the 2021 call for sessions has ended

Similar to past years, the 2021 APA-IL State Conference will offer sessions in several different formats. This will allow for greater variety and the opportunity for attendees to learn in different ways. We encourage you to be creative, think outside-the-box or out-on-the-street. Whether it be an interactive workshop, a roundtable discussion that challenges views, or a session that brings together diverse, emerging and underrepresented voices, imagine a session YOU would enjoy attending.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the APA-IL is currently working with conference consultants and the Bloomington-Normal Marriott Hotel & Conference Center to determine the feasibility of holding an in-person conference. The final determination on the 2021 conference location is TBD. When submitting a proposed session, you will be able to express your preferred venue (in-person, virtually, both) to present your session.

Session Formats


A debate is an engaging way to present opposing views about a topic. Generally, a debate includes a moderator and presenters to represent each side of a controversial topic. The debate may consist of the moderator stating a proposition followed by one side presenting affirming arguments and the other side presenting dissenting arguments. Alternatively, the moderator may pose pointed questions to which each debater responds with his or her views on the topic. The debate can incorporate time for rebuttal and audience questions.

When submitting a proposal with a debate, please describe the topic, participants, format, major points likely to be argued or the questions to be posed, and the debaters’ expertise vis-à-vis the topic. Session Debates usually are set in theater-style seating. A pre-debate presentation, if there is one, will be run from the stage/podium.


A facilitated discussion session allows attendees to share ideas and experiences on a given topic. The format allows for greater participation than traditional topical panel presentations. Facilitated discussion sessions focus on one topic that has broad appeal yet is specialized enough to allow participants to share their experiences with others. Organizers of these sessions may recruit one or two individuals that are known to have some expertise on the topic but their primary role is to lead the discussion and be ready with an overview and prompting questions.


Seven to 10 of these bite-sized (seven-minute) presentations occur during a standard session. Typically, a presentation is based on a personal project or short visual essay. Capture the flavor of today’s planning by making your audience laugh — and think. Submit a humorous and engaging five-to-seven minute Fast, Funny, and Passionate presentation and we will assemble it with others into a session that informs, captivates, and entertains the audience.


The APA‐IL State Conference always features sessions that focus on issues relating to planning law and ethics. Law and ethics sessions are required for Certification Maintenance (CM) credits for AICP planners. These sessions are typically presentation style but also include creative ways to engage attendees.


Mobile workshops will fan out around the state to visit the best of Illinois planning. Give your peers a first-hand-look at your community or favorite project. Organizers of workshops are encouraged to think through site(s), speakers, and educational value.

  • Virtual: Grab your Go Pro, phone, a few co-workers or favorite municipal production team and take attendees on a tour! Record what you would have shown us in-person. Worried about your technical expertise? We'll help you along the way if needed. Virtual mobile workshops are about 1-hour in lenght. Live Q&A could follow the recorded presentation.

  • In-person: It's a field trip for planners! Organize a 1 - 3 hour tour in the greater Bloomington-Normal area. Think through transportation arrangements and we'll help coordinate them. Mobile workshops are one of the top session choices for APA-IL in-person conferences.


This session offers a taste of planning at its best through a fast-paced, interactive session. How does it work? That depends if we're virtual or in-person:

  • Virtual: 3 20 minute presentations in 60 minutes of time.

  • In-person: one project, topic, and/or speaker will present at one table for the entire session. Here’s where the real fun begins: every 15-20 minutes, attendees will be instructed to move to another table to listen to a different presentation.  Every 15-20 minutes a new group of people will be sitting at each table for the award winner or agency to do their presentation again. Think musical chairs, APA-IL style!


These sessions provide for a demonstration or instruction of a technical aspect of the profession such as a software demonstration (e.g., GIS, Adobe Creative Suite, SketchUp, etc.) or examples of how to use specific tools of the trade (e.g., hand drawing, pro formas, data collection using online resources like the Census, etc.). While this session is not intended to be an opportunity to sell a service or product, it does give attendees a chance to learn a new technical skill, brush up on a skill that hasn’t been used in a while, or at least see how specific tools can enhance their work.


A tradition for the APA‐IL State Conference. These sessions focus on one topic and feature a collection of speakers with common experience, but varying perspectives, on a given topic. These sessions may include a moderator and are given in presentation form with questions from the audience at the end.


We’re open to new and exciting ways of providing education to planners in Illinois. Put on your thinking cap and imagine a session that attendees will talk about till 2022! Put your best, creative foot forward and tell us how you would like to present your topic.


Submit a Session

Please complete the following form to ensure your proposed session is considered for the 2021 State Conference. The deadline to propose a session is Friday, May 7, 2021 at 5:00 pm (deadline has been extended). Email notification of selected sessions will be issued to session organizers before the end of day Friday, May 28, 2021.

Sessions must (a) be led by one or more experts on the subject matter discussed, (b) use learning methodologies and formats that are appropriate to the activity’s educational purpose, (c) involve the use of materials that do not include proprietary information, (d) be timed in a manner consistent with the time for which the activity was registered for CM credit (75 minutes = 1.25 CM credits) and that only the portion of the activity meeting CM criteria is registered for CM credit. Session organizers must attend the session they are organizing.



Email webmaster@ilapa.org and your question will be forwarded to the 2021 Programmin Committee: Nicole Nutter, AICP (Chair), Kalindi Parikh and Katie Simpson.

the 2021 call for sessions has ended