Associated Thoughts: New Beginnings 

Ashleigh Walker, Associate AIA

As a newly appointed AIA Virginia Board Member, I find myself contemplating the idea of “new beginnings” throughout the start of the new year.  My focus has been on not only how to represent the current group of AIA Virginia Associate members, but who am I representing? Who are my colleagues, and what are their backgrounds? What are the different aspirations we as a collective group share for growth in the profession, and what are we looking to get out of our AIA memberships? Above all, how can I help support these goals and requests, and better serve as an ambassador to young professionals in Virginia?  

The task at hand is not easy or simple, but as complex and unique as the group of individuals represented. I am reminded of the ever-present motto from my alma mater, Virginia Tech, as “Ut Prosim” or “That I May Serve”, and hope over these next 2 years as your Associate Director, I can do my part to serve.   

To better understand how I can achieve this, I need to look outside of myself and go directly to the source – Associate members! – and ask “What can I do for you?”. At our recent Board of Directors meeting, we discussed goals for the year as well as challenges facing the chapter, the state, and the profession at large. Over the 2 days of collaboration and problem-solving, my mind kept wandering to my specific task at hand – make sure Associate members are represented, and feel that they are heard, valued, and helped. 

I begin my journey with a simple set of 15 questions for Associates (or non-Associate members) to fill out, and hope it can start me in a direction toward growth and service. 

Will keep you posted! – A

A Call for the DAC: a particular and impactful form of service

The members of AIA Virginia emphasize and celebrate the contributions of architects and the importance of architecture in enriching the quality of life in local communities and the well-being of society. There may be no more impactful contribution than serving individuals and communities in times of intense and immediate crisis.

Since 1972, the Disaster Assistance Committee (DAC) has prepared members to take on leadership and volunteer roles in assisting communities nationally and internationally. The program strengthens readiness and fosters mutually beneficial relationships with jurisdictions and the larger disaster-response community. This includes the administration of the Safety-Assessment Program (SAP) training which provides architects, engineers, and building inspectors with the knowledge to provide evaluations of facilities and buildings in the aftermath of a disaster. A special debt of honor and gratitude is due to those who stand ready to serve in this capacity. If you would like to join their ranks, and in particular, would like to chair this committee, please communicate your interest to Paul Battaglia, AIA

Rolling Into the New Year

The calendar year is rolling. It’s February already! And this is a short month!

I have been willingly whisked into the winds of advocacy. The Joint Legislative Committee (JLC) convenes weekly to confer on the bills and confirm (or adjust) our positions. I am spending lots of quality time at the General Assembly monitoring bills – nothing too concerning so far – and connecting with Senators and Delegates to communicate our interests and concerns.

The month will conclude with a trip to the “Big Hill” in DC to address issues at the federal level during the annual AIA Leadership Summit.

Speaking of leadership summits… the new year presents an important opportunity to (re)consider aspirations, objectives, and priorities. I am grateful to those who participated in seizing two of those opportunities recently.

Delegations from each of the components in Virginia – the five locals and the state – participated in a Leadership Summit on Wednesday 17 January 2024 in Richmond. We had a very candid and collegial discussion about how and where we can collaborate, and complement each other’s efforts; and, no less importantly, how we can avoid or reduce competition and conflict.  That was a tremendously beneficial meeting. We are committed to continuing those conversations and cooperating more effectively.

The directors of AIA Virginia convened during a Board Retreat at the Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg on Friday and Saturday 26 and 27 January 2024.  We established our priorities for the coming year(s) in consideration of what each member of the board has to offer, and how they want to grow and develop. We learned a lot from, and about, each other.

I am grateful for and encouraged and inspired by, all those who lead so well. I look forward to what we discover and accomplish together.

Paul Battaglia, AIA
EVP, AIA Virginia

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 Morgan, AIA (Northern Virginia)
Casey Servis, AIA (Central Virginia)
Katlin Honbarrier, AIA (Richmond)
Kevin Gilmour, AIA (Richmond)
Daniel Banker, AIA (Blue Ridge)

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,

Are you ready to get licensed? AIA Virginia has discounted 60-day Amber Book subscriptions. Read more about it here>>

Have questions about licensure? Contact AIA Virginia’s State Licensing Advisor, Gina Robinson, AIA, at

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

Belilta Asfaw, AIA (Northern Virginia)
Gerald Hendricks, AIA (Richmond)
Gregg Lewis, AIA (Blue Ridge)
Gordon Lindberg, AIA (Northern Virginia)
Grant Thrower, AIA (Northern Virginia)

New Associate Members

Briana Allen, Assoc. AIA (Richmond)
Hunter Caine, Assoc. AIA (Richmond)
Sabiya Davis, Assoc. AIA (Richmond)
Christian Galindo-Torres, Assoc. AIA (Richmond)
Miriam Hossaini, Assoc. AIA (Richmond)
Zaoqing Liu, Assoc. AIA (Central Virginia)
Shelby Pollack, Assoc. AIA (Northern Virginia)
Bethany Pritchard, Assoc. AIA (Central Virginia)
Sholeh Salimi, Assoc. AIA (Richmond)
Wenhui Sang, Assoc. AIA (Blue Ridge)
Nicholas Warmington, Assoc. AIA (Northern Virginia)

Transferred In

Valerie Amor, Assoc. AIA (Northern Virginia) from AIA New York State
Sarah Brummett, Assoc. AIA (Northern Virginia) from AIA California
Eliezer Lee, AIA (Hampton Roads) from AIA Washington DC
Ronald Lucas, AIA (Northern Virginia) from AIA Illinois
Daniel Porter, AIA (Northern Virginia) from AIA Washington DC
Allison Pride, AIA (Northern Virginia) from AIA Washington
Jeffrey Sperling, AIA (Hampton Roads) from AIA North Carolina

New/Renewed Allied Members

Dan Longenderfer, Director of Marketing, York Building Products

View all of the AIA Virginia Allied members

The COTE Corner! What’s Coming Up in 2024

VA COTE is planning for an engaging and impactful 2024! The steering committee is looking to:

  • Continue our successful education series with a summer/fall webinar program.
  • Coordinate carbon accounting workshops in each regional chapter.
  • Facilitate peer-to-peer knowledge sharing and troubleshooting.
  • Expand connections to national COTE resources, networks, and initiatives.
  • Track and advocate for impactful sustainability statewide legislation.
  • Connect elected representatives to the work YOU are doing by co-hosting sustainable building tours in each chapter.
  • Provide educational updates on 179D deductions, IRA tax incentives, and R+D tax credits as legislation evolves

Read more about national C.O.T.E activities and resources here – with a Chairperson’s overview by our very own Michelle Amt!

VA C.O.T.E. meetings are held virtually the third Tuesday of each month at 4pm.  For more information contact

Firm Size Roundtable Wrap-Up

The Firm Size roundtables met at the AIA Virginia annual convention, Architecture Exchange East in November 2023. Here are the main themes that emerged from those discussions. I hope you will plan to join us at future roundtable discussions! Watch your inbox for an invitation.

The Small Firm Roundtable is chaired by Maggie Schubert, AIA
The Mid-Size Firm Roundtable is chaired by Andrew McKinley, AIA
The Large Firm Roundtable is chaired by Charles Piper, AIA

Small Firms Discussed:

  • Hiring + Retaining
  • Getting Work
  • Billing/getting paid for work
  • Software/technology (Job Tread, Harvest, Sage)
  • Outsourcing
  • *TIME* – Doer/Maker/Seller
  • Training – Personal Development
  • Work/Life Balance – how to deal with stressors
  • Master Spec
  • Ai – writing, Chat GPT/ Sort Pattern recognizing performance evaluation/ Resources marketing
  • Continual change/Scale up + Scale down
  • Flexibility
    • How to keep and get good talent
  • Firm Culture
    • How to keep and get good talent
  • Remote working – Trust needed to succeed (Set structure)
  • Open plan vs. focused work
  • Office – Client meetings and community connects

Mid-Size Firms Discussed:

When you think about being part of a “fun-sized” firm, what makes you smile?
What is the greatest innovation you’ve witnessed within your firm?
What is your (firm or individual) greatest challenge?
What question would you like to ask the group?
Read these responses

Large Firms Discussed:

Tailwinds –

  • Strong Backlog
    • Healthcare
    • Science/Tech
    • Higher Ed
    • Industrial
    • DOD
    • Aviation
    • K-12
  • Covid Funding/Public Funding
  • Technology
    • Efficiency
    • AI
  • Integration
    • Teams across offices
    • Disciplines
  • Efficiency, Meeting attendance
  • High Job Satisfaction
  • Project team structure/relationships

Headwinds –

  • Post-pandemic uncertainty/exhaustion
  • Political uncertainty
  • Un-even demand
  • Remote work QC/firm cohesiveness
    • Discouraged especially for young staff
  • Staff/consultant capacity to execute
  • HR/Training/Culture – stress of Growth
  • Design Quality suffering/Lack of professional development when teams aren’t together
  • Leadership development (for virtual work – lack of in-between/soft mentoring)
  • Lack of “windshield time” with staff and face-to-face time with clients
  • Being more “efficient” but less effective (due to remote work)
  • Need to clarify roles and expectations

Career Stage Roundtable Wrap-Up

The career stage roundtables met at the AIA Virginia annual convention, Architecture Exchange East in November 2023. Here are the main themes that emerged from those discussions. I hope you will plan to join us at future roundtable discussions! Watch your inbox for an invitation.

The Early Career Stage Roundtable is chaired by Carrie Parker, AIA
The Mid Career Stage Roundtable is chaired by Shawn Mulligan, AIA
The Late Career Stage Roundtable is chaired by Mitch Rowland, AIA

Thank You and Welcome

Our 2023 Board of Directors had their last meeting on December 15, 2023. We had a chance to thank our departing board members, Michael Poole, AIA, Jori Erdman, AIA, and Caitlin Morgan, Associate AIA. And then it was onto the first meeting of the 2024 Board of Directors! Thank you to all for your volunteer leadership.

Sydney has been a shining StAR, and now we need another

For the last several years, we have been fortunate to have Sydney Huibregtse, Associate AIA serve as our State/Territory Associate Representative (StAR). Our organization and our members have benefitted greatly from Sydney’s dedicated and thoughtful service. Thank you, Syndey.

Sydney Huibregtse, Assoc. AIA

Sydney has decided to step down from that role, and we are now in search of another StAR.

And what is a StAR? StARs serve on the National Associates Committee (the NAC). The NAC is the voice of Associate members of AIA. It represents and advocates for both mainstream and non-traditional associates – who constitute 19% of national AIA membership – at all components of the AIA. By promoting excellence, providing information and leadership, fostering inclusiveness, and encouraging individual, community and professional development, the NAC strives to integrate the growing associates community of the profession into a strong voice within the AIA. Representatives to the NAC are known as State Associate Representatives (StARs).

StARs typically serve two-year terms. Efforts include monthly workgroup calls, quarterly full committee calls, and one required in-person (travel-paid) annual meeting in Q1. Expect to dedicate 10 hours per month to this role. 

If you are interested in serving as a StAR, please contact EVP Paul Battaglia, AIA before the end of the month.