American Planning Association's National Conference in Seattle: April 18-21, 2015



After almost two years of thinking, preparing, fretting, learning, meeting, and emailing, the 2015 APA National Planning Conference descended upon us.  We want to share some reflections and initial reactions we have heard, plus acknowledge our incredible Local Host Committees and our incredibly generous sponsors.

Thank You Host Committee Chairs!alt

Planners Guide
Final Program

Positive Reflections

  • The weather was perfect.

  • The Mobile Workshops were organized and, unlike most conferences, none of the local mobiles were cancelled.  Everyone who got lost also got found.

  • The Orientation Tour was refined and incredibly thorough.  We were told that audible gasps were heard when the bus came out of the tunnel and Mount Rainier towered above Lake Washington.

  • The Community Planning Assistance Team had strong local community involvement; this means that there is a built-in structure for the recommendations to be considered and integrated into city planning activities.
  • The Leadership Reception food was tasty and keynote speaker King County Executive Dow Constantine's speech was well written and superbly delivered.  Thank you Planning Commission for the venue!

  • The Opening Reception food was plentiful, MOHAI was beautiful and gypsy jazz band Pearl Django was a-hoppin'.  The City of Seattle kept the Trolley running for two extra hours; thank you!

     Thank You Local Host Sponsors!alt
  • The free 2015 NPC lapel pin, paid for by the Washington chapter, was sophisticated and attendees were happily wearing them.

  • The guerilla printing of NPC T-Shirts was also successful and funds were raised for future student scholarships by one not-to-be-named volunteer; our thanks for not giving up!

  • The Chapter President's Council photo auction was a success and the profits will benefit students and the national Planning Foundation.

  • The Planner's Guide was incredible.  Beautiful, readable, informative!

  • The Planning in the Northwest book was illuminating and, most importantly, it got printed before the conference started.
  • The Convention Center location in the heart of Seattle's bustling downtown was wonderful; planners were seen skipping sessions and taking in the sun in the adjoining Freeway Park.
  • Planners were also seen skipping sessions and shopping at Pike Place Market.  We're told some might have made it to the top of Rattlesnake Ridge.

  • Ron Sim's speech – wow!

  • Speaking of sessions, the initial feedback is that there was a lot of strong content and a nice variety in the format.  Thanks to the Bullitt Foundation for being our amazing Local Host Session Track Sponsor!

Opportunities for Improvement

We also want to acknowledge some challenges we faced.

  • It was crowded!  The rooms were crowded, escalators were crowded and some people were not able to get into the awards lunch.  Some of the crowding was a consequence of having about 600 additional registrants show up literally at the last minute.  As enlightened transportation planners know, congestion is a good problem to have – a sign of a vital community and people voting with their feet to participate.  Uncrowded conference rooms are not the problem we wanted to have.  At the same time, we regret the discomfort or frustration that the crowding caused participants.

  • We also want to acknowledge that sometimes there was not enough coffee in the right places at the right time.  This was pointed out to our chapter president when he got stuck behind an un-caffeinated planner on a long escalator ride.

Thank You Host Committee Members!!!!         

Beyond the committee chairs and sponsors, there were many committee volunteers and conference contributors, including Aaron Raymond, Aditi Kambuj, Allison Satter, az4177@..., Benjamin Smith, boeschtj@..., brandnk@..., burged2@..., Carmen Bendixen, Christina Ghan, Colin Poff, David Sherrard, David Swindale, David W. Goldberg, Dbent@..., Dennis Meier, dillonr@..., elsmi89@@..., Emil King, Esther Larson, Farzana Rahman, genhc@..., Hiller West, hoerrl@..., Izzy Cannell, Jack Whisner, Jeanne Acutanza, Jennifer Tippins, Jill Sterrett, Jim Holmes, Joel Matsuo@..., John Collum, John Skelton, Joming Lau, joshuamjanet@@..., Katie Sheehy, Kirk Rappe, Larry Vasquez, Laura Benjamin, Laurie Ames, Lisa Shafer, lmcewuen@..., [email protected]@..., Lori Peckol, Lyle Bicknell, Lyle Bicknell, madams7@..., Mary Pat Lawlor, Mary-Catherine Snyder, Matthew Mateo, Michael Jenkins, Michael Kattermann, Michael Schuler, Nancy Eklund, Robin Mayhew, Salina Lyons, Sara Maxana; SPNichols@..., Scott Bonjukian@..., sjb.ripley@..., smcohn@..., stitcomb@..., Vanessa Murdock, velascos@..., velascos@..., etc.    We know there are many people we have missed including speakers, presenter, moderators, staff, and others.  Know that each of you is thanked as well!

With 6,400 attendees, there is much more to say and in the May edition of the chapter's Northwest Planner newsletter, you will get to read articles from a number of attendees who will share their reactions.  If you have some thoughts to share or an article you would like to write about your experience, please contact the chapter at [email protected].  This is your once-every-fifteen-years opportunity to share your thoughts.  Please don't be shy!

And now, it's time to 
restRecover and Continue our planning!  With activities such as...

  • Planning for our November 13, 2015 conference celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Growth Management Act (Save the Date!),
  • Planning for our Joint Conference with Oregon APA in October 2016,
  • Updating the chapter's Strategic Plan with a soon-to-arrive in your mailbox membership survey,
  • Continuing to partner with PAW and Commerce on the Planning Short Course, and delivering our quarterly journal for Planning Commissioners,
  • Continuing to host more Community Planning Assistance Teams,
  • Getting into more schools to talk to youth about the planning profession,
  • Continuing to link with graduate and undergraduate planning students,
  • Continuing to deliver brownbags and trainings with our Section leadership and CM credits to our members, and
  • Reaching out to more partner organizations and allied professions to deliver the broad range of planning information our members need to be successful in a complex and changing world.

We want to end by saying that the State of APA Washington is incredibly strong; we brought our A-Game to the conference and it showed!  We hope you are all proud of this great accomplishment in the history of our 38-year old association. 

Please get involved or stay involved, help us deliver great content and membership benefits, and see you at the next NPC in Seattle if not sooner!


November 18, 2014: Sustainable Seattle: Setting the Stage for 2015

The committees are organized as shown in the table below:

Leadership Paul Inghram
Deborah Munkberg
Ivan Miller
Overall leadership and support to committees, theme, keynote, budget
Local Sessions Kendra Breiland
Lisa Grueter
Solicitation and selection of breakout sessions allocated to the host city (est. 8 – 10)
Community Planning Assistance Team Bob Bengford
Paula Reeves
Develop and manage a one‐day planning workshop in a neighborhood or community
Mobile Workshops Joe Scorscio
Quanlin Hu
Solicit and identify 55 – 65 mobile workshops, manage logistics
Orientation Tours Ben Bakkenta
David Goldberg
Develop 3‐hour tour to show area/region, script, volunteers, logistics
Receptions Marj Press
co-chair: vacant
Local host reception, leadership reception
Host Events Leonard Bauer
Anna Nelson
Local fun events, such as sporting event, pub crawl, etc.
Planners Guide Marty Curry
Kevin Gifford
Guide to the local area that could include walking tours, transit information, area points of interest
Merchandise Laura Hudson Develop logo, strategy for merchandise, prep for booth in Atlanta
Support Katy Willis, Visit Seattle Support for multiple committees
2015 Scholarship Auction Kell McAboy Raise funds for the chapter annual student scholarship auction