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Are You Making A Difference?

By National ArchiPAC Chair Steve Jernigan, FAIA

One question that members commonly ask me is “How will my donation make a difference?” I can certainly understand where this question comes from. When we do something we expect to see an end result, and sometimes with ArchiPAC it is difficult to pinpoint that end result. However, when answering this question, I note that ArchiPAC doesn’t work alone. It is one of many important activities supporting the AIA’s advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill. And it is by taking part in all those activities that we are able to achieve results.

ArchiPAC’s mission is to help candidates running for federal office that are supportive of the architectural profession. In supporting these candidates we:

    • Attend events and make sure our profession is at the table

    • Introduce ourselves to candidates to build a long-lasting relationship

    • Act as a messenger by educating policymakers about the profession and our issues

In taking these steps we make candidates aware of the AIA’s issues before they even set foot in Congress. Does this mean that every candidate we support will be elected to Congress? No. Does this mean the candidate is going to vote pro-architect every time? No. ArchiPAC doesn’t do any of that. But it establishes a relationship and demonstrates to the candidate that AIA members take public policy seriously. From this point on it is important that we continue to maintain an open dialogue between us and Congress.

This is where grassroots and AIA Advocacy staff support come into motion. These work with ArchiPAC to achieve an overall goal: elevating our voice in Congress to ensure that our priorities are supported in Washington. Together, they work as a unit. Imagine them as three wheels on a motorcycle. Each wheel has an integral role in driving our message to Congress. When one tire goes flat, what happens? You get nowhere. We need AIA Advocacy staff to be our eyes, ears and voices when we cannot be in Washington; we need grassroots because members of Congress need to hear from the architects they represent directly; and we need ArchiPAC to get the conversation started.

Even at a time when Congress doesn’t seem to agree on anything, the AIA has still managed to get good legislation passed. You can view our legislative accomplishments in the 2012 ArchiPAC Annual Report. And the reason we are able to accomplish so much is because of the support our membership provides to all three components of our advocacy efforts: ArchiPAC, grassroots and the AIA Advocacy staff. In collectively working together, we are making a difference.

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This content is published by the AIA Government and Community Relations Department, 1735 New York Ave., NW, Washington, DC, 20006. To contact the AIA’s Government & Community Relations team, send an email to


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