For APA Board Director at Large

John Reinhardt, AICP

John Reinhardt, AICP

John Reinhardt, AICP

Biographical Background

Professional Experience

  • Associate, Sam Schwartz — New York, NY
  • City Forward Program Manager, IBM — Armonk, NY
  • Program Manager, American Planning Association — Washington, D.C.
  • Consultant, Booz Allen — Baltimore, MD

APA Experience

  • Member, National Education Committee (2018 – Present)
  • National Planning Conference Committee (May 2016 – April 2019)
  • Mentor, APA NY Metro Chapter Mentorship Program (2018)
  • LGBTQ and Planning Division (2008 – Present)
  • Staff Member (2008-2011)
  • Charles Abrams Scholarship recipient (2007)
  • Member (2006 – Present)

Education

  • Master of City Planning, University of Pennsylvania
  • Bachelor of Arts, Communication, Villanova University

Position Statement

APA is strong.

But we are at a moment when it can become even stronger.

With new leadership; a focus on the important issues of our time; ever-improving educational programs; and an excited and engaged generation of students, I want to help create the APA that our members can't help but be proud of and excited to participate in.

There are four areas I'd like to concentrate on as your Director, Elected at Large:

Addressing the issues of the day

APA must be forward-thinking so planners can shape the future rather than respond to it. As Education Chair of NPC19, I supported the first Plan4Equity forum and implemented new conference tracks for international planning, academic research, and small town and rural planning.

As Director, I will seek to understand what is important to our members and their communities, and ensure opportunities exist for APA members to provide thought-leadership.

Improving the professional pipeline

Our profession should reflect our communities. There are two areas were APA can help.

Youth Engagement: by providing direct opportunities and member resources to get youth excited about planning. At NPC19, I watched a high school student speak on a panel about promoting transit in her community — and it was incredible! APA can spotlight the next generation and lift up their ideas. They will live in the future we plan today; they should be at the table.

Student diversity: our profession should work to remove barriers to entry, especially for those traditionally underrepresented. Many barriers are financial (I donate to the APA Foundation for this reason), but others involve helping someone get that first job or internship. With focus, we can improve opportunities.

Strengthening the National Planning Conference

As a founding NPC committee member, I helped to develop and implement the peer-review process; increase member engagement opportunities; and introduce new tracks based on member feedback.

Moving forward, I believe the conference can leave more lasting impacts on thought leadership (such as a conference declaration) and the communities we visit (through service and engaging with local organizations). I strongly support innovation at our premiere event.

Communicating our value

As planners, we often have a hard time explaining our impact to the communities we serve. Communicating the "planning brand" to make it accessible and easy to understand will help grow our stature as professionals and as an organization. APA has done a great job in recent years and I want to grow these efforts.

In Closing

I have a lot to contribute, but I also have a lot to learn. Planning is broad and diverse — which is what attracted me to it. As an APA Director, I look forward to engaging with members to learn about their work, hear their concerns, and understand how APA can better support them and their communities. I believe in "servant leadership" and seek to remove barriers so we all reach the goals we set in our personal and professional lives.

Consistent with the 2015-2035 Development plan, I am committed to lead; communicate & engage; partner; advocate; inspire; and serve. I hope that you will allow me the opportunity.

Candidate Questionnaire

What do you believe is the most important member service APA provides? Why? How would you propose strengthening this and other member services?

I believe the most important member service APA provides is conferences and education — which allows us to share the latest research and practice that shapes the profession. This is aligned with APA's incorporation "exclusively for charitable, educational, literary and scientific research purposes to advance the art and science of planning."

I believe this service can be strengthened by continued member and component participation in those services. In the past several years, the education department staff has grown to better serve the educational mission. Because of this added capacity, the department is able to administer more opportunities for member participation at the national level. Members now provide the content for APA Learn by their participation in the National Planning Conference, which is vetted by APA staff through a quality-control process. Members also serve as peer-reviewers of education sessions for the National Planning Conference. These are but a few examples.

Leveraging member expertise through good organizational practices has strengthened the depth, breadth, and quality of our educational services, and this approach should continue.

How could APA improve and strengthen the relationship among APA and its components (AICP, Chapters, Divisions, SRC)?

APA can strengthen the relationship by allowing ideas, expertise, and innovation to bubble up from the member-experts that make up these components. This includes selecting members for national committees and task forces that can also represent the perspective and provide linkages to components; having the processes and structures within APA to gather feedback and input from chapters, divisions, and the SRC; and incorporating guidance from AICP, such as new CM requirements, throughout APA national's initiatives.

  • This approach is one I took during my service on the National Planning Conference Committee. Over my three-year tenure, we began aligning the event in the following ways:
  • Developing mechanisms to gather input from component members and leadership to ensure that the conference tracks are reflective of their needs
  • Asking about division participation or leadership in the proposal reviewer application, and considering it as a major qualification for selection as track chair
  • Incorporating best-practices from chapter conferences
  • Making sure updated guidance from the AICP Commission was incorporated into the educational program (including the timing of Law & Ethics sessions)
  • Ensuring local chapter leadership on the committee

Moving forward, I would be excited to work with APA's new CEO, Joel Albizo, who believes in design thinking, prototyping, and iterative processes — I believe this flexibility and nimbleness, if it permeates the culture of APA national, will afford opportunities for components to present ideas and "try new things" in a collaborative way that minimizes the financial and staff resources required.

Now that the Planning for Equity Policy Guide has been adopted, how should APA use this guide to shape itself organizationally?

What was clear to me in reading the Planning for Equity Policy Guide is that there is little subject matter that equity does not touch in furthering APA's mission of creating "Great Communities for All." It is something that must be intentionally considered in the plans that we make and the organizations that we create and govern. In this respect, we should turn inward to focus on the following four things, to start:

  • Review our hiring practices to attract qualified staff that is reflective of the diversity of our profession
  • Understand the barriers to serving in leadership positions in our organization and help remove those barriers
  • Provide policies and processes for staff to leverage the insight and experiences of the four active population-related divisions (Latinos and Planning, LGBTQ and Planning, Planning and the Black Community, and Woman in Planning) in creating programming and our policy/education/research efforts
  • Support the foundation in efforts to raise scholarship funds, particularly for minority students who have traditionally seen higher barriers to entering the profession

What is the biggest challenge facing the planning profession, and how should APA address it?

From a technical perspective, there are many big challenges: climate change; housing; education; public health; crumbling infrastructure and integrating new mobility. The diversity of these challenges is what drew many of us to planning. Many of us have specialties and are working on these day to day; others are generalists. It's hard to choose just one because as planners, it's our job to see the linkages.

However, I believe that the biggest challenge our profession as a whole faces is living up to the "for all" portion of our mission. As mentioned in my position statement, I think one of the things that APA can do now is to help improve the professional pipeline, which will pay dividends in the future. If our profession is enriched by colleagues with more frameworks, life experiences, and perspectives, we will be that much closer to meeting the mission of "planning great communities for all" — the reason we're all involved in APA.