Lead. Communicate. Partner. These strategies drawn from APA's Development Plan and 2015 action agenda framed our outlook and propelled our actions.

APA leads the profession on many fronts

APA research produces knowledge and resources that planners use to make safer, greener, healthier, and more sustainable communities. Advocacy and communications training and participation in the Planners' Advocacy Network equip members to speak up effectively for planning. Planners from all over the world gather at our National Planning Conference for high-quality professional education and nonstop networking. We reach out, inform, engage, and deliver education and benefits to APA members with new technologies and on multiple platforms.

Who we are

On September 30, 2015 — the end of APA's 2015 fiscal year — APA had 37,604 members, including 16,170 AICP members. An elite group of 167 AICP members have earned Advanced Specialty Certification in environmental planning, transportation planning, or urban design. APA member retention remained strong at 82 percent and AICP retention was an outstanding 95 percent.

Of the 556 APA members who sat for the AICP Comprehensive Planning Exam in May, 380 members passed and joined AICP. In November, 444 candidates passed out of 651. This was the largest cadre of exam candidates since 2010.

Of course, we're eager to welcome new members and last year we reached them in print, online, and in social media with a couple of lively new videos.

"Why Join APA?" lays out how membership can help a young planner's career and delivers a convincing recruitment message in just 73 seconds. "The Future Belongs to Those Who Prepare for It" captures the thrill and value of planning so well that many APA chapters show it at meetings and conferences to inspire and validate members.

Doing more with partners

Partnerships maximize our opportunities and extend our reach. We benefit from growing networks of research and advocacy partners and from close relations with AIA, ASLA, and other associations that serve design professionals. APA, the Planning Accreditation Board, the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning, and the heads of accredited planning programs are working together to learn more about accredited programs' respective strengths and weaknesses.

Cooperative relationships also leverage our influence internationally. APA is contributing ideas and best practices to the upcoming Habitat III conference in Ecuador and promoting 17 Sustainable Development Goals adopted last fall by the United Nations General Assembly.

The presidents of APA and AICP and planning leaders from five other nations gathered at a meeting of the Global Planners Network during the National Planning Conference in Seattle. The APA International Division co-produced the 2015 World Town Planning Day Online Conference and division chair Tim Van Epp, AICP, keynoted a regional forum in China after participating in the International Association for Chinese Planning's annual conference. Our popular mayors' training program hosted two delegations of local Chinese officials in 2015 and will add a pilot program for Indian officials in 2016.

A promising new aspect of the APA-China partnership is the AICP Commission's work with Chinese government and academic partners to build awareness of the AICP credential and prepare to administer the AICP Comprehensive Planning Exam there.

New member services

Members love the new APA Image Library. With well over 1,000 entries to choose from and multiple search categories, they can quickly find high-quality, no-cost images to illustrate their websites, plans, and reports. What subjects do members look for most? "Bicycles" and "bikes," "complete streets," "arts residences," and "pedestrian" made the top five last year.

In March, APA released apps for reading Planning on Apple, Android, and Amazon smart phones and tablets. Along with better online access, members gained the option to receive only the digital version of Planning by changing their contact preferences in My APA.

New career services included Employer Connection at the National Planning Conference and a bimonthly series of free, members-only Career Reality Webinars. More Young Planners Groups and Emerging Planners Groups formed and we made the Early Career Membership Program an even better opportunity for emerging planners.

All of APA applauds AICP members' commitment to skill-building and continuing professional education. An all-new Certification Maintenance website, launched in October, facilitates customized searches for CM activities and simplifies record-keeping. At the same time, we upgraded services to continuing education providers to ensure AICP members' access to a wide variety of first-rate educational opportunities.

"Overall, I really like the new system. Kudos for the overhaul!" — Chris Brown, AICP

Banner: Downtown Plano, Texas, designated one of the 2015 Great Places in America; Photo by the City of Plano. GPN photo: Joe Szurszewski

Infographic: Susan Lee Deegan

Next: Advocacy