2012 AIA National Grassroots

2012 AIA Grassroots Report: LEADERSHIP ADVOCACY COMMUNICATION

March 7-9, 2012

Stivers Capitol 

Last week, Executive Director Gwen Berlekamp, AIA Columbus President Sandy Bresler, and AIA Columbus President-Elect John Kelleher attended the 2012 AIA Grassroots Leadership and Legislative Conference in Washington, DC. This year's theme - LEADERSHIP ADVOCACY COMMUNICATION - as described by Mickey Jacob, FAIA, First Vice President and 2012 Grassroots Chair, "was designed to advance our skills to increase the public awareness of the value of architecture and the important role we play as architects as stewards of the built environment."

This year, the focus of the Advocacy Agenda was Economic Recovery, and how policy makers and architects can work together to rebuild the American Dream. The AIA developed four agenda items:

  1. Removing Barriers to Private Sector Lending - requesting support for the Capital Access for Main Street Act.
  2. Saving Energy, Creating Jobs - encouraging an expansion of the federal Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction, of 179D
  3. Helping Small Firms Thrive - asking Congress to pass the Small Business Protection Act of 2012
  4. Revitalizing America's Neighborhoods - encouraging Congress to maintain transportation funding levels with investment in all modes of transportation.  

A major part of Grassroots is visiting of our legislators on Capitol Hill. John joined the AIA Ohio delegation to visit the Senate and met with staff from the offices of Senator Rob Portman and Senator Sherrod Brown. Both meetings were effective and informative. Our positions were well received - although initiatives which appear to increase the deficit were discouraged. Eric Toy (Portman) was encouraged by our Energy Savings Proposal and made us aware of the Shaheen - Portman Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2011 which reaches beyond our proposal. The goals of this bill align with the principles of AIA 2030 Challenge, pursuing net-zero energy building by 2030, and also work as a catalyst for job creation and education. 

Gwen and Sandy, along with chapter member and State Architect Lane Beougher, who was in attendance with the Public Architects Knowledge Community, visited members of Congress representing the areas of the state included in the Columbus Chapter. Pat Tiberi [OH12] had a previous meeting scheduled but met briefly with us outside his office before we sat down with his staff. Steve Stivers [OH15] spoke with us for some time offering his staff input on our issues including support of HR 1356 to Remove Barriers to Private Sector Lending and HR 3987 to Help Small Architecture Firms Thrive. 

As always, Grassroots is a chance to interact with fellow architects and component leaders to advance our skills, discuss ideas, share concerns, and ruminate on the future direction of the institute and profession. Seminars included workshops on support and tools for leaders, financial responsibilities, civic engagement, and leadership effectiveness to name a few. There was a good deal of discussion this year concerning the next generation of leaders - our Emerging Professionals – at every level of Grassroots. As AIA President Jeff Potter, FAIA, said….”it’s time to stop talking about emerging professionals and start focusing on them.” One specific seminar dealt specifically with connecting with this group and aligning a vision to define the value of good design and the architect’s role in creating a sustainable physical environment. Be sure to attend our June Chapter Meeting as we bring this speaker and discussion to Columbus. 

The remainder of the conference was filled with speeches from the candidates for national office, several keynote addresses including one from Dr. Richard Jackson, MD, Professor and Chair of UCLA’s School of Public Health who spoke on the importance of design for the healthcare industry, regional meetings, an Open House at the Institute and a reception at the majestic Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in downtown Washington. The 3-day conference is a whirlwind of activity!

Gwen and Sandy thought this was by far the most energizing of Grassroots either have attended. Next year’s conference will be moving to a facility much closer to the Capitol and will allow easier access to those we as architects need to remain in contact with to help us broaden public awareness of the importance of our profession in shaping the built environment.

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