do PP practitioners typically work alone, or more often as an in-house provider for a utility, engineering firm, government entity, etc.?
6. And finally, what’s the best way to get in touch with you?
I can be reached at The Ingram Group, 615-345-9200. Email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Address for the Nashville office: 511 Union Street, Suite 1900, Nashville, TN 37219. You can also find us at www.ingramgroup.com.