Notes from Phoenix

Looking out at the Phoenix Convention Center with the historic St. Mary’s Basilica (dedicated in 1881) in the foreground, April 2016.

Before we get back into our routines after attending the APA National Planning Conference held in Phoenix, Arizona, I want to share some thoughts.  We couldn’t have picked an environment more diametrically opposed to the location of our 2016 APA LA state chapter conference in Houma, LA.  Phoenix is in the heart of the western desert with mountains in the backdrop. Houma is in the heart of bayou country surrounded by water.  Phoenix averages 7 inches of rain per year, we average 60 inches! The air is so dry in Arizona that perspiration disappears before you even notice it. We don’t have that problem here. There was no barbequed shrimp for us, but the southwest cuisine was awesome.

APA announced a number of policy changes on the horizon at leadership meetings during the conference that will impact the APA LA.  Last fall, the Chapter Presidents’ Council adopted a resolution to restructure chapter dues as a percentage of the member’s national dues.  It was unclear at the time when this would be required to be instituted.  Well, the time is now.  Chapters have until 2017 to determine their respective percentages.  As we begin to evaluate the options, the goal of the APA LA Executive Committee is to select a percentage that will be revenue neutral so that the chapter member portion of dues stays as close to existing dues levels as possible. We will be asking for your input in the months to come, so please weigh in.

APA recognizes planners at all stages of their professional lives from student to seasoned planner. Efforts are underway to help students after graduation with a new AICP Candidate program that will encourage graduates to stay engaged and eventually take the exam.  Also, the AICP brand needs to generate greater value in the various government and business sectors that rely on planners.

Seasoned planners are also on the agenda as we investigate ways to keep retirees that have so much knowledge and experience in the field to stay involved in APA while acknowledging their potential reduced income.

The APA Executive Director, Jim Drinan, spoke to Sean Daly, Mart Black and I at the Conference Opening Reception held in a park in downtown Phoenix.  APA will be visiting Louisiana this November to plan the 2018 National Planning Conference in New Orleans.  Jim noted that the new national conference committee is intended to establish a continuity among conferences and still allow the local host committee to showcase the unique flavor of the area.

Finally, some good news for AICPs: pro bono work, including volunteering in section and chapter activities, will be eligible for up 8 hours in CM credits (self-reported). This was adopted by the APA Board on April 1st (no fooling).  So, please volunteer.  Contribute and get to know your fellow planners.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity to serve and represent the APA LA!

Lydia Z. Jemison, AICP, CFM
APA LA President

Image Credit Lydia Jemison - Looking out at the Phoenix Convention Center with the historic St. Mary’s Basilica (dedicated in 1881) in the foreground, April 2016.