AIA’S ROLE IN RACIAL EQUITY & PANDEMIC PROGRAMMING: A LETTER FROM CHAPTER PRESIDENT CYNTHIA WILLIAMS

First and foremost, AIA Cincinnati believes that Black Lives Matter. As I write this, I am keenly aware that without action this phrase rings hollow. We at AIA are reflecting on the alignment of our values and our programs and consulting with community members to determine our next steps, so that when we say we support equity, diversity, and inclusion, we also do the work to realize it. As a first step, we have compiled numerous resources on race, justice, and architecture on our website. We welcome your thoughtful suggestions as we move forward.

Thank you to those of you who responded to our recent survey on charting our course in response to COVID-19. We hear your desire for programs to earn continuing education credits, and your suggestions for programs on sustainability and business practices. Many of you also requested a focus on pandemic design information, speakers and discussion on design issues, and advocacy for issues impacting architecture. As we incorporate your feedback into our array of offerings for the coming months, we recognize that the pandemic is still among us. To safeguard all attendees, the Board of Directors has decided that all of our programs and events will take place online for the remainder of the year. While we may prefer in-person activities, and we surely miss the physical networking with our colleagues and supporters, online programming will reduce health risks and has provided unexpected benefits, such as expanded access to state-wide AIA programs, previously only available locally.

In recent weeks, we have also heard from many members about how AIA Cincinnati can do more to address systemic inequity and exclusion in the field of architecture. While the recent survey gave us important information, it neglected to ask about programs on equity and architecture. We deeply regret this omission, and it further underscores the imperativeness for reflection within our own organization. We simply must do better to prioritize equity, diversity, and inclusion in all our programs and across the AIA. To help us in this effort, we have created a new single-question survey, through which we invite you to tell us which types of programs on equity and architecture would be most helpful and interesting to you. Kindly respond to the survey by June 26, 2020. Our hope is that this additional tool for input, coupled with feedback that we have already received, will allow us to move forward with meaningful, actionable change in the months and years ahead.

I look forward to sharing the coalescence of your thoughts, and to marshaling the efforts of this chapter to build a more responsive, empathetic, and just world with you.

Cynthia Williams, AIA
President of AIA Cincinnati

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