Engage & Lead from Anywhere

by Mary-Margaret Zindren, EVP/Executive Director

Over the past few weeks, I have been struck by the many ways that virtual meetings have made it easy for members of AIA Minnesota to engage and lead from anywhere.

Board and committee members and CE attendees have Zoomed in from work trips in St. Louis and snowbird escapes in Arizona. A board member is engaging for several months from the Deep South while his son pursues a once-in-a-lifetime sports opportunity. Our Minnesota-based Community of Practice for Culture Change includes AIA members from coast to coast.

Closer to home, leaders are regularly chairing meetings virtually from cities like Duluth, Rochester, and Glenwood. Students are engaging in local and state chapter boards from the U of MN, Dunwoody, and NDSU campuses.

And through the squeeze of work obligations that reduce time available for commuting, and the unexpected derailments of life – a sick child or parent, a teachers strike, a snowstorm – members have been able to stay involved in ways that, pre-COVID, would have been really inconvenient, unnecessarily risky, or nearly impossible.

These are the core reasons why we will be continuing the practice of having member groups like boards, committees, knowledge communities, and task forces meet primarily virtually for the foreseeable future. It is a more inclusive approach that is also more workable for many, if not most, members.

We also recognize the importance of in-person gatherings. There’s no substitute for the kinds of connections made when people are able to spend time with each other face-to-face. Personal warmth simply doesn’t come through a computer screen in quite the same way.

This is why we will be complementing the primarily virtual work of our member groups with in-person events, group socials, and retreats. We will do so in a way that follows the guidance of the CDC and the directives of state and local governments, which we recognize in the context of COVID-19 variants – as well as a heightened likelihood of future pandemics – will be ever changing. We will continue to adapt with those changes, seeking to balance member and community health, safety, and welfare with the need to maintain the ties that bind this architecture community together. And we will work to ensure that people who are immunocompromised, caretakers of vulnerable people, and those who have reaped substantial health benefits from avoiding respiratory illness feel comfortable taking precautions like mask wearing and social distancing.

So, be on the lookout for opportunities to engage in person in the near future. From the Home of the Month event to the Minnesota Design Team visit to Silver Bay. From a quarterly Women in Architecture social to a monthly AIA Northern Minnesota Draughting Club gathering. From an event at Holman Field for Wigington Fund Campaign donors on Cap Wigington’s birthday to this November’s annual conference. And at the same time, we encourage all members to get involved in a committee or knowledge community, or step forward for a leadership position, knowing that you can easily do so from wherever life and work take you.

We can’t wait to see you – on Zoom and/or in person – soon!

View the April 2022 edition of Matrix.