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Member Spotlight: Deanna Desedas

August 5, 2016 1 comment
Deanna Desedas

Deanna Desedas

San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) Public Outreach & Engagement Manager Deanna Desedas was first introduced to the IAP2 Core Values, Code of Ethics and Spectrum by Lewis Michaelson when she attended the IAP2 Foundations in Public Participation program (formerly called the IAP2 Certificate Program) in June 2013.

In her role with SFMTA, Deanna oversees the outreach and engagement for major capital construction and neighborhood-focused projects conducted by the agency. “We have hundreds of staff who conduct public outreach and engagement as part of the work they do for the agency. The challenge was how to bring authentic public engagement to scale.”

“We had identified a number of pain points. The community expressed growing frustration with the Agency’s approach to public outreach and engagement, and we would receive complaints about outreach occurring too late in the process, difficulty in reaching the agency and understanding who is in charge of a project, and a lack of consistency across projects. When this frustration turned to opposition, it created costly delays in project delivery in several ways, such as threatened lawsuits, negative press, protests and political pressure.”

sfmtaThe San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) oversees the public transit system (MUNI), bike and pedestrian programs, taxis, parking and traffic control operations in San Francisco. It is responsible for moving over one million people safely and efficiently each day and employs over 5,000 staff. It must deliver hundreds of capital projects to improve public transit, streets and safety each year.

 

To take on the challenge, Deanna embarked on a process to develop a Public Outreach and Engagement Team Strategy (POETS) that would help develop public outreach notification standards for all staff conducting outreach and engagement. By August 2014, she had launched the “POETS Peer Group” a team of 40 hand-picked Project Managers and Project Leads chosen for their leadership skills from multiple divisions across the agency with buy-in from all departments. Over the course of the next year, the POETS Peer Group conducted research on best practices, solicited feedback on drafts and vetted standards and guidelines. Ideas were sought from Portland, Boston, Los Angeles and New York. A grant from the Davenport Institute for Civic Leadership and Public Engagement supported development of the program.

“We needed to put together something compelling about how we engage the community when we implement projects with significant impact. We needed something different than a spreadsheet that listed public engagement as a task to be checked off without further elaboration.”

In early 2015, Deanna enrolled SFMTA in IAP2 USA’s Government Membership Program, which allowed her to enroll all project managers and project leads with public participation responsibilities. Since that time she has worked with IAP2 USA and Lewis Michaelson to bring the IAP2 Foundations program in-house. “Broadly training our project management staff gives us a common language – the IAP2 framework – to talk about and measure the effectiveness of our public participation efforts.”

Deanna and her colleagues within SFMTA use the Core Values and Spectrum every day. “Every project that involves putting together a Project Needs Assessment and Communications Plan requires us to think about the level of engagement we’re looking for depending on the nature of the project, and we frame the techniques we use around that level of engagement. Another way to look at is that we use the IAP2 Spectrum to put together the plans.”

While continuing to push forward, Deanna is now able to sit back to reflect on her efforts. “Now when we engage with stakeholders we try to really listen to them and take their concerns and input to help shape a better project, which helps projects run more smoothly and reach completion within better time frames.” But what Deanna finds most rewarding is building relationships and trust for the agency. Through the work she has done to bring authentic public participation to scale, Deanna has seen a change in public perception of the agency and its role in the community. “You have to have a base, and IAP2 is the solid base from which we started.”

Categories: Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight: Theresa Gunn

June 2, 2016 Leave a comment

Space station astronauts see 16 sunrises each day, and with each sunrise comes the thrill of a new beginning. Have you ever met anyone who has had the good fortune to be in on the new beginnings? That’s been Theresa Gunn’s experience with IAP2.

Theresa Gunn

Theresa Gunn

Theresa served as Chair of the transition committee that formulated the IAP2 USA Affiliate agreement, and subsequently served as President of the inaugural IAP2 USA Board of Directors from 2011-2012 where she oversaw the nascence of IAP2 USA. She also served on the first IAP2 Federation Board of Directors following the March 2010 decision to move to an Affiliate model, first as Treasurer, 2011-2012, and then as Deputy Presiding Member in 2013. After a short sabbatical, Theresa volunteered to chair the Membership Services Committee, 2014-to-date, where she continues to champion new beginnings.

“As a membership organization, we need to continue to grow the practice of public participation by expanding our reach and creating attractive membership and learning opportunities for people within the practice. In the beginning, we primarily represented sole practitioners whereas today we’ve grown to serving agencies and organizations who are living the Core Values every day. We want to make sure they’re part of our organization and we’re meeting the needs of our members.”

Theresa and the Membership Services Committee piloted the Government Membership program which began with the cities of Fort Collins and Longmont, Colorado in late 2014, and has since grown to include government entities representing municipalities, transportation, natural resources, regional planning, and school districts. Later this summer, the Government program will launch IAP2 USA’s first online Community of Practice to provide members in the same industry with opportunities to network, share best practices, and bounce ideas off each other.

Designed to allow the members of the community to define what they want to do and how they want to engage, the program will expand to include additional, self-defined communities so as to meet the needs of that group.

Theresa is looking forward to the day when we can offer tracks at the North American Conference to represent member interests whether it be by organizational type such as nonprofits or local government, or industries such as infrastructure (e.g., utilities or transportation), or issues such as the environment or sustainability. “Already we have members coming together by geography through chapters, and we need to find more ways to support networking to share best practices and build the profession.”

While not directly involved with the Certification Task Force, Theresa is a champion of their efforts and a proponent of developing the Professional Certification program. It was a priority for her as a Federation board member where she was able to shepherd the process that gave IAP2 USA permission to develop the program.

“IAP2 USA is a global leader in establishing the gold standard for public participation. Professional Certification will ensure organizations relying on certified practitioners are going to get the best of the best, and community residents who are participating in these process will be assured these are transparent, open processes founded on research-based best practices.”

And she is a champion of the work the organization is doing to support chapters. “We’ve seen some really good work come through the Chapter Liaison group this past year from developing the Chapter Handbook so everyone knows what resources are available to launching the chapter grant program and developing a chapter mentor model for emerging chapters. The services the central office can provide are much better defined, and chapters are better positioned to take advantage of the support that can be provided.”

Theresa is extremely passionate about the practice, and has seen the impacts P2 can make whether it be through a local flood control project or being the change agent who is able to help organizations fully value what their community can add to the decision-making process.

“Oftentimes we’ll hear ‘Oh, I’m the planner’ or ‘I’m the engineer, I have the expertise to do this.’ But then they’ll jump to the tool without really defining what they’re looking for. When we show people the Core Values and help them create an understanding of why they want to reach out, what information do they want, and how are they going to use that information, it changes the conversation. Open, honest, transparent processes allow communities to come together and make a difference. Instead of hearing from just the 10% who want to stop everything, decision-makers hear from everybody, including the people who want to make a difference.”

Where do we go from here? What’s next?
Later this year the Membership Services Committee plans to conduct another membership survey to get updated feedback on what members are looking for and how best to deliver programming.

“The last membership survey we did was two years ago when we were working on the 2015-2017 Strategic Plan. Since then we’ve added a lot of programming and we want to make sure our members are aware of the programming opportunities, that we’re presenting them ways that allow them to participate, and that their needs are being met. We need input to shape the 2018-2020 strategic plan and we need to be proactive in how we engage people early in the planning process to learn from membership as their needs change.”

Theresa regularly asks her staff, “How have our projects impacted somebody today? Are we making a difference in people’s lives and the communities they live in?” The projects undertaken by the Membership Services Committee and the efforts of others reflect the passion and commitment of those deeply engaged in the work of the organization and the impact the profession can have in making a difference in people’s lives and in the communities they serve.

Today is a new day at IAP2 USA.

Space Station Sunrise

Categories: Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight: Nicole Reese

March 30, 2016 Leave a comment

Nicole ReeseWhat do conservation and IAP2 P2 practices have in common? Nicole Reese!

Nicole recently completed her Master’s Degree in Conservation Leadership at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado where she focused her research on stakeholder engagement, collaborative processes, and public participation in science. With as few as 55 adult individuals remaining, New Zealand’s endemic Maui’s dolphin (Cephalorhynchus hectori maui) is critically endangered. Nicole traveled to New Zealand to conduct research concerning the Māui Dolphin Research Advisory Group where she recommended strategies to inform and engage stakeholders in protection efforts.

Nicole attended IAP2 Foundations in Public Participation at the recent Skills Symposium in San Diego where she saw first-hand how P2 can support science-based efforts. “In science, we do facilitation as related to conservation, but the framework was developed from the conservation research world. I always felt like there were gaps, and the Foundations course really filled them in!”

Nicole was “blown away” by the three IAP2 Pillars, the Core Values, Ethics, and Spectrum, which gave her a framework to use that’s based on a much broader practice base than just conservation.

“This was a very different perspective for me. I spent most of my time outside of class talking with people, and it was great to hear their experiences and perspectives. I was really impressed by a woman from a construction company who described their outreach to the public and how they work with the communities to engage them in the process that would impact them.

“It was great to learn about the P2 techniques and see how I can use them with stakeholders in conservation. It really validated my sense that we need to do more, and gave me the tools that I need to carry my work forward. I learned so much in those five days!”

hairyproblemShe especially enjoyed the Big Hairy Problem event. “I thought it was fantastic. It was very energetic. We were really getting into the swing of things when we had to end it, and it felt like people really wanted to continue. It was a real life example of something happening right now, and it felt good to contribute.”

Nicole recently formed the Colorado-based nonprofit Crowd Conservation to facilitate collaboration for conservation solutions, and has signed up for the Mentorship Program to continue to build her knowledge on how to apply P2 principles to her work in engaging communities in conservation.

“I joined IAP2 USA while at the Symposium, and am really impressed with the organization and the training I received. Hearing about the mentorship program and wanting to be a part of it, I applied. Since I’m new to facilitation, I was excited to hear about the opportunity to get a mentor to have someone to bounce ideas off of. To be able to tap into their seasoned perspective and knowledge is something I’ve been actively looking for. I thought it was really great this organization already had a way to do that.”

Nicole is looking forward to the networking opportunities that come from being part of IAP2 USA, and is excited to share the wealth of knowledge she gained from the Symposium with the people who are trying to make change happen within their communities. “I really want to help promote IAP2 to help the organization share their knowledge with different groups.”

2016symposium-moonjellies2

As a wildlife biologist, Nicole was captivated by the jelly fish hanging about by the pier at the Symposium. “Instead of talking about the weather, we talked about the jelly fish.”

“In the conservation research realm there are a variety of natural resources fields such as wildlife biology, rangeland ecology, and marine ecosystems. Each specialty area operates as a silo, and there’s not of communication between disciplines. The IAP2 framework gives us an opportunity to share knowledge between groups doing similar things. We can learn a lot from each other.”

At its inception, Nicole sees Crowd Conversation as having a national focus, but she hopes to make it international. Her vision is to create a network of many different organizations and stakeholder groups to share success stories and lessons learned in collaboration for positive outcomes in conservation. She hopes to facilitate that collaboration and support projects that bring people together to solve environmental problems.

“I really liked how Barbara described ‘Be the guardian of the process.’ That really struck a chord with me. One thing I hear over and over in research on conservation collaboration is that it’s all about trust and relationships. That’s something science isn’t prepared to do, and is what I hope to bring to the table.”

If you are interested in Nicole’s efforts, reach out! She would be thrilled to have conversations with IAP2 practitioners about best practices and lessons learned for engaging communities and stakeholders that she can apply to conservation and natural resource issues.

Member Spotlight: Sandi Seader

January 29, 2016 1 comment

The City of Longmont, Colorado, a community of over 90,000 on the east side of the Rockies within view of Long’s Peak, the City’s namesake, is a full service municipality providing all utilities—water, wastewater, electricity, broadband, trash removal, public safety and a variety of community services.

sandiseader

Sandi Seader

Assistant City Manager for Shared Services, Sandi Seader, oversees the City’s Community Engagement efforts and is Chair of the Community Involvement Team, which makes sure everyone from city employees to community volunteers engaged in leadership roles has the training and tools to provide effective community engagement.

“When you’re funded entirely from taxes and fees, it’s especially important to make sure everyone has a voice in local decisions. Everybody’s job involves the community in some way or another.”

Sandi was introduced to IAP2 and Appreciative Inquiry following the North American Conference in 2001 when she was introduced to Barbara Lewis. “Appreciative Inquiry helps people see the best core values in themselves and how to manifest that in the future. We’ve used the methodology as the basis for our planning many times over the years.” Barbara and Sandi currently serve as officers with the IAP2 USA Colorado Chapter, “Colorado is very cutting edge when it comes to community engagement.”

The City of Longmont has also adopted the IAP2 Spectrum as the City’s framework for community involvement, and is a Government member of IAP2 USA. “We took community involvement to another level when we asked ourselves, ‘How do we move from community engagement to community capacity building? How do we help the community help themselves?’

And the investment paid off. The City had a devastating 500-year flood in 2013 that forced neighborhoods to evacuate and major streets to close.

“While the experience was devastating, it was also an unbelievable validation of the work we had put into capacity building and building trust. We do community engagement all the time in that we rarely make a decision that doesn’t involve the community, but to do this work then have something horrible happen and to watch how the community was so resilient because of the groundwork was amazing.”

People knew:

  • How to interact with their government
  • Where to find information and resources
  • Their roles in the community as neighborhood and community leaders,
    and
  • How to take care of themselves and each other

As the disaster unfolded, the community was cut in half by the St. Vrain River.

“I was at a shelter helping with public information. Three years prior we had begun to get better information from FEMA about where the floodplain would be, and we held community meetings and went door-to-door to collect emergency contact information for our Emergency Response Plan. At the time, we also let people know, ‘If a flood should happen, we won’t be interested in saving your property, we’ll be interested in saving you.’

Timeline
2:45 a.m. River overtops nearby roads; Emergency Alert calls activated
3:30 a.m. Shelter opened
4:30 a.m. 700 homes evacuated

“In a hour and a half, we had 700 homes evacuated. At the shelter, people recognized me from the meetings. They weren’t angry. They were reassuring, telling me, ‘You guys were open and honest, we knew it might happen, we knew what to do.’ It’s phenomenal we had no loss of life.”

Although strategic planning was the initial impetus, the outcome was community resilience and trust that has carried through the process of rebuilding. “We had $160 million in damage to public infrastructure and the community has really pulled together to help us figure out how to make the repairs.”

IAP2 USA has Sandi to thank for the new Government Membership program. “We talked at the chapter level about how the membership scheme for IAP2 didn’t make sense for local government. I was receiving and further distributing the information, and wanted everyone to be involved in public participation, but when we had someone who wanted to attend a webinar or an event, it put me in a moral quandary, ‘How to do I ethically share these resources without overstepping the boundaries of my professional membership?’ I wanted to sign up my whole organization.”

Sandi shared her concerns with the Member Services Committee and talked about the challenges with how local governments work. “That’s what started the conversation about the Government Membership. I wanted to make sure IAP2’s wonderful resources are broadly available. As a framework for engagement, the Spectrum is huge. The webinars and ongoing opportunities are huge. Now people can register for webinars directly. They can sign up for events and trainings at member rates. It feels so much more ethical than just passing on the information and then telling them, ‘Well no, you can’t participate, you’re not a member.’

Practically speaking, the new Government membership hasn’t changed Sandi’s role. She still gets the information from IAP2 USA and forwards it across the organization, and sometimes she’ll schedule a conference room so people can participate in a webinar together, but now she can stay true to herself and her role as an IAP2 member.

Categories: Member Spotlight

Member Spotlight: Robyn Austin

December 14, 2015 Leave a comment
Robyn Austin

Robyn Austin

Robyn came to IAP2 USA in a convoluted way. With a background in public policy and intergovernmental relations, Robyn worked in communications with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Federal Courts before joining Kittelson & Associates, a transportation engineering firm, to help with public involvement.

“It was a really good fit with my background in government relations and public policy, and I started out developing communications plans focusing on outreach and social media, but something was missing. I was the only one in the firm specifically focusing on public involvement, so I didn’t have anyone else to run ideas by. There wasn’t a team to draw energy from.”

Robyn ended up searching the Internet to find people doing similar things when she ran across IAP2 USA. She attended an event in Bend, Oregon where she discovered “this amazing group of people just like me –all in central Oregon!” IAP2 events gave Robyn the opportunity to meet and learn from people doing public participation work, but even more so they helped her solidify her role and shape what she was doing.

Robyn has created public involvement as a service area outside of engineering projects. “Other firms started coming to us for assistance where we have people on the ground and outreach expertise. Whereas normally we would be a competitor, in these cases we know the area, the agencies, and the people, and we’re able to provide value-added public involvement services outside of our own engineering projects.” And Kittelson’s reputation is growing. “More clients have come to us because they’ve heard we have a good reputation with the people and the public.”

Robyn attributes growing her role from traditional public relations/ communication to listening to the stories and lessons learned of the people who worked in different industries – for example, water rights and mining – and realizing they are the same stories and lessons learned just in a different arena. “I began to think less about how you do public involvement in transportation to more about how you do public involvement, period.”

She took the Foundations course, which gave her a better foundation in the fundamentals, and the course manuals provide a reference she uses when making plans. “It was helpful to bring back the materials and talk about what I learned. It gave me something to point to to say ‘This is how to develop a good plan.’”

The IAP2 Core Values and Code Ethics really helped to inform Robyn’s work as she developed her role. In the beginning she was asking herself “Am I involving?” “Am I communicating?” but as she grew to understand and internalize the IAP2 principles, reading through them, and really understanding how they were reflected in her work, Robyn started taking them to her project teams, asking “How are you involving … communicating … educating, in your project plans?”

“That’s when we really started doing public involvement. It was definitely transformative.”

Robyn started thinking about the public participation aspect of projects as its own piece, and started asking questions around “What is our goal?” “What are we asking of the public?” “Are we empowering?” “Are we collaborating?”

The questions raised by the IAP2 Core Values and Code Ethics reframed the conversation and transformed what Kittelson was doing for the practice …all within a very short time frame.

Robyn attended the event in Bend ~2 years ago, and while she’s located in the Intermountain which covers a lot of territory – 5 big states – Kittelson’s headquarters is in Portland, where she’s gotten to know many people in the Cascade chapter. It was just 11 months ago, in January 2015, that Robyn joined IAP2 USA and the Communications Committee where she was welcomed with open arms – Thanks Lance! – “I knew I wanted to be involved more, and when I saw a call for volunteers in the newsletter I thought ‘I can do that!’”

She jumped right in helping with social media generally, but in the weeks before the North American Conference she got involved with the planning committee with Kittelson’s backing and support. “We were able to host the committee meetings in our Portland office, which gave us a good central location to connect with all the amenities but no extra costs!”

The Communications Committee remains a mainstay of Robyn’s involvement. “Communications is such an important part of IAP2! We’re a hands on committee working on social media outreach, the newsletter and the website, and of course the big success of 2015 – the new brochure – Thanks Jessica! – getting information out to people who may not know about the organization so they can get the newsletter and receive announcements. People like me, who are doing public involvement but don’t have the backing of this great organization that can help them frame their work and make it grow.”

committeeGet involved! It’s easy to volunteer for an IAP2 USA committee.

  • We’re an organization of people who are good at this. People who want to help and want to be involved, there’s definitely space.
  • It’s as easy as sending an email.
  • Not to mention we have a few good coaches and mentors…

Learn more!

Robyn is super excited about the upcoming 2016 Skills Symposium. “I’ve already registered for More Tools! and Digital Engagement to see if what we’re doing is up to snuff. I’m looking forward to connecting with others and hearing what they’re doing in their industries. I hope to see you there!”

Member Spotlight: Lauren Cobb

November 13, 2015 Leave a comment
Lauren Cobb

Lauren Cobb

Lauren Cobb came to IAP2 USA through a leap of faith. Trained as an engineer, she had started her family and was active in the community when her church suffered a series of devastating, divisive losses. Lauren was part of the leadership team that looked for ways to help the congregation come together and heal. They found a series on resilient congregations and dialogue work that led them to Public Conversations Project in Boston. The team invited training director Bob Stains to train nine church members as dialogue facilitators. This team continued to work through the materials over the summer, and began their work by facilitating a dialogue group with people they identified as sympathetic to the need for healing. That fall, the entire congregation was invited to participate in small group dialogues, resulting in 25 group sessions each with 6-8 people involving about a third of the congregation being hosted through February.

“The results were marvelous. The conversation shifted. The way people talked with each other changed. The confidence people had in each other reflected trust. People focused on finding common ground and differences became less important.”

Lauren went on to lead a second team through Appreciative Inquiry to help prepare for a search for a new pastor and begin the hiring process. The facilitation and capacity building skills she had gained proved invaluable as she went on to lead the diverse hiring committee through the pastoral search process, and a new pastor was hired in 2010.

Lauren discovered IAP2 USA on a more recent journey that took her from an NCDD discussion to the IAP2 USA Facebook group, “Everything sounded so interesting!” She saw a post for the Mentorship Program, and even though she hadn’t been a member, she submitted an application …another leap of faith.

Through the Mentorship Program, Lauren has been working with Kit Cole to organize monthly events in Southern California/Greater Los Angeles. The mentoring program has given Lauren a chance to learn about the different kinds of work practitioners are doing and what they think is important in their work, broadening her perspective about how people are engaged in P2. “I feel like I’ve entered the cave of wonders. I’ve found these people who are cultivating engagement on so many different levels. It’s given me a greater understanding of the different ways people approach their practice, and the different things people hold as important in their practice.”

Lauren was able to go to the North American Conference, where she came away with a strong sense of “this is my tribe.”

“I see IAP2 as peacemakers. People helping people speak and hear in a way that create understanding. Public participation intuitively makes sense to me. I have a lot more to learn and practice to do, but it’s almost like re-learning something I already know.”

Lauren and her daughters, Joy and Ellis

Lauren and her daughters, Joy and Ellis

Lauren was asked to serve as a proxy for Kit when she couldn’t come to a 2016 Skills Symposium planning meeting and offered to help. She has continued to participate in planning meetings and plans to help with local support efforts during the Symposium. And she has taken her community engagement efforts local, to her neighborhood. “I really wanted to bring a Little Free Library to my block, but our house isn’t in the best location. By talking with neighbors, I found someone who was willing to host the library in a much better location and another neighbor helped build it!”

Lauren came to IAP2 from the involved and engaged side of the IAP2 Spectrum, and has embarked on a journey to find a way to put her unique strengths – engineering, communications, and facilitation – to work.

Member Spotlight: Jeanna and Tim Hall

October 8, 2015 Leave a comment
Jeanna and Tim Hall

Jeanna and Tim Hall

Meet the drive behind the 2015 North American Conference!

Jeanna and Tim Hall, Portland residents and retired IAP2 practitioners co-chaired the 2015 North American Conference committee of over 20 volunteers who made the conference the great success that is was.

Fast facts:
25+ volunteers
350+ attendees, and
115+ presenters and panelists, from
8 countries (Australia, Canada, Indonesia, New Zealand, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, United Kingdom, and the United States)
55+ sessions in
2 ½ jam packed days

Jeanna joined IAP2 in the mid-1990s when she was a Public Involvement Planner for Metro. “It was a perfect fit for what I was doing. In 2002, I changed jobs, working for Clean Water Services, a regional water resources management utility” she said. “I became involved in the Cascade chapter, and I became a chapter officer and served on the national board of directors – all professional development opportunities that I wouldn’t have grown from had I not become active in the organization.”

Tim met Jeanna and was introduced to IAP2 at a Cascade chapter-hosted reception at an EPA PI conference in Portland in 2002. Since then, he too has been active in the chapter, serving on its executive committee and helping to plan the chapter PI Network events. Tim signed up his staff as IAP2 members and over the years encouraged City of Portland PI staff to join. He and Jeanna were married in 2008.

As a couple, they’re still learning as P2 evolves. “Denis Hayes’ presentation was very informative and Nancy Luna Jimenez’ presentation was an eye-opener for a lot of people on how public involvement needs to include all voices,” said Tim. “The profession still has a long way to go, but launching the discussion with the pre-conference workshop on diversity was a great way to begin a conversation that was woven throughout the conference.”

“The quality of the presentations was very high. There are so many talented professionals out there, and it’s exciting to bring them together,” said Jeanna, who was amazed to meet participants from Singapore and Romania. “My heritage is Romanian, so I was thrilled to sit with the woman from Romania at the Core Values Awards dinner.”

Keys to Success

IAP2 was founded in Portland as IAP3 at the first conference in 1990 by a gathering of public participation practitioners from the U.S., Canada and Australia. The name later changed to be more inclusive of community organizers, elected officials, and thought leaders who were not necessarily P2 practitioners.

“Having some of the original founders serving on the organizing committee gave us momentum, and having the conference in Portland, which has such a strong ethic of public participation, provided a good foundation of local people,” said Jeanna. “We had an excellent group of volunteers who wanted to help put this conference together.”

And engage they did! “The conference team really did the work, participating in the monthly calls, following up on the tasks they’d committed to between meetings. People did a great job of taking charge of the different pieces so it wasn’t just a couple of people doing everything,” noted Jeanna.

“Our conference team discussed some of the highlights in a recent debriefing. Sheri Wantland guarded the budget and managed our expenses. Francesca Patricolo coordinated the the Silent Auction, and was excited to raise over $1,900 to launch the national student scholarship program. Mike Dahlstrom spearheaded the social media for attendees to share their experience throughout the conference, and he looks forward to doing more in the future.”

Tips for 2016

  • We realized that some volunteers did not fully know what tasks they were to do. Developing roles for volunteers and having an “all volunteer” meeting before the conference starts would bring those people together and provide an opportunity to answer questions and cement commitments.
  • Look closely at the conference facility and how space availability would affect visibility and logistics for sponsors and vendors.
  • Audio-visual services were a challenge. The hotel’s AV contractor was not well enough prepared to handle the number of presentations. They didn’t have some equipment, which volunteers ran out to purchase to meet the needs of presenters.
  • Consider reducing the number of presentations from an average of seven per session to perhaps five or six.

Are you new to IAP2? Words of Wisdom from Jeanna and Tim

The conference was a great opportunity to make connections, but it’s just the beginning. If you live where there is not a chapter, think about starting one. If that’s not an option, connect with the organization as a whole by getting involved with a committee. Committees are a big part of what happens with the national organization, and the more people we have working to grow the profession the more we can do.

“We hope IAP2 USA continues to do things that help people improve the practice, that we continue to grow and be of value to our members. The conference is a great way to do it, but there are many other things we are doing. We’d like to see chapters in every city, like Los Angeles.” – Jeanna and Tim Hall