Getting an IAP2 chapter launched in the northeast corner of the U.S. has been no easy feat. Big cities (traffic), a variety of geography (more traffic), and frequent weather events (just stay home—there’s traffic) all have impacted the ability for public participation practitioners to get together and get a chapter off the ground. What could the cure be? Oddly, a global pandemic.
The IAP2 USA Northeast Chapter launched on June 23rd via Zoom. The launch was a culmination of months of planning by the steering committee, originally focused on a virtual soft launch to lead to an in-person launch and networking event. In March, the steering committee had to quickly pivot in not only their day jobs, but had to reimagine the launch in a virtual-only space.
Eventbrite invitations were sent out to over 100 folks, and over 30 (free) tickets were sold to folks in Boston, New York, Maine, Connecticut, and as far-flung as Virginia and North Carolina. The steering committee was over the moon: this is going to work. The Zoom meeting went on without a hitch, with some great feedback from interested future members. The launch was followed-up the next week with an informal discussion event on virtual engagement resulting from COVID-19.
During our debrief, the committee felt the virtual nature of the event helped engage more people. Instead of driving for hours to a centralized event, interested future members were able to get a couple of tastes of the chapter between conference calls from their home office. Of course, we can’t wait to get together at a future event and network face-to-face when it’s safe. But until then, we will be taking advantage of our new virtual world to ramp up interest and go from emerging chapter to full-fledged.
Now, the IAP2 USA Northeast Chapter is working to recruit more board members and submit its letter of intent to the IAP2 board. If you are interested in a leadership role or membership in the Northeast Chapter, comprising of New York and the New England states, please contact Nicole Marron at firstname.lastname@example.org.