The Maryland Chapter American Planning Association: Advancing the Art and Science of Planning Throughout Maryland

Chapter LogoThe Maryland Chapter of the American Planning Association (MD APA) is a nonprofit organization of planning professionals from all regions of Maryland. Most are members of the American Planning Association (APA). As one of 47 state chapters, MD APA supports the mission of the American Planning Association (APA) advocating excellence in community planning, and addresses economic, environmental and social equity issues at national and international levels.

For many decades, Maryland has been a national leader in planning in the U.S. From Baltimore County’s “Plan for the Valleys” to the Montgomery County Agricultural Reserve and Transfer of Development Rights programs to the 1997 Smart Growth and Neighborhood Conservation Act, Maryland has led the nation in the development of innovative local and state plans and zoning concepts. That work has addressed major issues from land preservation and environmental quality to sustainable community development.

MD-APA Board MeetingThe MD APA seeks to build on Maryland’s long and unique planning legacy as municipalities, counties and regions seek to revitalize communities, enhance the environment and develop sustainable approaches to the emerging planning and development issues in the 21st century.

Representing approximately 600 public and private planning professionals, educators, students, and local officials and planning commissioners, the MD APA aims to provide the vision and leadership that fosters better planning in Maryland through its network of practicing planners, citizens and elected officials committed to urban, suburban, regional and rural planning.

Under the leadership of current President Jacquelyn Magness Seneschal, AICP, the MD APA is focusing on networking and professional development to inspire and foster leadership and professional development in Maryland’s planning community. The chapter seeks to create opportunities for involvement and advancement for both new and experienced planning professionals while advancing the art and science of public and private sector planning. To accomplish this the chapter offers members professional development, information services, employment opportunities, networking and educational opportunities.

The chapter also fosters communication among planners and with local and state governments. MD APA works closely with neighboring chapters to offer a biannual regional planning conference, professional certification and advancement, educational workshops, walking tours, a quarterly newsletter, online educational forums, a website and legislative monitoring.

Touring SitesProfessional development for public and private sector planners is a central function of the MD APA. This involves advising prospective members of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) about the qualifications, purpose and programs of the AICP, and the AICP Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. The chapter offers continuing education and professional development and assists members who are preparing to take the AICP examination. Additionally, MD APA advises and promotes membership in the Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners.  The Maryland chapter was one of the founding members of the Planning Webcast Series, which offers members the opportunity to learn about current planning issues and receive CM credits. This is a way that planners throughout the state can keep current on issues without incurring cost.

MD APA hosts regional Local Government Exchanges (LGEs) — day-long events for planners in different areas of the state to share their planning and conservation successes, discuss a range of planning initiatives  and learn from other professionals about techniques and advances within the field.  The LGEs are usually focused on interaction and sharing between planners, local officials, planning commissioners and educators, not solely on presentations.

To provide additional education opportunities to members, MD APA initiated a monthly activities schedule covering a range of events of interest to the chapter’s diverse membership. In August, MD APA launched a Planning Speaker Series with ‘Film in Maryland’ that included as panelists the directors of the Maryland and Baltimore Film Offices. The discussion focused on the economic benefits of film credit programs and how counties and municipalities were reaping economic benefits from locally filmed television shows and movies.

In the fieldsThe speaker series continued in November with a tour of Real Food Farm, an urban farm in Baltimore City, where participants heard about the progress of urban agriculture. This was followed by a tour of the University of Baltimore Angelos Law Center, a certified LEED Platinum building, which included a presentation on the differences between green building codes, standards and rating systems and changes to local green building laws and regulations.  The chapter’s 2014 Annual Meeting included discussions of ‘Maximize 2040,’ the long range transportation plan for the Baltimore Region and a presentation on the Reinvest Maryland initiative by the Maryland Department of Planning.

The chapter is an Associate Society member of the Engineering Society of Baltimore. In addition to providing the chapter with access to the facilities and food service offered at the Garrett-Jacobs Mansion in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon district, MD APA members can join the Engineers Club with no initiation fee and at a reduced cost.

Jacqui Seneschal, AICP, Chapter President

Jacqui Seneschal, AICP, Chapter President

The Maryland Chapter is moving ahead with new opportunities and activities for 2015. Educational events planned for this year include a tour of a local casino and discussion of the economic benefits and social impacts for the community and region; a tour of the Bethesda Green incubator space; a tour and discussion of emerging bike share opportunities in Maryland communities and a tour by Habitat for the Chesapeake of significant Maryland environmental sites.

The MD APA welcomes new planners as well as associates from related professions and citizen planning professionals.  For additional information on MD APA including events and how to become involved, take a look at the following chapter online resources:

MD APA website ♦ MD APA Facebook ♦ MD APA Twitter ♦ Chapter Newsletters

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