With the 2014 AIA National Convention only a few days away, campaigns for the three national AIA offices (first vice president/president-elect, vice president, and secretary) are in full swing. The 2015–2016 candidates for first vice president/president-elect are: Don Brown, FAIA; Russ Davidson, FAIA; and Gabriel Durand-Hollis, FAIA.

How the voting process works: At the convention, candidates will speak to the assembled delegates on Thursday, June 26. Regional caucuses begin voting on Thursday and Friday, June 26 and 27. Each chapter has an allocated number of votes (or delegate cards) based on their number of architect and associate members. Chapters may elect to distribute delegate cards among all members or have all delegate cards held by one individual, such as the chapter president. In order to vote, delegates must become accredited in a separate process from convention registration. If absent from convention, chapters may also elect a proxy—a delegate voting on its behalf. After voting has concluded, the new AIA leadership will then be announced in the evening on Friday, June 27.

Meet the Candidates
(responses in their own words)

Don Brown, FAIA; AIA Montgomery

Credit: Stephen Voss

Background
Like many architects, I have a very diverse background. ... I have, like many architects, done other things in my personal and professional life besides architecture. We all have many interests and it's hard to satisfy them all. In AIA, few have had the same kinds of opportunities I have had to work with and follow extraordinary, accomplished individuals who are working for the benefit of our colleagues. This work is a joy and the real pleasure is getting results for members around the country who depend on AIA for help.

Role Models
I have many role models—they're not all architects. I've been involved in other professional activities, other associations, a variety of things besides work here. It's remarkable that there are so many people in life—some of them very humble—from which there is something to learn. My grandfather Brown once said "Don, work doesn't mind who does it." ... There’s no one you can't learn from in some fashion. I find that AIA is marvelously diverse with so many people from all over the planet who are, on the one hand, extremely similar with comparable ambitions, attitudes, and frustrations. On the other hand, they're extraordinarily rich in their various stories. It's such great fun to peel the onion to see what's underneath and hear those stories.


Russ Davidson, FAIA; AIA Westchester & Hudson

Credit: Stephen Voss

Background
I took an unusual path for an architect. I joined the firm I'm currently with right out of graduate school 28 years ago ... Early on, I learned that the AIA is a great way to get a broader perspective on what else is going on in the profession. I formed a public relations committee in my local chapter in 1995 and I've been continuously involved ever since. Most recently I was vice president of advocacy in 2012 and 2013, and on the national board for three years before that. I've held pretty much every position all the way up, including treasurer and president of AIA New York State in 2007. I still feel passionately about elevating public awareness issues—that’s the reason I originally got involved and it's exciting that this is starting to happen now at the national level.

Role Models
I have had a couple [role models]. There was a partner who hired me when I was a draftsman and he was an AIA leader in my own firm. His name is Dick Kaeyer, FAIA. His son is now my partner. That family has helped me a lot. Former AIA presidents Jeff Potter [FAIA] and Mickey Jacob [FAIA] are people who after seeing what they did, I said "I think I can help. I would like to join them."


Gabriel Durand-Hollis, FAIA; AIA San Antonio

Credit: Stephen Voss

Background
I'm from San Antonio, Texas, and I've been practicing there since the 1980s. I started my firm in '86 so we've been at it for 28 years now. I think as a firm owner I have quite a lot of experience knowing about the challenges of what our members go through—practicing architects, both as an employee and employer. I also served at the local chapter level—as president of the San Antonio chapter and a number of positions at the Texas Society of Architects. I was a state president there too. I've been on the national board and the treasurer for the past two years. I think that gives me a good perspective on the apparatus of the AIA. I've also served on the international committee, including the Pan-American Federation of Architects, and the diversity committee.

Role Models
There have been many [role models] and they all have common denominators. For example, I met Sir Norman Foster [Hon. FAIA], in Copenhagen [Denmark] and I considered our conversation so uniquely motivating that he was a regular guy. He worries about his firm, competitors, his designs, and his employees—just like I did, even though he's a world-renown architect. I have folks in San Antonio that have put their arm around me and encouraged me. ... Even my wife and kids have been a reflection of me—where I want to be better, like a reverse role model.

Meet the three candidates running for vice president.

Meet the two candidates running for the office of secretary.

Check out what all eight candidates running for the top three AIA positions said about their goals for office and what they think the Institute can provide for current and future members

Look out for more AIA candidate Q&As in ARCHITECT's Countdown to Convention.