With the 2014 AIA National Convention only a few short weeks 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. The candidates for vice president are: Bill Bates, AIA; Frank Pitts, FAIA; and Ed Vance, FAIA. The two running for secretary are: Jerry Eben, AIA, and John Padilla, AIA.
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)
2015 First Vice President/2016 President
Don Brown, FAIA; AIA Montgomery
Our members expect us to create a better and more useful image of the profession in the eyes of the public. We hope we can reframe what we provide in the way of value to the public that will catch traction. The second thing that we are obligated to do is to advocate for our profession, both politically and culturally. We are a very small component of business life in this country and we tend to be shy and expect someone else to speak on our behalf. The AIA has great outreach and some extraordinarily useful programs—we’ve reached out to the media to reach the public as well as our members. That advocacy component is important. I was the primary person running advocacy work for AIA for several years. My third interest is connecting members to knowledge. That’s the number one thing our members want us to provide: resources that will allow them to make a better place, a better world, and to be more successful in their professional life. We have focus groups in every area of our project types, professional interests—technology and practice, BIM, project delivery. ... Our job at AIA is to leverage those efforts in a way that reaches more of our members.
Russ Davidson, FAIA; AIA Westchester & Hudson Valley
Under my leadership, I think the AIA would be a little more focused on elevating public awareness to the target audiences that impact the practice of architecture the most. I think a broad television campaign is going to be too costly and it won’t benefit members. I really believe that increased outreach in communicating the value of architects to and partnering with client and community groups, like hospital administrators, developers, and school board associations, is a great missed opportunity. It’s more targeted than broader public awareness initiatives. I would hope that the people that architects deal with every day would seek us a bit more and as a result, be willing to pay fair and reasonable fees for all of us. I also believe that emerging professionals would feel more a part of mainstream AIA, not entry-level AIA. I think more firms need to give young people a fair chance right from the start. I also think a lot of people say that sustainability and green building is not our issue anymore, but I beg to differ. It’s always going to be the architect’s issue.
Gabriel Durand-Hollis, FAIA; AIA San Antonio
I think that I can continue to move the AIA and the profession to higher visibility. We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the internal structure of the board of how we do things. I’d like to externalize that energy so the public really appreciates what architects do. We have hundreds of thousands of lawyers and doctors, but we only have about 150,000 architects. Our voice must be stronger, more united, and out there in the public. We touch the public in a positive way. We’re part of something that’s really good, that serves all humanity.
2015–2016 Vice Presidents (two will be elected)
Bill Bates, AIA; AIA Pittsburgh
I hope that I can change the AIA. I’ve been involved in AIA since I joined in the ‘70s. One of the things I always hoped I would see—even back then—is the change in the viewpoint of AIA and the membership, to become a more diverse membership. I have not seen as much progress over the years as I would’ve hoped. I hope we can encourage new members to come into the organization. I’d like to reposition the current organization so it’s a stronger and louder advocacy voice.
Frank Pitts, FAIA; AIA Eastern New York
We have a tendency to celebrate the famous few architects at the expense of having a serious conversation about the successes that are happening in every community in this country where architects are making a difference and redefining the practice. We’d be better off if we had serious conversations that celebrated the ways that architects are making differences locally in their own communities. We’d all learn from that and we’d all be better prepared to help our communities. We need to communicate that so that we can be valued more than we are right now. The goal is to change the dynamic of the relationship. The other goal is to share the knowledge that sits in the knowledge communities in the profession more equitably, broadly, and efficiently. We do not have very good tools for sharing knowledge. There are resources that exist that is hard to get at. I’d like to make that knowledge easier [to access].
Ed Vance, FAIA; AIA Las Vegas
I have a pretty good grasp on how the Institute is structured and how we can make it even better for the rest of the membership. That's the goal. ... I’ve always seen that there are three parts to the Institute: the local chapters are the "person piece." The state is practice, professional, and legislative. The national piece is the intellectual piece. Sharing all that knowledge is what we’re all about. I’d like to streamline that, keep everything running smoothly and try to make our governances as simple as possible. Simplification seems to always result in a better design for our buildings, doesn’t it? Why shouldn’t it work for the way we structure our institution? Also, I’d like to facilitate the communication networks between the local chapters. If you’re a CACE representative and you increase membership in your chapter, we should get that out to everyone else.
Jerry Eben, AIA; AIA New Jersey
I believe the AIA is on a new path and I think we need to concentrate on doing more for our younger members, emerging professionals, and students. That was evident in the Component Awards, when we saw a lot of awards given to components that are doing those things right from the elementary school level and up. I’ve done hundreds of career days. I enjoy talking to kids about architecture; I enjoy talking to anyone about architecture. That's what I think is important—we have to tell a story. We have 83,000 members and if everyone told a story to some stranger every day for 365 days a year, that would be a lot of stories and I think people would know what it is we do for living.
John Padilla, AIA; AIA Santa Fe
One of the key roles of the secretary is to make sure that the rules of governance are in line with the operating structure of the Institute, but I feel that even more in the capacity of the secretary, there’s an opportunity to touch the members and components on the grassroots level. The secretary also has the responsibility of looking into establishing charters for new chapters, even on the international level. ... The other thing that the secretary does—where it really impacts the members—is to look at possible reduction in dues. With the economic hard times that we’ve had, a number of our members have been unemployed or underemployed and there is a process allowed for members to appeal for a dues waiver to look at a possible reduction of dues because of extraordinary circumstances. ... My role as secretary would be to make sure members are serviced and that components receive the support and resources that they need to be successful—whether it’s the chapter or individual member asking for a dues waiver.
Look out for more AIA candidate Q&As in ARCHITECT's Countdown to Convention.