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What is your Board of Directors and staff doing to move AIA PA forward to support our membership?

AIA PA is an active organization with many energetic board members, committees, and staff. Since we are spread all across a large state, you may not know just how you are being served in both small and large efforts.

One small change, one big result:

This year we instituted a new structure for Board of Directors and ExCom meetings where reports are kept to a minimum to allow for a “free-form discussion period.” The point of including an intentionally messy discussion in each meeting is to use our time together to be more strategic in a meaningful way, ultimately resulting in a new Strategic Plan. At the outset of my term in January in the first board meeting, your representatives identified the big issues for architects in their practices and in their chapters. As we move through the year we can develop strategies and specific tactics to address the problems.

A few of the issues that have emerged are ones that will not surprise you:

  • Need for more diversity in the profession and on the Board of Directors
  • Political Action Committee (PAC) participation needs to increase
  • More opportunities to engage emerging professionals
  • Continue to increase the link to our PA architecture schools
  • Increased AIA advocacy for architects
  • Architects should advocate better for themselves
  • Quantify the value of the architect to the public and to our potential clients
  • Encroachment on the profession
  • Need more compelling CEU programs
  • Recruiting new members

In subsequent meetings we have focused in on key issues to bring more depth to the discussion. Many actions are already being taken to solve many of the issues, such as encouraging more diversity on the AIA PA Board. The “free-form discussion” period is very much a working session. It supports the concept of using the time and expertise of our members to make all AIA PA meetings more strategic, responding directly to current needs of our members and to increase the strength of AIA PA’s position in the industry and in the community.

Nationally, there has been a lot of talk in the past few years about completely dispensing with reports in board meetings and shifting meetings to solely strategic sessions. In my opinion for the AIA, it is unwise to completely eliminate reporting on our key issues. We regularly examine our financials (we are in sound shape), track our government affairs progress and goings-on in the Capitol (long list of bills we are tracking, three registered lobbyists on staff make frequent visits to the Capitol), keep tabs on membership (higher than last year) and get committee updates (all very active). Creating a “free-form discussion” period supports the efforts of your chapter representatives and staff to move AIA PA into the future.

In March we added another member to the staff, Olivia Perry. She is responsible for assisting the AIA Pennsylvania team as well as the Central and Eastern chapters in administrative, outreach and coordinative capacities spanning marketing, visual communications, and social media strategy. You have may noticed an improvement in the graphics in our most recent transmissions. Those are due to Olivia’s talents. Thank you to all of our staff for their constant attention to make our organization run well, to make our events successful, and to keep AIA PA issues in front of our legislators!

A few of the big efforts to serve you that are coming up are AIA PA’s AEC Education Summit on September 29 in Harrisburg and the AIA PA Awards Gala in Philadelphia on November 10. The Pennsylvania Architects’ PAC has been rejuvenated. The PAC is actively implementing a strategy to increase its resources. Remember that the PAC allows us to have a seat at the table with our legislators so that we do not become lunch for other groups eager to encroach on our profession. Give generously if you are contacted! I encourage local chapters to adopt the practice of the “free-form discussion” in meetings to use the expertise and to ignite the energy of your members! It is a powerful tool for advancing our AIA. And it is easy to implement!

By AIA Pennsylvania President, Elizabeth C. Masters, AIA |