Since my return from the A’19 Conference in Las Vegas, my life has begun to return to normal. And by normal, I mean different. The emails are now at a normal level and the phone is being used only a small fraction of the time of only a week ago. For the better part of the last six months, I have spent many hours each day, campaigning for AIA First Vice-president/ President-elect. While the outcome was not as I had hoped, it’s time for me to adapt, adjust and focus on the many other ways that I can continue to contribute to the profession.
I had an interesting conversation recently on what it meant to be a member of the AIA. No, it was not about what AIA does for me, because the person I was speaking with had a great understanding of how the local, state and national work together to address issues at all levels. Instead, this conversation was about firms and members.
The AIA is a wonderful blend of regions, chapters, sections and individuals. We are involved in sustainability, advocacy, design, component services, and technology. We represent the needs of small firms, large firms and those in between. Our interests are focused on the economy, on methods of delivery and on how we attract new talent to the profession. We seek growth and we seek profitability. As you can imagine, we are not all concerned about the same thing.
There are three words that I have emphasized over and over as I considered taking on the role of President and as I initiated my campaign for the position of AIA National President. Those words are: passion, commitment and experience. So, why do they matter?
The profession of architecture has changed, and certainly much of it for the better. With each passing decade, building science, computer technology and research have all contributed to make our practices stronger. Of course, as the profession moves forward, so too does the influence on the profession by outside sources. Methods of delivery, new business models, and regulatory reform all present both opportunities and challenges to what we do and how we do it.
There is a lot to be said for new experiences and new ideas. They make us think. And sometimes, they make us act. Experience provides us with a knowledge-base on which we can rely to make decisions in the future. Experience as a leader within the AIA is equally important because it allows us to better make decisions that affect others. If you have limited experience in strategic planning, if you have limited experience in advocacy or if you have limited exposure to the governance of state or local components, you may not have the context needed to allow you to correctly make decisions that ultimately shape the future of the profession. Our future.
Never wanting to assume, I guess the best place to start a discussion on why I seek the top leadership role at AIA, is to tell you a little bit about myself. For those who attended Grassroots, you know that my speech was centered on an introduction of “me”. If you’ve never tried writing about yourself, you should try it. It is not as easy as you might think. So, for those of you who I haven’t really had the chance to meet or get to know, “this” is who I am.
Voice and action are two words that in many instances do not go hand-in-hand. Often, voice is looked at as an opinion or opportunity, but not much more. At the AIA, to be a Voice, we must raise the standard. The AIA has for years worked to be an organization that represents the viewpoints of many. And to be honest, that is hard. But through that effort we have discovered something. We know that by working together, collaboratively, we can work through most issues, solve problems and build a better future. But working together to discover common ground is only one part of the solution. We need to Act.
I have been asked several times over the past several months, why I want to be President of the AIA. There are a few directions that I can go with this, but I think the most honest answer is that I am passionate about the organization. The AIA has helped me become a better architect, and for that, I feel obligated to offer my time, talent and the knowledge I’ve gained, toward helping the AIA become a better organization.