Why Should You Attend the IIDA Advocacy Symposium?

This post was contributed by Aileen Montelongo, IIDA, RID, NCIDQ, vice president of advocacy at the IIDA Southwest Chapter.

I practice in Arizona where there is currently no legislation for interior design. Even after my appointment as vice president of advocacy, I only had a very vague picture of what my responsibilities would be.


Last year, Nicki Ahlshwede, IIDA Southwest’s director of advocacy, and I represented our chapter at the third annual IIDA Advocacy Symposium in Chicago. It was astounding to see advocates from all over the country gathered in one room sharing stories, triumphs, and strategies. It was inspiring to har from all the speakers – to hear a singular message from different points of view, for different applications, for different scenarios. It was encouraging to hear the successes – both monumental and small. However, as far as advocacy goes, I think all wins are of the same size.


The best part of having attended the symposium was being exposed to the resources available and recognizing the many faces advocacy can take on. This particularly became valuable early this spring when a bill made its way to our Senate that would’ve negatively impacted our profession’s future in the state. With IIDA HQ’s help, the bill has been amended but most importantly, it has awakened the “sleeping” advocate in us – we now have a newly formed partnership with the local ASID chapters. With energized spirits, we are working hard together hand in hand to safeguard the profession of interior design in the state of Arizona.


It was humbling and empowering to sit with seasoned advocates at last year’s symposium and marvel at the amount of work they’ve put in to get to where they are now. And then realizing the long road ahead of us in Arizona? Scary, but inspiring. I was reassured, though, knowing that these advocates were in our shoes not too long ago. With the same passion and commitment, we too, can get to where we want to go.

To learn about the IIDA Advocacy Symposium, visit iida.org.

3 thoughts on “Why Should You Attend the IIDA Advocacy Symposium?

  1. Aileen Montelongo, IIDA says:

    Hi, Susan! Thank you for your message! I would love to connect with you to keep you abreast – maybe even involved (hint!) with the strides we are taking to empower our profession in Arizona. Would you join us in our quest?


  2. Thank you Aileen! I am a practicing interior designer in Southern Arizona. I have over 25 years experience and am a NCIDQ holder. I have been in this fight for legislation in Arizona my entire career. I have been to the IIDA symposium on advocacy, it is energizing! Our fight might be the longest in the nation for Interior Design licensing (at least 30 years? this is a statistic I would like to bring to the legislators in AZ if it is true) Interior decorators and designers no mater how they see themselves need to understand that public will always see them differently. Our responsibility is to design environments that are safe period! Regardless if they are in a home or a hospital. Our education, experience and most importantly testing is what allows us to be so bold when we recommend products and finishes as well as design plans to our clients. We solve the problems they don’t even know they have and understand the codes and regulations that can cost them a lot more than our highest design fees if they are ignored. Having a regulated system protects not only us and the public but also the architects by spreading the liability for design errors across the entire team so that all of the design services a client needs for their project have professionals making the right decisions. Our fight is never ending-people get tired of fighting out especially when they don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. We need people who understand what is at stake and what is takes to make this a reality-hopefully before I retire! Thank you again and keep up the good work.
    Susan Mulholland, NCIDQ


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