Mike Welch spent nearly 20 years of his career at the American Planning Association primarily working with volunteer groups and members. That changed in 2021 when senior staff asked him to lead a project management training for a small staff cohort. After training concluded, they asked if he would be interested in applying to be director of APA’s new project management department.
Though he would miss working with committees and special interest groups, the opportunity to be strategy delivery office director was one he couldn’t pass up.
“The organization has been through a lot of transformation since the pandemic,” Welch said. “The training gave me a good understanding of how project management works and the direction that the organization was moving toward.”
That transformation started in 2019 when APA began rethinking its core values and mission. After identifying four key initiatives, the association kept its goal setting focused with specific deliverables, outcomes, and indicators to measure success over time.
“As we finalized the strategic blueprint, it became obvious that we needed a disciplined approach for implementation,” said APA’s Chief Strategy Officer Harriet Bogdanowicz, MBA, CAE. “Our CEO said that he found success at a past organization by applying project management practices.”
APA’s strategy delivery office was created to help ensure that the high-level objectives set by senior staff and the board of directors are prioritized.
“Organizations sometimes operate like a battleship: They take time to move and are slow to turn. Each team or division operates according to what it’s already done,” Welch said. “This department and my role change up that thinking.”