What I Know For Sure

by Alicia Belton, FAIA, NOMA, AIA Minnesota President

As 2022 winds down, I reflect on my year of service as AIA Minnesota President. I think what I have appreciated most is the opportunity to engage more deeply with the missional work of the organization in advancing a vital profession, vibrant communities and architecture that endures. AIA Minnesota is known nationally as a component that lives these values with excellence.
Grounding our work this year has been a deep dive into the priorities and concerns of the membership. The 2022-2026 Strategic Workplan will be shared with members and partners over the next several months to build intentional change that centers sustainability, resilience, and equity in the built environment and in the culture of architectural practice. By equipping members with foundational knowledge and tools, learnings can be leveraged to demonstrate our value to society beyond buildings. The plan will also focus on expanding our reach to the public and expanding access to the profession. Both require intentional approaches to bridge understanding of the process of design as well as the path into the profession. It is an exciting time to be part of AIA, and I encourage all of you to engage in this important and potentially transformational work.
What I know for sure is that change is constant. For some, this creates feelings of anxiety related to new and unknown developments ahead. For others, it is refreshing because of the elements of surprise and wonder. For me, it depends. I will admit that I didn’t fully know all that would come my way as AIA Minnesota president but I have truly enjoyed learning new things, experiencing change, and growing in the process.
Big moments that stand out for me in my presidential year:
  • Attending the AIA Grassroots Conference, where we heard the electrifying Ibram X. Kendi keynote on “Why Should AIA Be Anti-Racist?”
  • The spring retreat, our first in-person (masked) meeting of the AIA Minnesota board since before the pandemic, where we discussed members’ priorities and concerns, and worked on the strategic workplan.
  • Taking advantage of the #AIALobbyDay opportunity to talk about the Democracy in Design Act and Yes in My Backyard legislation with our congressional representatives.
  • Getting inspired by President Barack Obama at the closing session keynote at the AIA Conference on Architecture, where he emphasized our need for a collective narrative…and I got a photo op!
  • Telling my story in Matrix, where I shared essays on design excellence, creating new stories about the profession, exploring alternative paths to licensure, honoring the impact of reciprocal mentoring, and sharing our gifts.
  • Participating in AIA Leadership Exchange monthly calls to learn about the work of AIA and meeting new EVP/CEO Lakisha Woods, the first African American woman to hold this position.
  • Leading the Gold Medal Jury to select an individual who has made lasting contributions to the field of architecture in Minnesota. (Stay tuned!)
Most importantly, I have enjoyed working with the staff and board members in our new normal of a hybrid environment to advance the mission of AIA Minnesota. 
Thank you for your support and encouragement. It has been my joy and privilege to serve this incredible architecture community.
View the November 2022 edition of Matrix.