The following message, shared earlier with the AIA board and national staff, is being sent on behalf of AIA’s EVP/CEO Lakisha Woods, CAE.
Over the last few months, I’ve learned much as I’ve listened to a wide range of constituencies, including, our members, volunteer leaders at all levels, strategic partners, and staff. One thing is clear- even though the past few years have not been easy, they have changed this organization for the better.
In fact, much of what I heard over the last several months confirmed my initial impression as I sought the job of EVP/CEO: AIA is on the right path. We are on the right path to do even more to help our members thrive in challenging times. We are on the right path to be an even more assertive voice for the profession. And our financial outlook provides a strong foundation for future success.
Fundamentally, AIA’s internal structure and working relationships must reflect our focus on advancing the two overarching objectives in AIA’s Strategic Plan: helping architects lead the fight against the climate crisis and championing racial, gender, and economic justice and equality through the power of design. In addition, we must work to adjust to a post-pandemic world as an employer, meet the evolving expectations of members during challenging times, and continue to expand our leadership role in the industry.
The trajectory on all of these fronts is overwhelmingly positive. My goal is to ensure that AIA’s positive trajectory continues, and based on the feedback from the listening tour, I have determined that changes are necessary to AIA’s internal working relationships and organizational structure.
First, to better align our leadership team with the strategic plan and to align sustainability and equity, I created the Chief External EDI Officer. Renée Byng Yancey will expand her current role at AIA to take on this important leadership position. The goal of the Chief External EDI Officer is to center equity, diversity, and inclusion in how architects are educated, recruited, and retained all along the career continuum. The role will ensure internal alignment of EDI and sustainability efforts throughout the organization and the profession.
Under that department will be a new hire, Kevin Watkins, who will join AIA as Senior Vice President, Membership & Component Services. Kevin is currently the Chief Federation Officer at the American Institute of Physics, an association of 10 Membership Societies of more than 116,000 members in the physics science community.
Also, R. Corey Clayborne, FAIA, will join Renee’s team as Senior Vice President, Knowledge & Practice. Currently, Corey is the EVP and CEO of AIA Virginia. As a component leader and architect Corey’s insight and perspective will be especially valuable as we work to accelerate change that will lead to a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive profession.
Next, the current Senior Vice President, Knowledge & Practice, Terri Stewart, Hon. AIA, will be elevated to serve in the newly created role of Chief Finance and Administration Officer (CFAO.) Terri holds an MBA from George Mason University, and before AIA, Terri served in several CFO and financial leadership roles at other associations. The goal of this position is to lead strategic financial decisions for AIA, manage our 1735 Investments, make best use of technology to improve financial efficiency, transparency, and stewardship of AIA resources.
Lisa Green will continue her role as Senior Vice President, Finance and Administration within the CFAO department.
Also being promoted into the CFAO department is Praveen Patel. He will serve as Senior Vice President, Technology. Praveen has led AIA’s internal technology team for many years. His strong background in corporate technology firms and skill leading association AMS transitions will be vital to developing long-term solutions for both our internal and external customers. Unfortunately, these changes required the elimination of the Senior Vice President, Product & Strategy role, held by Jeffrey Raymond. I want to take this opportunity to thank Jeffrey for his many contributions to AIA and wish him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.
The third addition to the senior leadership team (SLT) is the role of Strategic Advisor, which will be filled by Vicky Schneider. Vicky comes to AIA from Johns Hopkins University where she’s spent 18+ years establishing new programs, cultivating internal and external relationships, guiding strategic vision, and increasing organizational efficiencies. Initially, Vicky will review all of AIA’s consultant and vendor contracts and relationships to ensure maximum alignment with our mission critical and business needs, and to eliminate redundancy to ensure prudent stewardship of AIA resources.
In addition, she will serve as my chief advisor to help me make certain that we continue to follow through on all the action items that have come out of the ongoing listening tour.
Because who we elevate reflects our commitment to our values, and to better align roles and responsibilities, I am moving the Honors and Awards team to work within the office of the Corporate Secretary. Moving AIA’s highly regarded Honors and Awards program and the College of Fellows will help AIA lead by example, as we all work to advance equity in the profession.
I am pleased to announce that Pam Day, Hon. AIA, has been promoted to Vice President, Governance & Awards and Corporate Secretary. Our other departments remain in their current structure and the newly modified SLT will meet early next week for a retreat to increase engagement, improve communication, teambuilding, and identify programs that will move us into the future.
Ultimately, my goal is not just to be responsive to change, but to ensure that AIA is recognized as an agent of positive change, by our members, the industry, and society. These additions and changes to AIA’s leadership team are important steps that will advance and enhance AIA’s strategic focus.
I’d like to congratulate the new additions to the Senior Leadership Team and internal promotions.
Lakisha Ann Woods, CAE (she/her)
EVP/Chief Executive Officer