From June 11 to June 15, accredited AIA delegates will vote for the next leaders to hold office at the Institute's national level. According to AIA, "delegates are selected by their assigned chapters to cast that chapter's votes" and must be AIA members—Architect, Emeritus, Associate, or International Associate—in good standing. In the event of a tie, a runoff will be held June 15 to June 17. The election precedes this year's A'21, the Conference on Architecture, which begins June 17.

As in past years, ARCHITECT asked each candidate running for elective office questions about their qualifications, platform, and outlook on the profession. In this article you will meet the candidates running for 2022-2023 treasurer: Timothy C. Hawk, FAIA, and Heather P. Philip-O’Neal, AIA. Responses have been lightly edited for clarity. Find videos of the candidates presenting their platforms at the end of this article.

Timothy C. Hawk

Title: President and principal, WSA Studio
Local AIA component: AIA Columbus/AIA Ohio
Leadership roles: Director at-large, AIA National Board of Directors (2018-present); AIA Strategic Council (2016-2018)

Timothy Hawk
courtesy The American Institute of Architects Timothy Hawk

Why do you want to hold this leadership position at AIA?
I am inspired to shape the work of AIA as treasurer. Together, we can assure that resources are aligned to grow our collective voice and expand our influence. Since 2019, AIA has sharpened its focus. We have taken significant steps to lay a solid foundation to address some of the most pressing issues of our time. Now, we must work to harness the efforts of all 90,000 members to actively engage our communities, to share our knowledge, and to shape policy and patronage.

Our ability and capacity to tackle today’s complex challenges must be linked to an audacious, strategic allocation of AIA resources. Simply said, we need to align our dollars and volunteer efforts to answer the call for creative solutions throughout society.

How have your experiences prepared you for this role?
Over the past 10 years as CEO of my firm, I have harnessed transparent communication strategies to propel a tenfold increase in revenue. Internal communication and staff training have distributed financial accountability and accelerated growth. Everyone contributes to the financial bottom line, which allows profits to be reinvested in technology, marketing, and profit sharing, Every team member provides feedback and shapes the firm’s investment strategy.

As AIA treasurer, I will diligently communicate financial strategies to national and component leaders, CACE members, and the membership to educate and align resource allocation across the Institute. Greater understanding of financial strategies will increase efficiency and reduce the likelihood of needless spending at the local, state, and national level.

What key issues do you hope to address in this role?
Persistent fiscal responsibility must be sustained, and economic awareness must guide the prudent allocation of our valuable resources in support of the mission and members. However, we must also use our collective ingenuity to spark new sources of non-dues revenue, and to link our intellectual property with consumers across design, real estate, and construction sectors. Our knowledge, engagement, and leadership will create real value.

What are the greatest challenges facing architects today? How can AIA respond to them?
The architectural profession is at a crossroads. We are facing increased global demand for our knowledge, expertise, and design leadership while demographic shifts have reduced the number of architects. To maintain relevance, we must attract and retain top talent, and our profession must reflect the demographics of the society we serve. AIA must expose the power of design to traditionally marginalized communities, connect more deeply with K-12 students, and expand our diversity pipeline. This will strengthen recruitment and evolve our profession in the long term.

However, we will only achieve success if architects are able to prosper. Given the choice, many of our graduates are attracted to allied fields, which can offer greater earning potential. We have to fix this situation, and I believe we can work together to connect with patrons and policy makers, prove our relevance, and expand influence. This should increase demand for architectural design and make our profession more attractive to an increasingly diverse group of high-performing candidates.

Heather P. Philip-O’Neal

Title: Design principal, HPP International
Local AIA component: AIA New York
Leadership roles: AIANY Advocacy Committee (2020-present); NOMA National Finance Committee (2010-present); AIANY Advocacy Committee (2020-present); NOMA National conference chair (2019, 2004); AIANY Nominating Committee (2018-2019); treasurer, NOMA National Board of Directors (2006-2010); president, NYCOBA-NOMA New York Chapter (2003-2006); director of educational affairs, AIANY board of directors (2006-2008); secretary, AIANY Housing Committee (2001-2004)

Heather Philip-O'Neal
courtesy The American Institute of Architects Heather Philip-O'Neal

Why do you want to hold this leadership position at AIA?
As a long-standing member of AIA, I believe that holding this leadership position would allow me to be an advocate for the core concerns of AIA members; to communicate to them how incoming revenues would be allocated to issues that they care about; to understand and inquire about finances on their behalf; and to represent their interests in AIA finances. Serving as Institute treasurer and board member would be also be an opportunity to support initiatives that would facilitate the recent AIA mandates on climate change as well as social justice.

How have your experiences prepared you for this role?
My years of experience as a successful leader of my own firm and a proven leader in the management of finances in an allied professional organization have prepared me for the role of national treasurer. In addition, my life experience as an African American woman in what is still considered a nontraditional profession for members of this group gives me a unique opportunity to represent and encourage the advancement in diversity and inclusion that AIA has pledged to support. I will draw on the skills I have developed as a business owner, a professor of architecture, and a committed AIA member to provide leadership while continuing to uphold the standards of excellence in managing AIA finances.

What key issues do you hope to address in this role?
These are key issues I hope to address in the role of treasurer:

  • The long-term viability of the current practice model as we change to transition into post-pandemic practice.
  • How member firms can enter into the conversation about equity in their practice.
  • Is there a benefit of AIA membership that could provide tools to achieve the overarching goal of climate change action and to educate member firms and/or their employees?
  • Should diversity, equity, and inclusion training be integral with continuing education and be eligible for HSW (health, safety, and welfare) credits?
  • Judicious use of monies at a time when member firms are rebuilding their own practices.
  • Allocation of revenue at National to be maximized for the benefit of members.

What are the greatest challenges facing architects today? How can AIA respond to them?
One of the challenges facing architects today is the economy. Architects are concerned about recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, which is compounded by inequality. To meet these challenges, AIA has a promising beginning with the Guides for Equitable Practice, available on the AIA website. The Strategic Plan is evidence of a strong desire to do the right thing within the Institute, especially in the call for collaboration with others who realize the power of design to solve problems.

Another challenge is the budding realization that the current paradigms of practice may no longer be sustainable. Architects in the near and distant future will need to address new means of conceiving architecture and to reimagine professional practices—practices that embrace emerging technologies with all of the ethical opportunities and dilemmas that accompany them.

[AIA can respond to these challenges through the] introduction of next steps to the Guides for Equitable Practice. Currently, if member firms are aware of the guides, they have the option to read it or not. If they understand and want to embrace the mandate for diversity, equity, and inclusion or for climate change action, then they seek education and tools that are typically delivered by consultants at a great cost. AIA can respond by establishing tools for the next steps, while providing a benefit and retaining value for our member firms.

Perhaps the paradigm of education can be reviewed where the academy is valued not only as preparation for the workforce through delivery of skills to the profession, but also as a symbiotic relationship between academia and the profession.

Note: This article was updated on April 16, 2021, at the request of Heather Philip-O'Neal to add the latter two key issues in her response.