By Jerome Leslie Eben, AIA
AIANJ Regional Director, ’11-‘13
Nearly thirty (30) of your AIANJ leaders have just recently returned from the 2012 AIA Grassroots Leadership Conference in Washington, DC. . Every year; and this was my 22nd time. I return from this event each and every time recharged, ready to serve the our Sections, the Chapter/Region and of course the Institute.
Jeff Potter, FAIA as Institute President, stated in his remarks, “that we are the credible voice and authoritative source of the profession.” The more of us that so state this back in New Jersey, the more success we will have. OUR members enjoy the benefits of the value they receive through knowledge, which begins every year with Grassroots.
I believe those who were present will agree with me that under Mickey Jacob, FAIA, as Chairman, 1st VP and President-Elect of the Institute, this latest Grassroots was an extremely successful with nearly 800 of colleagues in attendance. Mickey’s theme was LEADERSHIP, ADVOCACY, and COMMUNICATION, with the goal for growing public awareness of architecture and how we live in partnership with our neighbors, so we can make a greater impact on the quality of life in our communities, the built environment, and the sustainable lifestyle that everyone deserves!
I am extremely proud of Justin Mihalik, AIA, Joyce Scatuccio, Associate AIA and Jayson Peats, Associate AIA for speaking up during the limited time we had for the open forum part of the meeting. If nothing else the upper leadership of AIA knows that AIANJ has a voice and will be using it once again at the Convention in May.
Along with Ashley Clark, Associate AIA, (from North Carolina), I had the opportunity to participate in a session that outlined what our advocacy approach should be when meeting with members of Congress or their staff. All of AIANJ delegates did go to Capitol Hill and present our issues to members of Congress on Thursday.
We had some fantastic keynote speakers this year, which included, Dr. Richard Joseph Jackson, MD, MPH, FAAP, and the very engaging “Fly Girl” Vernice Armour. Advocacy and Luncheon Speakers included Thaddeus L. Cohen, AIA, Hon. Bob Buckhorn, Polly Trottenberg, and Hon. Francisco J. Sanchez.
For those of you who were not able to attend this leadership event, I would strongly suggest that you start thinking about next year’s conference. I would like to see a larger contingent of Section representatives and even some more of our Emerging Professionals partake in the various leadership classes and Peer Breakfasts with our colleagues from around the country. So put March 20-23, 2013 on your calendar for next year’s AIA Grassroots Leadership and Legislative Conference and plan to get excited about being an architect an supporting OUR profession.