Member Spotlight: Hannah Litzenberger
Member Spotlight: Hannah LItzenberger
Each month, the IAP2 newsletter strives to profile a member who is working in the public participation or other related fields. This month we asked Hannah Litzenberger of the Puget Sound Chapter in Washington State about how she got involved in P2 work, and what she likes most about her work.
Who are you, and what do you do?
I grew up in North Carolina and now live in Seattle, which I think is a fantastic place to work in the P2 field. I have been working in environmental planning consulting and public involvement since I was in high school, believe it or not! I was fortunate enough to have great mentors along the way who early on taught me the importance of public participation and helped me realize I could do what I love – talking to people – as a career. I am now an Associate at EnviroIssues in Seattle, working on several energy and infrastructure projects in both planning and construction.
When and why did you join IAP2? What was it that attracted you to IAP2?
I joined IAP2 as a student member when I was in undergrad at NC State University. I’ve always loved public involvement and wanted to incorporate public involvement in my career. I recently became more active in the Puget Sound Chapter over the last year as we’ve been working to re-engage the chapter. I love that IAP2 training brings foundational knowledge to our practice, and I appreciate being able to connect with a diverse set of professionals in our field.
In your public participation work, what gives you the most satisfaction?
I have a science background, so I really enjoy helping people better understand complex or technical issues – and on the flip side – helping decision makers understand stakeholders’ perspectives and bridge the two. I love having genuine conversations with stakeholders – whether about a project or their garden. I’ve met some of the most interesting people through this job!
What are your biggest challenges?
To me, evaluating public participation activities is extremely important, but can be very challenging implement. It’s so easy to “complete” a process and not formally reflect and evaluate on the successes and lessons learned. I try to evaluate where possible on an ongoing basis, but it’s certainly a challenge and something I hope I can personally improve upon and learn from others in our practice as well.
What can the organization do to best serve you and other members?
The training IAP2 provides in invaluable, along with the networking between other P2 professionals. Because there is so much diversity in how P2 is applied worldwide, I find conversations with fellow P2 practitioners refreshing and rewarding. IAP2 is also a great resource to learn about new tools and techniques others are using.
Can you provide a run-down of how things are going in the Puget Sound chapter? What are you doing to generate local interest in IAP2, what are some of the activities/programs that seem to work?
We’re slowly but surely getting our local members re-engaged with the chapter. Last year, our chapter board did a three-year visioning exercise and set some rather lofty goals for ourselves – and we’re hard at work to try to meet those goals. We’ve made some great progress through monthly events on a range of topics including panel discussions, World Café happy hour, and interactive sessions. We’ve done one joint event with the Cascade Chapter, and hope to continue building that partnership and learn from their successes. We hope to soon host an IAP2 training in the Seattle area – so area folks keep your eyes out!
If you’re interested in participating more in the Puget Sound Chapter – feel free to email us or check out our Facebook and LinkedIn pages:
What is your most memorable, or favorite, public participation effort or campaign? Describe what it was, what you did and what the outcome was.
My most memorable project was the first environmental impact statement I ever worked on, for a very controversial proposed road in a national park that had a long history of mistrust between local stakeholders and the federal government. Before that, I didn’t know that “public involvement” existed in an official capacity – and was actually required by law! As a high school student, I thought that was really awesome. I got to help read and compile over 100,000 comments we received on the project – and saw firsthand how a well-planned, thoughtful public involvement and good facilitation could truly help bring disparate stakeholders together. I was hooked and have been working in this field ever since!