On Friday, Dec. 9, Virginia member Helene Combs Dreiling, FAIA, announced her candidacy for First Vice-president/President-elect of the American Institute of Architects. The American Institute of Architects is governed by a Board of Directors, elected by the membership. The election takes place during the national convention, which will be held May 17–19, 2012 in Washington, D.C.
Dreiling currently serves as the Executive Director of the Virginia Center for Architecture, a museum and historic property dedicated to developing the understanding of architecture and its influence on our lives, our communities, and our world through exhibitions, public programs, education, special events, and publications. Immediately prior, she managed The Plum Studio, Ltd., a specialty firm with expertise in architecture and design, association/non-profit strategic planning and facilitation, organizational consulting, and business writing. Previously, she served for nearly ten years on the national AIA staff, having transitioned in 2000 from private architectural practice and national AIA volunteer leadership to the staff.
During her tenure at the AIA, she served most recently as Managing Director of Component Relations, directing the team that provides resources and tools for the more than 280 local and state AIA components supporting AIA members across the country and around the world. She was also Vice President, Strategic Initiatives and Relationships, overseeing the alliances with related professional organizations and shepherding integrated project delivery, sustainability, and AIA150, the AIA’s sesquicentennial. Prior to holding that position and for over six years, she was Team Vice President, AIA Community, overseeing the Component Relations, Alliances, Membership Services, and Center for Communities by Design departments.
An active volunteer in the AIA for more than twenty years, Helene was formerly a national Vice President and Director from The Virginias region on the AIA Board of Directors. She has also served on the Boards of the Virginia Society AIA and AIA Blue Ridge and was President of both components, among other positions. Helene has been a Regent of the American Architectural Foundation, was AIA Liaison to the American Institute of Architecture Students Board of Directors, and served as a Trustee of the Virginia Center for Architecture Foundation. Helene was elevated to the AIA College of Fellows in 2000 for her volunteer service to the profession, with an emphasis on nurturing future professionals.
Other professional experience includes work with several Virginia architecture firms, including The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. Helene received her Bachelor of Architecture degree from Virginia Tech, where she was named “Woman of the Year” in 1981 for her academic excellence and exemplary student leadership. She and her husband, Mark McConnel, AIA, make their architect-duo home in Roanoke, Virginia with their combined ‘team’ of seven children.