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2017 AIA Grassroots and Leadership Conference Summary

Monday, May 1, 2017  
Posted by: Susan Menghini
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2017 AIA Grassroots and Leadership Conference, March 8-10, 2017, Washington D.C.
by Dan Stalker, AIA, Clint Taylor, AIA, Katie Wilson, AIA and Jacob Ernst, Associate AIA  

AIA Wyoming was well represented at this years AIA National Grassroots Conference. AIA Wyoming President Dan Stalker, AIA, President-elect Clint Taylor, AIA, WMR Secretary Katie Wilson, AIA and Jacob Ernst, Associate AIA braved blustery travel conditions and arrived safely in the nation’s capitol. As opposed to prior conferences, we were scheduled to meet with our legislative contingent “first thing” Wednesday morning. The collaborative meeting, coined “Wyoming Wednesday”, allowed for us to meet briefly with our leaders, Senator John Barrasso, Senator Mike Enzi and Congresswoman Liz Cheney to discuss a host of issues that impact AIA Wyoming architects. Included were 1) the ongoing discussions of AIA 2030 targets for climate issues and energy efficiency standards, 2) resiliency and safe building codes, the concept of 3) vertical infrastructure, 4) evolving procurement procedures, a discussion on 5) student debt and potential solutions and 6) encouraging a tax reform initiative that preserves design incentives. Our three national leaders were receptive to our presentation but more importantly, each legislative staff took us aside for an extended discussion. We were allowed to stay well past the time set aside for Wyoming Wednesday to share ideas and concerns.

Wednesday afternoon workshops included “Developing a Partnership Between the Board of Directors and Component Staff” and “Implicit Bias and its Impact on Leadership and Decision Making”.

Regional Meetings were convened on Wednesday afternoon with an off-site reception following. With WMR Junior Director Patrick Panetta, AIA running for National Office and the scheduled departure of WMR Senior Director Tania Salgado, AIA, the WMR leadership for 2018 was in jeopardy. Fortunately, many state component leaders were eager to step forward and run for regional office.

Thursday’s Opening Plenary Session included a welcome from Thomas Vonier, FAIA, AIA President and an introduction of “Design Impact Matters: Architects Shape Lives Opportunities and Challenges for the Profession” by Carl Elefante, FAIA, AIA First Vice President and 2017 Grassroots Chair.

We were then captivated by presentations by Dr. Joan Clos, Under Secretary-General and Executive Director, United Nations Human Settlement Program (UN-Habitat) and by Peter Calthorpe, Architect, Urban Designer and Urban Planner. Peter spoke of Urbanism and Climate Change.

We were treated to rapid fire talks on Key 21st Century Issues. 2015 AIA President Elizabeth Chu Richter moderated these talks. Speakers and topics included:
 Walkable Cities -Jeff Speck, City Planner and Urban Developer. Jeff’s selected topic was “One Small Step for Design: One Giant Leap for Impacts”. Jeff was followed by the topic Heritage Cities offered by Jean Caroon, FAIA, LEED AP. Jean spoke of “Renewing & Transforming Existing Buildings”. Resilient Cities, “Confronting Challenges in the Age of Uncertainty” was presented by Michael Berkowitz from the Rockefeller Foundation. Finally, 21st Century Cites. “Today’s Issues, Tomorrows Ideas” was discussed with Thomas Dallessio, AICP, PP, FRSA, President, CEO and Publisher, Next City. Following the Ted Talks format, a series of workshops featured all four presenters. We were able to discuss in greater detail and in a larger context the topics and relate how our particular communities have been impacted.

Luncheon activities included networking and a variety of discussions including Diversity Recognition Program presentations.

Thursday afternoon featured a variety of workshops. We were able to “divide and conquer” and were able to attend most, if not all, workshops. The highlight of the day included a tour of the AIA National Headquarters and the historic Octagon. We were able to network with architects from around the globe as well as speak with members of the national staff. Clint and I decided to walk to and from the open house which allowed for us to pass along both sides of the White House. We were also able to walk off any excesses from the “light” hors d’oeuvres.

Peer Group breakfasts opened Friday’s activities. We were able to meet with components of like size and like issues. I am pleased (and shocked) to report that we are not the smallest state component. West Virginia is actually smaller that Wyoming in terms of AIA member architects.
A series of workshops completed our morning activities. We then convened to the General Session where we listened to “My AIA Story”. Diversity was discussed by Valerie Hassett, FAIA from Northern Virginia.

Emerging Professionals was presented by Leah Ijjas, AIA LEED AP, BD&C AIA Washington, D.C. Public Outreach was offered in a talk with Jessica Reinert, Hon. AIA Iowa and Advocacy was offered by Jay Wickersham, FAIA BSA.

We then listened to a discussion moderated by Ned Cramer from Architect Magazine. Ned introduced and offered questions to all candidates running for national office. These included the 2018-2020 At-Large Director. Emily Grandstaff-Rice FAIA BSA and Daniel Hart, FAIA West Texas were the only candidates featured in a contested race. AIA Arizona and WMR Director Patrick Panetta, AIA was running unopposed for 2018-20019 AIA Treasurer and William Bates, FAIA AIA Pittsburgh/AIA Pennsylvania was running for 2018 First Vice President/20119 President-elect.

A Town Hall followed the introduction of candidates. Thomas Vonier, FAIA, Carl Elefante, FAIA, Heather Koury, Hon. AIA, CACE President, Robert Ivy, FAIA EVP/CEO and Jason Winters, AIA, Moderator, AIA Strategic Council discussed a variety of topics and fielded questions from the audience.

Steve Ziger, AIA Baltimore introduced our Keynote speaker, Catherine Pugh, Mayor of Baltimore. Ms Pugh gave a memorable presentation on how architects have positively impacted areas of Baltimore, how they have teamed with the city to improve the city’s social structure and how these relationship have impacted the quality of lives of many people.

Our AIA Wyoming contingent then spent the evening together at a D.C. bistro where we were able to let our hair down (some of us) with some of Dan’s D.C. friends.

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