“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

AIA Virginia is convening a diverse cadre of decision-makers, from practices of all sizes, for a one-day forum designed to cultivate strong leaders and advance business practices. With a focus on creating and fostering a healthy firm culture, both seasoned and emerging leaders will come together to share and learn best practices, be challenged and be celebrated by their peers. Roundtable discussions will focus on leadership development, team building, diversity, inclusion and equity, and legal challenges faced by firms.

On March 31, AIA members from around the state will gather as “great minds” to “discuss ideas” for advancing our profession within the Commonwealth. We invite all firm leaders to be part of the inaugural Art of Practice forum. This forum will center, as the title suggests, on matters of import to architectural practice, particularly firm culture. It is intended to complement the focus on design that is afforded by the ever-popular Virginia Design Forum and will take place on alternating years (odd years) with the Forum (in even years).

In early 2015, under the leadership of President-elect Nick Vlattas, AIA, we convened key leaders from the state’s largest firms to discuss issues and items that were relevant to their practices. The Virginia Large Firm Roundtable has since met on four occasions to discuss issues of mutual interest and concern. Their sessions have become an integral part of their engagement with AIA Virginia and we’re pleased to have nearly 100% attendance at almost every meeting.

In that spirit, and in response to our members’ requests and needs, we shall now convene a Small Firm Roundtable as well as a Mid-sized Firm Roundtable. These two, along with the Large Firm Round Table, will meet for the first time at the Art of Practice conference.

Firm principals should watch for a special e-mail and invitation from me on behalf of conference chair Maggie Schubert, AIA. We anticipate that after these initial sessions, these groups will convene twice during each year, once in the spring and again at Architecture Exchange East (November 3, for 2017). We hope this will continue for some years to come. (Please note that the Sole Practitioners Roundtable will meet for the first time in June under a separate invitation.) In order to keep the event FREE to attendees, it will take place at The Branch Museum of Architecture and Design in Richmond. Space is limited, so you’ll want to register right away to ensure a spot in this exciting launch event.

For this year, our schedule looks like this:

9 a.m.        Welcome reception and coffee
9:30 a.m.   Opening remarks and keynote presentation
10:00 a.m. Firm Culture Breakout Sessions (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion;
Succession Planning and Leadership Development; and Building Effective Teams)
11:45 a.m.   Lunch, with regulatory and legislative updates
1:00 p.m.    Knowledge Community Breakout Sessions
(Large, Mid-size and Small Firm Roundtables)
2:45 p.m.    Roundtable Report Outs and Closing Discussion
4:15 p.m.    Happy hour reception

Our conversation promises to be transformational for our profession within the Commonwealth, and we hope you’ll take time from your busy schedules to attend this important conference. In fact, we expect the discussion to be quite rich, making this is an event you won’t want to miss. Please register here.

We look forward to seeing you on Friday, March 31!





Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA | Executive Vice President

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