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2016 State Conference Summary

On behalf of my fellow Conference Co-Chair Jamie Simone, AICP, I would like to thank everyone who attended, presented, sponsored, and volunteered at the 2016 State Conference. This year’s Conference was, by all accounts, a tremendous success! With 573 registered attendees and 22 sponsors, we had a record-breaking year with these being the largest numbers in APA-IL conference history.

This year the Conference returned to Chicago for the first time since 2009. To switch things up, we chose two very unique and exciting facilities along Michigan Avenue -- the very modern Venue SIX10 and the historic Hilton Chicago. We hope you enjoyed these new and notable conference spaces as much as we did.

When Jamie and I began to plan the Conference, one of the first things we did was brainstorm about who we could get to be a great keynote speaker. When Geoffrey Baer’s name was mentioned we knew right away that he would be perfect! I think all of us can agree that Geoffrey Baer did not disappoint! Several attendees spoke to me about how thrilled they were that Geoffrey clearly created a presentation specifically for our Conference. While looking out the expansive windows of VenueSIX10, overlooking Grant Park and the waterfront, his message about the importance of planning in Chicago really resonated. One of his message’s that stuck with me: “life is short, but planning is long.” Thank you to Houseal Lavigne Associates for helping us bring Geoffrey to our Conference as this year’s Keynote Sponsor and for being this year’s Tier 1 Sponsor.

As the saying goes, “Why fit in, when you can stand out.” With great conference venues in place, and the Windy City as home base, Jamie and I really wanted to place a strong focus on marketing and outreach efforts. The trio-team of Paula Freeze, Erin Cigliano, AICP and Nik Davis, AICP excelled in their efforts. Their unique and creative email blasts, social shares, posts, tweets, materials, website, and program guide were definitely effective as evidenced by our awesome attendance. Thanks for all your creativity!

What would this Conference have been if we didn't have great programming? Programming Co-chairs Rob Kowalski, AICP and Todd Vanadilok, AICP did an amazing job assembling a wide variety of sessions that showed the breadth of our profession and kept attendees hungry for more! A total of 69.5 hours of Certification Maintenance credits were offered this year and attendees were able to log their credits at the end of each day.

Michael Blue, FAICP and Laurie Marston, FAICP once again provided a full-day Plan Commissioner Training session. Over thirty appointed officials honed their skills while also making new connections and learning from each other. Thank you Michael and Laurie for your hard work!

Once again the always popular and interactive speed planning session was a hit. Attendees had a pool of twelve different sessions to choose from that showcased many of this years award winning projects. Thank you Malika Hainer, AICP and Jaemi Jackson, AICP for organizing and facilitating the exciting session.

I also wanted to thank John Houseal, AICP, and Devin Lavigne, AICP (and myself, AICP) for providing the free annual AICP prep study session. Twenty-five planners took advantage of the three-hour session. Good luck on the AICP Exam; may the odds be ever in your favor!

For the first time, we were able to provide free mobile workshop opportunities for all attendees. Our committee chairs – Jason Berry, AICP and Romina Castillo worked extremely hard to design eleven mobile workshops that showcased the tremendous variety of planning that has been happening within the Chicago area. Some examples included visiting Chicago’s Chinatown, walking along Argyle Street, descending deep down into Chicago’s “Deep Tunnel”, visiting the Andersonville neighborhood, touring the Pullman National Historic Monument factory and neighborhood, and seeing The 606 and the site of the future Englewood Trail.

Another round of thanks and cheers goes out to David Silverman, AICP, Christina Bader, AICP and the rest of the Local Host Committee for organizing the fun social events. Planners enjoyed meeting with sponsors & fellow attendees at the Awards Reception, followed by a gathering at Cavanaugh’s. Thursday night took us to Revolution Brewery which included a tour and one (or two) hoppy beverages. It seemed like everyone enjoyed themselves and the opportunity to catch up with friends & colleagues from throughout Illinois.

The social part of this Conference didn't end with the social events. It continued on during lunch. In another Conference first, we were excited to offer U-Pick lunches thanks to the huge number of eateries around VenueSIX10. Many attendees enjoyed the opportunity to network with professionals of their choosing or take an opportunity to catch up with old friends and co-workers. We heard good lunchtime feedback and hope we can offer more of these types of lunch options in the future. Thank-U to our organizers Malika Hainer, AICP and Tony Manno, AICP.

Yet another thank you to Courtney Kashima, AICP for your final annual update as APA-IL Chapter President. We appreciated hearing about the work the Chapter has accomplished over the past year as well as your message for planners to always strive to respond with “yes, AND?” Also, thank you to APA-IL Vice President T.J. Blakeman, AICP for organizing this year’s awards ceremony (which was also broadcast live on our Facebook page!) It’s always fulfilling to see such high-quality award winning projects and planners being recognized for their hard work and dedication to the profession.

We couldn’t have pulled off the conference without all of the tremendous volunteers including the student volunteers from both UIC and UIUC. I’d especially like to thank John Paige, AICP, Chapter Administrator, and Neela and Keith Johnston (awesome app Keith!) from i3 Events. I’m already missing our weekly conference calls! This was John’s last conference as Chapter Administrator and our new Executive Director, Dawn Peters’, first conference with us. We were happy that we could cap John’s term with such a memorable conference and show Dawn what we’re all about.

Finally, I want to thank the many exhibitors, speakers and sponsors who helped make this Conference a success. While some sponsors were new, most were longtime advocates of the Chapter. Jamie and I, as well as the entire Chapter Board appreciate your continued support. It’s important to stress that sponsorships not only help support the annual conference, but also support other Chapter activities and programs that occur throughout the year.

We look forward to taking the show on the road (30 miles west of Chicago off of I-88 to be exact) for the 2017 State Conference that for the first time ever will be held in Downtown Naperville! #APAIL17

- Trevor Dick, AICP, 2016 APA-IL State Conference Co-chair

2016 APA-IL Sponsors

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