March 23, 2012

by Laurence E. Parisi, AIA

The 2012 Grassroots Leadership Conference was held in Washington D.C.  March 7, 2012 through Friday March 9, 2012. If you did attended this conference I’m sure you left well rewarded with extraordinary leadership skills. This year we lobbied on Capital Hill for four issues and bills that were in the Senate and the House.  They were:

  1. We asked our representatives to support legislation to remove Barriers to Private Sector Lending. This is to get funding for stalled construction projects that were still on the drawing boards or even completed and shelved, “construction ready projects”.
  2. The second issue is to “Save Energy, Create Jobs”:  In order to get American Building again, Congress should incentives energy efficient new construction and renovations of existing buildings.
  3. The third issue is to” Help Small Businesses Thrive”, the ask was for H.R. 3978 in the House and any possible companion bill in the Senate to ensure that small  architecture firms in new Jersey have access to SBA programs.
  4. Pass a Transportation Bill to Get our Communities Moving Again: The allocation of our federal transportation dollars has a major impact on the economic development of local communities.

The excitement of going to Capital Hill to lobby with your congressmen and senators for proactive bills that develop the prospect of work to our profession is a real thrill. Additionally there are numerous leadership courses were offered and fun evening events that make this conference an exceptional learning experience. Some of the valued sessions I attended were:

  1. Association Law and Ethics made Easy given by Jay Stephens, Esq.
  2. How to Create and operate a Center for Architecture.
  3. The AIA and the IgCC. Paneled by our own executive director Joe Simonetta.
  4. Working with the Media.
  5. Grant Funding.

The highlight of this years conference was to see Jerry Eben, AIA on the Big Stage doing a mock scenario on how to present to the Representatives on Capital Hill and how to field difficult questions.  A Very cool and collected Jerry Eben performed like a pro in front of some 700 architects. All of the New Jersey AIA contingents were very proud.

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