Repositioning the Institute: What It Means to the Texas Society of Architects

John Nyfeler, FAIA

As you know, for about a year, your AIA has been on a course to renew the AIA as a more valued and relevant organization at all levels of the professional society. Working with skilled consultants and listening to over 31,000 individual interviews, with major input from members like you and others with relationships with AIA, your board agreed in September of 2013 to take steps to:

  • Elevate public awareness of the value of architecture and of the AIA,
  • Advocate for the profession in the public and private sectors, and;
  • Enhance the sharing of knowledge and expertise to the benefit of all AIA members.

The initiative identified significant real and meaningful change areas of the organization:

  • Leadership structure: Board structure and relationship of local, regional, and national components
  • Institutional framework: Communications methods and valued service to all AIA members, and
  • Operational focus: Setting priorities among the many positive AIA programs.

Over the next several months we will see changes and proposals under the following headings. Today some are more advanced than others but progress is planned in all areas:

CONNECT

  • Melding component autonomy versus unity: How shall every chapter provide a minimum level of services to all members?
  • Component structure: Will every chapter be organized the same way?
  • Tier coordination among local, regional and national components: Are we doing it the right way in every location?

ENGAGE

  • Communication effectiveness: How do we communicate effectively; internally and externally?
  • Engaging and embracing emerging professionals: How do we attract and satisfy younger AIA members?           

LEAD

  • Leadership tenure: Who do the members elect and for what term?
  • Board size and composition: How shall we structure ourselves?

INNOVATE

  • Prioritization of initiatives: What to emphasize and do first and what programs are no longer useful?
  • Speak out on key issues: Local, regional and national?
  • Resource allocation: On what are we spending our money?

At the Grassroots gathering in the Spring of 2013, AIA members were asked to rank the long list of potential changes in an order of importance. That ranking put prioritization of initiatives and allocation of resources toward the top of the list.

Apart from the ranked priorities set by the membership, National leadership has led the Board to the Board Structure as the first of the significant changes. The initial proposal for Board restructuring reduced the size of the Board and created a so-called bi-cameral governance system; one with a smaller Board and a companion Council. While your Board supported the concept, since the details have been recently set out, some serious reservations and misgivings have been expressed regarding the way the voice of the members is discounted and how appointments rather than election is a major method of composing the AIA national leadership.

Those reservations and misgivings have led the leadership of your Texas Society of Architects to develop alternative approaches to achieving the laudable goals set by the Repositioning Initiative while preserving the primacy of the voice of all AIA members in the business of the Institute. Those alternative approaches will be advanced by the Texas membership. The question to be answered is:  “What is the BEST way for AIA to move forward?”

Your Texas delegation on the AIA Board and TxA component leadership is and will continue to be active in the decisions regarding Institute matters that affect all AIA members and a continuing reporting will be made so all members will know what is apt to affect their membership and their practice. 

…more later as it is known.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.