GPA Board of Directors Meeting Minutes – October 2021

GPA Board of Directors Meeting

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Members in Attendance: Allison Duncan (online), Andrea Foard, Caroline Evans (online), Chad Jacobs, Cristina Pastore, Daniel Studdard, Ebony Simpson, Elizabeth Backe, Jon West (online), Julianne Meadows, Karl Smith-Davids, Kristen Wescott (online), Laura Beall, Lauren Blaszyk, Marc Beechuk, Mary Huffstetler (online), Matt Martin, Rebecca Keefer, Regina Pyles, Subhro Guhathakurta (online), Whitney Shephard

Attendance by Proxy: None

Additional Participants: Amanda Hatton, Beth Anne Trombetta, Erin Thoresen, Marilyn Hall, Megha Young, Philip Jones, UGA SPA (online)

Not in Attendance:Allison Slocum, Robert Herrig, Sidney Douse


President Daniel Studdard called the meeting to order at 5:05 p.m. and presented the agenda. Daniel welcomed incoming Board members and guests.


Daniel Studdard conducted roll call and Laura Beall determined that a quorum was present.

Laura presented the minutes from the September 24, 2020 Annual Membership Meeting. The Board is taking action on behalf of the Membership Meeting due to the Joint Conference with Tennessee and inability to sufficiently collect record of membership quorum present. Cristina Pastore made a motion to approve the minutes, Lauren Blaszyk seconded the motion. All voted in favor. [ACTION]

Laura gave a summary of the minutes from the two-day Board Retreat on July 27, 2021 and July 29, 2021. Whitney Shephard made a motion to approve the July 27th and 29th minutes. Regina Pyles seconded the motion. All voted in favor. [ACTION]


Whitney Shephard, President-Elect and Committee Chair, provided an update on the results of the elections process and welcomed the incoming Board members: Amanda Hatton, VP of Programs; Megha Young, VP of Chapter Services; Marilyn Hall, Secretary; Erin Thoresen, District 3 Director. Whitney gave a summary of her goals as incoming President to focus the Board on succession planning to build up future Board members through committee engagement. She explained that the election process is based on the dates set by APA and that the positions are staggered.


Daniel Studdard relayed notes from Sidney Douse in his absence of the 2021 Budget status highlights. The organization is in a financially secure position.  The past year was the most volatile with the uncertainty about the Spring and Fall conferences so revenues were down. Membership dipped in 2020 and rebounded in 2021. The expenses were down without in person conferences as well. This year’s Fall Conference profit/loss is to be determined. Thank you to all of our sponsors. As of a week ago, our revenue balance was $59,533 and expenditures $36,021 with net income at $23,513. The bank account balance is $112,269.

Daniel presented an item to add Whitney Shephard as a signatory on the GPA bank account and to remove Jim Summerbell. Lauren Blaszyk made a motion to approve the changes to signatories on the GPA bank account. Karl Smith-Davids seconded the motion. All voted in favor. [ACTION]


Daniel Studdard updated the Board on recent news from APA Presidents Council. AICP program will begin new Certification Maintenance requirements starting in 2022. The 2-year reporting period will be merged rather than multiple periods across the membership. In short, log your credits and check you reporting period. The current plans for the APA National Conference are to be in person in San Diego 2022.


Whitney Shephard presented the update to the Board and had distributed the draft document in the meeting materials in advance. APA requires the Chapter reporting by January 31st each year. She provided notes on the progress made over the year especially in the areas of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and Professional Development. A new item tasked for 2022 is to activate the Board members and assign at least one Committee for each to participate on. Whitney would like to conduct exit interviews with outgoing Board members to gain insights for potential improvements. For administrative help, she welcomes ideas. The Chapter has hired a new accountant which should yield improvements immediately for the Finance Committee. Whitney asked the Board to approve the Annual Work Program. Elizabeth Backe made a motion to approve the Annual Work Program. Matt Martin seconded the motion. All voted in favor. [ACTION]


Andrea Foard provided updates on the conference results. The Spring 2020 was canceled. The Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 were both virtual. The Joint Fall Conference had 274 attendees, of which 170 are GPA members. Final expenses and revenues will be updated over the coming month for the next Treasurer’s Report.

Andrea recommends the focus of the Board’s attention for the purposes of this meeting be on future conferences. With the impacts of the pandemic and cancelations on the event venue, costs and contract obligations have gone up significantly. For the Spring 2022, the options are to go all virtual, a hybrid of mobile workshops and virtual sessions, in person for one day or all mobile workshops. Discussion commenced with many ideas for hosting mobile workshops all around the state and social events around the state in each District with “happy hours”. Concerns raised were on the obligations of money, unknowns with Covid with the patterns shown hesitancy to register and book travel until last minute. One suggestion was to try to provide CM credits over a month in learning modules.

The group finalized a compromise for the 2022 Spring Conference to not secure a venue and organize a hybrid of mobile workshops and virtual sessions. Lauren Blaszyk made a motion. Chad Jacobs seconded the motion. All voted in favor. [ACTION]

For the 2022 Fall Conference, GPA had formerly rotated between Savannah, Columbus and Augusta. The Committee presented the research findings for the options with current costs, dates available, contractual obligations for food/beverage and room block rates, success at each location and local host team willingness. The Board had much consideration before providing the Programs Committee some direction to lock in 2022 in Columbus for September 14-16th. Daniel Studdard made a motion. Andrea Foard seconded the motion. All voted in favor. [ACTION]

The group agreed for the new Board to decide on the following year for the 2023 Fall location. The Programs Committee was asked to present quotes for Augusta and Savannah 2023 at a January 2022 meeting.


Kristen Wescott thanked a great committee of volunteers for taking the lead on the newsletter production and social media content. Kristen provided an update of Committee activities, annual sponsorships and schedule for newsletter engagements. Kristen asked for District specific current events and highlights so that all of GPA can learn about the areas of the state. Committee updates and activities are the next push in November.


Marilyn Hall reported that the Committee has about nine active members that meet every other month. Some highlights underway are: youth in planning session and organizing a school event at Albany State. Marilyn asked for volunteers to present at schools.


Whitney Shephard presented on GPA Legislative Policy Priorities sent to the Board regarding establishing Chapter Policy Priorities to assist the Policy & Advocacy Committee is aligning with APA National policy priorities and to have direction to be more prepared for tracking and reacting to proposed legislation. APA four top priorities for 2021 at the national level are: recovery, housing, transportation and broadband infrastructure, and climate change. APA has asked the Chapters to support Housing Supply and Affordability, Zoning Reform and Act in Reconciliation.


Cristina Pastore reported that two FAICP applications were submitted. She has reached out to future candidates to get the process going earlier in the two-year cycle. The AICP Review Sessions was virtual with 30-40 attendees participating. The next step is to prepare for the Spring Exam Prep with a location TBD. Cristina has recruited a committee to review CM Credit requests to help streamline that process.


Daniel Studdard reported in Allison Duncan’s absence that there was no news and that the Planning Officials training event has had to be put on hold indefinitely due to the pandemic.


Caroline Evans announced that she is looking for volunteers to serve on the committee and host webinars. The group is hoping to return back to prior format later this year.


Rebecca Keefer announced that the Emerging Planners Group (EPG) will hold an online book club discussion on October 21st and a law webinar on November 3rd. Andrea Foard confirmed that the EPG law webinar is eligible for CM Law Credits.

Marc Beechuk announced a speaker opportunity at a workshop at UGA on October 14th.


There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 6:24 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

Laura F. Beall, AICP