The Voice and Face of our Profession - Grassroots and Strategic Council Initiatitives
The American Institute of Architects is the voice of our profession. And as architect leaders from across the country converge on Washington, D.C., in early March for Grassroots, we will use that voice to speak with our congressional leaders about issues that are important to architects and the built environment of our nation. Capitol Hill Day is the one day of the year when AIA is most literally the voice of our profession. This is repeated throughout the country when members of AIA state components meet with their legislators to address issues that are closer to home, often shared but also specific to the demographics, politics, and issues of that state. I'll never forget my first day on "the hill" in Jefferson City, Missouri with fellow architects raising our issues of the day; it is at the foundation of being a citizen architect.
The Strategic Council will arrive at Grassroots one day early for our first in-person assembly of the year. Since the repositioning of AIA several years ago, the Strategic Council has worked on issues that consider the future of our profession. Our 50+ person group is charged to be the "think tank" for the Institute while the smaller 12-person Board of Directors focuses on governance. Councilors, who typically serve three-year terms, participate in issue¬-focused Council Work Groups, serve on Board Committees, and sometimes act as a liaison to other AIA groups. We also represent our respective regions and as such are charged to raise issues to the Institute that are most relevant to our profession and society.
It is my honor this year to be the Council Liaison to the Young Architects Forum (YAF). After participating in the Joint Annual Meeting of the YAF and the National Associates Committee (NAC) in San Juan, Puerto Rico in early February, I am encouraged by the future of our profession. These two organizations are full of imaginative, hard-working, and thoughtful design leaders - current and future leaders of the AIA and our profession.
The Council's current plan is to focus on three Work Groups this year: Transforming Architecture Education, Professional Development, and The Next Big Thing, which includes sub-groups covering XR technology, innovative business models, and more.
Transforming Architecture Education is a group that was initiated at Grassroots in 2018. We spent the year developing and executing a prototype workshop that focused on a few key groups: students, faculty, emerging professionals, and experienced professionals that work with recent graduates. The dialogue has broadened to consider the continuum of an architectural career, considering moments when an individual is most challenged or most encouraged and supported. The format provides an opportunity to share these moments in conversation with others, noting common themes and considering how an architect's education (both during and after their formal education) might be improved at key points along the way. The format of the workshop is simple and can be taught to and implemented by anyone interested in the topic of how the education of our profession might reflect the changing world within which we work. When are we taught leadership, client communication, consultant coordination, community engagement? What's currently working and where, and what's not? The insight gained from these workshops are aimed to inform the upcoming the Accreditation Review Forum (ARF) late in the spring as part of NAAB's regular five-year cycle, which will then shape the formal accredited architectural education in our country for the next five years.
This is a brief peek into the Council right now and how we are working to be the "voice" of our profession, while the rest of this Connection issue is focused on the "face" of our profession, raising issues of equity and inclusion within the AIA and our profession at large. It is an encouraging conversation that is happening within local and state components across the country and in a key Board Committee - Equity and the Future of Architecture. It is long overdue and will take some time to implement real change, but it is an issue that is critical to our future.
AIA STRATEGIC COUNCIL MESSAGE BY LAURA LESNIEWSKI FROM AIA YAF CONNECTION 17.01 - EQUITY, DIVERSITY, AND INCLUSION IN ARCHITECTURE. LAURA SERVES AS THE SENIOR REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVE TO THE STRATEGIC COUNCIL FROM THE CENTRAL STATES REGION AND IS THE COUNCIL’S LIAISON TO THE YOUNG ARCHITECTS FORUM ADVISORY (YAF) COMMITTEE. SHE ALSO SERVES ON THE BOARD KNOWLEDGE COMMITTEE AT AIA NATIONAL THIS YEAR.