This annual meeting offers opportunities for leaders from nearly 280 state and local chapters to exchange programs, best practices, and share and discuss information and challenges that relate to their experiences

The 2012 AIA Grassroots Leadership and Legislative Conference was held in Washington DC the first week of March. I was joined at the conference by other members of the Newark and Suburban Executive Committee – Kevin McCormick, AIA, Louise Addonizio, AIA, John Cwikla, AIA, Stephen Rooney, AIA and Jason Peist, Assoc. AIA. The theme for this year’s convention was Leadership, Advocacy & Communication. AIA Component Leaders from across the country visited our nation’s capital to lobby their congressmen and senators on the following issues:

Remove Barriers to Private Sector Lending. This is to get funding for stalled construction projects that were still either still on the drawing boards or completed and shelved.

Save Energy, Create Jobs In order to get America building again. Congress should incentivize energy efficient construction and renovations of existing buildings.

Helping Small Firms Grow. The AIA urges Congress and the Administration to recognize the unique needs of smaller architecture firms as they develop and implement policy proposals and oppose proposals that disproportionately affect small firms.

Revitalizing America’s Neighborhoods. The AIA urges Congress to enact a multi-year reauthorization of the federal surface transportation laws that maintains funding levels, invests in all modes of transportation, and recognizes the multiple enhancements that well-designed transportation projects can bring to a community.

These issues are further outlined on the AIA’s Advocacy website:

Louise Addonizio, AIA, Justin Mihalik, AIA and Kevin McCormick, AIA visited the office of the Honorable Rodney Frelinghuysen, Congressman of the 11th District of NJ, and met with his Senior Legislative Assistant, Mr. Daniel Ostermueller. Visiting Capitol Hill and taking part in the democratic process was an interesting and exciting experience.


EXPERIENCING GRASSROOTS! by Jerome Leslie Eben, AIA, AIANJ Regional Director 2011-13

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 recharged, ready to serve 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 authoritive 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 extremely successful with nearly 800 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 Jason Peist, Associate AIA for speaking up during the limited time we had at 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.

There were 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 and supporting OUR profession.



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