Strategic Councilors Jessica O’Donnell, AIA, and Verity Frizzell, FAIA, Share Council Report

March 11, 2024

Reading Time: 5 minutes

At-Large Director to the Strategic Council, Jessica O’Donnell, AIA

Strategic Councilors Jessica O’Donnell, AIA, and Verity Frizzell, FAIA, Share Council Report

AIA West Jersey Member Jessica O’Donnell, AIA, is serving her first year as At Large Director on the AIA Strategic Council. This position is unique as she represents a broad network and demographic instead of a single state. AIA NJ Past President Verity Frizzell, FAIA, is also a Strategic Councilor, but specifically representing New Jersey. Jessica also serves as an At-Large Trustee to AIA New Jersey Board and is a Past President of AIA West Jersey. Verity is an AIA New Jersey Executive Committee member and Past President of AIA New Jersey and AIA Jersey Shore. The Councilors are sharing recent reports to provide more intentional transparency and increase awareness of what the Council is working on.



Mission: The AIA Strategic Council advances the architectural profession by informing the AIA Board and other Institute bodies about important professional issues, opportunities, and threats. The Council has an outward and forward-focused vision with an emphasis on long-term goals and outcomes.

What Does the Strategic Council Do? To learn more about the role and activities of the Strategic Council, click HERE.

From Jessica:

The first two months on the Council have been full of engaging conversations and thoughtful discussions. As a Co-Chair of the Value of Architecture Study Group, I am inspired by the introspection, foresight, and inquisitive dialogue that has occurred from all group members at each meeting.

For Q1, our study group is focusing on what the definition of Value is under three different three lenses: 1) near term as it relates to what architects do; 2) long term as it relates to how we can do things better; and 3) the unexplored as it relates areas that have not been studied yet.

For Q2 and Q3, we plan to engage in qualitative and quantitative research exploration that will result in recommendations to the board during Q4. Those recommendations will be actionable items that will both educate & prepare AIA members and collectively advance knowledge to positively impact our profession, planet, and global society.


From Verity:

I am participating in the Design: AI study group this year. We will be continuing the work done last year to further explore four areas: 1) Form an AI Industry Consortium to collaborate with allied organizations (contractors, engineers, owners) focused on leveraging AI to advance the industry and benefit people and the planet; 2) An Institute effort to lead and fund the development and ongoing curation and maintenance of a Data Repository that provides architecture data taxonomy and an exchange platform; 3) Develop alternative compensation models for outcome-and-performance-based services instead of time-based; 4) Create a recalibrated definition of “Health, Safety, and Welfare” to address the future of the architecture profession as the use of AI expands.
Our study group has been further divided into these sub-groups. My efforts will be focused on areas 3 & 4, with the ultimate goal of making recommendations to the board by the end of the year.

From The Moderators:

The Strategic Council started successfully during Governance Week in Washington, DC, last December. During this event, the 2024 study groups began outlining their plans for the year (see following section).

The Council Moderator and Vice Moderator attended the AIA Research Network meeting to provide an update on the progress. The Research Network is an informal group comprised of researchers in professional practice, and architectural educators, including experts in public health, high-performance design, equitable communities, resilience, and more. The group grew out of initial collaboration in 2021 and meets on an ad hoc basis a few times a year to strengthen research connections and share areas of research inquiry. This group is also an opportunity for allied organizations such as the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA), and Architectural Research Centers Consortium (ARCC) to provide programmatic updates and share events
and funding opportunities.

The Council is proactively updating its communication processes to enhance the communication channels between state components and AIA National. This strategic initiative aims to empower Councilors as effective conduits across the diverse layers of the AIA.

The early collaboration with AIA Staff leadership, subsequent engagement with the AIA Research Network, and ongoing communication updates have positioned the Council for a year of meaningful progress, resource sharing, and collective efforts toward positively influencing the architectural profession and our global society.

Graciela Carrillo, AIA 2024 Moderator + Josh Flowers, FAIA 2024 Vice Moderator
Special thanks to our Steering Committee members who help guide our work and inform our decision-making process: Brad
Benjamin, AIA (Best Practices Committee Chair), Alyssa Murphy, AIA (Communications Chair), Bruce Herrington, AIA (Elections


The 2024 Strategic Council has formed five study groups researching the following topics. In January, the co-chairs of each study group met with AIA Staff leadership to exchange resources and identify potential synergies with AIA's ongoing initiatives. This meeting enabled us to pinpoint key AIA personnel who would actively contribute to the study meetings, fostering further collaboration and resource sharing.

The five study groups and their 2024 focus are as follows:
 Equity: Achieving a Bias-free Profession
 Design: Artificial Intelligence and its Impact
 Wellbeing: Advancing Awareness, Knowledge, and Application toward designing healthier
buildings and communities

 Value of Architecture: Developing recommendations for actionable items that will educate and
prepare members and collectively advance knowledge to positively impact our profession, our
planet, and our global society
 Climate: Water & Equity, expanding the lens of climate action by deepening practice knowledge
about the impact and opportunities of design choices surrounding water


You may have noticed some changes to the AIA website in recent months. Initially launched in late 2023, the new website ( aims to be more engaging, user-friendly, and better communicate AIA events and programs.

As the publishing landscape continues to evolve, AIA proactively ensures its members have access to high-quality, relevant content. The new content hub, which will be available on AIA’s new website as a member benefit, will offer a unique user experience. The weekly e-newsletter will use personalization algorithms and AI platforms to deliver content tailored to each member’s interests and professional specializations.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is commending the Biden-Harris Administration for developing a National Definition of a Zero Emission Building for Operating Emissions. Defining zero-emission buildings will help create consistent, standardized, measurable factors to help architects reduce building emissions.

In response to the Request for Information issued, AIA developed comments with member feedback that emphasized clarification is needed on whether the Administration intends to incorporate the definition in future guidance or financial incentives. AIA President Kimberly Dowdell, AIA, NOMAC, noted that “AIA members have been providing input to the Administration through the development of the
definition and will continue to do so as this process moves forward.”

The Strategic Council would like to commend Councilor Tim Lock of Maine and 2023 Moderator and current AIA Board Member Anne Hicks-Harney of New Jersey for their direct participation in this effort. This connection sprang from the work of the Council’s 2023 Climate Action workgroup.

We value input! If you have questions or ideas for the Strategic Council, contact us at


By | Posted in AIA-NJ News, Women in Architecture | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Comments (0)



Architects are creative professionals, educated, trained, and experienced in the art and science of building design, and licensed to practice architecture. Their designs respond to client needs, wants and vision, protect public safety, provide economic value, are innovative, inspire and contribute positively to the community and the environment.

414 Riverview Plaza, Trenton, NJ 08611
(609) 393-5690