A Message from APA Florida Executive Director Alex Magee
This year marks my 15-year anniversary year as executive director of APA Florida. With your help, APA Florida has expanded its services to members and the planning community, served as a model for other chapters, and acted as a voice for sound planning in Florida. Among other things, the chapter built healthy fiscal reserves and funded a full-time communications position that focuses on member communication and messaging.
In the face of COVID-19, the chapter leadership successfully transitioned to a virtual conference in 2020, and in the last six years alone, the chapter and sections have offered members an impressive 2,485 hours of continuing education opportunities.
Chapter members interested in the AICP exam have access to a study program, hosted by the Treasure Coast Section, which is known throughout other chapters as a successful model. Through the Andre Anderson Minority Scholarship program, more than $27,000 has been given to graduate planning students to help support them in their studies. And a planning education curriculum for K-12 students was created and has been used to spark interest in children in several communities around the state.
The chapter legislative policy committee initiated Planners Month in the Districts – where members meet their state legislators to discuss issues facing planners – as a part of our advocacy outreach. A multi-year effort by dedicated members resulted in the addition of the Livable Florida webpage providing resources and information on creating sustainable communities. The chapter also recently partnered with the Florida Association of Counties to create a Transportation 101 training module to be used as part of that association’s annual training for county officials and staff.
An ongoing collaboration with AARP Florida and the Nurses on Boards Coalition builds upon our former Plan4Healthy Florida initiative by linking health and planning by appointing nurses to local boards and committees. A newly created Community Planning Assistance Team program for community outreach is underway, with its initial pilot project in the community of East Palatka anticipated to be completed early next year. And the chapter’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee, actively working to create a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive planning community in Florida, is recognized as a model by the APA national office.
These are just some of the accomplishments our amazing members and leadership achieved over the years and why APA Florida received an APA Award for Outstanding Outreach to the Community in 2019 and was recognized as Chapter of the Year in 2021. I am proud to have played a small part in this growth and accomplishments.
When I came on board, I had worked for more than 30 years as a planner for a variety of entities including the Department of Community Affairs, Florida Department of Transportation, Apalachee Regional Planning Council, Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council, Town of Oxford, Conn., and 1000 Friends of Florida.
It was while I worked at 1000 Friends in the original Waterfronts Florida program that I realized that my passion was in the non-profit world. I loved the flexibility of working with individuals and communities without strict parameters, seeing what needed to be done, and being able to just do it. So, when the opportunity to join the APA Florida office arose in 2007, I was elated. But I did not realize at that time how much I would personally gain from the experience, and the depth and quality of the friendships I would make over the years.
It has been a privilege to work for the organization, the current chapter and section boards, and the boards that have come before. Our members’ willingness to serve and actively volunteer time and effort to move APA Florida forward, and support these efforts with monetary sponsorships, is not always found in other organizations.
It is bittersweet to be retiring at the end of December, but I confess that I am looking forward to seeing what the next chapter of my life will hold. (Beyond just my first grandchild who will be born in December and learning to flyfish!) I feel confident that the current leadership team and whoever fills the executive director position will continue to move APA Florida in new directions, find new ways to serve our members, and make the organization even better.
I wish you all the best in the future!