Activate – AIGA Leadership Retreat: Day 1 Recap

I just finished the first day of the AIGA Leadership Retreat, and words can’t express how motivated I am about the future of AIGA Idaho. I came here with the goal of learning as much as I could in three days to help my carry out my duties as President of AIGA Idaho, and already I have gotten loads of great insight and advice from some of AIGA’s most talented and passionate folks, both on the national staff and from other chapters.

After getting checked into the retreat yesterday morning and setting up our display table, it was time for the president’s meeting. It was a lunch discussion with all of the presidents of all of the AIGA chapters. It was a great opportunity to talk one-on-one with other presidents of chapters similar to Idaho, that face similar challenges. One takeaway from talking to another chapter president was the importance of doing an annual chapter board retreat. This is a great way to connect and keep ourselves engaged.

Opening Remarks

In the first General Session, Ric GrefĂ© gave the State of the Association, which provided some great insight on the overall direction of AIGA. Some of the goals laid out by Ric included empowering designers across the arch of their careers, demonstrating the value of design and the stimulation of thinking about design. He spoke of the shift from AIGA’s role as a “publication” to more of an outlet for the design community, by creating, curating and collecting the voices of our membership as a whole. Debbie Millman, the outgoing President of AIGA discussed the 2014 Mandate and the focus on networking, content and keeping members engaged through the transition from student to professional.

Spark Sessions

The spark sessions were small breakouts on focused topics. I attended sessions on board management with Dawn Zidonis, the President of AIGA Cleveland and running a successful contest with Colleen Hill, the President of AIGA Detroit. These were great opportunities to learn about some specific topics and have some great dialogue with the presenters and other participants.

One Day For Design

Next was the second General Session. The first topic was AIGA’s recent One Day For Design event. The event was an effort to build a broad conversation about design and the role of AIGA in the industry, as a way to help connect designers and get feedback from the AIGA membership about the direction the organization should take. Over the course of the day, there were 30,000 tweets by 3,900 users, and at one point the hashtag #1d4d was the #4 trending topic on Twitter in the U.S.

The main themes of the conversation were:

  1. We are a source of integrity and ethics
  2. We need to assert our business value
  3. We need to assert AIGA’s value to ourselves
  4. We need clarity on what we get for our dues
  5. We are entrepreneurs who need guidance
  6. We go elsewhere for information and inspiration
  7. We are already digital
  8. We have difficulty with weak definitions about design
  9. We yearn to be part of something impactful
  10. We need to teach the next generation

We then heard from Colleen Hill once again to discuss how AIGA Detroit has managed to not only retain, but grow it’s membership in a time of deep economic turmoil. AIGA Detroit currently has 500 members and 10 sustaining sponsors and put on 31 events in 2010.

James Hersic from AIGA Blue Ridge then spoke about the Clockwork program that they do, where designers are connected with worthy non-profits to build meaningful pro boon relationships.

By Steve
Published June 3, 2011
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