Dreiling elected AIA President, a positive step for architects

Here at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) National Convention in Washington, D.C., I’m pleased to report that Helene Dreiling, FAIA, has been elected 2013 First Vice President and 2014 President-Elect of the AIA. In December 2013, she will take office as 2014 President, and she will be only the third woman to be AIA president since AIA’s founding in 1857.

Her win means a lot for the profession, and for me personally. Helene has been a friend and professional mentor of mine for 15 years. When I was editor in chief of Crit, the AIAS national journal, 1996 to 1998, Helene was the AIA liaison to the AIAS board of directors that I served on. In the 15 years since, we have followed each other’s careers closely, with involvement with AIA as a connector. I am pictured here with Helene at her celebratory reception Friday night, shortly after the election results were announced at the AIA Convention.

Helene is currently the executive director of the Virginia Center for Architecture, and from 2000-2009, her positions at the AIA national office included managing director of component relations, vice president of strategic initiatives, and relationships and team vice president, AIA Community. Read more about Helene Dreiling here. And click here to see her candidacy web page, which has all of her speeches and Q&As from her run for office.

The only other women to serve as AIA president in 155 years were Susan Maxman, FAIA, in 1993, and Kate Schwennsen, FAIA, in 2006. And that is significant when one sees an AIA Convention crowd this week that is still predominantly male.  For architects, this is a time of necessary change and that sense was palpable here in Washington. The recent Recession has had a significant impact on the architecture profession, and lingering questions remain. What’s next? What does recovery look like? Where do we go from here?

In her candidacy, Helene talked about cultural change within the profession, and specifically cited the “capacity and capability to be the architects of change, the architects of community, and the architects of culture.” A forward-looking agenda for architects and designers is sorely needed. And Helene’s victory is a positive sign for the future.

Contract Editor in Chief John Czarnecki, Assoc. AIA, and Helene Dreiling, FAIA, at her celebratory reception shortly after the election results were announced at the AIA Convention.

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