Courtesy Make the Road NY; TEN Arquitectos

Each year, AIA members attending the AIA Conference on Architecture have the opportunity to vote for candidates to help lead the Institute's national office. Ahead of the June 6-8 event in Las Vegas this year, ARCHITECT asked each candidate running for elective office a set of questions about their qualifications, platform, and outlook on the profession.

In this article, meet the sole candidate running for 2020–2021 treasurer, Evelyn Lee, AIA. Lee is currently a regional managing director of workplace and West coast lead at Newmark Frank Knight, in San Francisco. She was also a recipient of AIA's Young Architect Award in 2014.

Why do you want to hold a leadership position at AIA? What key issues do you hope to address in this role?
While the role of the treasurer includes additional fiduciary responsibilities relative to the rest of the board, it is also a very strategic one. Efforts are currently underway with the Strategic Council to draft a new strategic plan that will be rolled out in 2020, and it will fall to the treasurer to ensure that resources are correctly realigned with the new plan.

I am excited to see what changes this may bring to the Institute and how we can best align AIA to support the changing needs of our growing membership. A part of that alignment will also require the board to advance discussions on how we can be more agile as an organization, positioning ourselves to be ever more proactive rather than reactive.

I also want to advance the work of previous treasurers to grow the transparency and reporting of the Institute’s resources to our members.

How have your experiences prepared you for this role?
In 2008, I went back to school to get an MBA and Master's of Public Administration, and it forever changed my role and career as an architect. Rather than designing buildings, I have been helping organizations rethink and prioritize how they spend capital assets and reassess their departmental resources to attract and keep the best people, drive profits, and better deliver on their mission.

I am a passionate collaborator and consensus builder, and I enjoy getting to the root of the problem by making sure we are asking the right questions. I also bring nearly a decade of service to AIA National as a past associate member to the National Board, chair of the National Associates Committee, chair of the Young Architects Forum, AIA California (AIA CA) regional director to the board, and AIA CA member of the Strategic Council.

My experience has taught me patience, but also the most direct pathways to implement real change.

What are the greatest challenges facing architects today? How can AIA respond to them?
As a profession, architects are struggling to remain relevant in an ever-changing landscape. I have been around long enough to hear firm and volunteer leaders talk about everything we have given away or had taken away from us, but rarely hear discourse on how we are recapturing what’s been taken, initiating new services, or bringing even greater value to our clients than ever before.

In order to position ourselves as trusted advisers and ensure a seat at all the right tables, we have to be willing to give even more and take on the necessary risk to find new streams of revenue and opportunities where we can truly lead.

AIA has a role to play in this by providing resources and mentorship to support members that boldly take paths less traveled while expanding the voice of the architect at a national level.

Meet the AIA members running for the elected offices of president-elect and at-large director.