I was hired in winter of 2015 to take on the awe-inspiring position of executive director of AIA New York Chapter and the Center for Architecture. Seven years later, with much to be proud of and much I will miss, I bid these institutions a bittersweet farewell.
Serving the members of AIANY and the broader architectural community has been an honor. The position demanded a tremendous amount of responsibility, was at times challenging, and pushed me out of my comfort zone. But more often than not, the job was about collaboration and impact—about creating the conditions for the architectural community to rely on each other to solve problems.
Working with this community was only sometimes about buildings; much of our focus was actually about the well-being of people who design buildings and the people who live, learn, work, heal, and recreate in them. Over the years, we took on many important issues, such as making the case that architects and buildings can play a positive role in climate action, rather than negatively contributing to carbon emissions. We started to ask questions addressing issues that the Chapter and profession will focus on for years to come, such as: Why has the profession not achieved the levels of equity it needs to thrive and be competitive? How can an architectural workforce that is not diverse serve the diverse communities in our city and beyond, who would most benefit from well-designed homes and public amenities? How can the demands of an architectural education and a design career become more manageable and rewarding so we do not lose the talent we need to solve the many problems skilled designers can solve?
With these questions and others in mind, and in collaboration with a dedicated board, a motivated staff, and an engaged membership and community, I was proud to oversee the creation of a range of programs and funds, such as the Civic Leadership Program, the AIANY Future of Practice Committee, the AIANY Political Action Committee, the CFA Patrons Circle, the AIANY 2030 Fund, the CFA Anniversary Fund, and, in collaboration with NYCOBA NOMA, the J. Max Bond Fund.
Other key projects during my tenure included the development of a joint strategic framework and the creation of a new website and digital strategy for both organizations. In 2018, AIANY partnered with AIA National to host the Conference on Architecture in New York for the first time in 20 years, welcoming a record 25,000 architects to the city. The Center’s K-12 programs and Archtober, New York City’s annual architecture and design festival, also expanded over the past years, and major foundations, such as the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and Bloomberg Philanthropies, supported the Center with large grants for the first time. I am also proud to have shepherded both organizations through the challenges of the pandemic and the reopening of the Center in October 2021, after 18 months of remote programming and events.
These institutions have been engaging and rewarding places to work, and making the decision to leave has been very difficult. However, when presented with a new and different opportunity, I felt it was time to bring more focus to my work and pass the baton. In my new position, I will be president of a foundation focused on preservation, restoration, and the collection and conservation of decorative arts. In this role, I will help transform the foundation’s activities to be more outwardly impactful through the creation of new scholarships, grants, and awards programs. I will remain in New York and continue to be a member of the Chapter. I thank you all for making my time here so meaningful, and I will close by saying what I always do, and I mean it: See you at the Center!