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.

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