Unprecedented Explosion of Emerging Chapters

Wendy Nowak

When Orange County gained Emerging Chapter status this past September, it was the first new chapter in IAP2 USA since Greater Los Angeles started in 2015. The new emerging chapter, led by Wendy Nowak, Principal at Placeworks, is one of twelve regions where IAP2 USA members expressed interest in becoming individual chapters in 2018.

The regions where practitioners are expressing interest in Chapter formation include: D.C. – Baltimore Maryland, Upstate New York-Northeast, North Carolina, Greater Atlanta (Georgia), Tennessee, Indiana, Nebraska, Texas, Hawaii and in California: Orange County, Sacramento, and San Francisco – Oakland.

The process of establishing a Chapter of IAP2 USA begins with forming an Emerging Chapter. The Board of Directors recognizes an Emerging Chapter after a Steering Committee of three to four members submits a Letter of Intent, spells out the name of the Emerging Chapter, the geographic region, events planned for the coming year (four events are recommended), and expresses commitment to communicate with the IAP2 USA members in the region.

Approval by the Board of Directors unlocks access to support from the staff of IAP2 USA, including: a monthly update of member contacts for the region, a webpage, logo, assistance with publicity, and mentoring. Typically, after one year of functioning as an Emerging Chapter, the Steering Committee applies to become a full chapter.

With such a burst of interest in chapter formation, the Board sought additional support for coaching the new Steering Committees through the Emerging Chapter process.

“IAP2 USA members have the skills, knowledge, and passion for public participation so needed and demanded now in the U.S. As an organization we can amplify the impact our P2 practitioners have, and we want to support the efforts of those Steering Committees so full Chapters grow as effective influencers for public involvement,” says IAP2 USA Board President, Leah Jaramillo.

Lauren Cobb, who co-founded the Greater Los Angeles Chapter along with Kit Cole, was brought on to the staff team in a part-time capacity to provide that support. She has been contacting each of the Steering Committees in the twelve regions.

“I’ve appreciated the enthusiasm, vision, and commitment of those who have expressed interest in initiating chapters. Each region is at a different point on the path to formation. As I coach them, we pick up where they are and plan the next step and continue one step at a time,” reports Lauren.

Three of the newly forming regions are ready to submit their Letter of Intent to become Emerging Chapters: San Francisco – Oakland orchestrated by IAP2 USA Board Member Deanna Desedas; Sacramento led by Sarah Rubin, Public Engagement manager for the California State Department of Conservation; and Lone Star (Texas) marshalled by Ben Ettelman, Assistant Research Scientist, and Tina Geiselbrecht, Research Scientist, both of the Planning and Engagement Program at Texas A&M Transportation Institute.

Other regions are putting their plans on paper and finalizing their Steering Committees. In some areas, like Honolulu, Hawai’i, where one practitioner has expressed enthusiastic interest, but no others have yet joined in, new Chapter formation will pause.

“Our Chapters are the presence of IAP2 USA in our communities of practice. Wanting to facilitate growth, the Board prioritized ease of formation when it set the basic requirements for creating an Emerging Chapter. That said, it’s still too much for one person. Every individual experiences ups and downs in their availability and a Steering Committee of three to four provides stability and consistency even when the availability of its members varies,” commented Amelia Shaw, Executive Manager of IAP2 USA and Canada.

Right now, with the addition of Orange County, eight IAP2 USA Chapters are active. If the regions presently working to establish an Emerging Chapter succeed, then the number of Chapters will more than double by this time next year.

“I’m very optimistic about the expansion of our Chapter program,” says Wendy Green Lowe, IAP2 USA Board Member and Chapter Liaison, “The chapter experience brings the organization closer to the practitioner and that growth results in raising the standards of practice for the region it serves.”

Are you interested in getting a chapter going in your area? Get in touch with our Chapter Mentor Lauren Cobb.

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