The biennial AIA Women’s Leadership Summit (WLS) was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota on September 12-14 and was attended by 750 women from across the country, including a group from the AIANY WIA Committee. Mary-Margaret Zindren, AIA, Executive Vice President of AIA Minnesota, kicked off the first day with her opening remarks, speaking about moving from “intent” to “impact” and a call to share stories of success and failures. Her remarks can be read here. WLS was book ended by two indomitable keynote speakers, Priya Parker and Toshiko Mori, FAIA. Parker set the tone for the Summit, inspiring all to express their power, whether in formal or informal ways. Mori closed the event, reminding us to be generous with one another.

During the three days, there were many panel discussions focusing on the theme of Reframe, Rethink, Refresh. Many stories were told, stories of growth, stories of purpose, and stories of when women were told they weren’t good enough. We were all encouraged to become our own advocates in the profession and advised as to how we can promote women throughout our industry and have our profession become a more inclusive environment. Pay equity was discussed at many of the sessions, and is a topical discussion—how do firms become more transparent? How do we become more comfortable in negotiating? Also, we need to recognize that it’s not always about the money.

The biggest takeaway was creating connections with WIA leaders from across the country. We can learn from each other, and can strengthen our bonds, creating a nationwide network. There is power in numbers. We’re looking forward to ‘A20 in Los Angeles and continuing the conversations with these inspiring women.

A summary outline from the 2019 AIA WLS can be read here.