James A. Castañeda, AICP
“Clarity and Focus”
That was the theme of our section board’s retreat in January, or as I call it, “The KonMari” retreat. I wanted to impress on the board the importance of making many of our policies and procedures — those that help us work on your behalf — as effective and efficient as possible. Since the board is 100 percent volunteers, it’s important to ensure that being on the board is time worth spending on giving back to the profession — and that we are passionate about doing it. I truly believe that what the section board does affects all of our 1,900 members and sparks joy in our profession.
I was excited to hear what board members at the retreat wanted to accomplish in their respective areas in the coming year, and I want to share a couple of the bigger takeaways here.
The board took some time to discuss the future of our flagship Northern News and its value to our members. All who spoke on this matter at the retreat said the newsmagazine is iconic, and universally valued for its informative content, for its quality, and for bringing us locally based and locally authored articles and stories. We are moving toward a fully digital product this year (no more PDF), but the monthly publication schedule will remain — we agreed that was the right frequency for presenting curated articles and ICYMI planning news. So I’m lobbing you the same challenge I gave to your board members: embrace ownership in our publication by contributing to it. The Northern News has always been of, for, and by Northern Section planners, and we can continue that only if you contribute to the content.
Online Distance Education Opportunities
A topic that came up often at the retreat was offering webinar or video streaming services of some of the Northern Section events. Given the tremendous effort that goes into coordinating and hosting the many workshops, lectures, and training sessions we offer, we want to ensure that you can easily access them. That’s the main reason we created a Distance Education Coordinator position on the board last fall and appointed Shannon Hake, AICP. With the help of our immediate past director Sharon Grewal, AICP (who also serves on the Chapter board as Vice President–Professional Development), we’ll be looking to make some of our programming available online beginning in the second half of 2019.
New Board Members
Your board has appointed four new members: Danae Hall will serve as YPG Co-director alongside Veronica Flores. Della Acosta takes over as University Liaison and is already coordinating with our student representatives from UC Berkeley and San Jose State. After a phenomenal reboot of our Mentorship Program, Liz Probst, AICP, has stepped down as Mentorship Director, and Ellen Yau has been appointed to pick up where Liz left off. Mark Young is stepping into the role of South Bay Regional Activity Coordinator. (Cherise Orange moved to Planning Diversity Co-director with Cindy Ma, AICP.) All of these folks bring enthusiasm and great ideas to their respective roles and to the board. Also new to the board is first year graduate student Marta Polovin, Student Representative from UC Berkeley. We’re excited to have all of them on board.
Onward We Serve
All of us on the board are excited about what we are planning for the section in the coming months. The retreat set the tone for a great year, so keep an eye on our event calendar for future events. And if you are (as I hope) motivated to join the board, we are large enough that we almost always have positions available. Right now, we are looking for a new San Francisco Regional Activity Coordinator and a Treasurer to serve out the remaining 2019 term of Jonathan Schuppert, AICP, who is now our Section Director-elect. Make sure to check online for our latest open positions.