From the AIA Strategic Council

April – May 2021
Strategic Council/Component monthly briefing:
To better inform members of the work and activities of the AIA Strategic Council

Region: The Virginias
Regional Representative: Donna Dunay, FAIA

This has been an active spring with the Strategic Council with many initiatives that look to the future of the profession. We hope you find the following note informative. Please be in contact about any potential opportunities or concerns facing the future of the profession.

Read the 2021 AREAS OF STUDY

Why Invest?

Why did so many people believe in Martin Luther King and support the Civil Rights Movement? Why did so many people resonate with Pope John Paul II’s words about the dignity of each person to forge solidarity and spark the fall of Communism? King’s speech that day in 1963 at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial was not a 10 point plan on how the Civil Rights Movement would work. John Paul II’s 32 sermons in nine days on his 1979 trip to Communist Poland did not focus on what needed to change. MLK and JP II inspired people to believe in their hearts why they should take action to pursue human rights by talking about what they believed in. MLK and JP II helped people see the incredible strength in numbers. Millions came to believe in why they did what they did and joined their causes.

The AIA Virginia Political Action Committee (PAC) is the primary tool Virginia Architects have to ensure our profession remains relevant and impactful for years to come. Why invest in the PAC? We all need an answer to that fundamental question before we open up our wallets. We believe:

  • Architects speak with a unified voice to support candidates who understand our profession, regardless of party affiliation, through the AIA Virginia PAC. When these candidates win, they bring that understanding to the General Assembly and into debates on new legislation.
  • Our PAC investments provide face-to-face opportunities to educate lawmakers about what we do. The General Assembly is comprised of members of varying backgrounds, professions, experiences, and cultures. Yet, they are called upon every day to make decisions that impact our profession and the built environment including procurement, liability, funding, zoning, transportation, preservation, taxation, licensing.
  • State lawmakers are caretakers of the built environment. They come from diverse backgrounds and careers. One might be a farmer, another an attorney, another a dentist.
  • Lawmakers need and want our advice. Architects are perfectly positioned to be the authoritative voice on all matters related to the quality of the built environment. If our voice is not at the table, lawmakers will get advice from others, who may, or may not support what is important to us.
  • The PAC supports all Virginia firms because it has established a solid legal framework for practicing architecture and is essential to preserving this framework so that it continues to benefit our profession in Virginia as a whole.
  • The PAC enables us to build relationships with other key influencers to elevate our profession. One such example, our relationship with the Governor’s Director of Appointments continues to facilitate the selection of Virginia Architects for Gubernatorial Appointments.

To ensure our voice remains strong, particularly in this election year, we need members like you to believe in the value of the PAC and support the cause. For only 10 cents a day, you can make a positive influence on the future of our profession. Please consider making an investment of $36.50 today. Visit to learn more and make your investment. Participation at any level is the key, not the actual amount because there is considerable strength in numbers. Investing in the PAC is a relatively small individual step that collectively has a significant impact on our profession and the quality of the built environment.

Sean E. Reilly, AIA
AIA Virginia 2021 President
AIA Virginia PAC Board of Trustees Member

Associated Thoughts: Finding Your Zone

My mom has been a kindergarten educator for over 30 years, and she is amazing at it. She really is. In the big big world of education, she has found her zone by focusing on the nuances of early childhood development, while loving learning and teaching kids to keep loving how to learn. She’s a specialist through a career of lifelong curiosity shaped by her passion.

Michael Spory, Assoc. AIA

I have always been a little jealous of experts like her, the specialists I sit next to in the office who seem to find joy in burrowing deeply into something and becoming an absolute whiz. The woman who seems to know everything about customized Revit workflows, or the person who can recall code nuances and egress exceptions with shocking ease. BIM specialists, construction gurus, material specifiers, coding hackers–I wish I could be more like you. I admire folks with that deeply mined and cultivated knowledge–but also can get a little frustrated with myself in comparison.

As a curious and well-meaning generalist in the world of design, I aspire to bring that level of dedicated focus and passion that makes me a uniquely specialized designer. But I must confess that I get overwhelmed when I see just how much more I have to learn as an architect. One of the reasons I was originally drawn to architecture was because it really seems like you have to know something about just about everything–a career that can keep expanding without ever getting boring. Architects draw on history, art, sociology, math, economics, marketing, physics, politics…the list grows even longer as I think about it. We are generalists, but that broad knowledge base has to get down to nuts and bolts much more quickly that I anticipated. As a young designer, I have often felt overwhelmed by the seemingly infinite fine-grained details I still need to learn to get better at my job, even just to take my first licensing exam or figure out how to confidently document a drawing and spec for window flashing. In that vast ocean of skills, concepts, practices, and information that architects need to know–how do I find my zone, my own unique focus?

Unlike me, maybe you have known where you wanted to focus the minute you applied to design school, and have the drive to laser in on a specific portion of the field–energy modelling, material science, interior design. Maybe you stumbled on a passion and followed it down the rabbit hole–construction detailing, marketing pitches and presentations, modelmaking. Or maybe you are a collage of experiences and curiosities–some Photoshop and aesthetic skills, perhaps a knack for communication or writing, a love of solving problems, a bit of this and that in terms of project experience. Not an empty slate, nor a Swiss army knife, nor a surgical scalpel. In our big wide world of architecture, how do we find our zone?

My mom-the-kindergarten-teacher has been honing her teaching craft for a long time. My first boss could sketch squiggly diagrams that seemed easy until I realized they were drawn at precise scales and informed by years of practical knowledge. My current coworkers are whizzes at things I still struggle with–and I am grateful and humbled by each of them. As we grow as design professionals, these experiences and passions hopefully start to crystallize, leading us to lifelong curiosity and learning about the expanding boundaries of design. I am still stumbling on, discovering that the loose threads of my experiences stitch together into something resembling the expertise of a specialist.

Finding your zone is a continuing process, sometimes halting, occasionally clear, and hopefully full of the good kind of surprises that keep us emerging professionals curious about where we can direct our unique voices and talents in our careers. Our offices and communities across Virginia–along with ourselves–will bloom when that can happen.

In solidarity and action,
Michael Spory, Associate AIA

At the April Board Meeting


AIA Virginia | 2021 Board of Directors
April 23, 2021
Zoom Virtual Meeting

Motions Made and Approved:

The Board of Directors of AIA Virginia voted as follows:

  • Acceptance of Organizational Support of Knowledge Communities Recommendations
  • Approval of Modifying Section of the Rules of the Organization for the Test of Time Award
  • Appointment to the 2021 PAC Board of Trustees
  • Adoption of a Revised Anti-Harassment Policy
  • Adoption of the Executive Vice President Annual Review Policy
  • Adoption of the Executive Vice President Compensation Policy

Written reports were provided for the following consent agenda items:

  • PAC Update
  • Advocacy Update: Equity in Procurement Workgroup
  • ARCHITECTS Speak Up! Update
  • Membership Update
  • Amber Book Program Update
  • Virginia NOMA Update                                              
  • Emerging Leaders in Architecture Update                            
  • AEC Virtual Symposium Recap
  • Signature Programming Survey Status
  • Honors Awards Update
  • AIA Virginia 2020 Year in Review                                         

Members may request a copy of these written reports by emailing AIA Virginia Executive Vice President, Corey Clayborne, FAIA at

The next meeting of the 2021 AIA Virginia Board of Directors will occur virtually on June 25, 2021.

New Members

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

New Architect Members

Adam P. Compton, AIA (Northern Virginia)
Mikhail M. Payson, AIA (Northern Virginia)

New Associate Members

Carlos T. Colunga, Associate AIA (Northern Virginia)
Alvia Howard, Associate AIA (Northern Virginia)
Beatrice D. Moulin, Associate AIA (Northern Virginia)
Jasmine B. Cornileus, Associate AIA (Northern Virginia)
Ana M. Jimenez, International Associate AIA (Northern Virginia)

AIA Virginia Allied Members

Karl Feucht, Market Development Manager, Benjamin Obdyke, Inc.

View all of the AIA Virginia Allied members

Newly Licensed

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!

Elizabeth R. Parry, AIA (Northern Virginia)
Abi E. Kallushi, AIA (Northern Virginia)
Carolyn M. O’Toole, AIA (Northern Virginia)
Elizabeth A. Diseati, AIA (Northern Virginia)

Have you recently passed the ARE? Upgrade your membership to Architect using this AIA form. or send an email to your Member Services Director, Cathy Guske,

The COTE Corner

What does architecture have to do with climate change? Quite a lot, actually, since the built environment is responsible for 40% of global carbon emissions. Don’t know where to start? Here’s a resource that outlines what you can do right now. In case you haven’t heard, there’s been a lot going on at AIA National around climate action in the last few years, including issuing a position statement on climate change, revising the AIA Professional Code of Ethics to include sustainability and equity, adopting a resolution for urgent climate action, making climate action one of six priorities in the AIA 2021-2025 strategic plan, and aligning the AIA Awards programs with the Framework for Design Excellence.

Our recently formed Virginia Committee on the Environment (COTE) Chapter is here to help get the word out on sustainability-focused initiatives that you can get involved in as well as on resources that you can use to make your work better. Keep checking back here each month for more tidbits.

Interested in getting involved? Email Rhea George for an invitation to our next meeting on May 18, 2021.

Meet Daniel J. Lemieux, FAIA

Director and Principal of Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. and Wiss, Janney, Elstner Limited, UK, Lemieux has led the advancement of building science in architecture throughout his over a 25-year career in professional practice and as a thought-leader in the development of international technical design and construction standards. Dan earned a Bachelor of Science, Architecture from the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech).

Daniel Lemieux, FAIA

Since joining WJE in 1996, Dan has successfully completed hundreds of projects in the area of building enclosure failure investigation, repair design, and architectural rehabilitation, including projects that have been recognized nationally for design and restoration excellence. As the firm’s Director of International Development, he is responsible for advancing WJE’s global architecture and building science practices. Prior to that, Dan served as Managing Principal of WJE’s Washington, D.C. office from 2005 to 2016.

Dan currently serves on multiple ASTM International committees including first vice chair of E06, Performance of Buildings and chair of E06.55, Performance of Building Enclosures. He is founding chair and a primary author of ASTM E2813, Standard Practice for Building Enclosure Commissioning (BECx) and worked closely with WJE colleagues and practicing and teaching professionals from across North America to support the development of ASTM E2813, ASTM E2947 Standard Guide for BECx and ASHRAE Standard 202 Commissioning Process for Buildings and Systems. He served as an author and technical editor for the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) web-based Whole Building Design Guide and NIBS Guideline 3: Exterior Enclosure Technical Requirements for the Commissioning Process and is a core member and contributor to the AIA Knowledge Community on Building Performance.

Dan has developed, chaired and been invited to speak at multiple workshops and symposia on building science and the physics of building enclosure performance in North America, the UK, EU, UAE, and China, and co-chaired the Symposium on Building Physics and Conservation with Historic England and Historic Environment Scotland in London. In 2017, Dan helped establish the first overseas operating unit for WJE in London as a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Chartered Practice in the UK. He is a chartered member of RIBA, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), and a listed architect in the UK, Canada, and Australia.

Since the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, Dan was invited to review and offer technical input on proposed regulatory reforms in the UK in response to the fire and continues to work closely with WJE’s Fire and Life Safety practice on this topic through project work and as an active member of the Society of Fire Protection Engineers (SFPE) Europe.

Dan’s project work has included iconic buildings and cultural landmarks in the U.S. and worldwide, notably the post-seismic assessment, stabilization, and repair design of the Washington Monument and the Washington National Cathedral as well as failure investigation; repair design; design peer review; design-assist and supply-chain quality assurance services for clients and projects located in North and Central America the UK, EU, Middle East and Asia.

Where did you go to college?
Georgia Tech

What does it take to be an architect?
Creativity and perseverance…

Was there an architect that particularly inspired you?
In history, Brunelleschi, as you might expect, for embodying – and demonstrating through his own work – the creative potential that can be unleashed when nature, art, and science are brought together to inform and to deliver structurally efficient, unique, and truly inspiring architecture. For many of the same reasons today, I am most inspired by the work of Calatrava and, perhaps in a slightly more restrained way, the late Zaha Hadid…

What are you currently reading?
Re-reading Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin and just starting A Promised Land by Barack Obama…

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had?
Dinner at Hisa Franko in the Soca River Valley near Kobarid, Slovenia. The history of this place, it’s pastoral setting in the shadow of nearby mountains, and the creativity of chef Ana Ros make this journey well worth the trip.

Why do you volunteer with AIA?
To give back, and to join with others to further develop and enhance the technical depth of our profession…

In a world facing what many now recognize as a climate emergency, we are for many of them the ‘first responders’ in this crisis – reacting to fires and leaning into increasingly violent weather to understand their origin so that we can deliver a safer and resilient built environment for those we continue to serve. To respond effectively to that challenge, it is imperative that we return to first principles in how we educate and train the next generation of architects in building science and the ‘art’ of delivering truly sustainable design.

The 2021 IAWA Kristine Fallon Prize

The IAWA Center announces the 2021 IAWA Kristine Fallon Prize of $5000, inviting professionals and scholars to extend research into an important arena – women in architecture who have made significant contributions to the field through their work practicing at large U.S. firms in the second half of the 20th century. With important contributions made by women at large firms fundamentally unknown, research that documents this information is urgent.

The International Archive of Women in Architecture (IAWA) was established in 1985 as a joint program of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and the University Libraries at Virginia Tech. The purpose of the Archive is to document the history of women’s contributions to the built environment by collecting, preserving, and providing access to the records of women’s architectural organizations and the professional papers of women architects, landscape architects, designers, architectural historians, and critics, and urban planners.

The deadline for submissions is December 1, 2021.

Click here for submission information
Or contact Donna Dunay, Chair IAWA: 

Selections from the IAWA Collections may be found at: IAWA_VT

We Walked Through Fire – But We Don’t Smell Like Smoke

AIA Virginia 2020 Year in Review

There is no question that we are starting to see light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. Those who are choosing to get vaccinated can now find access to several vaccine options. The Architectural Billings Index (ABI) in February showed that architecture firms are reporting an uptick in billings for the first time since the start of the pandemic over a year ago. Most believe that the worse of the pandemic crisis is over if we continue to exercise caution and follow the instructions of our public health experts.

As such, I am hopeful that each one of you has taken a moment to simply pause.

Pause for a second.

Reflect on the Year 2020 and what it meant to your personal life and your firm. Count your blessings.

We walked through the fire – but don’t smell like smoke!

Yes, we were inconvenienced. Greatly.

But most of us never had to wait in a four-mile-long line to get a free bag of groceries. You may have experienced a temporary pay cut or frozen salary, but the lights in your home stayed on. Somebody out here needs to hear this.

It is with a similar lens that I look back on the work of AIA Virginia in 2020 and cannot help but to smile from ear to ear. Our President at the time, Beth Reader, FAIA led with a steady tempo making sure our organization could fill the necessary gaps our members faced. For example, she played an instrumental role in our Operation: Reach, Retain, and Develop program with the national component of the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS). This offering was cobbled together and deployed faster than you could turn your head (Similar to how fast – in legislative terms – Congress passed the PPP bill).

This meant it was not perfect, but it was effective. It would not have been possible if it were not for the approximate 50 members who stepped up in a mentor capacity. I am forever grateful for you. You impacted lives and kept these recent graduates in the profession. Do not take my word for it – read the testimonials and talk to these young men and women yourself.

So, it is an honor and privilege to present to you the AIA Virginia 2020 Year in Review.

I hope you thumb through this document and at some point, say, Wow.

I hope you look at it and say, How can I be a part of this?

I hope you walk away being a proud member of this organization.

R. Corey Clayborne, FAIA, NOMA, MBA
Executive Vice President