Member Involvement

The mission of AIA Arkansas is to develop, promote and sustain the practice and practitioners of Arkansas through a focus on advocacy, inclusion and education.  In support of this, we offer our members the opportunity to participate on many different committees, in legislative and education events, state convention and local networking activities.

Member committees include Legislative, Diversity, State Convention, Emerging Professionals (within 10 years of graduation), Public Relations or Regional Section Leadership.

See below for a brief description of our committees and members serving on them now.

Interested in getting involved? Please drop an email to to request more information and to be put in touch with our member committee chair.


Convention Committee
To plan and execute financially successful conference with the appropriate
balance of education and networking opportunities.

Rich Brya, AIA (Co-Chair) Patty Opitz, AIA (Co-Chair)
Yume Rodriguez, AIA (Design Awards)
Nate Deason, AIA (Speaker Co-Chair)
Tim Varner, AIA (Speaker Co-Chair)
Grant Smith, AIA (Bike-a-tecture Chair)
Katherine Lashley, AIA (Graphics)
Frank Barksdale, AIA (Golf)
Ernest Banks, Assoc. AIA (Architect as Artist)
Kiara Luers, AIA (EP/Associates) James Sullivan, AIA (Diversity Co-Chair)
Jonathan Opitz, AIA (President)

Disaster Assistance Committee
Help teach members and firms how to prepare themselves for disasters as well as support and provide resources for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM) and its INSPARK program.

Jim Gallagher, AIA (Co-Chair)
Walter Jennings, AIA (Co-Chair)

PR Committee
Promote awareness and value of Architects and the AIA being involved in the built environment; and to recruit and maintain members, benefits and services of AIA Arkansas and communicate these efforts to its members. Enhance communications for our members and the public that are aligned with the AIA Arkansas mission and vision.

Nate Deason, AIA (Chair)
Galen Hunter, AIA
Nate Deason, AIA
Jonathan Opitz, AIA
Katherine Lashley, AIA
Ngozi Brown, AIA

Emerging Professionals Committee
To represent leadership to Associate members; assist with IDP coordination and collaborate with the Fay Jones School of Architecture students in a spirit of advancing the profession. To be the conduit for involvement and leadership in concert with but beyond the bounds of the University or traditional architecture firm structure while accelerating Emerging Professionals and their skills.

Kiara Luers, AIA (Chair)
Nate Deason, AIA (Assistant Assoc. Director)
Chris Sullivan, AIA (AXP Coordinator)

Adam Day, AIA
Amanda Sturgell, AIA
Chris Sheppard, AIA
Brandon Ruhl, AIA
Brandon Bibby, Assoc. AIA
Ernest Banks, Assoc. AIA
Ben Gregory, Assoc. AIA
Ben Hartter, AIA
Nikki Crane, Assoc. AIA
Kate Edwards, Assoc. AIA
Ester Wui, Assoc. AIA

Fort Smith:
Kalvin Cundiff, Assoc. AIA
Nate Deason, AIA
Tim Varner, Assoc. AIA

Estaban Ayala, AIA
Holly Strother, AIA
Matt Poe, AIA Randall Hurban, AIA

Legislative Committee
Monitor proposed Arkansas and National legislation, engage legislators and membership where action is required and keep our AIA Arkansas membership informed of the legislative process. AIA Arkansas shall establish its opinions first around current AIA National Public Policies and Position Statements then align with the mission and vision of AIA Arkansas and its membership.

Michael Lejong (Legislative Chair)


PAC Committee
Intended to work in tandem with the legislative committee with a specific goal of supporting selected candidates who are willing and able to influence policy in an informed way on the issues of interest to the architectural profession.


Diversity Committee
To encourage retention and leadership and celebrate the contributions among
minorities and women in our general membership of AIA Arkansas.

Candi Adams, AIA (Chair)
Lori Yazwinski Santa-Rita, AIA
Lisa Skiles, AIA
Patty Opitz, AIA

Section Leadership
Central Section Chair: Lily McRae, Assoc. AIA
East Section Chair: Brittany Mortin, AIA
Fort Smith Section Chair: Gerianna England, AIA
Northwest Section Chair: Steven Baker, AIA