Tag Archives: AIA Grassroots

Grassroots 2017 Recap

Grassroots is universally acclaimed as one of the best events organized by the AIA. This year was no different. Grassroots is an opportunity for our leaders to see firsthand how the Institute works and what it is doing for the members. You were very fortunate to be well represented. AIA NJ had leaders from each of the six sections, the state chapter, and emerging professionals. Not only were we attendees, but we were active participants.

AIANJ EPiC and AIA California Council at Grassroots

Our Young Architects Regional Director, Jessica O’Donnell, AIA and our Regional Associates Director, Brandon Warshofsky, Assoc. AIA were a part of a presentation “Building an Emerging Professional Network.” As your representative to the AIA Strategic Council, I was fortunate to be a facilitator for the break-out session regarding the Archi-Talk presentation by Jean Carroon, FAIA on Heritage Cities. And, our President, Ben Lee, AIA, and President-Elect, Verity Frizzell, AIA, got a shout-out from the stage from AIA President Tom Vonier, FAIA for their trip to see Senator Cory Booker on Capitol Hill.

The nearly weeklong event started with an advocacy day that included training and briefings on federal legislative issues and opportunities to visit congressional leaders on Capitol Hill. Simultaneously, the AIA Strategic Council was meeting to review the body of work from 2016 and to chart a path forward for 2017. Following this we held our AIA NJ Regional meeting, and then reconvened at Momofuku for the AIA New Jersey Grassroots Regional Dinner that was organized by our President-Elect Verity Frizzell, AIA, with the help of our AIA NJ staff.

AIA First Vice President/President-Elect, Carl Elefante, FAIA

We dove right in on day two with a presentation by the 2017 Grassroots Chair, and AIA First Vice President/President-Elect, Carl Elefante, FAIA on “Design Impact Matters: Architects Shape Lives; Opportunities and Challenges for the Profession.” We then heard from Keynote speakers Dr. Joan Clos on the “New Urban Agenda; Sweeping Mandates for Architects”, and a discussion on “Urbanism & Climate Change” by Peter Calthorpe. We then heard a series of four rapid-fire TED Talk style presentations on key 21st century issues titled “Archi-Talks”. The four presentations were: Walkable Cities, by Jeff Speck; Heritage Cities, by Jean Carroon, FAIA; Resilient Cities, by Michael Berkowitz; and 21st Century Cities, by Thomas Dellessio. After the talks we convened a series of break-out sessions on each topic for further discussion and analysis, the results of which will be complied and reported out at a later date.

After a networking lunch at which a variety of grant programs and awards were announced, and reports from the break-out sessions were presented, attendees spent the afternoon in workshops on a variety of topics. I had the good fortune to attend “Engaging the Media: How to Maximize a Press Interview” and “How to Talk about Architecture with Clients & the Public.” The engaging the media session was excellent for any leader who will be speaking on behalf of the AIA, or an organization for that mater. The second workshop about talking to the public was a presentation of the new AIA Message Book. This publication was a part of the work of the AIA National Public Outreach Committee, which included as one of its members our President-Elect, Verity Frizzell, AIA. We hope to be able to arrange an opportunity to bring staff from the Institute to New Jersey for a presentation and discussion of this material to our new AIA New Jersey Advocacy Team.

To conclude day two we visited the Institute Headquarters and later AIA New Jersey hosted the Large States Dinner. The dinner is an opportunity for representatives from all the single-state regions of the AIA to gather informally and discuss issues of common concern. This year’s event was held at The Palm Restaurant. In addition to representatives from each of the large state components, we had the pleasure of being joined by each of the announced candidates for AIA National office: William Bates, FAIA (candidate for Institute First Vice President/President-Elect); Patrick Panetta, AIA (candidate for Institute Treasurer); and Emily Grandstaff-Rice, FAIA (of the Boston Society of Architects) and Daniel Hart, FAIA (of AIA Texas), both candidates for the At-Large Director of the Institute Board. We were also joined by the current President of the AIA, Thomas Vonier, FAIA, the First Vice President/President-Elect, Carl Elefante, FAIA, and the EVP/CEO of the Institute Robert Ivy, FAIA. This was an excellent opportunity for us to spend time with each of these individuals and discuss with them our interests and their views on a variety of subjects.

Friday started with Peer-Group breakfasts where we met with component leaders form other similar sized components around the country. That was followed by another series of workshops. I attended “Being the Strategic Partner Everybody Wants to Have in the Board Room and on the Project.” Afterwards, we reconvened for a general session where we heard a keynote presentation from the Mayor of Baltimore, Catherine Pugh. That was followed by a series of short talks titled “My AIA Stories.” These were presentations from individuals representative of Diversity, Emerging Professionals, Public Outreach and Advocacy. We then heard from the candidates for national office as they fielded questions from the audience. We then had a Town Hall style meeting where representatives of the Board gave updates on their activity and fielded questions from the audience. Of particular interest, in addition to the President, President-Elect and EVP/CEO, this year the leadership group included the CACE President, Heather Koury, Hon. AIA, and the Moderator of the Strategic Council, Jason Winters, AIA.

As you can see, the week was packed. And this doesn’t include all of the incidental networking that was accomplished. Through this event your leaders were able to build fundamental knowledge and skills, and form lasting relationships that will help AIA New Jersey accomplish our goals to make this organization of ever increasing service to you and to society. If you have any questions about the event, please reach out to me or the other leaders who attended. And, if you want to be a part of this event in the future, we welcome you to join the leadership at your section or the chapter.


Bruce D. Turner, AIA

AIA New Jersey Regional Representative

To The AIA Strategic Council

AIA Grassroots Leadership & Legislative Conference a huge success…despite the snow!

Submitted by Justin A. Mihalik, AIA, 2015 ArchiPAC Steering Committee Member

grassroots2015_archiThe Grassroots Leadership & Legislative Conference over the years has moved its focus from Leadership to Advocacy and Legislative efforts, and this year was no exception.  More than 800 AIA members attended the Conference and were trained on this year’s Legislative Agenda.  In addition, AIA Leaders raised $57,000 for ArchiPAC, exceeding the goals for the Conference!  If you have not donated, it is never too late, click here! Thank you to all those AIANJ members who did contribute as we are in full swing to exceed our goals for this Legislative season.

Here is a synopsis of the Talking Points for the Capitol Hill visits.  The full version can be downloaded hereContinue reading

AIANJ Takes home Component Excellence Award from Grassroots Convention

Submitted by Justin A Mihalik, AIA, Co-Chair, AIA Regional Recovery Working Group

aianj_GR15_award3The AIA Grassroots Leadership and Legislative Conference is always a great event to kickoff the new year as an AIANJ Leader.  This year it was even sweeter as AIANJ took home a Component Excellence Award for Expanding & Sharing Knowledge through the AIA Regional Recovery Working Group (AIARRWG).  The AIARRWG was formed in the wake of Superstorm Sandy by Illya Azaroff AIA, AIANYS, and co-chaired by Justin Mihalik AIA, AIANJ.  The Group organized three workshops focusing on the effects of Sandy on Jersey City, Hoboken and Newark, the Jersey Shore, as well as the State’s infrastructure and critical buildings.  Some of the comments received from the jurors included,

“This is a very strong submission demonstrating collaboration among components and states to promote knowledge of resilience best practices.”

“This is a great example of how components can work together to achieve measurable results on a topic of great importance to the profession. We can all learn from this program!”

“This very strong effort brought together various players to the table in a symbiotic manner with a collective vision and shared goals. I am not aware of any such other strong showing of organizational achievements lead by the AIA, specifically to assess a post-disaster situation, to the extent of what occurred with Sandy. I would hope that these efforts remain in the forefront with the state and federal agencies that have jurisdiction over events such as Sandy.”

On behalf of the AIARRWG, we are very proud of the work we have done and the honor of being recognized by AIA.  The AIARRWG will continue its work to help connect the victims with the various resources in the State, as well as share information with our allied professional organizations and the State of NJ.  If you are interested in joining the AIARRWG please contact Justin Mihalik AIA at [email protected].

Presidents Message – AIANJ Update and Grassroots

Spring is almost here in New Jersey, I know many of us are looking forward to warmer temperatures and to see projects delayed by weather move forward.  Though it is only March a lot has been happening in the architecture community in NJ.

We were saddened this week to learn of the passing of two architects who impacted the architecture community in New Jersey.  Paul DeMassi, AIA, and Michael Graves, FAIA.  Graves took architecture and design beyond structures, whether it was a building, a chair or a toaster he taught that Design Matters.   Read more about his life.   DeMassi opened his firm in NJ in 1971, was a past president of NJ Society of Architects  (AIA-NJ) in 1981, and three term past chairman of the Joint Committee of the NJ State Board of Architects and Engineers.   Find out more information.  The AIA-NJ community if feeling a great loss by the absence of these two members.


aiawj_GR15_congDuring the last snow storm here in the northeast, leaders from around the country, and a number of AIA-NJ members were in Washington DC for the Annual Grassroots Legislative and Leadership Conference.   Continue reading

NJ-APAC on Capital Hill


New Jersey Political Action Committee (NJ-APAC)

by Laurence E. Parisi, AIA Washington, D.C.
March 19, 2014

grassroots2014Another fabulous AIA Grassroots Leadership Conference has graced us, but not without extraordinary excitement, great colleague camaraderie, and well-organized Leadership Plenary Sessions.

NJ-APAC – The political branch of AIA-NJ was represented at “the hill” by Ben Lee, AIA and I, together we attended the Government Advocacy Networking Breakfast and Congressional Staff Panel who discussed the purpose and the criteria for Capitol Hill Visits. This is a wonderful opportunity to meet your Congressional District representative on their “D.C. turf” and present to them the issues set forth by the Institute and request their support. These issues are established by the Institute to help promote and support architects and building growth in our country. This year we had three requests for our congressional and senatorial backing.

  1. ENERGY RETROFITS – The AIA supports efforts to extend and make modest improvements to the Energy-Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction (179D).
  2. STUDENT DEBT RELIEF – The AIA supports legislation to allow architecture students to contribute their design abilities to help communities in exchange for student loan assistance.
  3. DESIGN BUILD PROCUREMENT REFORM – The AIA supports common-sense reforms to procurement that will help more design firms enter the marketplace.

Continue reading

Grassroots 2014 – Connect, Engage, Lead, Innovate

The AIA 2014 Grassroots Leadership and Legislative Conference was held March 18th – 21st in Washington DC.  A number of your AIA-NJ leaders attended and were inspired to  build a better AIA.


Some of the AIA-NJ members in attendance at Grassroots 2014


Along with hundreds of leaders from around the country and world AIA members discussed ways to effect change.  From the latest on AIA Repositioning  and how it could be seen in your local AIA chapters, to hearing from candidates for national AIA offices that will help to lead AIA next year and beyond.

In addition to seminars and guest speakers, part of Thursday was spent visiting our legislators on Capital Hill.  Taking issues important to all architects to our law-makers to effect change for all.

This year a number of items discussed were  discussed with local representatives.  Including the extension of 179D, the Energy Efficient Commercial Building Tax Deduction that expired at the end of 2013.  The necessity of procurement standards for Design-Build method of building on government projects.  Also, the National Design Services Act,  a program where architecture graduates with federally subsidized student loans could work in under-served communities in exchange for reduction of student debt.  Contact your local leaders to learn more on any of these items or how you can help.

AIANJ Menendez

AIA-NJ President Kurt Kalafsky, President-Elect Kimberly Bunn, Aide to Senator Menendez, L&GA Chair Dave DelVecchio, and Regional Director Robert Cozzarelli on Capital Hill



Jerome Eben from AIA-NJ a candidate for AIA national position of Secretary

During the candidates speeches, AIA-NJ member and past-president Jerome Eben, AIA, declared his candidacy for the office of AIA National Secretary.  We wish Jerry Good Luck in his run for office.

Presidents Message – A New Year

Kurt Kalafsky, AIA

Kurt Kalafsky, AIA

AIA New Jersey has hit the ground running in 2014. I’d be remiss if I didn’t first thank Jack Purvis, AIA for his leadership last year and I Iook forward to continuing to work together in the coming year. We will strive to put the architect in the forefront where it comes to rebuilding all of our communities across the state as we continue the rebuilding process after hurricane Sandy.

I have had the opportunity to visit with most of the sections at their inaugural dinners and have a few more to go, but in each that I have visited so far it has been encouraging to see so many new faces getting involved to help advance our profession. The next generation is our future and we need to continue to encourage and support them as they take on more leadership positions in the AIA.

We are gearing up for Grassroots in March where we will be taking our voices to the Washington to meet with our representatives and let them know that we have a great understanding of what needs to be done to move not only New Jersey, but our country forward as we come out of what has been the worst recession that most of us have experienced in our lifetimes.

I have been asked by many “What’s on your agenda for the coming year?” But I don’t see it like that. This is not my AIA, this is our AIA. Likewise it is not my agenda, it is our agenda. This is how I approached the leadership conference last year. For those who weren’t there, we asked ourselves some hard questions. What do we do well? What do we not do well? What should we start doing? What should we stop doing? What should we continue doing? Three major topics where chosen and broken down in great detail, Governance, Activities and Membership. We have assigned task forces to further discuss these issues and bring recommendation back to the board for action. This is what I see my role as your president, to help facilitate the will of the membership.

I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible in the coming year. Speak up, be heard, after all, we are Architects!

Kurt M Kalafsky AIA
AIA-NJ 2014 President

AIA-NJ at Grassroots

AIA-NJ's Regional Director Jerry Eben on stage during the opening session

Over 20 representatives of AIA New Jersey and the 6 local AIA chapters joined over 700 AIA members in Washington DC this past week to attend the AIA 2012 Leadership and Legislative Conference –  Grassroots.

AIA President Jeff Potter, FAIA, and First Vice President & Grassroots Chair Mickey Jacob, FAIA, welcomed AIA and CACE members from across the country and around the world to Grassroots on Wednesday, March, March 7th.  Saying to all – “Come as you are – Leave Inspired”.

Over the next three days there was much shared on Leadership, Advocacy and Communication.  Highlighting case studies on what other chapters and components have been doing to succeed in these economic time.  Small break out sessions and seminars to connect, learn and get questions answered.  Offers of assistance to help the leaders of our local AIA serve YOU the members of AIA better.

AIA-NJ members on Capital Hill after meetings outside the house office buildings

Thursday, March 8th, meeting were held on Capital Hill.  Your AIA-NJ representatives met with either House or Senate members to bring the issues important to architects and the profession to our Congressional members.  We hope you should be hearing more about these visits at your local chapter meetings.  Issues highlighted are outlined on AIA’s Advocacy website: www.aia.org/advocacy/federal/AIAB092674

Congratulations to AIA Newark & Suburban, who had entries from their Live the Box and Newark Visitors Center competitions on display in the AIA Headquarters gallery.   We heard many great comments from AIA members across the country on these wonderful competitions.

The main conference end with a keynote address from Vernice Armour, inspirational author of  Zero to Breakthrough: How A Breakthrough Mentality Creates Breakthrough Results.   She reminded all to, ” Acknowledge the obstacles, don’t give them power” and that, “Opportunities don’t go away, other people take advantage of them.”

To learn more about Grassroots ask you local AIA president.

Also we have started posting some photos on our Facebook page – Go have a look, and remember to “Like Us”.