Good Advice

Catherine Smith, Immediate Past President IAP2 USA 

Good Advice 

I’ve found that good advice for writing often translates well into good advice for public participation, and life generally. In this moment, I find myself thinking of one piece of advice of this type—when something feels too huge, start with something small.

So this post is starting here—a park bench. It’s wood and worn by the weather of our coast. It carries a quote on a metal plate drilled into its back, “This view never disappoints.” That view is of the ocean that I stand in as often as possible, like I did this morning on June 19th, 2020.  That’s one hundred and fifty-five years since 1865 when on this same day slaves in Texas learned they were no longer slaves…two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed by President Lincoln.

As I sit on this bench and look out at those waters I just stood in, I think about the hundreds of years slaves were chained and put into ships that traveled waters like these to arrive at the shore of this country. And once here, I think of the brutality of slavery they experienced and its underlying philosophy that continually morphed to operate in new forms in the centuries since emancipationsuch as Jim Crow laws and redlining banking practices.

I wasn’t there when slave ships sailed. But I’m here now. Like all of us, I was here in that low tide moment when we saw what’s at stake, as we watched George Floyd speak his last words. I’m here now, and the waves of history have washed across my feet to this moment. To this time when we can help people make good decisions about how we heal this country in our time now from the unjust legacies of slavery and the systems of its aftermath.

I hope you have a bench like this in your life. One that gives you a view into where we are in history, our role in it as the home of quality public participation, and the tremendous moment we have before us as a community to help people make truly good decisions together. It’s in that spirit that we are integrating an equity lens into all we do, working across our International community to establish a new DEI task force for the International Board, and bringing new DEI online training into being. We thank all our member and partners in this.

Many years from now when we look back at this moment in time, the unique contribution we can make to improve the operations of basic fairness in our culture and the public decisions we make as communities, may we look back and like the quote on the back of the bench be able to say that we, like that view of the ocean, didn’t disappoint.


IAP2 hosts special webinars on COVID-19 and public participation

The COVID-19 outbreak has created a “new reality” in many sectors, including public participation. Practitioners are wondering how to handle the situation and how to move forward.

IAP2 Canada and IAP2 USA have received numerous questions from members over the past week, and will be presenting a series of webinars.

March 20, 2020   Posted in Board

President’s Message: A Home for Buzz Lightyear

Catherine SmithWhen I think of IAP2, I think of maple syrup and chocolate. These aren’t the thoughts I expect, but they are what come to mind. Why syrup? Why chocolate? Well, these delicacies arrived in my mailbox for the past few years at the holidays from an IAP2 colleague, who calls the deep woods of Wisconsin his home. IAP2USA was the only reason we met.

This year, the chocolate came with a note with the details of how it came to be—the spices it has, the near miss of almost forgetting to add the syrup into the bubbling chocolate, the children who stood at the stove to witness this magic.

Receiving a gift like that is exactly what makes IAP2 more than a house, but a home. 

2020-2022 Board Nominations close today!

2019 Board Nominations are now open

Nominations close today. Submit your nomination for the IAP2 USA Board of Directors and the IAP2 International Board — USA Representatives.

IAP2 USA is looking for new leaders. By serving on the IAP2 USA IAP2 board you will not only give back to your profession, you will develop leadership skills, and increase your knowledge and passion for the public participation practice.

This year’s board needs visionary and enthusiastic leaders intent on guiding the organization into the future.

Nominations are now open for 2020-2022 Board members. For more information please visit the IAP2 USA website.

For more information review the Nominations Information Package.

Consider becoming a Board member. It can be a very rewarding experience. To nominate yourself please fill in the following form Board Nomination Form and send to – subject heading “Nomination Application”.

This year IAP2 USA elections will include nomination and selection of the IAP2 International Board’s USA Representative. For more information see the IAP2 International position description.

For questions contact Traci Ethridge, Chair, Nominations Committee or Gail Madziar, Executive

Manager, IAP2 USA at

Deadline for applications is Wednesday, November 6, 2019.


November 6, 2019   Posted in Board

PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE: Heroes, Hurricanes and Happy Endings

Catherine Smith, CP3A good story has a setting with a hero on a quest. There are challenges, choices and consequences. With those, other heroes arrive, change happens, and a new reality takes shape. Fade to a perfect sunset, and the story is complete.

As it happens, we have such a story.

It starts in 2017 over a bowl of fresh pasta in a little Italian restaurant in downtown San Diego. It was there where our newly elected Board Member, Traci Ethridge, shared her quest to hold for the first time in IAP2 USA history a North American conference on the east coast in her hometown of Charlotte. She shared there was energy happening there and that IAP2 could be the home for that energy. She brought the idea to the Board and they agreed, it was time to go east.

Message from the President: Good People

Catherine Smith, President

I’m sitting at my desk and looking at a list of our new members. Their addresses send me on a small and temporary road trip to travel coast-to-coast and border-to-border. They are in: Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina; Gainesville, Florida; Columbus, Ohio; Cincinnati, Ohio; Lansing, Michigan; Golden and Boulder, Colorado; Scottsdale, Arizona; Beaverton and Portland, Oregon; and Seattle, Washington.

This organization and its values are forces that truly unite us across our country.

These new members, along with our existing ones, have found a home here. For the past five years that home has been taken care of by Amelia Shaw, our Executive Manager. Most days, my email inbox shows a message sent from her at 5:30 am or so from her desk, which is in the middle of a beautiful place that she shares with husband, Drew, on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. That 5:30 am email lets me know that she’s there among the forest and flowers doing the work of the organization to make it a welcoming home for each and everyone one of us.

Strong and Getting Stronger

Cathy Smith“Strong” is a word we hear often. Sometimes, it’s a word that mobilizes communities that are recovering from disaster; other times, it’s simply a concept that just make sense. When I open my favorite book, the thesaurus, the index for the “strong” shows that it relates to words like these: energetic, great, influential, robust, substantial, tough. Good words.

Introducing IAP2 USA’s new Executive Team

Celebrating International Women's Day by celebrating our IAP2 USA Women of the Board

If they were a band, they’re ready to rock and roll. If a jazz quintet, they’re ready to riff a five part harmony. And since its International Women’s Day, if they were Aretha Franklin, they’d say everything boils down to just this one word –

Respect – for everyone, everywhere.

Friday, March 8th is International Women’s Day and we’re celebrating these five women of IAP2 USA 2019 Executive Committee — Cathy Smith, Traci Ethridge, Lisa Carlson, Gwen Happ and Tina Geiselbrecht.

Catherine Smith - President Traci Ethridge - Vice-President Lisa Carlson - Treasurer
Gwen Happ - Secretary Tina Geiselbrecht - Succession Planning

These five took on the roles of President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary and Succession Planning, respectively. In addition to giving us their leadership, they also represent the full width of the country with Cathy at the far western-edge’s beaches of San Diego, California, Gwen and Lisa in the mountains of Colorado, Tina in the heartland and musicland of Texas, and Traci at the east coast hub of commerce in North Carolina.

These five are already making a difference together to IAP2 USA’s efforts to provide our members with the professional development, networking opportunities, and a home for the professions that they value. Earlier this month, they helped establish and launch this year’s National Dialogue Theme around Core Values #1 and 4 in regard to social equity, diversity and inclusion. Traci stepped up last year and is continuing on this year in leading the preparations for the 2019 National Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. And Tina has helped to build momentum for a new chapter — the Lone Star Chapter—which officially filed its papers with the IAP2 USA in February this year. They are working with other IAP2 USA Board members on international and regional efforts to continually strengthen the organization and the value it delivers to its members.

Currently, they are leading the Board’s efforts to: expand the presence of IAP2 USA throughout the country, expand its services, and expand philanthropy that supports the organization. All these efforts are with the vision of supporting our members and making quality public participation a cultural norm. Our Ambassador Program, our emerging chapters, and services in the form of webinars, conferences, symposium, and conferences, are all outgrowths of this vision.

Leah Jaramillo - Past-PresidentThese five also want to deliver a special thank you to Leah Jaramillo for her leadership over the past three years as the organization’s President and to all the members of the Board, the chapter leaders, and each individual member. They know everyone involved works every day across the country on important projects, programs and policies of all sizes and shapes that help people make crucial decisions together about water, energy, land use, transportation, public health, education, economic development. They couldn’t be happier or more ready to represent the core values, ethics and efforts of the organization and all of its members.

IAP2 USA is pleased to be

President’s Message: Leah Jaramillo

Leah Jaramillo, CP3

Ten years ago, I became an IAP2 member, like many of you, after completing Foundations training. As I reflect back on the end of my third year as President, which is my sixth and final year on the IAP2 USA Board of Directors, it is safe to say that many things have changed in the past decade.

IAP2 has certainly changed and I am proud to have had the privilege of working with so many of you to help it blossom. Since I joined the board, our membership has more than tripled, three new chapters have formed and several more are on their way. New programs including the Skills Symposium, National Dialogue, online trainings, the Ambassador Program and the Taster Series have all gained traction and are providing new ways to connect IAP2 members and colleagues. I’ve been proud to work with IAP2 leaders across the country and internationally to assist in taking these ideas from concepts to real opportunities for individual and organizational growth. Of course, the majority of this work has been done by our amazing IAP2 USA volunteers and staff, who deserve many thanks for their dedication and hard work.

In retrospect, I can say that, as an organization, we’ve grown more than I expected and are providing more offerings than I thought possible with a primarily volunteer base. This is perhaps even more noteworthy given that the current political climate in the US has not done much to support opportunities for public participation, engagement and civility. In these uncertain times, dialogue and engagement strike me as evermore critical. And so, it becomes that much more important that IAP2 USA and all our members – practitioners and process owners alike – help facilitate good P2, good process and get engaged in issues that matter.

I hope that you will all consider getting involved in the programs IAP2 USA has to offer and continue to pursue the greater good: good decisions made together in the US!

It has truly been inspiring to connect with practitioners around the world to learn from their best practices and also to channel our passion for the practice into action for the organization. Perhaps best of all has been the opportunity to build new friendships and mentorships with my peers. With that said, I am extremely pleased to welcome three new and two returning members to the IAP2 USA Board and can’t wait to see what the next decade brings for the organization.  Thank you for the continued experiences, opportunities and growth this leadership position has offered me.

It was my pleasure to serve.


February 3, 2019   Posted in Board

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


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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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