Emerging Professionals Roundtable

by Adam Reed, Assoc. AIA
Associate Member Director

Every year, Associate leaders from across the state gather in Austin in February for Texas Architects Intern and Associates Grassroots. This year we wanted to expand the scope of our conversation – to move beyond identifying the issues that Associates face with professional development to focusing on how Associate Directors can address them in their chapters, as well as to consider the challenges Associates will face later in their careers. With this in mind, the name of the event has been changed to the Emerging Professionals Roundtable.

Many Associates face the same challenges across the state, with the only difference being the scale at which the challenges exist. Many of the concerns that Associates have are cyclical. We discussed the need for Associates to feel included in their AIA chapter’s plans; to have the resources available to navigate changes to the Intern Development Program (IDP); and to go through their professional development with a voice. To address many of these issues, chapter Associate Directors spent most of Saturday sharing ten-minute presentations on what their Associate committees have accomplished over the past year and how they plan on improving existing programs or implementing new program opportunities in 2012.

Perhaps the most fulfilling aspect of this year’s roundtable was having Paul Dennehy, Vice President of the Member Services Commission, and Charlie Burris, Membership Chair, join us in investigating ways for Associate members to integrate more fluidly into the Society’s Strategic Plan. Their involvement and direction allowed us to look at the Associate membership as part of a larger group, the Emerging Professionals community. Derwin Broughton, 2012 Chair of Dallas’ Young Architects Forum, challenged all chapters to foster more collaboration between Associate committees and their respective Young Architects forums.

As Texas’s future practitioners, we can be more effective when our concerns and successes are communicated both up and down the ranks. The information gained over the weekend session was intended to make its way back to our respective chapters, but the discussion went the other way, as well. Cesar Gallegos, Regional Associates Director, presented the grand plans of the National Associates Committee. We spent a good amount of time finding ways to align our mission with theirs and learning how our individual efforts can play roles at the national level.

This year’s Emerging Professionals Roundtable proved to be everything it was intended to be—informative, productive, and enjoyable. A special thanks is owed to the Texas Society of Architects staff, especially Robert Bennett and Elizabeth Hackler, for their generosity to host us over the two-day stretch. Thanks to Gary Dunn, Jackie Blackmore, and Mary Helmcamp for their presentations that addressed the professional issues that Associate members face. And above all else, thanks to the Associate Directors who were totally committed to a weekend of brainstorming. You truly exemplify leadership and a collaborative spirit that can only strengthen the future of the architecture profession.