A message from your President - Gwen Howard 

January 2021 President's Message

Happy New Year to our IAP2 USA community! I hope this message finds you and your families safe and well.

Okay, before we exhale, grateful we are coming out of tough 2020 and hopeful for what 2021 will bring, I'd like to take a second to pause and reflect. I want to share with you what YOU, our members, did in 2020 as we became a more nimble organization.   

    • You responded and adapted to the organization’s move to an all virtual  learning environment;  
    • You helped grow our membership at a rather unexpected and surprising pace;
    • You participated in training and webinars in very encouraging numbers; and
    • You helped the organization continue to remain financially viable and stable. 

So THANK YOU for all you did in getting us through 2020 and advancing the practice. 

As 2020 is now hindsight it also has become foresight for the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for IAP2 USA in 2021, and potentially beyond.  But before we get to that part, let’s talk about what is planned for this year.

We will:

    • revisit our Strategic Plan this year and make changes or revisions that provide organizational direction.
    • seek to be an organization that embodies diversity, equity and inclusion in who we are and who we serve.
    • be holding our first virtual North American Conference in the United States.
    • continue to work through the international harmonization process for our foundational training courses.
    • continue to identify and present “member- driven and requested” professional development and training.
    • provide more opportunities for members to engage with each other through “Calls for Volunteers“ to serve on committees or the Board. 
    • provide different ways and use different media to reach out to and hear from our members to ensure we are providing what you need.

And of course there will likely be more that we accomplish in this year.

I am proud to be a part of this organization and the great work we are doing.  We are in the enviable position of figuring out ways to bring people together to solve problems, to change their communities, to affect policies and systems, to build relationships and social capital, and to emulate who we are as an organization. We all know the potential communication and relationship challenges as it has become more evident now than ever before, the chasm that can exist between us.  However, we as formal and informal leaders in public participation are heavily equipped and resourced to be the bridge across the chasm. 

Here is the opportunity. There has never been a time more fitting than now for the work we do. We know how to collaborate, how to facilitate, how to communicate and how to relate. So let’s demonstrate how we come together to value and celebrate our differences, how we embrace innovation and creativity, how we promote equity and inclusivity, and how we connect with one another at a deeper, more curious and more meaningful level. And, still deliver transformative work for the communities and the organizations we serve.

As leaders, may we all continue to grow and to be the light in every space we visit or frequent.  Because truly that's what an enlightened America is all about.

Let’s encourage leadership and lead in courage.  I look forward to working with all of you this year!

In your service, 


Gwen Howard

IAP2 USA, President

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