March 6, 2017 / President's Letters

March 2017 President's Letter – Leadership and Advocacy at Different Levels

As I thought about what to write this month, advocacy and leadership have been fresh in my mind, partly because we hear about legislative issues almost daily, whether it is in the city, state or nation, and partly because of all the activity going on in our chapter. To put this in perspective, I thought about how advocacy and leadership are considered and applied at different levels or scales – local, regional, national and global.
It is daunting to think about how to make a difference globally when you are also trying to make a difference in your community or just on the street where you live. Action at one level can affect another, or action at one level can be scaled up or down to be applied to another. Maybe that’s why someone came up with the saying to “think globally, act locally.” Here are just a few ways that our chapter is acting locally and beyond:
Another season of CivicLAB began on March 1. This program was developed to encourage leadership and involvement in the profession through sessions involving civic engagement, government advocacy, and leadership building. This is the type of program that is needed to continue to develop strong leaders and advocates in the next generations. These are skills that can be applied at all levels.
Spring Lecture Series
The Spring Lecture Series begins this month with the very relevant and thought provoking topic of Migration. The series will explore this topic at regional, global, and interplanetary scales. As architects, we are involved in many scales of the built environment, which is why it is important for us to be leaders in developing solutions for a more sustainable, adaptable, and inclusive environment.
The AIA National Grassroots conference is this week and it is a great opportunity for AIA component leaders to learn more ways to be effective leaders in our chapter and nationally, and stay informed of AIA National initiatives.  We will also be joining other Maryland AIA chapters in visiting our members of Congress on Capitol Hill to continue to advocate for important issues affecting our members.
We learned the great news that two of our chapter’s members, David Mayhew and Suzanne Frasier, have been elevated to AIA’s highest membership honor: Fellowship. Fellows are recognized for their exceptional work and contributions to architecture and society. David and Suzanne are leaders in and advocates for our profession at the local scale with the work they do at their universities.
Maryland Business Recovery Storefront Improvement Program
Another example of local advocacy is our chapter’s work with the Maryland Business Recovery Storefront Improvement Program. AIABaltimore members are coordinating pro-bono architectural design services with the Neighborhood Design Center and Baltimore Heritage to assist businesses across Baltimore with façade improvements. We are grateful to our members who have donated their time and services for this important initiative.
Every person on this earth is affected by architecture every day, whether through where you live, work, stop for coffee or go to school. Knowing that the work you do daily affects people’s lives should be all the more reason we need to strongly advocate for a better built environment and be leaders in making it happen.
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Sharon Day, AIA
GWWO Inc./Architects