News from the Top

Our Lasting Impact on the Future


Together with wonderful volunteers and amazing colleagues, IDA had a fantastic year in 2022. We delivered a full year of programming, culminating with an incredible Annual Conference & Marketplace in Vancouver. It’s truly magical what can be accomplished with dedicated members and a committed small staff. To everyone who participated throughout the year, I want to say: THANK YOU!

I’m looking forward to what will undoubtedly be an outstanding 2023—a year where I hope to advance IDA’s work to be more inclusive. A year when we will deliver an even more comprehensive calendar of events. And a year to further address climate change in partnership with ATCM. If you weren’t able to see his Master Talk live in Vancouver, Ojay McDonald makes an exceptional case for not only why climate change is important to districts the world over, but why we need to pursue solutions actively.

The IDA team recently held our yearend celebration, where I shared this same message and a metaphor well-known within the climate change community—the butterfly effect. It is the notion that our ecosystems are so sensitive that every tiny change can make a significant difference somewhere else in the system. Once described by Robert Redford in the 1990 film Havana: “A butterfly can flutter its wings over a flower in China and cause a hurricane in the Caribbean.” I hope we think about the daily actions we take and the lasting impact on the future of our environment and communities.

The flutter of butterfly wings in one part of the world, impacting the weather in another, illustrates not only how individual actions affect climate change, but I believe it also illustrates the uniquely interdependent relationship we share with one another inside our own organizations, with our local partners, and with each of our stakeholders daily. The butterfly effect, associated with chaos theory, signifies how numerous, seemingly unrelated, small actions can accumulate and lead to significant results over time. I see this every day in the work of IDA members. The daily activities, programs, interventions, and campaigns accumulate over time and help make a profound change over the longer term. It is how cities were revitalized in the late 20th century and how we will advance our cities in the years to come.

My thought for next year is simple: keep front of mind that each step taken will almost always impact another team member, another organization, or the community. While we need to be mindful of the potential negative impacts of these actions, when done well, these small actions have an immense positive effect in helping our districts grow. Place management organizations are not large entities. They are not the government, nor are they Fortune 500 private sector organizations with the capability of solving societal issues overnight. They typically operate on less than 2-3% of the city’s land and fall well below the threshold of a small business by any measure.

IDA members are perhaps better understood as catalysts, operating within an interdependent system we call city building and working tirelessly to initiate progress. Whether it be a pandemic, climate change or equitable growth, IDA member organizations set the stage and are the catalyst for shaping leadership priorities of the day. This culture of interdependence is a remarkable thing. It relies on emotional intelligence and a genuine appreciation for everyone involved. It recognizes that the success of all outweighs the triumph of any one individual (or entity). It is rooted in community which can only be ignited by trust. It is what makes IDA members strong and their opportunity to build a more inclusive, climate-resilient community possible.

I am deeply thankful to be part of IDA and the place management community, and to have the privilege of sharing the outstanding accomplishments of our members with the world. There are certainly more challenges ahead, and while the nature of our cities and districts may change, I know our industry’s strengths and values will remain a leading voice for shaping the inspired cities of tomorrow. Thank you all for a wonderful year.