During the first week of March I attended the 2019 AIA Grassroots Conference in Washington DC with President Elect Cynthia Williams and Executive Director Pat Daugherty. The annual Grassroots Conference is focused on advocacy and chapter governance, and when it is held in Washington DC, it also includes a Capitol Hill Day where attendees visit with their members of Congress to advocate. The advocacy focuses generally on the value of architects, but AIA National also selects a few current issues to focus on specifically.
This year, AIA National asked us to speak with our Senators and Representatives about two topics: school safety and energy efficiency. As an architect who focuses on sustainable design and educational projects, I was very excited to be able to speak about issues that are so directly related to my day to day practice. AIA provided us with a very thorough Component Guide that addressed important talking points on each issue. You can access that guide by clicking HERE. Members of our AIA Cincinnati chapter were able to speak directly with Representative Brad Wenstrup and staff members for Senator Rob Portman. Other attendees from Ohio spoke with Senator Sherrod Brown and additional Representatives from across Ohio.
An impressive 605 AIA members from 48 states participated in Capitol Hill Day this year. AIA National arranged 474 meetings across the House and Senate for these attendees, and 137 of these meetings were held with the member of Congress him/herself. From my perspective, this was an extremely well-planned event and has the potential to have a real impact on how members of Congress view the architectural profession and the issues of school safety and energy efficiency. As an architect, I am driven by the days when I feel like I have been able to make a difference for our profession or my community. Capitol Hill Day was one of those days.