Planning Supervisor's Playbook: Six-Part Series

American Planning Association


Thursday, February 22, 2018, 1 p.m.
Thursday, April 12, 2018, 1 p.m. EDT

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Assuming a supervisory role or any management position is a career goal many people share. While basic management skills are a necessity, there are unique challenges and situations which only a planner will face and that require special aptitudes. We are mediators, negotiators, problem solvers, counselors, and even referees. Some days we may feel like babysitters or punching bags.

APA is offering a six-part series of web events that provide guidance and useful tools to help you navigate the rough waters of management, from entry-level to director. We’ll also share some common triumphs and pain. We may not have all the answers, but we do know techniques for successful leadership in the planning field that can limit your tears, gray hairs, and sleepless nights.

Why did you want to become a leader? What is your leadership motto? What tools do you need to get the promotion, build your team, and thrive in the position? How do you handle the stress? We hope this web series will inspire and support you in your management adventure.

Overall Series Learning Objectives:

After participating in this webinar series, participants will be able to:

  • Apply public speaking skills in public hearings, meetings with elected officials and other development meetings
  • Build and implement transitional plans for procedural changes
  • Implement methods to assist in managing interdisciplinary teams
  • Apply Ethical Principles in Planning and the AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct
  • Discuss legal issues and personal liabilities that planning supervisors and directors face
  • Identify support and tools to measure success

Series Price

APA members: $200

Non-members: $320

Registration includes all six webinars.

Webinar Descriptions

Public Speaking Communication and Leadership

One of the most important qualities a leader possesses is the ability to communicate with staff, elected officials, the public, and even the press. Many people think the way to get promoted is by acing review of development proposals or mastering zoning regulations. But trust us, it’s not. What gets you noticed is how you present yourself at meetings, address the public, and maintain emotional composure during tough hearings and other demanding situations. Once you’re in a leadership role, you’ll speak to the public more often and be responsible for teaching your staff these same skills.

Upon completion, participants will be able to apply public speaking skills to public hearings and other community engagement.

Team Evaluation and Implementing Change

Congratulations on your new position! Now that you’re a supervisor, it’s time to start thinking about your goals for the planning organization and your team. More than likely there are changes you want to implement current practices and procedures: updating planning commission reports, public hearing practices, and codes. How do you accomplish that while putting together the awesome planning team you want? How do you respond quickly to the requests of your elected officials and city manager without creating chaos for your staff? Some employees will take to change well, others will not. You may end up experiencing staff turnover and altered relationships. Management can be lonely. This session will dive into the awesome opportunity — and challenge — of redesigning your team and your department. Get ready to explore your team and your vision for them, as well as your goals for yourself and your supervisory style.

Upon completion, participants will be able to build and implement transitional plans for procedural or department changes.


Aimee Nassif, AICP, and Matt Brandmeyer, AICP

Managing Multidisciplinary Teams

One thing that distinguishes supervising in a planning organization from supervising in other organizations is that it typically entails managing staff from other disciplines. Commonly, permit reviewers, plan examiners, code enforcement officers, GIS experts, and engineers will work in the department that you now oversee. In addition, you may hire and supervise consultants for various projects and assignments. People will test you, so be bold and prepared to make tough decisions. This session discusses tips for gaining everyone’s trust and support while establishing yours as the voice of authority within the organization.

Upon completion, participants will be able to implement methods to assist in managing interdisciplinary teams.


Aimee Nassif, AICP, and Matt Brandmeyer, AICP

Ethics in Practice

What does it mean to be an ethical supervisor? You must understand your organization’s confidentiality policies, handle sensitive personnel issues, and ensure your team makes ethical decisions. You are responsible for your own — and others’ — ethical behavior. In addition to looking at APA’s Ethical Principles in Planning and the AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct, we will discuss common supervisory situations in which those principles and others come into play.

Upon completion, participants will be able to apply APA’s Ethical Principles in Planning and the AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct


Jim Peters, FAICP, Aimee Nassif, AICP, and Matt Brandmeyer, AICP

Management Legalities in Practice

For a municipal planner, considering legal issues is nothing new. At one time or another in a planner’s career, legal issues concerning development cases and reviews will be debated and discussed. Planners often turn to their city attorney for assistance reviewing and updating zoning codes and development agreements. As a planning supervisor or director, you also may spend more time in meetings discussing protest petitions, pending litigation, contracts, employee grievances, harassment complaints, disciplinary actions, and other legal matters. This session will explore the new legal issues and personal liabilities you will face.

Upon completion, participants will be able to discuss legal issues and personal liabilities that planners face.


Rrachelle Breckenridge, Assistant City Attorney, City of Olathe, Kansas
Sue Willman, Partner, Spencer, Fane, Britt & Browne LLP
Aimee Nassif, AICP, and Matt Brandmeyer, AICP

Measuring Success for Planning Leaders

With more than 25 years of supervisory experience between us, we have learned some tricks and tips that can help rookies and veteran managers alike, in any size planning organization, in any sized community. Although a large part of being a great planning leader is measuring your own strengths and weaknesses so that you can continue to grow and improve with your team, most planning supervisors and directors focus on the tasks in front of them and do not step back to reflect on their own performance. Many supervisors overlook using a variety of metrics and other tools to self-evaluate, even if they find the time between council meetings, board meetings, public meetings, and development proposals under review. We hope this wrap-up session will provide you with support, tools, and inspiration to help you measure your success.

Upon completion, participants will be able to identify support and the tools to measure success.


Aimee Nassif, AICP, and Matt Brandmeyer, AICP


Aimee Nassif, AICP

Aimee Nassif serves as the Chief Planning and Development Officer for the City of Olathe. She oversees both current and long-range planning activities for the City including zoning map amendments, development reviews, Comprehensive Plan updates, and Unified Development Ordinance updates. Aimee is also responsible for various studies such as Envision ... Read More

Matthew Brandmeyer, AICP

Matt Brandmeyer has been a professional planner for 18 years. He currently serves as the Planning and Development Administrator for Madison County. He was previously the Planning Director for Creve Coeur, MO and a Project Planner for Chesterfield, MO. Between that time, Matt worked for The Koman Group, a private ... Read More