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

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.
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!

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.

Meet your 2018-2020 Board Candidates

Members, 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 2018-2020 Board candidates – please click on their information links to learn more. Deadline for member voting is Monday, December 4th via Election Buddy.

We want to apologize for any confusion with the Election Buddy invitation you received yesterday– unfortunately, this was sent out with a draft ballot. We have now closed the Wednesday election process – none of those votes will count. Today we sent you a new invite. Please use the new ballot to vote for your preferred candidates. If you have any further questions please contact Anneliese at

Meet your board candidates…

President’s Message

Nominations are now open for several positions on the IAP2 USA Board of Directors. Have you considered submitting? If you haven’t, you definitely should. Why? Because you’ll have the opportunity to:

  • work with your peers to advance the practice
  • make a real impact on P2 practice in the US
  • get involved in issues you care about
  • learn what is happening with P2 nationally and internationally
  • and perhaps best of all, work with some of the best, brightest, and most fun people in the field.

SFMTA Training Culture

By: Deanna Desedas

IAP2 USA Board Member

Deanna Desedas

In 2014, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) conducted an internal assessment of its public outreach and engagement practices with the goal of improving consistency across its 200+ projects. They also interviewed other transportation agencies nationwide, and researched best practices in the field of public participation. Based on this assessment, the agency created its Public Outreach and Engagement Team Strategy (POETS), pointing a new path forward and starting a close relationship with IAP2.  

During three years of development and implementation, POETS has sought to embody the IAP2 core principles. Key concepts promoted by IAP2 (such as the spectrum of public participation) have contributed to a shared language and understanding among leadership and staff at SFMTA. And perhaps most importantly, IAP2 training has had a direct impact on the agency’s capacity to pursue excellence in public participation.

Staff training is central to SFMTA’s strategy to strengthen its relationship with the community. POETS establishes new requirements and higher expectations for public participation across all projects. It also provides a wide variety of resources to employees to empower them to meet the new requirements, including opportunities for education and professional development. Those who take advantage of these opportunities can receive formal recognition and rewards.

A specific benchmark for the agency is that every employee whose job involves community outreach and engagement should complete the IAP2 Foundations of Public Participation course. More than 70 have done so as of mid-2017.  SFMTA has seen that those who complete the course feel more confident in the field, are inspired to consider new ways to engage the public in their projects, and are better prepared to consider opportunities for public participation beyond “informing.”

Staff training not only strengthens the skills of individual employees, but it also promotes an organizational culture that values public participation.  Staff members know it is central to SFMTA’s mission, agency leadership reinforces this message by investing in staff and acknowledging their effort, and POETS demonstrates to the community that the agency’s commitment to public participation is real.