We are pleased to announce that Jim Drinan, Executive Director of the American Planning Association, John Comazzi, Associate Professor of Architecture in the College of Design at the University of Minnesota, and Peter Murray, Chairman of New London Architecture, have been appointed to the AAO Board of Directors. This month, we're featuring a Q&A with Jim Drinan.
1. For our members who haven't met you, please briefly describe yourself.
I’m a native of Boston and a passionate Red Sox fan (sorry, John Comazzi). I have a B.A. in Political Science and a J.D. and began my career as a federal attorney in health care litigation, followed by 25 years as an association management professional, mostly in health care. As Executive Director of the American Planning Association, I foster relationships that promote effective planning, and I am particularly interested in the intersection of planning and design. I have always had a keen interest in architecture. In St. Louis, I was fortunate enough to own the historic home where George Hellmuth (the H in HOK) grew up, and architects frequently stopped by to see it.
2. As a way to get to know you, what are you working on now or what recent projects would you like to share with our readers?
I am struck by the impact that planning can make on public health, and I’m immensely proud of the partnerships that APA has formed with public health officials to promote principles such as walkability and transit oriented design. Part of the great story of planning is our contribution to reducing chronic disease such as heart and lung conditions in the next generation of Americans.
At the moment, my desk is full of plans for APA’s role at the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III) in Quito, Ecuador this October. Adoption of global Sustainable Design Guidelines is just one example of the important work being done through this forum.
3. Tell us about the skills and expertise that you bring to the AAO Board.
In addition to promoting collaboration among the disciplines of planning, design and construction, I hope that my experience with organizational development will be an asset for AAO. Associations, like people, go through life cycles, and as AAO moves from infancy to childhood and young adulthood, I hope to contribute to a healthy growth.
4. What excites you most about AAO?
There is such creativity among the AAO membership. I’m fascinated by the synergies between planning and design, and I appreciate that AAO brings together all those involved with the built environment. I’m excited about the opportunity for all of us to work together more closely and productively, and am looking forward to sharing what APA members have to offer to AAO members – a partnership in telling the great story of planning.
5. What impact do you hope to see AAO achieve by the end of your board term?
As a young association, AAO is still in the process of defining its identity. Establishing a strong foundation is a key role of leadership, and this is done by gaining a reputation for doing the right things well, shining a light on what’s important, and having integrity. I also hope to contribute to a closer relationship between the planning profession and the audiences served by AAO members.