I am delighted and excited to serve as AIA’s 2019 president. The honor of helping to lead this 162-year-old institution is a career highlight and an opportunity that I intend to make the most of this year.
Last year was a strong one for AIA and our profession. Together, we advanced critical legislative initiatives in Washington D.C., and statehouses across the nation. We continue to make our shared values clear, including respect for the environment, the need for housing policies that promote safety and human dignity, and the fundamental right of everyone to enjoy equal access to opportunity and advancement at school and work.
We start 2019 at a time of relative prosperity, which gives us a chance to prepare for and reflect on the type of future we want for our profession. My vision of architecture’s future is one where the profession is celebrated as much for its diversity as it is for its creativity, and known as much for its spirit of inclusion as it is for its ability to find innovative solutions—not just because that is the right thing to do, which of course it is, but because the long-term vitality and prosperity of this profession depend on it.
I happen to be the second African-American to become AIA president, but that’s not what I choose to focus on. What I am focused on is the day when we no longer need to acknowledge the second, third, or fourth of any group. I am focused on a future where architecture is admired as a profession where anyone, without regard to race, gender, or family wealth, can excel and achieve their highest dreams unfettered by biases both covert and overt. I am focused on making sure that the next generation of architects enters a profession that is inclusive, diverse, and nurturing. We want to be a profession that embraces the creativity and the talent of anyone who dreams of advancing society through a better-built world.
It is clear to me that the ability to meet the challenges of our time—from mitigating the detrimental impacts of climate change, to ensuring that everyone has access to safe and affordable housing, to expanding economic opportunity—will depend on the perspective and talent of everyone.
Ultimately, I dream that architects will lead efforts to create a fairer, more sustainable, and more peaceful world that embraces all and disenfranchises none. Simply put, tomorrow’s challenges can only be successfully met if we all work together in a spirit of mutual respect, and with the understanding that diversity, inclusion, and equity make us stronger—as a profession, as a nation, and as a global society.