Grassroots 2017 Recap

March 15, 2017

aia-eagleGrassroots 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

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