Career Opportunity

Executive Director – Position opening



AIA Wisconsin seeks an experienced association management professional to provide leadership as the next chief staff executive for the not-for-profit organization. This is a significant managerial position requiring the services of an individual with extensive and successful experience working with volunteer organizations and various personality types.

Reporting to the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors, the Executive Director is responsible for managing operations and directing strategic initiatives. The individual is a resource for volunteer leaders and association staff regarding the implementation of best practices, generation of new ideas, and effective execution of shared goals. The AIA Wisconsin Executive Director is a strong advocate for members, the profession of architecture, and the American Institute of Architects.

About the Organization

Founded in 1911, AIA Wisconsin is the statewide chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). The AIA is the voice of the architectural profession and a resource for its members in service to society – driving positive change through the power of design. With 1,500 individual members, AIA Wisconsin represents architects and allied design professionals in private practice, business, industry, government, and academia. The organization is committed to advancing the profession by sharing knowledge, increasing public awareness, and advocating for members. AIA Wisconsin is governed by a seven-member Board of Directors, with three officers and four directors. Members volunteer on committees and task forces to develop programs and services. There are four local AIA sections serving members in each quadrant of the state. AIA Wisconsin has a staff of four, with offices in an historic building in Madison, the state capital. The Wisconsin Architects Foundation is an affiliated organization with its own Board of Directors, established in 1954 to support architectural education and public awareness through scholarships and grant programs. Additional information is available at

Position Overview

This position requires significant leadership skills in planning strategically and collaboratively. It also requires keen business acumen, strong management practices, and attentive customer service. Knowledge of – or special interest in – architecture and/or the built environment is important. Experience in nonprofit membership organizations is critical. Most importantly, the Executive Director must be an excellent public speaker, listener, and writer to communicate the value of the architect to a broad and diverse community.

The Executive Director manages the operations of AIA Wisconsin – providing leadership for the organization and staff, influencing public policy, planning programs, supporting educational initiatives, directing communications, and enhancing public outreach – to satisfy the expectations of members and maintain the viability of the organization. Roles and responsibilities include:


  • Provide leadership to the organization through the Executive Committee and Board of Directors.
  • Interact with local section leaders and committees to encourage positive working relationships with volunteers and to identify future leaders of the organization.
  • Effectively present information to and respond to questions from volunteer leaders, members, public officials, media, and others.
  • Supervise and mentor staff to foster teamwork and develop a committed and productive workforce in accordance with the organization’s policies and applicable laws.
  • Develop the budget and manage the financial health of the organization, monitoring general administration, identifying new sources of revenue, and working with volunteers to achieve organizational goals and provide exceptional service to members.


  • Perform as a registered lobbyist to monitor and influence state legislative and administrative agency proposals as well as local government policies that impact members and the organization.
  • Develop a state legislative agenda for the organization that is consistent with AIA public policies, engaging leaders and members in grassroots legislative efforts and building coalitions with allied professional associations and interest groups to achieve public policy goals.
  • Collaborate with public agencies and allied organizations to establish forums to discuss issues of mutual interest and advance the policy positions of AIA Wisconsin.

Programs & Knowledge Sharing

  • Plan, direct, coordinate, promote, and manage programs sponsored by AIA Wisconsin, such as the annual state conference, workshop and awards programs, as well as membership campaigns and local section activities, working with volunteers and committees and delegating responsibility and authority to staff as appropriate.
  • Provide support and advice on program operations, monitoring effectiveness and recommending improvements to ensure programs are responsive to members’ needs.
  • Support architectural education initiatives by serving as Executive Director of the Wisconsin Architects Foundation and assisting local section leaders in the development of educational programs for members and the general public.
  • Participate on national AIA and Council of Architectural Component Executives (CACE) committees and task forces as may be requested or appropriate.

Communications & Public Awareness

  • Direct and manage communications and the preparation of newsletters and other publications, delegating responsibility and authority to appropriate staff to ensure effective communications with members and enhance public awareness of the organization, architects, and architecture.
  • Encourage open communication with members and allied organizations by interacting with members, Wisconsin colleges and universities with architectural programs, national AIA, and other AIA component executives (e.g. CACE).
  • Reach the public by providing client education, helping public owners establish a qualifications-based selection (QBS) process for architects, encouraging community service initiatives, and maintaining positive relations with media, national AIA, and other allied organizations.



Education and Experience:

  • Bachelor’s Degree, with position history demonstrating increasing responsibility.
  • Minimum of five years of previous management-level experience working in association management, not-for-profit, government affairs, public administration, or communications.
  • Business administration, organizational management, or architecture/design-related focus desired.
  • Exposure to professional societies preferred.
  • Ability to oversee the strategic use of the organization’s digital tools such as software programs, social media, applications, etc.
  • Understanding of membership organizations and/or familiarity with the architecture profession.
  • History of proactively recognizing and acting upon opportunities that benefit members.  

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities:

  • Willingness and ability to commit to a long-term association with AIA Wisconsin, with compensation tied to demonstrable results.
  • Ability to interact, advise, and communicate in a timely and respectful manner with volunteer leaders, members, employees, stakeholders, and allied organizations.
  • Creativity, flexibility, diplomacy, persuasiveness, and ability to evaluate all sides of an issue.
  • Confidence in one’s own knowledge and skills and willingness to take responsibility to accomplish goals and tasks, balanced with effective, appropriate, and respectful delegation.
  • Excellent abilities in communication, interpersonal dynamics, leadership and management, problem-solving, organization, decision making, planning, and policy development.
  • Significant experience in public speaking, lobbying and/or representing issues before legislative/executive branches of government.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of grant writing and grant implementation.
  • Ability to handle multiple priorities in a fast-paced environment with attention to detail.
  • Knowledge and experience in the state of Wisconsin preferred.
  • Willingness to relocate to Madison or surrounding area.
  • Resourceful nature, innovative spirit, and creative approach are valued.
  • Demonstrated leader with positive attitude, organizational dedication, and energetic enthusiasm.
  • Commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity in the membership, volunteer, and staff environments.

Supervisory Responsibility:

This position is at the highest staff level within the organization; as such, the Executive Director operates as the chief executive for AIA Wisconsin.  

Works closely with:

  • President, officers, and Board of Directors
  • Members of committees and task forces and other volunteer leaders
  • Members of AIA Wisconsin and local section leaders
  • All members of the staff team
  • Other strategic partners
  • On-site and remote guests, visitors, vendors, and suppliers

Competencies Required:

  • Proficiency in data processing, collaboration software (e.g. SharePoint), and related programs.
  • Database working experience/exposure preferred.
  • Good interpersonal skills, diplomacy, ethical conduct, and thoroughness.

Position Type/Expected Hours of Work:

  • This is a full-time exempt position (average of 2080 hours per year).
  • Generally, work hours and days are Monday through Friday.
  • Evening and weekend work can be anticipated from time to time.
  • Travel within and beyond the state should be expected.    

Recruiting Compensation Range:

Base salary of $105,000 to $130,000 founded on knowledge/skills/experience, with additional benefits package.


AIA Wisconsin provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment, without regard to race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, genetic information, marital status, amnesty, or status as a covered veteran in accordance with applicable federal, state, and local laws.

Other Duties:

Candidate must be willing to undergo a background check including legal, educational, driving, employment records, etc. This position description does not cover or contain a comprehensive list of activities, duties, or responsibilities required of the employee for this position. Duties, responsibilities, and activities may change at any time, with or without notice.

AIA Wisconsin has engaged an organizational management consultancy, The Three Aspens, Ltd., to assist with this search. Inquiries, nominations, and applications should be directed, confidentially, to Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA via e-mail at Applicants must submit a customized letter of interest and resume/curriculum vitae by midnight CDT on June 26, 2020 to be considered.

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