What Had Planners Talking at the Policy and Advocacy Conference


Attendees of APA’s Policy and Advocacy Conference engaged in three full days packed with activities. From September 18-20, 2016, they heard from thought leaders and participated in deep-dive advocacy trainings; they embarked on a two-wheeled tour of D.C.’s rapidly expanding bike infrastructure and enjoyed gourmet hot dogs in the Navy Yard neighborhood. Here were the events and topics that planners couldn’t stop talking about.

“The Best Cities in the World Will Be Cities for Everyone”

On Sunday’s Burnham Forum, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) previewed the Prosperity Playbook, a new HUD initiative launched earlier this year. The project identifies places that have had success building communities of opportunity through the expansion of affordable housing and economic mobility. HUD’s Harriet Tregoning, along with Mayors Sly James of Kansas City, Missouri, and Kasim Reed of Atlanta led the discussion.

Speaking at the Burnham Forum, from left: HUD Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Office of Community Planning and Development Harriet Tregoning; Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Sly James; and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. Photo by Ben Zweig.

Watch the full panel discussion:

“Good Planning Experts Make a World of Positive Difference”

HUD Secretary Julian Castro stopped by to deliver an uplifting message, emphasizing how cities and regions of all types are using ingenuity and resources to meet common challenges, especially increasing affordable housing, economic mobility, and opportunity.

Julian Castro speaks to attendees at APA's Policy and Advocacy Conference. Photo courtesy the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Check out the Secretary’s full remarks below:

Secretary Julián Castro from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development addressing attendees at APA's Policy and Advocacy Conference #APAPAC16

Posted by American Planning Association on Monday, September 19, 2016

“Change the Street, Change the World”

That was the message of Janette Sadik-Khan to attendees during the luncheon plenary. Best known for the work done by the New York City Department of Transportation when she was its commissioner, she discussed how to strategize, plan, and implement rapid transformations of streets and public spaces.

Taking the Message to the Halls of Congress

On Tuesday, planners put their policy, advocacy, and communications trainings into practice, meeting with their senators and representatives to advocate for legislative priorities and programs of key importance.

Group of planners gathered for a picture between Congressional meetings during Planners' Day on Capitol Hill. Photo by Dustin Calliari.

Learn how you can be an effective advocate from home, and be sure to sign up for advocacy alerts in your MyAPA profile.

Attendees Explored the District, Too

Policy conference attendees line up for the bike tour. Photo by Samantha Schipani.

Planners went out into the city to see planning in action. The Policy and Advocacy Conference had its inaugural mobile workshop — a bike tour of D.C.’s greatly expanding bike infrastructure.


Exploring the streets of DC and its new bike infrastructure at the #APAPAC16 conference #positiveplanning #planningnerd

A photo posted by Brighid Sammon (@brighidsammon) on

And Sunday night, attendees visited recently built Canal Park in the Navy Yard neighborhood at a reception sponsored in part by the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District.

Trainings and Resources

New advocacy skills and techniques were learned. Check out a student perspective of why advocacy training is crucial for emerging professionals.

The Student Representative Council takes a break from a work session to pose for a group picture. Photo by Dustin Calliari.

Planners also heard about new tools and resources. These included the Opportunity Project from the U.S. Census Bureau, discussed by a panel of White House staff, the National League of Cities, and the Urban Land Institute on how data and partnerships are being used to further equity. Also featured were new climate change tools from NOAA; updates on aging, the FAST Act, and land use law cases; and big data, climate change, and smart cities and their implications for planners.

About the Author

Dustin Calliari is APA's content marketing coordinator.

Top image: Attendees at APA’s 2016 Policy and Advocacy Conference. Photo by Ben Zweig.

September 21, 2016

By Dustin Calliari