The Candidate Question Series Volume 1

Recently Candidates for the 2014 / 2015 AIA First Vice President / President Elect were asked to answer a series of questions from the AIA California Council and the AIA Center for Emerging Professionals. Although the questions came specifically from those two AIA components, I believe they’re somewhat universal and may be of interest to our membership as a whole.

Over the next week or two leading up to the National Convention, I’ll publish my answers here in a series called “The Candidate Question Series.” This is the first post in that series.

What do you think about my answers? Leave a comment below. I’d like to know how you’d answer them too.

Question: What are specific examples of things you have done in your own professional activities and in your local component to build future leaders and promote active participation in the AIA by Emerging Professionals?

Answer: “Because of you, I became President of our local AIA chapter.” These words were spoken by an emerging professional from Indianapolis in 2011. Brian has been an active AIA leader, beginning with committee work and through the executive board. He was also named a firm principal after a few short years. When I asked him to explain his statement, he reminded me that I invited him to participate in AIA years ago. This brief encounter was a poignant reminder that a simple invitation to participate makes all the difference.

Just in the past year, I have encouraged numerous EP’s to seek national leadership positions, golfed with three young women in our local golf outing (and introduced them to eight firms for jobs), financially supported two EP’s to attend national convention, eight students at our regional convention, hired an intern, nominated an EP for a state and national young architect’s award (won the state!), endorsed an EP for a local community leadership program, became a national board liaison to the Council of Emerging Professionals.

We must all do our part. Invite an EP to participate so we can find a new question for next year’s candidates.

Question: Given the current status of the repositioning, what role(s) do you see emerging professionals playing in the leadership and future of the AIA?  What are a few specific examples of these roles?

Answer: As the AIA repositions for the future, it reminds me of a family business attempting to “pass the baton” when all generations are still active. To find success, they must learn to work together, share the power, and find an approach that capitalizes on the talents each generation brings.

To that end, I believe all decision-making levels of AIA component boards must encompass diversity of age and thought, ensuring representation that reflects our diverse member base. Emerging professionals must be represented beyond the customary role of associate, young architect, or student representative. Emerging professionals must be valued on their contribution, not just on their experience.

I believe emerging professionals should be involved in every role of repositioning, so it’s difficult to isolate a few. For example, EP’s should be board members at every level of our organization. EP’s should be Repositioning Ambassadors, involved with seeking Innovation Grants, leading initiatives that connect with their communities, etc.

Let’s keep the family intact and find a way to successfully transition together. It begins and ends in the board room; repositioning our board composition is but one place to start.

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