President’s Message – Leah Jaramillo

Greetings from Austin!

I am writing to you from the AUX tarmac after nearly a week of training and fun at the IAP2 USA Board face to face meeting. Following the 2018 Skills Symposium, your board of directors welcomed two new members – Traci Etheridge and Gwen Happ – and buckled down to address priorities for 2018. Among them are: maintaining our existing member services; ensuring our services, costs and fees align; focusing on chapter support and planning for the future. It was a whirlwind of work, but we are excited to be here and ready to get down to the details. On a personal note, I was honored to be confirmed to my third term as board President and appreciate the support of each of our directors and staff in helping to move the organization forward. 

One of my favorite parts of the Skills Symposium, now in its third year, is getting to meet practitioners from around the US (and a few Canadians too). This year was no exception. We received a warm Texas welcome with a large contingent of area practitioners and wide range of professional experience. It was a great pleasure to mix and mingle with longtime practitioners and those new to the profession. This was especially timely since in March we are opening the nomination process for our Greater Good and Greater Good – Emerging Leader Awards. Launched at the Denver conference in 2017, the Greater Good Award recognizes those who have been contributing to the field either throughout their careers or with bold steps and large contributions. New this year is the Greater Good – Emerging Leader Award which recognizes the up-and-comers in our field, those 35 and under or with 5 years‘ experience or less. We all know folks like these…the movers and shakers or life-long “keepers of the gold.” So, please consider nominating those amongst us who should be recognized and celebrated for their contributions to the field.

Another highlight from the Austin Skills Symposium was the launch of the 2018 National Dialogue Program, “How and Why Should the Public be Engaged in Highly Technical and Complex Projects?” This dialogue focuses on public engagement in areas like energy infrastructure and delivery, transportation and complex environmental issues. I’d like to personally thank Jay Vincent and Outreach Experts for sponsoring this year’s program which will be made available for national discussion this spring.

But before we roll out this year’s program, we need to put a bow on the inaugural 2017 National Dialogue project. Called “P2 Crisis or Opportunity”, the 2017 National Dialogue asked whether the US was “truly divided,” explored how we can still make good decisions together and asked participants what their role and IAP2’s role should be when politics get divisive.

I’m pleased to announce a new page on the IAP2 USA website dedicated to this process. It features the “grab and go” toolkit detailing how to replicate this great event in case you’d like to continue the conversation, as the Australiasian Affiliate did last year in Melbourne. The toolkit is also a great resource to illustrate how to implement the World Café and Card-storming techniques for those looking for a guide. Other resources available on the site include articles, videos, books and blogs about facilitating tough conversations, working to close the gap on divisive issues, and why public engagement and participation are critical to maintaining contemporary democracies. Check it out, recommend additional resources and plan to get engaged when the 2018 dialogue comes to your area this spring.

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