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.

Getting Licensed in 2024?

The ritual of setting intentions at the start of the New Year may be something humans have practiced for millennia, but that doesn’t mean it’s any easier to stick with it. A discouragingly high percentage of New Year’s optimists either lose track of progress on their resolutions, forget about them entirely, or set their goals too high. While there’s plenty of research and writing on how to set goals and follow through with them, it’s easy for us to get discouraged or lose motivation if we feel we’re falling behind or not meeting our own expectations.

If you’re a Candidate who has resolved to earn your initial license in 2024, tracking your progress and keeping the end goal in sight is paramount to your success. Whether it’s finishing the process or starting from scratch, taking on one exam division at a time or all of them at once, maintaining your motivation is often the hardest part of the licensure process. To start the New Year, I’d like to offer some tips from other Candidates and recently licensed Architects that might help you get started.

Learn about your Benefits. Ask your supervisor or firm’s HR department what support or resources are provided for aspiring Architects. Whether it’s study materials, reimbursement for exam fees, or a bonus when you finish the process, most firms offer incentives for Candidates.

Find Resources for your Learning Style. There are several books that cover content for each ARE division, but online audio and video courses have become more accessible in recent years. AIA NoVA is about to kick off their annual ARE 5.0 Prep Series, which you can attend virtually. If you’re an AIA Virginia member, you can take advantage of our Amber Book discount subscription, which offers a deep discount for two months of access. Beware of free materials you find online – you get what you pay for when it comes to ARE study materials.

Set a Realistic Schedule and give yourself some flexibility. No path is a straight line, and even if you get into a groove, life happens. You could get the flu, have a family emergency, or a busy week at work, so build in some cushion so you don’t get discouraged if you miss a few days of studying.

Schedule your exams. The biggest reason Candidates don’t finish their AREs is that they’re nervous to start, but you can’t pass an exam if you don’t take it! Give yourself a few weeks to determine if your study schedule is realistic, and then start scheduling your tests. NCARB still allows candidates to reschedule each exam one time with no fee, so you still have some flexibility.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. This process is difficult, but it’s not impossible. Think of everyone you know who’s a licensed Architect and remember that they had to go through the same struggles you’re experiencing now. Take breaks, recognize small wins, and plan how you want to celebrate when you pass that last division.

Keep the End Goal in Mind. It’s hard not to get wrapped up in the process but keep your eyes on the prize. All those hours of studying are to get you as prepared as possible to pass the exams. Once you’re finished, you never have to do it again!

If you’re still on the fence about tackling your exams, ask around with friends and colleagues who have gone through the process recently. They likely have some insight and can tell you what worked best for them. The most important thing is to recognize what works for you and what doesn’t. Advice is wonderful and reassuring, but it’s up to you to put it into action and follow through.

As always, your questions about AXP, the AREs, or NCARB in general are always welcome and encouraged. Happy New Year, and good luck as you pursue those lofty resolutions.

Gina Robinson, AIA
Architect Licensing Advisor – Virginia  

Welcome to our new YAR

Dear AIA Virginia Members,

I am very excited to begin my term as the 2024-2026 Young Architect Representative (YAR) for Virginia. This role serves as a steward for young architects across Virginia, bringing their interests and ideas to the national stage, and bringing resources from the national level to local YAF chapters. I hope to be both an excellent communicator and listener for the young architect community and beyond.

On February 2nd, I will be in Memphis for the 2024 YAF Annual Meeting. It is the one time a year all 52 YARS, 106 STARs, and 20+ Advisory Committee leaders physically come together for a full day of strategizing and planning. I am excited for who I will meet, what I will learn, and what I can bring back to Virginia. The three 2024 YAF priorities will be “Growth and Career Advancement,” “Steering the Future of the Profession,” and “Diversifying and Accelerating Leadership.” If you have any questions, ideas, or topics you would like me to keep top of mind, please let me know! My door is always open at

Erin Agdinaoay, AIA, NOMA