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Do you have what it takes to become a Certified Public Participation Professional (CP3)?

Knowing and showing that you provide quality P2 is key in today’s marketplace. Certification is your way to do so. If you have taken the IAP2 Foundations course (formerly the Certificate training), have experience delivering good P2, and are ready to have your work assessed by a panel of your professional peers, then it is time to get certified.

Why get certified? Certification moves your career forward. With certification, your services and the profession has greater value to clients:

  • Gives you an edge over your competition
  • Demonstrates to clients and colleagues the value you bring as a Certified Professional
  • Builds the credibility and profile of our profession and IAP2 so that clients are more willing to invest in the services
  • Validates and documents that you have the skills and abilities to be a Certified Professional
  • Validates the efforts you have made in your career to provide value to clients
  • Shows that you meet internationally recognized standards
  • Demonstrates a willingness to invest in your own development and commitment to the field to reinforce a culture of quality

Now that you are interested the next steps are:

For more information please visit the website or contact Amelia at ameliaiap2usa@gmail.com.

The time is right for you to become a Certified Public Participation Professional

Recent Posts

Vote for the new 2019-2021 IAP2 USA Board Directors


The 2019 – 2021 Election season has begun! We have some incredible candidates for you to choose from and we hope that you will take the time to get to know them a little bit better before you vote.

The following is a quick snapshot of the 2019-2021 Board candidates. Please click on their information links to learn more. Deadline for member voting is Wednesday, December 5, 2018.

How to vote:

You will be sent an online ballot via email from ElectionBuddy by the end of today. If you do not find it immediately in your inbox, check your “updates” folder or SPAM. If you have difficulty locating your online ballot or have questions regarding this election please contact Anneliese at Annelieseiap2usa@gmail.com


Name & Location TITLE & ORGANIZATION Excerpt from their vision for P2 & IAP2USA
Anne Carroll
Anne Carroll
St. Paul, MN
President, Carroll, Franck and Associates Each day offers IAP2 USA new opportunities to support, encourage, and facilitate participation in the work of IAP2 USA, our communities, and the country at large. As I write this on the eve of mid-term elections, I look at the national and local divisiveness as what may be a once-in-a-generation chance for us to muster our members to lead, teach, and learn from others to collectively advance great P2 – for the greater good. There is great work happening that we can better showcase and share. … There are countless people in tremendously difficult situations doing excellent P2 who believe they’re alone in that work … as IAP2 USA becomes a “force to be reckoned with,” I believe we can continue to do more, better, together.
Read More!
Catherine Smith
Catherine Smith
San Diego, CA
Partner, CityWorks People + Places, Inc. My vision is to deeply and broadly embed quality public participation as a norm across the country on decisions such as climate change, sustainability, technology, economic development, health, and social equity. I’ve been working at the local and regional levels for 25 years and know this is where social fabric is created and where people learn to be in the room with each other and make good decisions together. With aging infrastructure, obvious climate change impacts, technological change, national friction, and economic volatility there is a tremendous opportunity for IAP2 to help people, and the country as a whole, build confidence that they can and must make good decisions together. I’d like to build that reality through strategic partnerships with project sponsors in industry and government and with building awareness in the general populous so that they know what good p2 looks like and how to contribute to it.
Read More!
Claudia Billotto
Claudia Billotto
Atlanta, GA
Vice-President / Area Manager, WSP USA, Inc. I believe that public participation in the US should be an open and inclusive two-way process that is an expectation of the agencies involved in gathering the input as well as of the citizens engaging in the effort. This process should become second-nature, because the benefits of the act of engagement will be realized through proven process. IAP2 USA can make an impact in several ways – training professionals on the skills required to effectively engage the public, sharing best practices and lessons learned – to showcase effective (and ineffective) engagement techniques for the betterment of the practice, and providing a practice area network for professionals to glean ideas and vet concepts to further evolve quality engagement approaches.
Read More!
Heather Imboden
Heather Imboden
Oakland, CA
Principal, Communities in Collaboration LLC I believe our communities are strongest when our government works in collaboration with a diverse representation of community members to craft policies and programs. These are complicated times in our country, but local efforts can continue to strengthen our democracy from the ground up. Not only does effective community engagement build stronger programs, because the priorities of community members are embedded within then, effective engagement also builds the capacity of local community members. As our country continues to diversify, it is more important than ever to continue to evolve our engagement and participatory practices to ensure that they are inclusive across race, class, gender, age, ethnicity, and ability. While we must stay true to the principles of authentic engagement, the tools and techniques may need to change to ensure we are reaching all of our community members.
Read More!
Jay Vincent
Jay Vincent
Chicago, IL
Founder and Chief Engagement Officer, Outreach Experts I envision a world where public participation is about being involved meaningfully and about shaping one’s’ world instead of more often being about stopping or fighting against something. To do this we all must be a model for active participation in our communities.
To realize this I want to continue the work of the organization and the current board to strengthen a professional certification that one day will be recognized throughout the United States and beyond as an essential professional certification.
I want to work with this community to continue to evangelize P2 globally while supporting training throughout the world as a sponsor, booster and capacity builder.
Through ongoing work and collaboration with members throughout other affiliates I plan to support and complete the important organizational transformation underway that is charting a bright future for IAP2 and P2 around the world.
Read More!
Katrice Candler
Katrice Candler
Inglewood, CA
Project Specialist, Southern California Gas Company It’s clear that as social concerns changes, so does the practice of public participation. And how we understand business stakeholders in these changes is an ongoing process. IAP2 can continue to create series on how to inform, involve and empower the public. One way is to tap into educating members about crowdsourcing and its implications to business and culture. Large organizations who normally have slow processes, IAP2 could stay abreast with trends like crowdsourcing that can help businesses pioneer their innovation journey that would impact their public participation goals.
Read More!
Natalia Henschel
Natalia Henschel
San Diego, CA
Senior Account Supervisor, Katz and Associates My vision for public participation in the United States is one where public participation is not only standard to all decision-making processes in the public realm, it is genuinely valued for the role that it plays in making better, more sustainable decisions. Too often, the rhetoric used to refer to public participation is negative, describing it as the main reason for projects going over budget and missing deadlines, or not being completed at all. Yet, as public participation practitioners, we know the many benefits good public participation can provide when the appropriate resources are invested, and best practices are applied. By continuing to identify and implement new and innovative ways to fulfill its mission to lead, advance and advocate for best practices in public participation, I believe IAP2 will continue to play a critical role in growing a culture of public participation in the United States that is widely valued.
Read More!

Nominations Open for Intermountain Chapter Officers!

Fall greetings, IAP2 Intermountain members & friends!

The time has come to nominate the best of the best for IAP2 Intermountain Chapter Leadership Team officers and representatives. We want passionate and engaging individuals to help fill these roles and continue to motivate involvement in IAP2 and perpetuate the momentum we’ve gained in learning and improving engagement in our local communities.

Early Impact from the IAP2 Ambassadors!

Stacee AdamsStacee Adams, Ambassador Program Coordinator

Post-election, pre-holidays. It’s the season of participation and dialogue and the IAP2 Ambassadors have been leading the charge for both at a number of events around the country the last two months. Frankie Burton, with Katz and Associates in San Francisco, is one of them. Why does she do it?

Webinar Rewind – Victoria Encore: “Prevent Truth Decay”

“What is our role in protecting Truth?” was the presenting question in our November webinar, in which Sam Imperati and Devin Howington reprised a successful presentation from the IAP2 North American Conference in Victoria. “Truth Decay” was coined by a Rand Corporation report in early 2018, identifying the situation where opinions supplant facts as a driver in people’s attitudes and decision-making.  The result is alienation and disengagement, erosion of civil discourse, and a decline in trust of individuals and institutions.

What is the role of the P2 practitioner in this? If IAP2 principles include ensuring that people have the facts they need to make an informed decision, how far is a practitioner expected to go – and whose “truth” is regarded as paramount? One is dealing, after all, with the sponsor, the participating public, the general population, and a variety of other interests.

Sam and Devin offer some ways of establishing truth and helping groups maintain civility and stay grounded in the facts, while still allowing for individuals to have “their truths.” One tool they offer is the “umbrella question”, framing the issue at hand in such a way that covers all the interests that are demanding attention.

The webinar spurred some lively interaction, and IAP2 members can view it and access the slide deck and other collateral materials here.

Webinar Rewind: “Building P2 Into Your Organization”

It’s a fact that people are demanding a voice in matters that concern them in increasing numbers. It’s also a fact that organizations are playing catch-up in that department. Our October webinar featured two organizations that are setting a standard in entrenching public participation in their makeup: the City of Edmonton and the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA).

In both cases, the organizations were “pushed” into it. SFMTA’s “P2 epiphany” followed what Deanna Desedas, the Agency’s Public Outreach and Engagement Manager, calls “The Year of Pain”. Transportation plans and projects affect pretty much everybody, but in 2013, dozens of projects in various stages, and stakeholders, internally and externally, were getting frustrated at the slow progress. City staff studied the situation and were able to identify four key reasons for the frustration, the chart indicates. Staff were frustrated because they did not have sufficient resources to do their job; the public was frustrated at the lack of a consistent method of keeping them informed about the projects and the stages they were in.

So SFMTA devised “POETS” — the Public Outreach and Engagement Team Strategy, which includes IAP2 Foundations and other training training for staff, a peer group of managers across all divisions of the agency, tools and resources, and an ongoing evaluation process. It was also necessary to have a budget: proper P2 doesn’t come cheap. By 2015, it was starting to fall into place, and in 2017, SFMTA won the IAP2 USA Core Values Award for Organization of the Year.

There are many ways of describing POETS’ success. One is that some managers are now asking of a project, “Has this been POETized?” The other is summed up in an observation by one SFMTA upper manager: “My phone stopped ringing”: he no longer gets angry calls from members of the public, because they now know what’s going on and what the status of a project is.

SFMTA took part in a pre-conference workshop at the 2018 IAP2 North American Conference in Victoria, “Traffic Jam!”. Read the session description here or view all the materials in the Conference Schedule-at-a-Glance.

Read SFMTA’s 2017 Core Values Award application here.

The City of Edmonton won the 2018 IAP2 Canada Core Values Award for Organization of the Year, as well as the IAP2 Federation Organization of the Year award. IAP2 Monthly Learning webinars are available exclusively to IAP2 Canada members. Click here to watch the webinar and see others.

In both cases, the organizations were “pushed” into it. Edmonton had developed a P2 policy in 2003, but it “stagnated”, according to Tannis Topolnisky, Edmonton’s Manager, Public Engagement Services. That started to change during the 2013 civic election campaign, when candidates heard, loud and clear, from residents that they felt left out of important decisions. The newly-elected council ordered an audit of public engagement, which confirmed what the public had been saying.  A two-year engagement process was conducted resulting in a 27-item action plan. The action plan included constant reviews of the way the rest of the plan was implemented. The City’s new approach to its practice is one of Evaluate – Refine – Evolve.

From a staff of five, the City of Edmonton now has a public engagement staff of nearly 30 (full- and part-time) and have supported over 150 projects.

Tannis notes that the solution is not in a “template”. Instead, it starts with getting the right people in the room to begin with the question, “Why do we need to engage?”, and if not, why not.

Read the City of Edmonton’s Core Values Award submission here.

Watch the City of Edmonton’s Core Values Award video here.

The City of Edmonton took part in a pre-conference workshop at the 2018 IAP2 North American Conference. Read the session description here.

Member Profile: Barbara Lewis

POSITION President, Catalyst Inc., and co-founder of Rocky Mountain Center for Positive Change.

How long have you been in P2, and where have you worked? I started doing community outreach work for a statewide non-profit where the high point was the Colorado Mine Walk, a walk across much of the state to raise awareness of mining issues.

I then went to graduate school in Water Resources Management with a concentration in economics and decided to look for a consulting gig.  Marty Rozelle saw my resume; liked the combination of public outreach, water resources and economics; and hired me to join her in the Phoenix office of Dames & Moore, an international engineering and environmental consulting firm.  

While I started out doing a mix of water resources, economics and public involvement, I found public involvement to be the most dynamic; I discovered that data and tables weren’t my sweet spot after all.  And, it was fun to be in on the ground floor of an evolving field. Thanks to Marty’s leadership, Dames & Moore was one of the few firms at that time (in the mid-80’s) that was committed to public involvement as a core strength.  At one point, one of the founders, Bill Moore, Sr., commented that he could hire many engineers to do the same job, but that public involvement required more unique skills and capabilities. (Many well-known members of IAP2 – John Godec, Debra Duerr, and Jeanne Lawson – worked with us at Dames & Moore.)

I worked at the Phoenix office from 1984 to ’88, then moved to manage the Denver public involvement practice.  In 1998, I formed my own firm, Catalyst Inc. I am still President of that company but my passion these days is the Rocky Mountain Center for Positive Change, where I specialize in Appreciative Inquiry.   IAP2 helped me develop my competency in and passion for Appreciative Inquiry, first giving me the opportunity to bring it to the organization as program chair for the 2004 conference in Madison and then, honoring my first Appreciative Inquiry project, the City of Longmont citywide strategic plan, with the Project of the Year award in 2006.  More recently, I was delighted to launch the 2017 Denver conference with an appreciative “we-note,” focused on connecting participants with each other and their hopes for the conference.

Can you think of any big wins – or projects that were “lessons-learned”?

My first project at Dames & Moore was both! I was the recorder at a meeting that went badly off the rails and then turned into a great success story. Those who have taken the IAP2 Foundations training will recall the landfill case study.  The disastrous standing-room only meeting with the woman lighting the landfill liner on fire was my first public meeting experience with my new firm. That night, I thought that I had made a really bad career choice.

The story is that the County needed a new landfill site. They identified a few sites and then went to the public to announce them. There was no prior contact, and people were furious! People were concerned about property values and water quality and traffic and noise.

One of our technical experts passed around a piece of the liner that was going to be used to prevent landfill waste from leaching into the soil. A woman went outside and set a match to it. She brought this burning hunk back into the meeting and declared, “See? This liner won’t protect us! It burns!”

Of course, that was a triumph of perception over reality: as a landfill liner, it wouldn’t have had enough oxygen to burn, but the image was there.

So, we hit the “pause” button.

With Dames & Moore’s guidance, the county convened an advisory committee and took them through a credible siting process. There were also larger public meetings, and in the end, the committee helped select a preferred alternative.  The process turned into such a success, that the Environmental Protection Agency used it in a manual on solid waste management.

Another high point was in Canada, working on Calgary’s GoPlan. In response to a transportation project that went horribly wrong (complete with a road going nowhere), the Calgary City Council adopted principles for public involvement. They were fairly lofty principles, too, so when we came in as the public involvement consultants, we designed a process that lived up to those principles. Calgary gave us the luxury of conducting interviews and research before designing the public involvement process (imagine that!) and it mattered.  Working with Lonny Gabinet and Terry Koch, we were able to reach 100,000 people – and this was in the days before the internet.

Far more important than the number of people reached was the credibility of the process.  One of the things we did was convene a community-based coordinating committee that helped with the public outreach. They facilitated meetings, went to events, conducted surveys and became the face – and, especially the ears – of the project.

GoPlan also benefited from a substantive relationship between the city, the consultants and the community members.  We had milestone meetings at each of four decision points: the community committee members, half of city council and the staff team came together to reach consensus on how to move forward.

GoPlan opened the door for Calgary to do their Engage project, one of the first communities to engage the community to determine how to ….well, engage the community.  Engage! is still a significant strength of the city’s culture today.


How do you see the state of dialogue in America these days?

Like everyone, I’m distressed by how tribal we’ve become. We’ve learned to see people who disagree with us as the enemy or the “other”. Early in my career, I felt that people placed a much higher value on fairness than they do today. In the past, if people felt that we were sincere and had designed a fair process, they could accept outcomes even if they weren’t in their individual best interest. I see that less today, and it makes collaborative processes considerably more difficult.

Why do you think we’ve gotten this tribal?

There’s the influence of politics in an era when you can reach lots of people with similar interests or values through the internet and TV.  I think the internet has helped drive people into their silos. Another factor is that we are so busy today, that we don’t take time to dig deeply into issues, so we’re vulnerable to superficial messaging.

But I’m an optimist and I specialize in Appreciative Inquiry, so I believe that with crisis comes opportunity and sometimes our cages need to get rattled so we can see what’s going on.  I try to flip the problem to an opportunity, so I think we have an opportunity now to look at how we interact with each other and how to make democracy work again.

I was just presenting at the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation conference in Denver about an appreciative inquiry process to develop a culturally inclusive vision for the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.  It was challenging because we were engaging people who didn’t have a relationship with the museum, many of whom viewed the museum as an edifice of white privilege. Four community members joined us to present at the conference. They said they were honored to be invited to help transform the museum and that they were able to see that the museum not only listened to them but acted on what they suggested.  In the end, we heard people say that the process transformed their lives. Their enthusiasm and commitment gave me a lot of hope.

What’s on your plate these days?

I’m doing more and more Appreciative Inquiry work and training. I just finished a project for a school district using Appreciative Inquiry to develop a strategic plan. More than 7000 people contributed to the plan’s development in just seven months, culminating in a large “summit” event with almost 250 people.  I am proud of that work because I believe we were innovative in integrating impactful in-person interviews and meetings with online inquiries. The plan had substantive community and staff support within the District, and …. drum roll please … just last week, voters approved a ballot initiative to fund the prioritized investments that were identified in the strategic plan.   

What did it mean to receive the Greater Good Award this year?

It was gratifying and humbling at the same time.

If I could imagine the award I’d want to receive, it would be called the Greater Good Award – for mentoring and advancing positive change — and it is especially gratifying coming from IAP2 since I’ve had some of my best and most rewarding experiences with this organization.

Those of us who started decades ago have gone from being called the “milk-and-cookies lady” and having our work referred to as “fluff” to becoming key strategic partners.  IAP2 has done a phenomenal job of raising the status of public participation as a profession, and I am proud of my part in that, especially helping to create the IAP2 Foundations training, as a developer of the Techniques course and a “master” trainer.

It made me especially happy to get the award in Canada, because one of my peak IAP2 experiences was the initial train-the-trainer academy for the first class of Foundations trainers in Kananaskis (Alberta). We had so much fun and got to innovate on the fly.  Many of the people who are superstar trainers today were in that academy. At that time, IAP2 training was still in the incubator stage, and it has since blossomed so beautifully. I’m proud to have been one of many sparks to make that happen.

The humbled part comes from following on the footsteps of Jim Creighton’s receiving this award in Denver.  So many have contributed so much to grow our practice and IAP2 as an organization. I am also humbled by the promise of how today’s emerging leaders in public participation will take our profession to the next level, to be recognized as a major force in building and rebuilding the public voice and influence in the world.


If you had something to say to someone just starting in the business …

  1. Embrace the power of relationships.  I am often inspired by a short quote from a storyteller in Denver, Opalanga Pugh, “Connection before content.” These days, I realize that I may have undervalued the importance of nurturing our connections as people in my early days in this field.  That was probably my economist/scientist ego speaking but I now realize that people connections are foundational to positive change.
  2. Fully understand the decision-making process, because that’s what makes public participation strategic, moving from being an activity or an event to truly influencing decisions.
  3. Have fun finding your treasured friends within IAP2. I do believe that other professions are often more competitive than ours. At our best, we collaborate and support each other, focused on advancing the higher purpose and impact of our work…and having fun along the way.

FROM THE BOARD – Catherine Smith

The saying that days are long and years are fast is true! 2018 is on its way out and before it’s all the way out the door, there’s some significant milestones to highlight because of members like you. All of them fit under the theme that we are growing stronger every day as an organization, a community, and a cause.

Our membership is growing stronger. In the last three years we’ve nearly tripled our membership. We’re now nearing 1500 members across the country. Our friends in IAP2 Australasia have over 7000, so we’ve got nothing but what looks like a positive road ahead to grow a tight knit, active and influential membership right here in the USA.

Our chapters are growing stronger: Because our members like each other, they want to do good work together. Which means we have right now—count ‘em—ten emerging chapters across the country. I want to thank our members who are leading the efforts to form new chapters in:

  • The regions of Sacramento, Orange County, San Francisco Bay area in California, New York City, and Washington DC
  • The states of Texas, New York, Hawaii, Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina.

They are joining already established chapters of Cascade, Puget Sound Intermountain, Greater LA, and Midwest. Engaging in the chapters is one of the best experiences to have as a professional. If you’re interested in connecting with the leaders near you or in growing a chapter in your area, contact us and we’ll help you connect and research your next steps or visit our webpage.

The annual conference is next year and we encourage everyone to join in to meet our leaders in North Carolina.

Our brand value is growing stronger: This fall we launched a pilot-testing phase of our Ambassador Program through our Communications Committee. With more than a thousand members doing good work together all year, we know we have tens of thousands of people we are helping and countless stories to tell. Our twenty volunteer ambassadors are now out there telling those stores and representing a variety of professional angles – practitioner, trainer, public agency staff, and former client– and they are located across the country from Massachusetts to Georgia to Nebraska, Colorado, Oregon and California. They are sharing the story of what makes good public participation at conferences, lunches, one-to-one meetings, panels, and through a new social media series about our core values. In February next year, the Board will do an initial evaluation of the pilot program and make refinements so that we learn while doing and continually improve our approach.

Our international ties are stronger: We also have several Board Members who are actively participating in a global process with the IAP2 International Federation about strengthening roles, relationships and resources for established regions like the USA and for emerging regions like Indonesia. It’s exciting and part of the value the organization provides giving you a community is both at home and around the world.

Our skills are growing stronger: We provide not only a community, but also opportunities to strengthen what it means to be a practitioner of good public participation. We now have an annual symposium, in addition to the annual conference. Every month, we offer online webinars and working with IAP2 Canada we are providing the Taster Training series. And, our certification program is setting the bar for quality. In June, we welcomed three new Certified Public Participation Practitioners, including myself, and right now another round of applicants is going through this rigorous screening.

Before we know it, it will be December 31st and we’ll welcome a new year with the people in our lives. But for just this moment, we want to take a pause and applaud the good work we’re doing together. We’re not always there to see if for one another, but we know this community stands for a set of a core values that each of us is pursuing across the nation. You are making a difference every day and we’re glad you are part of this community we call our professional home.

Midwest Chapter Updates – Meet us in St. Louis!

St. Louis, here we come! The Chapter board has selected the grand “gateway city” for our spring 2019 regional conference. Whether you’re a local, frequent visitor, or completely unfamiliar with this community, consider spending the weekend (or longer!) exploring this amazing city. And to ensure a great conference, email to join the committee and make it happen! Stay tuned for dates, and program information.

2019 Chapter-hosted training: In response to continued requests from Chapter members for learning and networking opportunities in the region, the Chapter is planning to offer the IAP2 3-day Planning and 2-day Techniques courses in early 2019. Email to learn more and help make these happen!

Ready to help with these or other Chapter initiatives? Please email us at midwest@iap2usa.org.

5 Good Reasons to attend the Skills Symposium

Need to convince anyone that you should go to the 2019 Skills Symposium?

The 2019 IAP2 USA Skills Symposium is coming up – February 25 – March 1 in Austin, Texas. It’s the annual time to learn, stay and connect, to bolster your P2 know-how, surrounded by P2 colleagues.

You know the value, but what if it means a week away from your job? How do you explain the return on investment?


  1. Good P2 means Good Decisions. Your organization benefits when you’re as good as you can be at your job.
  2. Good P2 is Good PR. Your organization looks better when it listens better.
  3. Good P2 is efficient. With more people standing up and demanding to be counted in decisions that affect them, doing P2 right the first time means sustainable outcomes and no procedural delays.
  4. Good P2 is always changing. The Symposium features highly-experienced, internationally-respected trainers, who will train you in how to plan and implement successful P2 processes. This is a rare opportunity to take advantage of so many different courses in one place!
  5. Good P2 is about sharing. You’ll get to network with other practitioners: think what you can learn and what you can bring back to your organization; no need to reinvent the wheel!

Take a look at all of the courses on offer and register today.

And a really good reason to let you have the time off NOW: the early-bird discount ends December 14. So don’t delay! Pick the courses you want and book your room at our host hotel, the Lone Star Court and make a date to join us, deep in the heart of Texas!

Need more information – check out the website.