“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new” –Socrates

This past year, I have had the honor of serving as the president of the Cincinnati chapter of the AIA in its 149th year of existence. 149 years is a lot of history to reflect on and live up to. History alone, though, cannot prepare us for a future that, especially now, seems to be rapidly in flux. Our global climate is changing. Our profession is evolving. Technology is transforming at mind-boggling pace. Generational shifts in mindset, culture, and expectations are becoming undeniable. Change can be scary, but it can also bring boundless opportunity.

2019 was a year of change not just at the global level, but also at our very local level. Over the course of the year, AIA Cincinnati faced the challenge, but also the great opportunity, of hiring a new Executive Director. This process was at times difficult and time consuming, and it necessitated a real shift in priorities and goals for the chapter for the year. It was also a much-needed opportunity for the AIA Cincinnati Board of Directors, as well as other members who generously volunteered their time, to evaluate and analyze the current and future needs of the chapter. 

Difficult discussions were had, and we aired and assessed differences in opinion and priorities for the chapter. Change was embraced, and decisions were made with the intention of moving the chapter forward and preparing for the future instead of dwelling in the past. Through the course of conversation, the board returned time and time again to AIA Cincinnati member surveys of the past several years that identified better communication, affirming the value of architects, and “making a difference” as top priorities for our chapter. These desires became our framework for decision-making. Even once a new ED was hired, the board has continued to evaluate past practices and procedures, and seek new ways of serving our membership as efficiently and effectively as possible.

While the hiring of our new ED, Julie Carpenter, was in many ways the most visible singular moment in my term as president, we also had other notable events in 2019. These accomplishments include:

  • Successfully hosting the Ohio Valley Region Convention in September. 
  • Recognizing exceptional projects with the CRAN awards and the CDA awards.
  • Award of the Bettman Prize and the first AIA Cincinnati Impact Grant. 
  • A refresh of the AIA Cincinnati website.
  • Graduation of 12 emerging leaders from the VISION program.

In 2020 our chapter will celebrate our 150th year. While we will be fondly reflecting on our past during the celebration, I am confident that we will also be focused on our continued evolution as a chapter to serve our profession and community for years to come. While my term as president is ending, my commitment to the chapter and excitement for its future is not. I look forward to working with you all in a new role.


Allison McKenzie

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.