Change of Seasons

It is hard to believe that it has been five years since I took this position in June 2017. I knew the career opportunity as AIA Virginia Executive Vice President was going to be special, but you honestly never know how great something will be until you immerse yourself in it. As I look back over my tenure, we built something magnificent together that I know will live on in future seasons of leadership.

This role has afforded me the privilege to meet so many of our approximate 2,500 members around the Commonwealth. I have seen the great work that you are producing and how you are shaping your community as architects and designers. I have recruited many of you who are too talented to sit on the sidelines to serve on various committees to move AIA Virginia forward in a beautiful way.

There is so much that I am proud of as I put this pen down for the final time.

Let’s start with the People. Without them, accomplishments whether big or small are not possible. Let me take a moment to highlight the powerful staff team at AIA Virginia. All I can say is small but mighty. Our body of work is on par with the biggest states in the AIA and our staff is half the size.

You may ask, “how did we do that?

It is from a servant leadership mentality that we have for each other blended with a relentless pursuit of self-improvement. We all bought into that system and what you see is what you have received. If I could take a moment to brag about them, each one is growing beyond what they had ever envisioned for themselves ranging from obtaining a Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential to completing college degrees to speaking at national conferences! I am so thankful for each one of our staff members that I have worked with both past and present.

To the six presidents I have had the honor to get to know and who welcomed me as their business partners during their year of presidential leadership:

Bill Brown, AIA
Eric Keplinger, AIA
Rob Reis, AIA
Beth Reader, FAIA
Sean Reilly, AIA
Robert Easter, FAIA

What no one tells you when you take this role is how close of a relationship you form with your Presidents. And my is that true! As President of the Board, there are a lot of demands and expectations. It is truly a year of service and there are often defining moments where I am sure that they ask themselves what they got into. Every single one of these men and women not only survived but thrived in their year. And each of these individuals knows there is nothing that I would not do for them as they have become just like family members to me. And what they all have in common, though they are different and unique individuals, is that they have hearts of gold. And that is a prerequisite for a successful President because it is never about them. It’s about leading the organization to successful outcomes for the benefit of our membership.

And then there is a host of others where it would be impossible to name but you know who you are. You may feel like your contribution was not large. But let me tell you, regardless of the size or breadth of your support, it moved us forward.

When I think about my most proud moments, it is really difficult to narrow it down to a simple newsletter article. So, I boiled it down to a couple of overarching themes:

  • Our relevancy as architects and the profession of architecture to the general public and our state and local leaders has grown exponentially in the last five years. Today, we are now invited to present on the built environment to organizations that support mayors, local elected officials, procurement professionals, and members of the General assembly. We have truly become a go-to source that is credible, knowledgeable, and authentic. Architects SPEAK UP!, our community dinners and transformation of the Political Action Committee (which has literally grown tenfold in my tenure and would not be possible if you all did not believe in our advocacy work) have allowed us to do that.
  • A model of excellence in our continuing education through our signature events. We continue to bring you the most prolific domestic and internationally acclaimed architects for design inspiration. Many times, you must go to New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago to see the names that we bring to you right here in Virginia.
  • Continuing to invest and cultivate our next generation of leaders. We have shifted the model of our nationally respected Emerging Leaders in Architecture (ELA) program to a “for us, by us” model. This legacy program is now run and executed by its alumni. Now with over 200 graduates, the impact that these men and women are making in the world is unmatched. Our Operation: Reach, Retain, and Develop mentorship program with AIAS National was cobbled together quickly during the pandemic for temporary purposes and has now blossomed into a value-soaked program that I suspect will be around for years to come.
  • We became a model of a strong and growing nonprofit. Over the course of my tenure, we really had to change our financial practices as an organization. That takes confidence and courage from the Board to have trust in the various strategies that were employed. Without going into great detail, I am proud to say that today we are an organization with a financial reserves balance that aligns with that of non-profit best practices. We have retooled our governance structure to one that allows it to be more efficient and effective while opening the door of inclusivity to so many members who have a desire to serve. That was hard work, but we did it!

So, as I bring this to a close, the work as Executive Vice President is never done. You could serve for 20 years and still feel like there is more to be accomplished. But there is a season for everything. And as this particular season comes to a close, a new one will flourish and the organization will be taken to even greater heights. I am excited to take this body of work that we have accomplished together and explore how it can be scaled for national impact in my next season. Remember that I am still an AIA Virginia member and I look forward to reuniting with so many of you at the signature events.

I am wishing all of you many blessings and prosperity. Until next time.

In service,

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

Clayborne Stepping Down as EVP on June 17

Corey Clayborne, FAIA, who has served as AIA Virginia’s Executive Vice President since June 1, 2017, is leaving to serve as Senior Vice President, Knowledge & Practice at The American Institute of Architects headquarters in Washington, D.C. “This is a tremendous opportunity to work alongside a dedicated and dynamic staff team to equip and position architects around the globe with the resources to lead in the fight against the climate crisis while maintaining a commitment to shaping healthy equitable communities.” His last day with AIA Virginia is June 17, 2022.

“AIA Virginia has been extremely blessed to have benefited from Corey’s leadership and vision,” says board president Robert Easter, FAIA. “We wish him great success in this new position of professional leadership.”

A search committee is being formed to fill the position.

Clayborne earned his degree in architecture from Virginia Tech and spent 13 years in practice before stepping in to lead AIA Virginia. He received AIA Virginia’s Award for Distinguished Achievement in 2016 and the AIA’s Young Architects Award in 2017. In 2020, he was elevated to Fellowship for his sustained efforts to create a more diverse and sustainable leadership pipeline to the profession.

Where’s Corey

Executive Vice President, Corey Clayborne, has pledged to travel around the state and visit firms, components, partner organizations, and universities.

Here’s his recent travel schedule:

AIA Local, State, and National Engagement
AIA Virginia Board of Directors Meeting
Hampton University
Hampton
March 31 – April 1

AIA Virginia Meeting of the Roundtables
Virtual
April 21

Mayor’s Innovation Project Design Charette
Blacksburg
April 28

AIA Virginia Safety Assessment Program Training
Virtual
May 6

Ambassador Engagement
Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design Advisory Board Meeting
Virtual
April 11

Professional Design Practice Presentation
James Madison University
Harrisonburg
April 18

Operation: Reach, Retain, and Develop Mentorship Program Celebration with AIAS National
Charlottesville
April 29

Collaboration is Part of our Currency

As architects and designers, our daily practice should revolve around collaboration. This act is necessary for allowing a project solution to reach its highest and fullest potential. It strengthens the outcomes of policy development in our communities. As an association, collaboration allows us – as a profession – to broaden our impact and crystalize our relevancy.

Collaboration is part of our currency.

Over the last few weeks, AIA Virginia has been spending significant amounts of this specific currency. For the first time, the organization held a design and construction conference in partnership with the state components of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) and Associated General Contractors (AGC). Held at the Virginia Beach oceanfront, architects, engineers, and contractors convened for networking and business development while exchanging industry best practices. Our members’ clients were used to curate and present much of the conference content. In its inaugural year, this AEC (Architecture/Engineering/Construction) conference was most certainly a success. Make sure this event lands on your 2023 calendar when the “save the date” is released!

Two days after the AEC conference, we partnered with ACEC in sponsorship to support the Virginia Association of Governmental Purchasing (VAGP) conference. In this endeavor, we provided content on procurement best practices and risk management for the professionals who procure architectural and engineering services. This partnership with VAGP has grown significantly over the last three years providing significant advantages in our legislative work.

Lastly, it is an absolute honor to support AIA Blue Ridge as it serves the Town of Blacksburg through a grant from the Mayor’s Innovation Project and AIA National. The Town desires to transform an old vacant downtown building, formerly serving as a dry-cleaning facility, into a downtown business incubator. For the first charette, I watched local architects, Town staff, and community members come together harmoniously to create the programmatic requirements and bubble diagrams that bring the project vision to life.

As you move forward this month, reflect on what the role of the architect is in our communities. We are the creators of the built environment. This is a massive responsibility. A responsibility that is best executed when we use collaboration as part of our currency.

In service,

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

Where’s Corey

Executive Vice President, Corey Clayborne, has pledged to travel around the state and visit firms, components, partner organizations, and universities.

Here’s his recent travel schedule:

AIA Local, State, and National Engagement

AIA Virginia Strategic Planning Retreat
Warrenton
March 3-4

Mayor’s Innovation Project Design Charette
Blacksburg
March 24

AIA Virginia Board of Directors Meeting
Hampton University
Hampton
March 31 – April 1

Ambassador Engagement

Virginia Tech School of Architecture + Design Advisory Board Meeting
Virtual
March 14

AEC Conference (in partnership with ACEC and AGC)
Virginia Beach
March 17-18

Virginia Association of Governmental Purchasing Conference (in partnership with ACEC)
Virginia Beach
March 20-22

Where’s Corey

Executive Vice President, Corey Clayborne, has pledged to travel around the state and visit firms, components, partner organizations, and universities.

Here’s his recent travel schedule:

AIA Local, State, and National Engagement

AIA National Strategic Council Meeting
Virtual
February 9

AIA Virginia Board of Directors Meeting
Virtual
February 18

AIA National Grassroots Leadership Conference
Virtual
February 21-23

AIA Virginia Strategic Planning Retreat
Warrenton
March 3-4

Ambassador Engagement

APELSCIDLA Board Meeting
Richmond
February 9

Virginia NOMA Open House
Charlottesville
February 25

Virginia NOMA Board of Directors Meeting
Virtual
March 2

Where’s Corey

Executive Vice President, Corey Clayborne, has pledged to travel around the state and visit firms, components, partner organizations, and universities.

Here’s his recent travel schedule:

AIA Local, Regional, and National Engagement
AIA Virginia Board of Directors Planning Retreat
Williamsburg
January 28-29

Ambassador Engagement
Legislative Event with Del. Simon
Virtual
January 4

Legislative Event with House Democrats
Richmond
January 10

Legislative Event with House Majority Leader Kilgore
Richmond
January 10

Legislative Event with Virginia Legislative Black Caucus
Richmond
January 10

Virginia Tech Architecture Program Advisory Board Meeting
Virtual
January 10

Legislative Event with Senate Democrats
Richmond
January 11

Legislative Event with Del. Byron
Richmond
January 11

Legislative Event with Senate Republicans
Richmond
January 11

Legislative Event with House Republicans
Richmond
January 11

APELSCIDLA Board Meeting
Richmond
February 9

Where’s Corey

Executive Vice President, Corey Clayborne, has pledged to travel around the state and visit firms, components, partner organizations, and universities.

Here’s his recent travel schedule:

AIA Local, Regional, and National Engagement

Safety Assessment Program Training
Virtual
November 12

AIA Young Architect Award Jury Deliberation
Virtual
November 17

AIA College of Fellows Investiture
Washington, D.C.
December 8

AIA Strategic Council Assembly
Washington, D.C.
December 9

AIA Presidential Inauguration
Washington, D.C.
December 10

AIA Virginia Board of Directors Meeting
Richmond
December 17

Ambassador Engagement

Lead Virginia
Richmond
November 18-20

Legislative Event with Del. Carr
Richmond
November 30

Virginia NOMA Board of Directors Meeting
Virtual
December 1

Virginia Society of Association Executives Board of Directors Meeting
Virtual
December 10

We’re Baaaaaccckkkkkk!

There is no secret that the last 18 months have been a challenge for many of our brothers and sisters in the profession. For AIA Virginia, I feel like we have been playing defense in the pandemic. It started as an urgent scramble to get our members the essential tools and resources to navigate the choppy waters caused by an intentional economic shutdown and public health crisis. Over time, we transitioned to a virtual environment which undoubtedly has its advantages and disadvantages. It allowed us to continue providing the needed human interaction that is necessary for positive mental health. Our Design Forum keynote presentation by Steven Holl, FAIA, felt like a fireside chat on Zoom.

On the other hand, I have yet to hear of a virtual meeting or event going viral where people continue to talk about it for months after it concludes. Those who you meet for the first time through a virtual environment are not very memorable after you hit the large red “Leave Meeting” icon. As an association that is THE VOICE of the architecture profession, we cannot fully live out our mission behind a computer screen.

So, in this letter, I want to yell from the rooftops:

“We’re Baaaaaaaaacccckkkkkk!”

We have wasted no time getting back to making memorable moments and demonstrating the value that each one of you offers to our world as an architect. Within the last 30 days, AIA Virginia has twice been a requested resource by our state and local elected officials.

On September 29th, we delivered a presentation to the Commission on School Construction and Modernization which will help our state’s leaders develop funding recommendations to the General Assembly and the Governor. That same night, AIA Virginia hosted our “Blueprint for Better Communities” dinner in Norfolk. This event brought together our local architects and prominent community leaders, including the Mayor, to discuss the pursuit of the city’s vision together.

Just a few days later, we presented “School as a Community Catalyst: Happy, Healthy, and High-Performing” to our local elected officials at the Virginia Municipal League’s annual conference in Leesburg. And lastly, we held our first in-person Board meeting since the pandemic at the University of Virginia where we had an inspirational time engaging with students, faculty, School of Architecture Dean Malo Hutson, and Alice Raucher, FAIA (Architect for the University).

This is the time of year where we set our eyes on Architecture Exchange East and Visions for Architecture. Our conference will be mostly virtual and span the week of Nov. 1-5. However, the last day will have an in-person option at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. On this day, we will host Marlon Blackwell, FAIA, as our keynote speaker followed by the safe celebration of our 2020 and 2021 Visions honorees over cocktails and heavy hors d’oeuvres. Remember, if you purchase an in-person ticket, it includes the keynote and Visions!

I encourage you to register at: ArchEx 2021 Registration Open – AIA Virginia (aiava.org)

Many of you I have not seen in person since the beginning of 2020. Come join us and I assure you that we will safely have a great time!

In service,

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

Where’s Corey

Executive Vice President, Corey Clayborne, has pledged to travel around the state and visit firms, components, partner organizations, and universities.

Here’s his recent travel schedule:

AIA Local, Regional, and National Engagement
AIA Richmond Golf Tournament
Richmond
October 18

NOMA National Conference
Virtual
October 20-22

Architecture Exchange East
Virtual + Richmond
November 1-5

Ambassador Engagement
Legislative Event with Del. Hodges
Virtual
October 12

Legislative Reception with Sen. Barker
Northern Virginia
October 13

Lead Virginia
Danville and Southside Virginia
October 14-16

Legislative Reception with Sen. Hanger
Richmond
October 19