Member spotlight: Michael Huynh
Member spotlight: Michael Huynh
Michael Huynh is a Public Involvement Manager at Southern California Edison (SCE), where he manages a team of P2 professionals responsible for developing and implementing public engagement strategies for the utility’s major electric infrastructure projects. He has been working in public relations, outreach and government affairs for the past decade, and has been involved in numerous projects in the transportation, real estate and energy industries.
Michael took some time from his busy schedule to provide some additional details to IAP2 members about his life, work career and involvement in public engagement.
Tell us some more about yourself.
I grew up in a Los Angeles suburb, majored in international relations in college, and studied abroad in France, Vietnam and Belgium. I got my first professional job at a public affairs firm,and the rest is history!
How long have you been a member of IAP2?
I first heard about IAP2 when I joined Southern California Edison in 2007 and have been a member ever since.
What attracted you to IAP2?
After practicing public outreach for several years, I was very surprised to learn that there was an actual organization dedicated to public participation. I was really drawn to IAP2 after going through the certificate program, because the values and concepts I learned from there have helped me better understand and appreciate my role in designing and implementing public participation programs.
In your day-to-day public participation or community outreach work, what gives you the most satisfaction? What are the biggest challenges?
What I enjoy most in my work is being able to develop a public participation program for a project and seeing it through from beginning to end. Every project is different. They each come with their own unique set of stakeholders, challenges and public participation goals. So that’s also the biggest challenge. It’s easy to just fall into a trap of just replicating a P2 program that worked successfully in the past. I also find it a challenge to come up with — or take a risk with — using new and innovative P2 methods.
As a member of IAP2 USA, what do you look most forward to in 2014? What can the organization do to best serve you?
I am looking forward to the numerous opportunities for professional development, from the monthly webinars to the training courses that are offered. I am also looking forward to the next conference to learn about how we can improve our public participation processes and meet other P2 practitioners.
Just like in a few other places in the United States, there is currently some interest in creating or re-launching the Southern California chapter. Can you briefly describe where you are in that process?
We were very surprised that there is not currently an IAP2 chapter in Southern California. We are talking to professionals in the public relations, public affairs and public participation fields to see if there is a strong interest to start a chapter. Since Southern California is such a large area, we are thinking of starting small and focusing on the San Gabriel Valley region (where our company is headquartered).
What level of interest are you seeing within the utility industry – or with customers – in doing more public participation? Why do you think there’s more desire by utilities to engage customers in this way?
I think there is definitely a strong interest amongst utilities to do more public outreach and public participation to their customers, communities, and other stakeholders that they serve. As the public desires to have more two-way communication either through traditional means or social media, there is an increasing need for utilities to be more responsive to and engage their stakeholders in a way that makes them feel “heard.”
What is your most memorable, or favorite, public participation effort or campaign?
I’m not sure if I have a memorable or favorite campaign. But I have definitely enjoyed working on many P2 projects in many different communities through the southwestern United States and have been able to visit some pretty cool places if it had not been for my work.