Growing A National Community
Every day, our community of practice is growing stronger. Here’s three examples
First, you have a nation-wide board. In February, your IAP2 USA Board of Directors met in San Diego, joining us from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to Portland, Oregon and everywhere in between. We are gaining strength by drawing together more regions across the country. That nation-wide perspective makes our insights and strategies more focused and informed. It was truly a joy to have (almost) all of our board members in the same place, rather than online where we do the majority of our work! There was a lot of great energy in the room.
Second, you are part of a national community. Our board’s reach across the country is also reflected in our membership which is nearing 1000. Our organization is experiencing tremendous growth and we are gaining a broad range of new members – from full-time P2 practitioners to decision-maker staff who engage with the public for a small percentage of their overall workload. Our membership is the community that you’re part of, and we are all uniting around the core values, ethics and skills that bring quality P2 to important decisions.
Third, we have launched a national conversation. To focus all of us on quality P2 as a community, we launched a new conversation in San Diego that will be replicated throughout the nation. This conversation is about whether we are facing a P2 crisis or opportunity at the national level. It’s about testing the current refrain that we are a divided country and positioning P2 as a uniting force, a value we share and have always shared. The end of this dialogue focused on how we, as practitioners, decision-makers, and participants can lead a positive and constructive way forward based on the Core Values. At this first of many dialogues, through use of the World Café and Card Storming techniques, the 50+ participants discussed current challenges to P2 work, their effects and how we can support quality P2 in our communities. We’re interested to learn how the local and regional dynamics can change the conversation.
We expect the conversation to continue in many locations including San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, Denver, Salt Lake City, Wyoming and more. Ideas will be shared across IAP2 USA’s network of over 2,000 members and friends, as well as at the North American Conference this September. So keep an eye on your chapter newsletters for an opportunity to engage in this conversation in your area and then be sure to join us in Denver in September.
Congratulations Theresa Gunn, IAP2 USA’s newest Master Certified Public Participation Professional (MCP3)!
Congratulations Theresa Gunn on becoming IAP2 USA’s newest Master Certified Public Participation Professional (MCP3).
Theresa has been with IAP2 since 1994 and has worn many hats. She has contributed in many ways within IAP2 and has been essential in molding IAP2 USA into the organization it is today. Her leadership service includes, but is not limited to:
- Serving on the inaugural IAP2 USA Board of Directors from 2011-2012 where she oversaw the nascence of IAP2 USA
- Serving on the first IAP2 Federation Board of Directors following the March 2010 decision to move to an Affiliate model, serving first as Treasurer, 2011-2012, and then as Deputy Presiding Member in 2013.
- Theresa has chaired the Membership Services Committee, 2014-to-date, where she continues her work championing professional development for public participation practitioners.
Theresa is a huge proponent of 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.”
We congratulate Theresa Gunn on her successful completion of the Professional Certification Program and designation as a Master Certified Public Participation Professional (MCP3). We are grateful for her continuing support and admire how she embodies the IAP2 Core Values.
To learn more about Theresa Gunn, see our 2016 Member Spotlight.
There was a lot of fear in the room at a recent community organizing meeting I attended – fear about our political system, the ramifications of the recent election, and more generally, a perceived lack of knowledge on how to engage. As the group discussed ways that people could affect real change in their local communities and more broadly, a woman asked how she could get more involved in decisions that affected her.
Despite having practiced P2 for more than a decade, it was still surprising for me to see just how many people had little to no understanding of the opportunities to influence decisions happening all around them. I was similarly surprised to learn about the large number of Americans (over 90 million eligible voters) who simply did not vote in this year’s election.
In recent weeks I’ve heard a great deal of concern about how the new political climate may cause a potential chilling effect on our practice and on people’s ability to express themselves. I believe the opposite to be true.
This is the time for Americans of all stripes to come together, participate and share their voices. This is a time for dialogue, a time to build understanding, and a time to engage in topics we are passionate about. As P2 practitioners, there is no better time to ensure we are engaging for diversity and inclusion. This is a time to reflect on our own experiences and improve our practice.
I encourage each of you to engage with your chapters and your peers to share stories, compare notes, and find ways to broaden the practice, to make it more accessible, and help all Americans share their voices.
Traci Ethridge, Assistant Director of Corporate Communications & Marketing for the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, first learned about IAP2 from colleagues who had attended the IAP2 Foundations in Public Participation program. “I was part of a working group tasked with examining how the city was engaging with the community and developing an overall strategy moving forward. We wanted to make sure that we were bridging the gap between the community and local government. Our organization has success around a lot of projects and initiatives and we wanted to implement a standard practice such as the IAP2 Spectrum.” The Spectrum will become the foundation to community engagement planning and a key piece in shaping the city’s overall strategy.
The City of Charlotte was one of the first municipalities to take advantage of the IAP2 USA Government Membership program when it was introduced in January 2015. “We definitely saw it as an investment in the direction we were moving and wanted to make IAP2 resources accessible throughout our organization. As we continue to engage the community in initiatives like the Community Investment Plan, we recognize that various projects can be in different places on the Spectrum. The important thing is that the community engagement plans begin with a high level overview of the Spectrum and the understanding that we are connecting with the community throughout the life cycle of the project.”
Beginning in the fall of 2014, the city conducted a series of community meetings to begin planning efforts for the Cross Charlotte Trail (XCLT). “The team decided to organize pop-up meetings to engage with the community and this method proved to be very successful. They attended neighborhood meetings, participated in weekly bike rides and connected with people at local festivals and events at locations along the proposed trail route.” This spring the trail project was awarded the Region of Excellence Award by the Centralina Council of Governments.
For the City of Charlotte, community engagement isn’t just about planning capital improvement projects. It’s about reaching people, listening and even tackling tough, sensitive issues impacting the community. The work being done by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) is a great example. An initiative called Cops & Barbers provided a forum for open, honest dialogue on police and race relations in the African American community. It is an opportunity to meet people where they are and where they routinely go (the barber shop) and start a conversation between officers and people of all ages in the community. Last year, CMPD partnered with the North Carolina Local Barbershop Association to coordinate town hall meetings throughout Charlotte. The program was recognized by the White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing. A simple, yet impactful idea turned into a form of community engagement that brings diverse groups together.
“It is exciting to see the connection grow between our organization and the community we serve. We have a unique opportunity to effectively engage with our community through many platforms and cover a variety of topics that matter to those who live, work and play in our city. I look forward to seeking out ways to incorporate more of the IAP2 Spectrum into all aspects of our engagement.”
Traci volunteered to serve on the IAP2 USA Communications Committee in 2016, and has gotten involved in the organization’s communications planning initiative. “IAP2 USA is committed to helping organizations figure out where they are on the Spectrum and helping them be successful with their community engagement initiatives. I’ve learned so much from other committee members and from members in other cities who are trying new things and engaging in different ways. IAP2 USA is a perfect fit for what we’re doing here at the City of Charlotte.”
And she’s excited about bringing community engagement to the next level at the city. “There are people who do some form of community engagement in every department. Whether it’s employees out in the field, project managers, city leaders or elected officials, there is interaction with the public on a daily basis. As an organization, we want to engage, build relationships and actively collaborate with the community.”
Traci is hoping to reconvene the working group to look at embedding P2 in the city’s overall strategy for planning and delivering city services. “We’re seeing the positive impacts when we listen to what matters to the community and bring back what we’ve learned. Now I want to look more holistically at how we put all of the pieces together to establish community engagement at the core of everything we do.”
Traci recognizes the city can’t use a one-size-fits-all approach, but is asking questions around “What does engagement look like from an overall standpoint? Are we hitting the target to engage effectively? Are we being intentional about looking for ways to engage the community?” While these questions will be answered over time, she sees the IAP2 Spectrum as the foundation to build a lasting strategy for engagement.
Are you looking to hone your P2 skills?
To supplement the book Public Participation for 21st Century Democracy, Matt Leighninger, former IAP2 USA Board Member and Director of Public Engagement at Public Agenda, and co-author Tina Nabatchi outline 10 skills and capacities foundational to deeper and broader public participation at the Public Agenda blog.
In this Series
Part 1: Ten Key Talents for Better Public Participation – These skills and capacities – or talents – can contribute to a system where public engagement processes, tools and technologies are not just “civic hacks.” Rather, they are qualities and characteristics of a political system in which people have a wide variety of ways to participate on a broader range of issues and decisions, June 22, 2016.
Part 2: Building Coalitions and Networks – Finding and connecting with other potential participation leaders, and strengthening those relationships in coalitions and networks, is an important step in planning and sustaining public participation, June 28, 2016.
Part 3: Cultural Competence and Engaging Youth – In both coalition building and recruitment, participation leaders should think explicitly about youth involvement. Engaging young people can galvanize all kinds of public participation efforts, July 6, 2016.
Part 4: Recruiting Participants – Participation is more likely to benefit the community as a whole when it involves a broad cross-section of the community. And interactions will be more lively and rewarding when there is a diverse mix of participants. In this case, diversity not only means demographic diversity, but also diversity of views, perspectives, backgrounds and experiences, July 12, 2016.
Part 5: Communicating About Participation – While the media landscape has changed dramatically in the last decade, some basic communication skills are useful whether one is working with traditional media organizations, such as newspapers and television and radio stations, or new media organizations, including hyperlocal and purely online outlets, July 19, 2016.
Part 6: Managing Conflict – Although public participation projects rarely include formal conflict resolution processes, a general sense of how to manage conflict can be invaluable for building coalitions and facilitating meetings, July 25, 2016.
Part 7: Providing Information and Options: Issue Framing – Getting people to the table is not sufficient for improved public participation. The table must also be set in a way that gives citizens more of what they want (problem solving, civility and community) and treats them like adults in the process. This requires participation leaders to think more deeply about how to provide information and describe options, August 1, 2016.
Part 8: Providing Information and Options: Sequencing Discussions and Writing Discussion Materials – Many participation processes require some kind of agenda or guide that establishes a helpful, flexible structure for addressing a particular issue or problem. From years of experimentation, a successful sequence has emerged for these kinds of guides and the discussions they support, August 9, 2016.
Part 9: Managing Discussions, Blog 1 of 3: Facilitating Face-to-Face Groups – The basic definition of “facilitate” is to make easy or easier. Within the context of public participation, the word facilitate means to lead (and make easier) a group discussion. This is done, for example, by guiding conversations, asking questions, mediating between opposing viewpoints, ensuring that all participants’ views are heard, reflecting and summarizing what is said, following the agenda and keeping time. The facilitator’s main task is to create a safe environment where each participant feels comfortable expressing ideas and responding to those of others, August 15, 2016.
Part 10: Managing Discussions, Blog 2 of 3: Recording and Online Moderation – Ensuring that participant interactions work well for everyone requires a number of key skills centered on managing discussions, including facilitating face-to-face groups, recording, moderating online forums, setting ground rules and giving feedback, August 22, 2016.
Part 11: Managing Discussions, Blog 3 of 3: Ground Rules and Feedback – Today, we close out our exploration of managing discussions with two critical skills: establishing ground rules and providing feedback, August 30, 2016.
Part 12: Helping Participants Generate and Evaluate Ideas – A common practice in all kinds of participation settings is generating, refining, evaluating and ranking ideas. Two skills are particularly helpful for supporting these activities: brainstorming and visioning to generate ideas, and using ABC standards to evaluate ideas, September 6, 2016.
August 2015 IAP2 Learning Webinar: “Meet the Authors – Public Participation for 21st Century Democracy”
August 1, 2016
The IAP2 Federation Board is pleased to announce the selection of Cassandra “Cassie” Hemphill as the new Professional Development Manager. Cassie commenced her duties on Monday, August 1, 2016.
Cassie brings to IAP2 more than 25 years of experience as a communications educator and consultant. As an educator, she teaches university and outreach courses in public speaking, interpersonal communication, intercultural communication, technical writing, and dialogue and deliberation at the University of Montana. She recently piloted a 12-hour “people skills” training for supervisors as part of an outreach to local businesses. For her university’s global leadership initiative, Cassie will teach a first year seminar in deliberative democracy. Prior to teaching, Cassie worked as a communications consultant, primarily coordinating large (>$1M US) commercial and government proposals and serving as lead writer and editor for complex, multi-volume technical and scientific publications.
Cassie’s Ph.D. research focused on the implementation of an innovative government procurement policy by a federal natural resource agency. Her M.A. research examined the decision-making processes used by technical experts in complex environmental cleanup projects. She as a B.S. in management and service leadership and a certificate in natural resources conflict resolution. She completed IAP2’s 5-day certificate course (now Foundations in Public Participation training) in 2004 and has completed training in project management, proposal management, and facilitation of P2 processes. Her current research explores best practices in adult learning and assessment, organizational communication, and deliberative dialogic decision-making processes.
Cassie is active at the national and regional levels of IAP2 USA. She is on the IAP2 USA Certification Task Force and is the Montana state representative for the Intermountain Chapter. She serves on the editorial board of the Northwest Communication Association Journal and has previously served that association as a conference planner. One of the highlights of her year is serving as chief judge for the 8th grade physical science division at the Montana State Science Fair.
IAP2 extends sincere appreciation to Staffing Committee members Jan Bloomfield (Canada), Kylie Cochrane (Australasia) and Ellen Ernst, Executive Manager for their efforts in working through the recruiting and selection process and for their thoughtful consideration of all applications received. IAP2 was pleased with the interest received from more than 30 applicants from around the world. The breadth and depth of experience was quite impressive.
In the coming weeks and months as Cassie becomes acquainted with the organization, key initiatives, and her role, many of you will have the opportunity to meet and work with her. Cassie can be reached at email@example.com.
Please join us in welcoming Cassie to IAP2.
A few weeks ago, I spent a truly enjoyable evening with friends honoring the great work of the Human Rights Campaign in Utah. Just hours later, I woke to find that the worst mass shooting in US history had occurred in a gay nightclub, Pulse, in Orlando. As more information became available, I began to wonder how the specifics of this event could change the kind of conversations we’ve been having about terrorism, gun-control, religion and human rights in this country. So far, I’ve experienced a range of emotion – sadness, surprise, anger, outrage, confusion, a sense of loss for the victims and their families, hope for the future, and finally determination to make things better.
A hopeful moment in the dialogue surrounding this tragedy surprisingly came from Utah Republican Lieutenant Governor Spencer J. Cox who apologized to the gay community for “not treating them with the kindness, dignity, and respect – the love – that they deserved.” Statements like this give me hope that change is beginning. But, as a P2 practitioner, I believe that all people should be treated with kindness, dignity, and respect – period. Statements like the Lt. Governor’s are appreciated, but I believe what is really needed is a call to action; a call to conversation; a call for the public to participate in decisions affecting Americans.
The issues raised by this tragedy are many, complicated, and intertwined. It is clear to me that some things have to change. Mister (Fred) Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” Let us, as P2 practitioners, begin to help by getting involved in these difficult conversations, planning inclusive processes, and engaging Americans in difficult topics to open the way prevent future tragedies.
I’m asking each of you to find out what your communities are talking about related to this event and these issues, engage where you can, and share with the IAP2 USA community via our social media feeds, blog, and newsletter. If nothing is happening in your community, let’s help start the conversation. Let’s support our vision to make the U.S. a country where public participation is deeply embedded and widely applied …to improve the quality of our democracy.