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Architects as Leaders

The AIA Virginia board issued a statement of our unwavering principles and values as we closed out 2016. Our beliefs and values are enduring guidance that shapes our actions and we, as architects, continue to be guided by these principals.

  • The value of non-partisan unity.
  • The responsibility to equity, diversity, and inclusion.
  • The urgency of sustainable design.
  • The necessity of livable communities.
  • The obligation for civil exchange.

2017 AIA President Bill Brown, AIA

Architects must “speak up” and be engaged in the public discourse that shapes our society, communities, and neighborhoods. “Citizen Architect” usually is imagined as an architect that serves in an elected position or volunteers on a public board but can also be imaged as being individually involved in the public dialogue that influences decision making.

AIA Virginia advocates on behalf of our members in the legislative process and needs to have a place at the table when legislation is discussed that affects our communities and practice of architecture in the Commonwealth. Through the efforts of our legislative advocacy, we have developed relationships with a wide range of legislators from both sides of the isle that have reveled track records of which legislators are in alignment with our support or opposition of proposed bills that affect our profession. Architects need to support those legislators that can continue these efforts and we can only do that through the AIA Virginia PAC. Contributions to incumbents up for reelection are the way that we can show our continuing support of their efforts. Know that your AIA dues do not and cannot support these PAC efforts and only by supporting the PAC can we be heard. This year all 100 House seats and three statewide offices are up for election. Please contribute today

The Grassroots leadership conference is happening now in D.C. and architects from around the country will be making Hill visits to deliver the AIA national legislative agenda. The conference emphasizes component leadership and workshops designed to help component officers become more effective chapter and civic leaders. Members are given the opportunity to provide input on AIA initiatives, share information and ideas, and best practices with their counterparts from around the country.  In addition to the regular programs devoted to building stronger component leaders, this year’s event will introduce attendees to the role of architects in shaping lives through design.

You can review the Issues Brief linked here;

Issue brief – Support federal sustainability goals
Issue brief – Support the preservation of historic buildings and spaces
Issue brief – Investing in our nation’s infrastructure
Issue brief – Help young architects serve their communities
Issue brief – Reform procurement laws that inhibit good design
Issue brief – Help communities prepare for natural disasters
Issue brief – Promote a comprehensive, fair, pro-growth tax code

I hope to see you at Grassroots, in Washington DC, and A’17, the architecture & design event of the year in Orlando FL. Take time to reach out to your representatives, either local or national, and offer your opinions and expertise as architects who have unique understandings and perspectives on the qualities we want to see in society, communities, and neighborhoods.

Bill Brown, AIA
2017 AIA Virginia President

Posted in Membership News

How Can We Help You?



Chartwell Capital Advisors provides a concierge service to ALL AIA Virginia members. Yes, we can provide a comprehensive benefits program to the largest architectural firms in Virginia, but we also are here to serve every employee (or family member) that is an AIA Virginia member.

How Does This Work?
You don’t have to own an architectural firm to have us help you. If you are an AIA Virginia member and have a question or a need, simply call or email us. You can ask us to help you with:

  • Financial Planning Issues
  • Legal Advice
  • Health Insurance
  • Property and Casualty Insurance ( even auto and homeowners)
  • Life, Annuities and Retirement Plans
  • Ancillary Benefits, like dental, vision, tele-doc, pharmacy, etc.

We Take a Holistic Approach to Your Needs
In February, we were asked to evaluate a 150 employee company with personnel spread across the United States and several European cities. We have found significant ways to improve their health care and retirement benefits, to reduce the costs of their worker’s compensation and to avoid paying taxes in several jurisdictions. However, we have also met with numerous individuals. Sometimes the process begins with estate and business succession planning.

Almost always, in the course of this work, we “see” and then recommend various ways for the client to better their financial situation. This can take the form of tax avoidance suggestions, the replacement of poor performing financial products or simply ways to reduce existing monthly expenditures like health insurance, car insurance, and other products. We helped people with tax returns, long-term care insurance and doing the legal work for new business start-ups. Our staff does a lot of work ourselves, but we also work with other dedicated professionals across the Commonwealth, all in an effort to give each client comprehensive, holistic and caring personal services.

It doesn’t cost anything to talk to us and start the dialogue. We only get paid if we find ways to help you and you wish to engage us. We love helping people and finding ways to make their lives better.

Financial and legal matters are in a constant state of flux. We try and keep ourselves informed about issues that can help our clients and in turn relay some of these ideas to our clients. If you have a question about an issue, we might have some pertinent data in our library to send you, so don’t be afraid to contact us. Here are two issues to leave you with.

#1 Long-Term Care
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, If one reaches 65 in age, there is a 70% chance that this person will need some form of assisted living or long term care. This type of health care is very expensive and can quickly “eat up” an estate.
Not too very long ago, long-term care insurance was much like fire insurance on a building. One could pay insurance for several decades, but if there was no fire, there was no pay out. Thus, one could pay long-term care premiums, but never get a return on the premiums if one did not have a long-term care incident. Things have changed.
Today there are several long-term care products that make sure that even if one does not have a long-term care incident, one can get a return on these premium payments. These very flexible and dynamic products will allow the insured to get a 100% return of premiums (after a certain vesting period). They also can be used for long-term care needs, but if there are no such needs, can be used as life insurance and pay an income tax-free death benefit.
Thus, one can be assured that his estate is not eaten up by medical expenses, and also get a “return” on all premium payments such that this money builds wealth and is put to use, even though there is not a long term health need.
Planning is important, and the sooner one addresses this issue, the better the results.

#2 How to Protect Your Retirement Account

Shocking to most people, your retirement accounts can be seized once they pass to your loved ones. During your lifetime, your retirement funds have asset protection, meaning they can’t be taken in a lawsuit. Unfortunately, as soon as retirement accounts are inherited, the protection evaporates. This means your hard earned money can legally be snatched by strangers and the courts.

As estate planning attorneys, we constantly look for ways to protect our clients as well as their loved ones and assets. That’s why we suggest we have a conversation about your retirement accounts and together determine whether a retirement trust would make sense for you.

What is a Standalone Retirement Trust & Why is it Good For You?
A Standalone Retirement Trust (SRT) is a special type of revocable trust.

The SRT is popular because it:

  • Protects inherited retirement accounts from beneficiaries’ creditors as well as predators and lawsuits
  • Ensures retirement accounts go to whom you designate – and nobody else
  • Allows for experienced management and oversight of assets by a professional trustee
  • Prevents beneficiaries from reckless spending or gambling
  • Enables proper planning for a special needs beneficiary
  • Permits you to name minor beneficiaries as immediate beneficiaries without court-supervised guardianship
  • Facilitates generation-skipping transfer tax planning

Divorce Creditor – A Common Example
Many parents are concerned that their in-laws may someday become the outlaws; they may someday get divorced and inherited assets can be seized by a divorcing spouse.

Here’s the story of Mary and Tom – which outcome would you prefer for your children?

Option 1: Mary and Tom love their son-in-law, Mike, and think his marriage to their daughter Liz will last. They gave Liz her share of their retirement plans outright at their deaths. Five years later, Liz and Mike divorced and Mike was able to take 50% of Liz’s inherited retirement funds.

Option 2: Mary and Tom love their son-in-law, Mike, but recognize that 50% of all couples end up in divorce. It’s an unfortunate reality, so when they did their estate planning, they provided for their children, but made sure the inheritances couldn’t be taken from them. Instead of outright distributions, they passed their retirement plans in trust. Five years later, Liz and Mike divorced and Mike was not able to take any of Liz’s inheritance.

Want to know more? While every situation is different, we can help you determine if an SRT is right for you.

Please feel free to contact us for any reason.
View AIAVA Benefits Package

Rob Smith
Chartwell Capital Advisors
Robert C. Smith, PLC
The Branch House
2501 Monument Avenue
Richmond, Virginia 23220

This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as written advice about a Federal tax matter. Readers should consult with their own professional advisors to evaluate or pursue tax, accounting, financial, or legal planning strategies.

Posted in Membership News

New Architects

We understand the dedication and effort required to study for and pass the ARE. Congratulations to the following members for passing their exams and gaining licensure. This is great news that thrills all of us and we are so proud to call you architects!

Mr. Adam Beifield, AIA
Mr. James R. McReynolds, AIA
Ms. Valery A. Tessier, AIA

Have you recently passed the ARE? Please send an email to your Member Services Director at to upgrade your membership and be featured in the next newsletter.

Posted in Membership News

New Members

We are always excited to welcome new members to Virginia. The following members recently joined the ranks of AIA Virginia.

New Associate Members

Mr. Panpan Cao, Assoc. AIA
Mr. Joshua Hadley-Goggin, Assoc. AIA
Mr. Ade R. Joy-Hogg, Assoc. AIA
Ms. Janahvi Ramakrishnan, Assoc. AIA
Mr. Imanuel H. Tanudji, Assoc. AIA

New Architect Members

Mr. Joshua R. Marsh, AIA
Mr. Andrew Raffin, AIA

Transferred In

Ms. Jori A. Erdman AIA from AIA Louisiana
Mr. Michael P. Haynes AIA from AIA North Carolina
Mrs. Sandra Shield Tkacz AIA from AIA California
Mr. Harrison W. Blair II Assoc. AIA from AIA New York
Mr. Joseph A. Superak AIA from AIA Dallas
Mr. Timo Lorenzen-Schmidt AIA from AIA DC

New Allied Members

Steve Coor, Hon. AIA Virginia
Riverside Brick & Supply Company, Inc.

View all of the AIA Virginia Allied members

Posted in Membership News

2017 Agenda and Statement of Values

The American Institute of Architects has announced its federal agenda, advocating for policies that create more livable and energy efficient communities and emphasizing investments in buildings as key elements of the national infrastructure. The agenda is the result of AIA’s recent survey of its membership, which takes place with each presidential and mid-term election.

The AIA has also published “Where Architects Stand; A Statement of Our Values,” a document that re-asserts the values of the architecture profession and where it stands on a host of issues. This document is intended to be a guidepost for AIA members as they advocate for the profession on the federal, state and local level for policies that foster inclusive, diverse, sustainable and prosperous communities.

Posted in Membership News

New Programs From AIA Trust

Exciting new programs are available for members in 2017—take advantage of them!

Now you can manage your office without the HR hassle – with a significant member discount!

Short-term Disability Plan
A new plan for individuals – with maternity benefits.

Travel Assistance
An all new plan and pricing – better than ever benefits whether traveling for business or pleasure.

Cyber Liability Insurance
An important part of your office risk management plan. Assess your risk and determine what’s right for your firm.

New Term Life Insurance Plan with Reduced Rates
All new plan with significantly lowered pricing!

New Practice Resources for Members!

For information on all AIA Trust programs, please visit them online at

Posted in Membership News

New Architects

We understand the dedication and effort required to study for and pass the ARE. Congratulations to the following members for passing their exams and gaining licensure. This is great news that thrills all of us and we are so proud to call you architects!

Mr. Michael P. Chapa, AIA
Mr. Tyler Dye, AIA
Mr. James Hazelton Mulligan, AIA
Mr. Paul M. Tassell, AIA

Have you recently passed the ARE? Please send an email to your Member Services Director at to upgrade your membership and be featured in the next newsletter.

Posted in Membership News

New Members

We are always excited to welcome new members to Virginia. The following members recently joined the ranks of AIA Virginia.

New Associate Members

Mr. Christopher N. Ames, Assoc. AIA
Mr. Justin Beckner, Assoc. AIA
Mr. Garrett Marini, Assoc. AIA
Ms. Susannah Marshall, Assoc. AIA
Mr. James R. McReynolds, Assoc. AIA
Mr. Darshan S. Shah, Assoc. AIA
Ms. Claudia S. Siles-Santillán, Assoc. AIA
Ms. Deborah L. Smith, Assoc. AIA
Miss Corinne Frances Snyder, Assoc. AIA
Mrs. Anxhela Sula, Assoc. AIA

New Architect Members

Ms. Lisa Bricker, AIA
Mr. William L. Keller, AIA
Mr. Matthew E. Lawhead, AIA
Mrs. Sandra Pantelic, AIA
Miss Krystal Reid, AIA
Mr. Ryohei Saito, AIA

Transferred In

Mr. Steven R. Butler, AIA from New York, N.Y.
Mr. Ramon N. Turner, Assoc. AIA from Philadelphia, Penn.
Miss Mayda V. Colon, Assoc. AIA from Wyoming
Mr. Christopher J. Garcia, Assoc. AIA from Potomac Valley, Md.
Mr. Enrique Villa, AIA from Seattle, Wash.
Mrs. Lankika Perera, AIA from Washington, D.C.

New Allied Members

Kathy Blanchard, Senior Vice President, BB&T Insurance Services
Abigail Bishop, Principal, Katheryn Robertson, Ltd.

View all of the AIA Virginia Allied members

Posted in Membership News

Amanda Schlichting Selected Regional Associate Director

January 29, 2017

Amanda N. Schlichting, Associate AIA

The Board of Directors of the American Institute of Architects Region of The Virginias has selected Amanda N. Schlichting, Associate AIA, as Regional Associate Director for the 2017 – 2018 term on the National Associates Committee.

Amanda graduated from Virginia Tech in 2015 and lives in Danville, Virginia, where she has worked for Dewberry since 2014. She has been involved with both local and national organizations as a student, a community advocate, and as a Director on the Board of AIA Blue Ridge. Through the AIA, she has helped run community design events and become a part of the 2017 Class of Virginia’s Emerging Leaders in Architecture Program.

She discovered her passion for architecture during a middle school when she became determined to go to architecture school, get licensed, and give back to the community and the profession. She believes that, to be truly successful, it is crucial to develop relationships and push others to succeed with you. She wants to help other emerging architects see the value in becoming licensed and bring others along the path to professional success.

“Amanda has the right temperament as a leader and listener,” according to Larry W. Hasson, Jr., AIA, her immediate supervisor at Dewberry, adding that she “is a leader, not a follower, as she does not wait to be told to perform; she initiates.” President-elect J. W. Blanchard at AIA Blue Ridge said, “Amanda is a hardworking volunteer leader who understands the appropriateness of delegating and building consensus among volunteers… and understands when the time is right to roll up her sleeves.”

The National Associates Committee (NAC) serves Associate AIA members in the advancing their careers. The NAC wants to be a catalyst by becoming agents of change, by challenging the status quo, by representing a diverse membership, and by promoting mentorship, fellowship, licensure, advocacy, and service.

The Regional Associate Director (RAD) serves as a vital link between Associates and the national organization. RADs work with other association counterparts, are responsible for gathering information about issues facing Associates within their Regions, and help disseminate information about national/regional activities and resources for use at the local level.

For more information about the Region of The Virginias, contact Brian J. Frickie, AIA, AIA Strategic Council Representative, Region of The Virginias

Posted in Membership News

Have Your Reviewed Your Policy Lately?

from Robert C. Smith, PLC, Chartwell Capital Advisors

Robert (Rob) Coleman Smith

As lawyers and advisors, we strongly believe in proper business succession and estate planning, and the proper use of life insurance to fund these needs. Great wealth can be created and preserved through smart legal counseling and discipline. For many reasons, existing life insurance policies should be reviewed annually. Just today, one of our major carriers lowered its pricing. We offer free reviews and comprehensive evaluations of existing policies for all AIA members. Often times, these policies can be replaced with price, terms, and benefits that are simply better.

Over the past few years, traditional life insurance has undergone a metamorphosis. Life insurance has become an extremely flexible investment vehicle:

  • Its purchasing power has never been greater,
  • New dynamic policies can be used for LONG TERM CARE, RETIREMENT or DEATH BENEFIT needs.
  • Retirement Distributions are tax-free.
  • Long Term Care Distributions are tax-free.
  • Death benefits are income tax-free.

If you live to be 65, there is an 85 % likelihood that you will need long-term care assistance. In the past, if you had long term care insurance and didn’t need it, all of these premiums were wasted. This is no longer the case, as there are now products where an insured can decide to cancel his long-term care policy and get back almost all of the premiums paid. There are other products where the insured can choose to use his policy for long-term care needs, retirement needs or death benefit needs based on future events. There is a product where a very highly rated financial firm will guarantee a return on the cash value of your policy, but also allow it to grow up to 12%. Over a period of time these policies can build up a significant cash value; this money can be withdrawn income tax-free to pay for retirement. If you don’t need the money, the death benefit grows significantly. Death benefits are also income tax-free. One of my favorite planning tools is to use life insurance as a way to fund a DYNASTY TRUST, which is a trust that can be used for future generations and NEVER pay estate taxes. This is how the Kennedy family retained all of its wealth into future generations, but you don’t have to be a Kennedy to create such a vehicle if the funding is done by leveraging the power of life insurance.

Shortly, we will be rolling out an “Instant Estate” program for AIA members where a young AIA member can fund a trust with convertible term life insurance. We recently formed one where the financial contribution for a $2 million term policy for a 28-year-old was only $68/month. Over time this policy can be converted as the insured’s income rises funding a very substantial retirement account with a large death benefit and long term care protection.

To take advantage of our comprehensive life insurance review program, just contact me at:

Robert C. Smith, PLC,
Chartwell Capital Advisors
The Branch House
2501 Monument Avenue
Richmond Virginia 23220

More than just a law firm. We provide legal and financial services to businesses and wealthy individuals. We are problem solvers and opportunity seekers. We deliver and manage a wide variety of professional services for our clients. Once we identify your needs, we offer state of the art financial products to allow our clients to build and retain wealth and reduce risks. We either provide or broker/manage: legal, accounting, financial and real estate advisory services through our “best in the industry” model that allows our clients to receive outstanding professional services at competitive and fair prices.

Posted in Membership News

Membership News

  • Architects as Leaders

    Architects must “speak up” and be engaged in the public discourse that shapes our society, communities, and neighborhoods.

Professional Development News

  • ArchEx Call for Presentations

    Celebrating its 30th year, ArchEx has always strived to help push the profession forward. We are looking for exciting and engaging topics and speakers to make this historic ArchEx, a truly special one.

Government Advocacy News


Virginia Accord

  • The Virginia Accord

    Bringing together the planning and design disciplines to examine two key themes critical to the future — job creation and environmental sustainability — on Sept. 19-20, 2014 at the Virginia Accord.