Energized and Engaged: Advocacy Symposium Recap

Have you ever had a weekend that made you feel a part of something bigger than yourself? During the innaugural IIDA Advocacy Symposium, Sept. 11 – 13 in Austin, Texas, I did. Over 90 people attended, staffed, or spoke at the symposium, where the energy was infectious. Interior design advocates from every IIDA Chapter but one listened, talked, learned, advocated, and shared their experience, advocating for the Interior Design profession. The event highlighted the passion, dedication, and persistence of amazing design advocates from across the country.

“Teamwork, tenacity, and clear communication are the key to advocacy,” Rep. Celia Israel said. And she couldn’t be more right. The rest of the presentations echoed her sentiment. But we can’t just rely on social media. Rep. Israel added, “Good advocacy can start online but it has to hit the streets.” The key to advocacy is to talk to everyone! Some fantastic IIDA members took it to heart. Corinne Barthelemy, IIDA, LEED AP, and Aimee Schefano, IIDA, from the New England Chapter had a cab driver tell them about a previous group of interior designers who had been advocating to him earlier in the day! He couldn’t believe all the things interior designers did.

In addition to Rep. Israel’s presentation, we heard the story of Melanie Bahl, IIDA, President of IDEAL–Utah, and Amy Coombs, IDEAL-Utah’s lobbyist, who have worked tirelessly to introduce interior design legislation in the state of Utah. Amy shared this quote with us: “To rise above the din and be heard, voices must be linked in something approaching unison.” Interior design advocates must share the same message to be heard about all the other voices. Donna Vining, IIDA, FASID, shared her bountiful knowledge on empowering and mobilizing advocacy efforts in the state of Texas including having meaningful events and building a great team of advocates.

One of the best parts of the weekend were the opportunities for advocates to share with fellow advocates techniques and strategies that worked or didn’t work and why. Among many amazing ideas, advocates advised making strategic relationships in your community like working with the Special Olympics, adding a $1 fee to all events that will go towards advocacy, and being agile because sometimes you’ve got to embrace a new direction. I can’t wait to see the amazing initiatives and events this will inspire!

The symposium wasn’t all talk though. We toured the impressive Texas State Capitol and learned about Texas state government and the architecture and interiors of the building. Everything really is bigger in Texas; their capitol dome is taller than the U.S. Capitol dome!

A special thanks to the wonderful Texas and Oklahoma Chapter who served as the host chapter for the first Advocacy Symposium. Krystal Lucero, IIDA, RID, and Clara Karnei, IIDA, RID, took over the IIDA Instagram account and did a fantastic job capturing the spirit of the event. Check it out!

We can’t wait until the 2016 IIDA Advocacy Symposium! We’ve barely scratched the surface of what it means to be an interior design advocate. Next year’s IIDA Advocacy Symposium will take place on Sept. 23 – 25 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Denver, Colorado. The Rocky Mountain Chapter will serve as host chapter. Stay tuned for more details as they become available!


Be a part of something bigger. Advocate for your profession. Learn more at advocacy.iida.org. #IIDAadvocacy

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