Susan Chin Elected 2013-14 AIA Vice President

Susan Chin

Photo by Sultan Khan

This is a dynamic and demanding time for the architectural profession and the American Institute of Architects due to the economic downturn, new digital technologies, globalization and sustainability imperatives. To meet the challenges, the AIA has been reimagining itself to facilitate the leadership of architects in society and increase awareness of their essential roles for shaping the future.  Achieving these aims requires guidance of a new and forward-thinking kind--leadership exemplified by Susan Chin. Chin (Loeb Fellow 2000) was recently elected Vice President of the AIA.  She is the first Asian American woman in this role, and she shares some of her thoughts as she takes office.

"During my AIA Board service, I’ve been a part of the effort to re-envision the organization, and I am keenly interested in bringing my experience to bear, also to be the first Asian American woman to serve in this capacity.  Addressing issues of diversity is among my many concerns for the AIA—age, ethnicity, gender, allied professions.  I’ve found reflecting the world that we serve is of critical significance, and also bringing together diverse perspectives and cultures generates innovative solutions. We also discuss diversity as an issue for the future of the Loeb Fellowship.

"The AIA National Vice President election process was a real campaign, from declaring and getting petitions signed by three chapters to delegates casting votes on behalf of their members at the National Convention in Washington, DC. My previous elections for Regional Director on the National Board or Chapter President of AIA New York were simpler and less political.

"The most enjoyable yet the most onerous part of the campaign involved calling AIA leaders from across the country to gain insight into their local concerns. One of the most urgent issues they identified is the aging profession, with too few young professionals replacing those who will retire in the next five to ten years.   Connecting with so many dedicated and talented AIA leaders helped me focus on leadership, knowledge and communication as my platform.

"The four VPs on the AIA Executive Committee oversee four different portfolios—Advocacy, Communication, Community, and Knowledge. My responsibility will be Community, which works closely with state and local chapters on membership. A key challenge is to prepare architects, especially emerging professionals, to serve as leaders in a wider range of roles. I am deeply committed to this important goal and to increasing our shared knowledge through improved communication. When AIA members work collaboratively, we solve complex problems, transform public policies, and inspire new approaches to improving the public realm and meeting the aspirations of our citizens.

"My term runs from 2013 to 2014, but we start preparing now.  At the end of next week, I head to Indianapolis for my introduction to the Community Committee that’s been headed in the past year by AIA VP John A. Padilla of AIA New Mexico. More to come!"

Since last October, Susan Chin has been Executive Director of the Design Trust for Public Space, a non-profit think tank at the forefront of shaping public space in New York since 1995. Prior to that she served as assistant commissioner of capital projects at the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. For 23 years she developed and guided a $1 billion capital program for over 200 cultural institutions throughout the city and supervised the public art program.
Before her election as AIA VP she was a National Board member and New York’s Regional Director, and was on both the AIA Membership Committee and Strategic Direction Group/Communications Committee. She chaired the AIA Gold Medal Advisory committee in 2011, served on the Executive VP CEO Search Committee in 2010, and was the president of the AIA New York chapter in 2005. Chin has a MA in historic preservation from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and a BS in architecture from Ohio State University.
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