For Commissioner, Region 4

Ben Carlisle, AICP

Ben Carlisle, AICP

Ben Carlisle, AICP

Position Statement

It has been an honor to serve as AICP Commissioner for Region IV. Nearly four years ago, I stated my intention to uphold the qualifications, professional ethics, professional standards of AICP planners. Since then, I have actively worked with the AICP Commission to advance this concept through the launching of the AICP Candidate Program; updating the AICP exam; adopting an AICP Strategic Plan, adopting a campaign to market the AICP credential; ongoing review of the Certification Maintenance requirements; and updating the AICP Code of Ethics.

More importantly, the Commission continues to widen the path to certification, while maintaining our high level of standards for the AICP credential to ensure its long-term value. As part of the Commission, I want to continue to seek ways to increase the diversity of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, and gender of AICP Planners to ensure representation that is reflective of the diverse communities we serve.

While the Commission has accomplished much, there is still much more work to do. I am seeking your support to continue this momentum and serve a final term as AICP Commissioner for Region IV. With that charge, I want to work with the Commission to continue pursuing the following goals:

  • Promote the Value of the AICP Credential — AICP should remain the beacon of professional creditably and ensure that AICP Certification continues to be the standard for professional planners. The Commission has recognized the need to advocate for the value of AICP both within, but more importantly, outside the profession. The Commission continues to market the value of the credential to employers, allied professions, the public, and elected officials.
  • Continue to Focus on Increasing Diversity within the AICP — The Commission continues to seek ways to increase the diversity of AICP Planners.
  • Update the Certification Maintenance Program — The Commission is in the process of reviewing the certification maintenance program to ensure it remains relevant to all levels of experience, is equitable and accessible, and addresses emerging topics.
  • Support State Chapter, Students Organizations, and Divisions — APA's strength is its state, local chapters, divisions and other components. As a representative of the national organization, we must support these entities through professional development opportunities, technical assistance, and policy advocacy.

In closing, the AICP Commission should continue to act for its members by serving as one voice advocating for the profession and credibility of Certification. I would be honored to continue to serve Region IV as its representative to the AICP Commission. I appreciate your consideration of my nomination.

Professional Experience

  • Professional planner with over 18 years of experience in both the public and private sector
  • Carlisle|Wortman Associates, Principal, Ann Arbor, MI 2011-Present
  • American Institute of Certified Planners
  • Form Based Code Institute Certified
  • Guest University Lecturer

APA Experience

  • AICP Commissioner, Region IV 2016-2019
  • American Planning Association-IL Chapter Executive Board Treasurer 2006-2011
  • Presenter at numerous state conferences


  • Bachelor of Arts, Urban Planning / Geography, Miami University
  • Masters of Urban and Regional Planning, University of Illinois-Chicago

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 think the most important service APA provides is the work through the components. The APA components, and specifically the Chapters, Divisions, and SRC are the backbone and strength of APA. More often than not, members identify with a component before they do with APA as a whole. Through the niche offerings of the Divisions, the localized support of the Chapters, and the assistance to our newest members in the SRC, the components can offer the most personalized and specialized information and support to the members. We need to strengthen our components and give them the resources to succeed, grow, and provide even more services to the membership.

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

As I noted in my previous answer, I think the APA components, and specifically the Chapters, Divisions, and SRC are the backbone and strength of APA. Recognizing their strength and importance, the APA Board and AICP Commission have focused intently the past couple of years in improving communication and working relationships with its components. This has started on all levels and includes liaisons from all three components that actively participate in all Board and Commission meetings and activities. These liaisons provide direct input and give feedback to initiatives and policies from the Board and Commission. In addition, they bring issues from the components to the Board and Commission's attention. Moving forward its essential that we strengthen the role and importance of the liaisons. In addition, we need to extend that open line of communication between APA and any member or component, not just through the liaisons. Communication should not have to be formal but rather can take place in many avenues and forms.

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

I want to thank the Policy Guide Working Group for the extremely important and hard work of getting the document completed. I also want to thank the the APA Delegate Assembly and the APA Board of Directors for approval and ratification of the document. Getting it written and adopted was herculean effort in and of itself.

But like the plans we write as professionals, its worthless if it's not utilized and implemented. Within the document there are number of policy statements to guide future action. To achieve the policies outlined in the plan, a task force should be formed that is in charge of making recommendation to the Board to implement the Policy Guide. One of the first actions of the task force should be to create an implementation strategy with targeted metrics and goals. That would provide a working roadmap for implementation.

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

I think there are two challenges. The first, and most significant is diversity and how to make the profession more inclusive. The Planning for Equity Policy Guide an important first step but there is much more work to be done. However, in my situation, I'd rather listen than lead to the discussion. I'd like to hear from minority populations and others to hear how to increase the diversity in the profession and how to widen the tent for inclusion. We need to be open to frank discussions about barriers to the profession and why the profession doesn't look like the communities we work in. I'm listening and open to any conversation about this issue and how APA should address it.

The second challenge I see facing the profession is civil discourse. Our work is public, and open to public inspection. With social media, distrust in government, and intense scrutiny I believe it's harder to be a professional planner now than ever before. How we do rise above the noise and make the tough, sometimes unpopular, decisions for our community? APA, and specifically the AICP, must continue to serve as the beacon of professional creditably and ensure that AICP Certification continues to be the standard for professional planners. We must constantly remind ourselves and the public that we adhere to a Code of Ethics that binds us to make certain decisions, sometimes in the face of difficulty. APA can assist embattled planners and continue to assist in the promotion of the ethical standards of our profession.