APA-IL News BLAST!  Sept/Oct Edition Number 87
March/April Illlinois Planning News, Edition 90                                                                       Paula Freeze, Editor
  How Students can Benefit from APA
By Rob Kowalski, AICP, ISS Director

Planning students had the opportunity to learn more about APA in a forum held on Thursday, February 28th at the Department of Urban and Regional Planning (DURP) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). The forum was sponsored by the Student Planning Organization (SPO) and featured local speakers including Bruce Knight, FAICP, Rob Kowalski, AICP and TJ Blakeman, AICP from the City of Champaign, Libby Tyler, FAICP and Robert Myers, AICP from the City of Urbana, and Rob Olshansky, AICP from the UIUC Department of Urban and Regional Planning. Over a dozen students, most undergraduates, attended to learn how APA works, how they can get involved and the benefits of being involved.

Bruce Knight, FAICP presented “APA 101” giving an overview of how APA works at the national level. He talked about the APA mission statement, the different Councils and Committees, the Development Plan and the APA Staff. He emphasized that there are many opportunities to get involved at all different levels. Bruce is a candidate for APA National President in 2008. Rob Kowalski, AICP talked about the relationship between national APA and the local Chapter. He explained how membership “works” and explained the different sections within the Illinois Chapter. He also described the value of getting involved by networking and making contacts that will later provide valuable a resource for jobs or professional advice. Libby Tyler, FAICP gave an overview of her career and how APA has played a vital role in her professional development. She stressed the value of being affiliated with APA as she changed jobs in different states over her career. Rob Olshansky, AICP spoke to the student benefits of APA while obtaining a degree in planning. He stressed the value of using APA to determine interests in planning as students look to begin their careers. TJ Blakeman, AICP discussed how he is involved in APA at the National, Chapter, and State Section level. He presented his positive experiences assisting in organizing the 2006 Four State Conference and challenged the students to get involved in the 2008 State Conference in Champaign. Finally, Robert Myers, AICP touched on the general benefits of APA membership. Of most importance, he indicated that APA is always there as a reference wherever your job takes you. He talked about how he has been a planner in several different contexts such as a rural area, a big city, as well as a medium sized city.

Student reaction to the presentation was very positive and there were many questions. It was evident that many of the students were unclear about how to become members, and what the differences were between “national” APA and the local Chapter. Jenna Prochaska, a sophomore in Urban Planning at UIUC, SPO President and co-organizer of the event summed up the student impressions of the event as follows:

“It is amazing the difference that it makes for students to hear straight from you why they should get involved with APA. SPO has been encouraging students all year to register for APA and to sign up for conferences, but I got immediate response from the people who were at the panel tonight saying that they want to get in on the things we are planning with APA. It is really exciting to see students making the connection that the APA events we are always talking about are not just another student activity to maybe try and fit in to their schedule, but that they may actually become a significant part of their professional career.”

The APA-IL Chapter Development Plan places an emphasis on connecting planning students with APA. Considering the success of this event, additional presentations are now being considered for the fall semester. If you would like to get involved, please contact a representative on the APA-IL Board.
APA 101:
  • APA is a nonprofit public interest and research organization committed to urban, suburban, regional, and rural planning.
  • APA and its professional institute, the American Institute of Certified Planners, advance the art and science of planning to meet the needs of people and society.
  • AICP is the professional institute and provides certification, education and ethical standards to its members. Membership requires a minimum amount of experience, passing a test and Certification Maintenance requiring 30 credit hours of professional development every 2 years.
  • The American Planning Association brings together 41,000 people — practicing planners, citizens, elected officials — committed to making great communities happen.
  • According to the Articles of incorporation, “The Association is organized exclusively for charitable, educational, literary and scientific research purposes to advance the art and science of planning and the activity of planning -- physical, economic and social -- at the local, regional, state and national levels; the objective of the Association is to encourage planning that will contribute to public well-being by developing communities and environments that meet more effectively the needs of people and of society.
  • APA Leadership is made up of several component parts:
    • Board of Directors – This is the governing body of APA. The Board is made up of the following:
      • President
      • Immediate Past President or President Elect
      • AICP President
      • 12 Directors (6 Representing Regions of the Country, 1 minority focus seat, 1 Planning Official focus seat & 4 At-Large)

Elections are held every other year and will occur in March 2008. For APA, you will have the opportunity to vote for president-elect, Region IV Director, and two directors at large. 

    • AICP Commission – The affairs of AICP are managed by an eight-member Commission that includes:
      • President,
      • President-Elect or Immediate Past President
      • Six Commissioners (Elected from each of the six regions)

AICP members will also be electing a president elect and regional commissioners in 3 regions (including Region IV) this year. 

    • Divisions Council – Made up of all the Chairs of the Divisions of APA. These represent focused areas of interest that allow members with such common interests to come together.
    • Chapter Presidents Council – Made up of all the presidents of the Chapters across the country. There are 47 Chapters of APA. The Illinois Chapter is 4th largest Chapter.
    • Student Representatives Council – Made up of 8 students including a Chair, Immediate Past Chair and one representative from each of the 6 regions. Morgan Landers is the current Chair and The Region IV representative is Kyle A. Hinkelman 
      Ohio State University.
  • Mission Statement: The American Planning Association provides leadership in the development of vital communities by advocating excellence in community planning, promoting education and citizen empowerment, and providing the tools and support necessary to meet the challenges of growth and change.
  • Slogan: Making Great Communities Happen
  • Development Plan and Budget: Every two years, APA's Board of Directors adopts a new Development Plan to guide the association's budget. The Development Plan reflects the broad goals and direction of the Association, and sets priorities for the allocation of resources and the development of programs. The Board of Directors adopted the 2008-2009 Development Plan in April at the National Planning Conference in Philadelphia.
  • APA's Development Plan and Budget Committee is charged with preparing a draft of the plan, and subsequently working with staff to develop the budget to implement it. This Plan and the subsequent budget establish the priorities for APA for the next two years.
  • Staff: APA has a large staff with headquarters in Chicago and a Policy office in Washington DC. Paul Farmer is the Executive Director and is housing in Chicago. Paul’s job is to implement the policy established by the Board of Directors and to implement the Development Plan.
  • APA Committees & Task Forces

Amicus Curiae Committee

Development Plan and Budget Committee

Education Committee

Fellowship Committee

Governance Committee

Legislative and Policy Committee

Membership Committee

Diversity Task Force

Nominating Committee

National Planning Awards Jury

Paying for Growth Task Force

Planning Officials Committee

Values and Benefits of Planning Task Force

Young Planners Group Task Force

  • AICP Committees

AICP Bylaws Committee

AICP Continuing Education Committee

AICP Ethics Committee

AICP Exam Committee

AICP Landmarks and Pioneers Committee

AICP Marketing Task Force

AICP Membership Committee

AICP Nominating Committee

AICP PAB Site Visitor Screening Task Force

AICP Planning Assistance Team Task Force

AICP Student Project Awards Jury

Lots of opportunities to get involved and I encourage you to do so. What you get out of APA membership is very much related to what you put into it.


  Rob Kowalski, AICP
Assistant Planning Director
102 N. Neil St.
Champaign, IL 61820
Phone: 217.403.8800
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Illinois Planning News
Official Bi-Monthly Newsletter of the Illinois Chapter of the American Planning Association


Paula Freeze, Editor