Conference Overview


APA Mississippi and APA Alabama present the annual Joint Conference to provide educational and networking opportunities for their members. The highlights of the joint chapters’ "Planning for an Evolving South" Conference include insightful plenary speakers and conference sessions covering pertinent planning topics in the southern region such as: affordable housing, climate change, green communities, community outreach, policy planning, transportation, and new technologies.

The conference program includes practical "nuts and bolts" sessions, sessions with Law CM and Ethics CM credits for AICP members, and in-depth professional development training sessions. Additionally, the conference offers informative mobile workshops around the city and its bedroom communities to explore interesting development projects and planning case studies. The conference also features the annual Awards Ceremonies for each chapter. 

Approximately 14 hours AICP CM credits will be available.

Conference Agenda

The 2018 Conference Agenda is set! Click here to see the full agenda!


This year’s conference will be held at the Oxford Conference Center in Oxford, Mississippi. The Oxford Conference Center is located just east of Oxford’s Historic Square. Discounted rates are available at three hotels in Oxford.

The first two hotels, Hampton Inn and Marriott TownePlace, are immediately across the street from the Oxford Conference Center, while the third, the Graduate Hotel, is located on the Historic Square and is approximately 1 mile from the Conference Center.

Attendees should call-in reservations directly with their hotel of choice and be certain to identify themselves as a MS/AL APA Conference attendee when booking to ensure the discounted rate is awarded for the stay. Book early to secure a reservation.

Hampton Inn Conference Center

103 Ed Perry Blvd.

Oxford, MS 38655

(662) 234-5565

Rate: $129/ night


105 Ed Perry Blvd.

Oxford, MS 38655

(662) 238.3522

Rate: $129.00


400 N Lamar Blvd

Oxford, MS 38655

(662) 234-3031

Rates: King Bed $129, Queen Beds $139.00


Mobile workshops will demonstrate the successful efforts of Oxford during its recent growth boom. Pack your running shoes for an early morning fun run to see how Oxford and the University of Mississippi have transformed. A welcome reception is planned at The Coop located on top of the Graduate Hotel. This beautiful venue will provide an opportunity to catch up with friends and relax while overlooking Oxford’s historic Courthouse Square.

Keynote Speakers

We are delighted to have two accomplished professionals serving as keynote speakers at our conference this year!

John Robert Smith

John L. Cochran


John Robert Smith currently serves as Chairman of Transportation for America, where he advises on strategy, capacity building, and national outreach. He became chairman in 2012 after leading Reconnecting America as President & CEO.

Prior to his role there, he served as Mayor of Meridian, Mississippi for 16 years. During his tenure as Mayor, John Robert received acclaim for his aggressive facilitation of the public-private partnerships that resulted in over $430M of infrastructure projects that bolstered the economy and quality of life for the people of Meridian.  A recognized authority on public and private transportation & development funding, he guided the development and construction of the Southeast’s first multi-modal transportation center, Meridian Union Station.

A two-time graduate of the University of Mississippi and a graduate of the Senior Executive in State & Local Government program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, he is the co-owner of Point Investments and is a senior policy advisor to DC-based Smart Growth America. John Robert has served on numerous boards including the US Conference of Mayors, National Forum on the Future of Passenger Rail, and as a Chairman of Amtrak’s Board of Directors from 1998-2003; he was chairman the board for his last two years.

John Robert is a passionate supporter of the arts and is a recipient of the Americans for the Arts & US Conference of Mayor’s Local Arts Leadership Award. He maintains the homestead his grandfather built in Meridian, MS that has served five generations of family members.

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John Cochran is a nationally-recognized consultant specializing in public fire protection organization and design. John has more than 35 years of experience in local fire services with over 20 in management positions.

Beginning in 1995 he served in Washington, D.C. as a Fire Management Specialist with the U.S. Fire Administration; an office within the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It was during this time he began to formulate his advocacy for the design principles of neo-traditional town planning and their relationships with his field of work.

After leaving the administration in 2003 he served in a variety of management positions including the Raytheon Company and the Arkansas cities of Little Rock and Russellville. He retired in 2016 after serving nine years as Russellville’s fire chief. For the past 18 years he has provided consulting services to communities throughout the country and Canada as well as the private sector including city planners.

John studied architecture at the University of Arkansas and holds a bachelor’s degree in public administration with an emphasis in municipal fire service administration and management. He is a member of several associations including the Congress for the New Urbanism and the National Fire Protection Association where since 1996 he has served on several national-level committees related to fire service deployment.

John is committed to serving as a bridge between the views of local planners and fire officials; both of whom have a role in creating an environment that enhances the quality of life and security of the citizenry they serve. He currently lives in the traditional neighborhood of the West End/DuPont Circle in Washington, D.C.

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Andrés Duany

Andrés Duany, architect, urban designer, planner and author, has dedicated over three decades to pioneering a vision for sustainable urban development and its implementation. He has influenced planners and designers worldwide, redirected government policies in the U.S. and abroad, and produced plans for hundreds of new and renewed communities of enduring value.

Duany’s leadership can be credited with the plan and code for Seaside, the first new traditional community; the Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) zoning ordinance; the development of the SmartCode, a form-based zoning code, adopted by numerous municipalities seeking to encourage compact, mixed-use, walkable communities; the definition of the rural to urban Transect and Agrarian Urbanism; as well as inventive affordable housing designs, including Carpet Cottages and Cabanons.

Duany is the author of many essays and articles, and co-author of several books, including Suburban Nation: the Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream. The SmartCode, The Smart Growth Manual, Garden Cities: Agricultural Urbanism, and The New Civic Art.

Duany’s work has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Richard Driehaus Award, the Jefferson Medal, The Vincent Scully Prize and several honorary doctorates.