Refining AIA Minnesota’s Core Values

by Anna Pravinata, AIA, NOMA, AIA Minnesota President

Core values for an organization are its fundamental beliefs; the guiding principles governing its priorities as well as its actions. These values help an organization to ensure that it remains on the right path and provide a way to measure progress.

In creating the 2016 Strategic Direction, AIA Minnesota established four core values for the organization: Integrity, Inclusion, Passion, and Empathy.

A lot has happened between 2016 and 2020. A mere four years felt like a lifetime.

Within that time period, we embarked on the Culture Change Initiative (CCI) – an intensive effort to examine the current state of the culture of our profession, to define the desired culture we are aiming for, and to determine what can best move us toward establishing that desired culture.

After almost 3 years of research, convening 70+ members in four workshops, and interviews with Greater Minnesota members, underrepresented architects/designers, and students, three core elements of the desired culture emerged: authenticity, equity, and collaboration. A culture where authenticity, equity, and collaboration are foundational is what our members want and what they see as necessary to be successful and relevant, and to be able to solve today’s most complex design issues.

The core values from 2016 served our organizational well; they drove real change in AIA Minnesota and the profession. Going forward, our core values need to more strongly align with what our CCI research has shown, if we are to create the desired culture for the profession and to position members and firms for success. Therefore, the Board of Directors voted at its February meeting to refine the organization’s core values from 2016. Our new organizational values are: Integrity, Authenticity, Equity, and Collaboration.

These updated values are a natural evolution from those established in 2016. Where inclusion is about a feeling of belonging for all, equity requires deeper, more expansive commitment to repairing harm and achieving fair outcomes for all. An authentic culture is one where people feel free to express themselves; to share their passions and not have to hide or tamp down the fullness of who they are. And to effectively collaborate requires embracing a diversity of experience and thought, recognizing and bridging differences, and creating relationships rooted in trust, respect and empathy for one’s collaborators.


We need to embrace this next generation of core values to continue to move forward in 2021 and beyond – to slow the change in our climate, to design built environments that serve the public well, and to ensure a vibrant, vital profession. On behalf of the AIA Minnesota Board of Directors, I ask you to embrace these refined core values and to align them with your own. Together, in deep alignment, we can create the profession and the built environment we are all striving toward.


View the March 2021 edition of Matrix.