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Virtual Town Halls Give Members a Place at Repositioning Table

By Mickey Jacob, FAIA
2013 AIA President

Robert Ivy, FAIA
AIA Chief Executive Officer

Tina Litteral, Hon. AIA, CAE
2013 CACE President

The AIA is gaining momentum and making good progress addressing the recommendations announced at the Grassroots Repositioning the AIA sessions. Already, in our AIA Components, we are having the important first conversation on prioritizing so our AIA can better serve members. There is activity taking place in all of the areas we discussed in March, and we wanted to share with you a progress update.

During the discussion at Grassroots, we called for a shift in perspective about what we can do individually and collectively to respond to the recommendations of LaPlaca Cohen and Pentagram. If you were there, you heard our commitment to keeping all AIA members fully informed of the progress of the repositioning. So, starting on July 22, we are going to host quarterly virtual town hall meetings for members to share the latest news and answer questions.

In advance of these conversations, we grouped the 10 areas needing attention under four larger headings to help organize and increase the effectiveness of our work together: Connect, Innovate, Engage, and Lead. Substantive progress is already being made in these weeks since Grassroots:

Component autonomy versus unity
Component structure
Lack of tier coordination

The Member Service Resource Task Force, whose work over the past year identifying the needs and obstacles to building a stronger Component network, is making progress. The Task Force will deliver an update to the AIA Board on June 18. We expect a candid and robust discussion that will inform our review of AIA priorities. We're especially interested in comparing the Task Force’s initial broad recommendations with those offered by members through the component community conversations.

Prioritization of initiatives
Passive reactiveness
Lack of tier coordination

We are pleased by the eagerness of members and Component leaders to schedule community conversations. They are happening now, and we’ve received thoughtful reports from members in Central Michigan, Iowa, Redwood Empire, and others. Most conversations should take place by early June. We’ll use these conversations to help us set priorities for the remainder of 2013 and beyond. In the meantime, we encourage you to ask about or help organize a conversation in your component. To date, two dozen AIA members have expressed interest in being Repositioning Ambassadors, helping to lead these conversations.

We’ve received a number of questions from Components and members about the potential of their programs to qualify for Innovation Fund grants. It’s encouraging, because it tells us that members have confidence that their programs could benefit architects across the Institute. The deadline for applications is Wednesday, July 10. Recipients will be announced at the August CACE Annual Meeting.

Other important activity underway since Grassroots includes a major audit of AIA sustainability programming to help us understand how we can continue to prepare members to meet the environmental challenges facing our communities and world. AIA Resident Fellow Mary Ann Lazarus, FAIA, is taking the lead on this analysis. Another major study, on diversity and gender, is also moving forward.

And if you are one of the 26 million weekly listeners to NPR, you are hearing the AIA’s sponsorship message. Listen for us on All Things Considered, The Diane Rehm Show, Weekend Edition, Fresh Air with Terry Gross, and on the Cities Project installments.

Engaging emerging professionals
Inefficacy of communications

There is no shortage of energy in addressing what is, by far, the most important priority of the AIA: engaging emerging professionals. The planning meeting for the Emerging Professionals Summit scheduled for the first quarter of 2014 is taking place this fall. We are making sure that emerging professionals are deeply involved in the planning for and execution of the summit. Their insights are critical to the success of this effort.

If you are attending the AIA Convention in Denver, you’ll hear and see emerging professionals in prominent roles; on the general session stage, our broadcasts at Architect Live, and as a central destination in the Emerging Professional Town Square in the Convention Expo Hall. Come join us there as your schedule allows, especially for the Friday, June 21 TweetUp.

In addition to the Emerging Professional Summit, working with our partner Hanley Wood, we are dedicating our annual blue sky brainstorming session, called the Idea Factory, to developing ideas that can be implemented in the near-term to help the AIA better serve emerging professionals. And, we’re exploring how to create a dedicated section for emerging professionals in AIArchitect.

The communications audit announced at Grassroots is underway, and we expect a comprehensive analysis with recommendations to come later this year. This audit will include a broad look at component communications. We’ll be holding focus groups in Denver, and we hope you’ll participate if you receive an invitation. In an immediate effort to address communications issues at AIA National, a structured communications review process was put in place.

Leadership tenure and agendas
Board size and composition

We’ve identified a change management expert to assist us with crafting a robust implementation plan and developing the logistics to ensure we are prepared for success. We hope to engage them this month, and anticipate that they will be onsite in Denver. The message from all we talked to in our selection process is that most organizations fail in the execution. We can’t afford to be among those statistics, and have brought on the right person to help us be successful.

As we’ve said from the beginning, the changes we make in this area will allow us to be a nimble organization, so we can lead and advocate on behalf of AIA members in a bold way, as they have so clearly communicated.

This is the current state of Repositioning the AIA. We welcome your comments and observations. Send an email to Just as important, we ask for your energy and commitment. This is our time to act and remake the AIA as a 21st-century organization focused on serving members. Share this update with your colleagues. Start a conversation through your online network. Shift your perspective. Join us.


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