With the AIA National Convention only a week away, campaigns for the top national AIA positions are in full swing. Do you know who you're voting for? Familiarize yourself with the candidates' platforms before heading to the polls. 

Meet the Candidates  
(responses in their own words)

Candidates for 2016 First Vice President/2017 President

Don Brown, FAIA (AIA Montgomery/AIA Alabama)
My central goal is to make the leadership that I’m privileged to work with successful. I’m not a person who believes we have a handful of singular issues. We have 200 projects at AIA. We know from our membership of the top handful issues that we have to work on. The real key to leadership is including a large number of people in an open way to allow people to have ownership over major issues and to see them to conclusion. The AIA consists of an extraordinary range of interests. One view does not prevail. We have to make sure we have all those voices in the room and steadily work on those main issues of advocacy, knowledge, education, and inclusion, which we know are priorities for members.

Joe Treleven

Stephen Fiskum, FAIA (AIA Minneapolis/AIA Minnesota)

We need documented research, which we could accomplish with schools of architecture, about the values of the four generations in the workplace today—what are they looking for? By getting that information to our firms, we can help our firms follow the values and policies important to all generations. If we can do that, we’ll attract and keep good people. There’s a predicted significant shortage of skilled workers in our country in the next few years and other industries will be competing for graduates of architecture schools. We need those people in our firms. If we can establish the right culture in our organizations, we’re going to attract those people, keep them, and they’ll have a better work-life balance and a more rewarding career.

With the public, there’s more we can to do to change the perception of what we do and who we serve. We ultimately serve everybody and the public needs to know that. If we can better get that message across, we can attract more young people from different socioeconomic groups, so that at some point, the makeup of our profession will be more reflective of society.

Thomas Vonier, FAIA (AIA Continental Europe)
I see the president as a steward of endeavors that have been going on for a long time. I’m a firm believer in the AIA’s role is to stimulate demand for our work, to improve our practice conditions, and create an appetite among clients for good architecture. Anything aimed at that is something I’m interested in. This year, we’ve begun to talk to federal agencies about raising a 6-percent fee cap for design services, which has been in place for almost 70 years and makes no sense whatsoever. We’re tackling pragmatic practice issues. At the same time, we’ve launched, under the leadership of a committee that I headed, the most ambitious advertising and public outreach campaign in the AIA’s history. In office, if I’m successful, I will continue pushing on these types of programs.

Candidate for 2016 Treasurer

Stuart Coppedge, AIA (AIA Colorado)
In the last few years, we’ve seen a move toward a more transparent budgeting process within the Institute at the national level. We’ve certainly had it at different components, but the board has been engaged with the budget in setting the priorities because they’ve been representing the constituents, the members. Now the [Strategic] Council will be doing that, with the new Council and board structure. [I would like to] continue that and make it even more transparent and make sure the pie chart of member priorities matches up with the pie chart of Institute budget and expenses.

In the smaller board [of directors], all the board members are going to be able to be more engaged in a more active way. When we had the very large board, discussions could get a little cumbersome and slow. We did some great things in that larger board, but the treasurer oftentimes, I felt, was the reporter of the finances, but wasn’t able to engage and be a part of the discussions. Moving forward, the treasurer is going to have to have the facts and figures in hand to be able to analyze quickly, the implications of the things we’d like to see done. 

One of the things we’ve done in the Institute in the last several years is a program called 179d, an energy-efficiency tax credit that can go to private-sector owners. If it’s a public building, say a school, the design team can actually take that tax credit. It’s been a huge benefit to firms in the recession. It’s those kinds of legislative issues that are important to us that have a big impact on firms. [My goal is] to advocate for the continuation of 179d and historic building tax credits. I’ve always felt that AIA’s issues that we take to [Capitol] Hill are ones that are very appropriate for small businesses. 

Candidates for 2016 At-Large Directors

Stephen Voss

Jerome Eben, AIA (AIA New Jersey)

I want to be on the board to be a part of the decision process. With [the Institute's recent] repositioning, we have a new smaller board and I think the decision process will be more intense and better. I like the whole idea of a smaller board. That’s really my position in terms of wanting to help the Institute and wanting to help our members get in the direction they want to go in.

Jane Frederick, FAIA (AIA South Carolina)

What we really need to focus on with the smaller board is that we move forward with our strategic plan, because that’s from our stakeholders and is important to our members. There are some particular issues that I think are really important that [current AIA President] Elizabeth Chu Richter, [FAIA], has been working on, such as the 6-percent cap on fees and the disconnect between design/build for federal projects and the monies on that. Those issues really affect a lot of our members, but I think we really need to pay attention to what comes out of the strategic plan and do what our members want us to do. If our membership ends up being 100,000 in a few years, that says we’re providing member value. For emerging professionals, it’s very fatiguing to be in that gap between graduation and licensure. We need to close that gap, support them, make the process easier, and finally solve that knot that we have with titling, whether you’re an intern or you’ve practiced for years and aren’t licensed and are still part of our community. We need to solve that. That’s a big one. We need to work on diversity. Andrea Rutledge [Hon. AIA], the CEO of NAAB [National Architectural Accrediting Board], told us the other day that for the first time recently there are more minorities in architecture school than white people. I think that’s a great sign that we’re creating the place where our profession will look more like the people we serve—the world.

Haley M. Gipe, Assoc. AIA (AIA San Joaquin/AIA California Council)
Emerging professionals are excited to get involved in the civic engagement and civic leadership opportunities so engaging them is a powerful tool for the Institute for leaders to go back to their components to get involved, meet with representatives, and hone in on issues that are near and dear to their hearts and communities. The biggest thing is empowering the members to give them what they need to do the advocacy work that needs to be done in their communities.

The at-large director position is unique in the sense that we’re tasked with something to do by the president, whether it’s being in charge of a committee, a task force, or topic area. It’s hard for me to forecast what that will be in 2016. We can see some trends but coming out of repositioning, we’ve heard a lot from members about public awareness, wanting better tools to learn about what’s going on at all levels of the Institute, better communication from the Institute. [My goals are] continuing those initiatives, but also listening to what people need. I can’t really set the agenda because it’s not really my agenda. It’s all of our agendas.

Bob Wallace

Anthony P. Schirripa, FAIA (AIA New York Chapter/AIA New York State)
I believe the Institute has to take command of the knowledge that we have and share it with our members. I’d like us to have AIA University become the gold standard in continuing education and more importantly, so that the public recognizes that the education we have is enhanced and they recognize the value it brings. Ultimately, that will let us charge more fees because we bring a more valuable service to our clients. [I want to] grow the profession and the Institute, not just in the United States, but focus on developing strategies to grow the Institute internationally and not just Americans practicing overseas, but also [focus on] foreign architects who want to be a part of the American Institute of Architects and the process of how architects do business in the United States. There are some legal issues that obviously have to be worked out in each of the states and each of the countries, but that’s something that I think is important to focus on. I’ve set a goal to add 10,000 members by the end of the decade. 

The other thing, more importantly, is our youth and the students in college as well as young graduates preparing for the ARE. The AIA needs to partner with the academy, as well as NCARB to basically provide guidance to the student in terms of partnering them with firms that can support their life as a student not so much financially but professionally and introduce them to working in an office at a much earlier age. I want AIA to be a champion for every level and every age of our profession. Once a young person graduates college and wants to pursue licensure, the AIA needs to be the first place they go for learning, support, and a fast track to get through the IDP process.

Nicholas McWhirter

Jennifer Workman, AIA (AIA Dallas/AIA Texas Society of Architects)
As a candidate, we’re allowed to sit on both the Strategic Council and the board as observers. There’s a lot of great conversation happening on the Strategic Council that’s glossed over on the board and [vice-versa]. When those two groups were divided to make the board more nimble, the idea was that the conversation would be moving both directions and it’s not. My goal is to listen to what the Strategic Council is saying, because they’re supposed to be the think tank, the group that’s guiding the Institution. Even though we’re trying to become more nimble, we’re still looking at the five-year plan and I think we need to look in the more immediate future. I understand why five-year plans are important, but that is a way of the past. Any business model outside of architecture is moving in this direction if it wants to be successful and it’s important for us to look at, even though we’re a non-profit as a business. It is still member-driven, but if we look at [the AIA] like a business, we might be able to make it better for the members.

In case you missed it, make sure to check out ARCHITECT’s interviews with the candidates for 2016 first vice president/2017 president-elect, treasurer, and at-large directors on their backgrounds and experiences.

Check out all candidate profiles here.