APA Florida President Laura Everitt, AICP, Esq., LEED GA

November 2019

As we near the seasons of giving thanks and holiday celebrations, I want to offer my sincere gratitude to the hundreds of dedicated volunteers who make APA Florida one of the top Chapters in the country.  Nothing gives me more pleasure than to be able to celebrate our members, who rank among the top planners in the country. If my day had a soundtrack, I love to think it would be the sound of champagne bottles popping. As I close my first full year as APA Florida President, I’m thrilled to look back at what we accomplished in 2019. Cue the champagne!

Chapter Leadership Awards. We are so lucky to have members with the passion and ingenuity to propel Florida to the forefront of planning: leading the country in conservation and sustainability planning, as well as transportation, affordable housing, and historic preservation. And each year we shine a spotlight on those who are blazing the trail for the rest of the Chapter. Join me in celebrating these members’ accomplishments and contributions to our great state.

Great Places in Florida. Earlier this month, I was delighted to meet the city leaders of Winter Haven, who won the 6th Annual Great Places in Florida People’s Choice Award. It’s exciting to visit communities throughout Florida and meet the visionaries and innovators who are leading Florida deeper into 21st Century. Winter Haven, like the five award winners before it, is filled with such leaders. We cannot wait to see what our Florida communities do next year!

Florida Planning Conference. It’s undeniable that everyone enjoyed exploring the Upside of Paradise this year in Sandestin. The all-volunteer 2019 Conference Committee – chaired by Kristen Shell and co-chaired by Catherine McCloy – hosted a fabulous event with stimulating sessions and trainings and spectacular mobile tours and networking receptions. The Executive Committee was very proud to return the conference to the Florida Panhandle and it didn’t disappoint. And thanks to the conference committee planning for Orlando in 2020 as they are already hard at work.

Public Policy Workshop. At this year’s workshop, we had record-setting attendance thanks to the strong lineup of issue-area experts and legislative insiders who presented. Hosted by the Capital Area Section, we are always impressed by the caliber of the event each year. And I would be remiss if I didn’t remind you to save the date of Feb. 5, 2020. It’s sure to be another fantastic event as we are eager to discuss the controversial HB 7103 and M-CORES.

Thank you to Wiatt Bowers, Whit Blanton, Tia Keitt, and David Capelli for volunteering their time on behalf of APA Florida to speak with members of Congress in Washington, DC. I urge each of you to consider joining us next year for Planners Day on the Hill. It is a very rewarding experience.

In case you didn’t realize it, the APA Florida Executive Committee is made up of some of our most dedicated volunteers. They give hours of their time to activities like producing Florida Planning magazine, assisting FAICP nominees develop their application packets, researching and coordinating future conference locations, hosting events like PARK(ing) Day, a Zero Empty Spaces Tour, Happy Hour at the Citadel, Motivating Change Lunch and Learn, a visit to Williams Elementary School, and the list goes on and on. Each board meeting, we recognize a member of the Executive Committee who has significantly contributed to the organization. We call it the Heavy Lift award.

This year’s Heavy Lift Award Winners:

  • Michelle Heinrich, Vice President Communications
  • Catherine McCloy, Emerald Coast Section Chair
  • Devan Leavins, Capital Area Section Chair
  • Ali Palmer, Treasure Coast Section Chair
  • Eddie Ng, Gold Coast Section Chair
  • Allison Megrath, Vice President Professional Development

Of course, our Section Chairs don’t do it alone. I am grateful for and celebrate the hundreds of section volunteers statewide who donate their time to dozens of events and trainings hosted throughout the year. APA Florida is powered by the best volunteers. Just check out our stats!

And last, but not least, APA Florida is celebrating the return of the National Planning Conference to Florida. Stay tuned for NPC26 in Miami. I can’t wait to show off our state to the rest of the planning community.

I hope to have the opportunity to clink champagne glasses with each of you in 2020!