By Jerome Leslie Eben, AIA
AIA NJ Regional Director ’11-‘13

During the last quarter of the year the six (6) Sections of AIANJ as well as the Chapter itself start to think about formulating their budgets for the coming year.  It is that reason why I am writing this article, for this issue. I would like to request of all of you to consider putting some money into your budgets to send as many of your current and MORE IMPORTANTLY future leaders to the AIA’s Annual Grassroots Leadership Conference, which is scheduled for 2012 in early March.

I attended my first conference in 1989 or 1990 (it was so long ago I can’t actually remember) and it was there that I sharpened my leadership skills and built upon the foundation I had learned while with the Hillside (NJ) Jaycees.  In the years that followed and because I was either funded by my local section or the Chapter, I had the opportunity to continue to attend this annual event, and in the ensuing years I do not think I have missed one or two of these meetings.

Never have I been disappointed with the investment of time and the opportunity to learn so much about AIA.  I have brought back many ideas and shared them at both the Section and Chapter levels.  I truly believe that the successes I have obtained in various leadership positions in service to OUR organization have benefitted and are a great help to me now that I am the Regional Director and have a voice on YOUR National Board!

LEADERSHIP is so important for any group, but especially OURS.  At Grassroots you will find numerous workshops that will teach you the skills to bring back and help you run you’re Section or if you choose in the future OUR Chapter.  There are group meetings where you can learn from other components from around the country and opportunities galore to pick up ideas for projects that will help you and all of us reach out to the NJ public to help educate them as to what it is that we do for a living.   Inspiring speakers always are stars of these few days together with your peers and the information that they provide can be the spark you need to have that GREAT year to follow.

Paul Welch, Hon. AIA who stepped in and served the Institute for about 10 months as our interim CEO/VP said, “True leaders always strive to do the right thing. They create an atmosphere of respect and empowerment. They are courageous and encouraging when all seems lost.”  I believe that Grassroots offers an opportunity for my colleagues who have never served in AIA leadership positions to come to Washington this coming March and to learn to do extraordinary and inspirational things for their local Section and Chapter.

Therefore I call upon all Section Treasurers and Budget Committees to look hard at your finances and find a little bit more money to send not only your President and President-elect to this conference, but other officers and even a trustee or two.  I would like AIA New Jersey to have the largest contingent of members at this leadership event.  More importantly, I know that the opportunity to learn will in the end be a benefit not only to the individuals you choose to send, but to the entire membership with what they will bring back.

Take it from a Grassroots Veteran (I believe I hold the record for the most attendance at this event) that by attending you can gain strengths and have a renewed sense of optimism for YOUR AIA and above all YOUR profession!

Thank you,
[email protected]

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