The AIA’s executive vice president (EVP) and CEO, Christine McEntee, left in July to become executive director of the American Geophysical Union. Upon the announcement of McEntee’s impending departure in April, AIA president George Miller began the search for her replacement. Now that she’s left the building, ARCHITECT discussed with Miller how the search is progressing.

Until the successful conclusion of the search, Paul Welch Jr., from the AIA California Council, is serving as the interim EVP/CEO. He brings almost 30 years of experience with the largest component in the organization to the task. “It’s a very strong appointment,” Miller says—although Welch took the interim post with the understanding that he would not be a candidate for the full-time appointment. “He wants to be in California,” Miller notes.

Association Strategies, which specializes in nonprofit and executive searches, is leading the effort to identify candidates. Miller says, “I suspect they’ll have a lot of résumés to sort through.”

Miller stresses the strong leadership role that the new EVP/CEO will need to take. “They will need to lead the staff and interact with all the components across the nation,” Miller says, as well as the president and the national board of directors. Communication skills and political savvy are also critical. “The EVP/CEO is often called on to testify before Congress on short notice,” Miller says.

Of course, the recession has sidelined a lot of talent within the profession. Miller estimates that the percentage of unemployed architects nationwide runs in the mid-20s—and these idle members could be candidates. “I fully expect a lot of members to apply,” Miller says. “I encourage all people who have the qualifications and skill sets to come forward.” The deadline for applications is Oct. 1; full qualifications for the position are listed online at the AIA careers website.