Michael Lejong, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, was unanimously elected as the 2020 chair of the AIA National Small Firm Exchange during its annual meeting held in Washington, D.C., at the AIA Headquarters Octagon on Feb. 4-6. He was appointed to the Small Firm Exchange (SFx) in 2015 by AIA Strategic Council member Rob Walker, AIA, to serve as the Gulf States regional representative.
During the meeting, the SFx received updated information with focused interaction from AIA national staff and re-booted support relationships with staff team members. With the meeting being held at AIA National, the format was quite unique and more intense than the process the SFx had used in the past meetings. The concentrated effort with AIA staff did not allow the SFx workgroups to meet separately as planned.
The SFx did create a theme for 2019 – “Small-Firm Business-Resource Exchange” – organized around four workgroups (below), and started to organize a survey of AIA possible curated materials that would support our Small Firm constituency. The SFx also restructured several workgroups to align closer with the AIA National Strategic Plan.
- Influence Workgroup (combination of Advocacy and Leadership)
- Practice Workgroup
- Outreach Workgroup
- Conference Workgroup
Influence: The Leadership Development Program, first envisioned in the SFx Leadership Workgroup, was approved by the board for the 2019 operating plan and budget. The LDP program is now under the direction of an external Steering Group and the work of the Leadership Workgroup will be shifting focus to align with the AIA national influence portfolio and combining with the work of the Advocacy Workgroup.
Practice: The 2019 Practice Workgroup aligns with the AIA national’s prosperity portfolio, which focuses the working group’s efforts to collect, curate, create and make accessible resources to help small architecture firms be more successful.
Outreach: The SFx Outreach Workgroup will support the efforts of all of the working groups to communicate with small firm architects and engage them in meaningful conversation about the profession. Leveraging the ever-expanding array of communication technology, the working group will reach out to small firm architects where they’re at and ensure they have the resources they need at their fingertips.
Conference: The SFx will continue its efforts to support the small firm architect at A’19 and A’20 through targeted small firm sessions, forums, events and guides. The Conference Workgroup will continue to make the conference experience as meaningful and impactful as possible for small firm architects.
Throughout 2019, SFx regional leaders will continue to collect and assess the existing resources of SFx and other AIA groups. When resources are found to be of value, SFx will create messaging and curate content to ensure the resources are immediately useful to small firm leaders. SFx will communicate new and existing resources and opportunities through SFx, AIA National, and AIA components in an effort to realign with the AIA National Strategic Plan for maximum impact.
The mission of the AIA Small Firm Exchange is to advance the mutual interests of architects practicing in small firms. Objectives of the AIA Small Firm Exchange are three-fold.
- Advocate for small firms within the AIA and in outside organizations and agencies.
- Promote leadership in small firm professional development and practice; and
- Facilitate and support the local component round tables and small firm networks.