2015 IIDA Advocacy Highlights

As you all know, IIDA HQ hosted its first annual Advocacy Symposium in Austin, Texas, which was a resounding success. We appreciate each and every one of you who attended and can hardly wait to see you in 2016 in Denver.

Thank you to the IIDA Texas/Oklahoma Chapter for hosting the IIDA Advocacy Symposium. In 2015, the Chapter, in collaboration with the Oklahoma Interior Design Coalition, also supported legislation amending the law requiring CEUs in Oklahoma. The IIDA TX/OK Chapter, with the Texas Association for Interior Design, also defeated a deregulation attempt in the Texas legislature.

The IIDA Northern Pacific Chapter’s Advocacy Team had its first annual community service project, BRIDGE. Along with IIDA members and other supporters, the advocacy team is working to complete a design renovation for the Central Area Senior Center. A very special thank you goes to the Chapter members who volunteered with HQ staff at the IIDA booth at the 2015 National Conference of State Legislators Summit in Seattle in August.

The IIDA PA/NJ/DE Chapter created the “I DID” advocacy campaign to support the Interior Design Legislation Coalition of Pennsylvania’s introduction of SB1021, which would allow for registration of interior designers and allow for them to submit interior construction documents for permits from local jurisdictions in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The IIDA Rocky Mountain Chapter held a successful, creative event at the Denver State Capitol in Denver. With the Colorado Interior Design Coalition, the Chapter had a coffee cart at the capitol allowing them to network with dozens of legislators.

The IIDA Tennessee Chapter was instrumental in helping reshape and rebuild the Tennessee Interior Design Coalition. They assisted the coalition in renaming (TN-IDEAL) and helped the coalition rebuild as it enters its 25th year in 2016.

The Wisconsin Chapter also has been instrumental in reorganizing the Interior Design Coalition of Wisconsin. Several chapter members are on the interim board, which already hosted a CEU event in 2015. A special thanks to Janet Hirsch, IIDA, who successfully kept the coalition running before this recent influx of fantastic volunteers.

The IIDA Ohio Kentucky Chapter held a successful Advocacy Roadshow throughout its region. A special thank you to Cheri Tucker, IIDA and VP of Advocacy, who organized the event.

The Illinois Interior Design Coalition in collaboration with the IIDA Illinois Chapter, led by VP of Advocacy Dan Bassano, IIDA, organized a successful Lobby Day in Springfield, Illinois, with over 100 interior designers and students walking the capitol to inform legislators on their current bill to license interior design in the state.

In 2015, IIDA Advocates. . .

  • Met with their state legislators
  • Sent letters and emails to state legislators
  • Attended legislative committee meetings
  • Organized and attended Interior Design Lobby Days at state capitols
  • Held town halls, forums, and panels about advocacy
  • Hosted NCIDQ study groups
  • Supported introduced bills in Utah, New York, Illinois, and Pennsylvania
  • Help passed CEU requirements in Oklahoma
  • Met with students at universities
  • Volunteered with HQ at National Conference of State Legislators Annual Summit
  • Produced advocacy campaigns
  • Planned an advocacy roadshow
  • Volunteered and participated in community events
  • Distributed advocacy flyers, brochures, and pamphlets
  • Attended the first annual IIDA Advocacy Symposium
  • Led and participated in Coalitions’ Board of Directors
  • Planned and execute strategic advocacy plans in IIDA Chapters and coalitions

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

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

Excellence in Chapter Advocacy & GRA Activities Honorable Mention Award – New England Chapter

Every year, IIDA celebrates its chapters with the Chapter Awards, which recognize individual chapters for their outstanding achievement in specialty categories. The awards are designed to encourage IIDA chapters to develop and maintain excellence in their work to enhance the Interior Design profession at the local level. This year, the New England Chapter was awarded honorable mention for Excellence in Chapter Advocacy & GRA Activities.

On Aug. 21, 2014 after years of dedication and hard work, Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick signed House Bill 4303, which allows Massachusetts interior designers to bid on state projects. We asked Aimee M. Schefano, IIDA, vice president of advocacy of the New England Chapter, a few questions about what makes advocacy work in the New England Chapter.

What do you think made your application stand out?

Our application stands out in large part because after three decades of pursuing legislation, the state of Massachusetts has finally recognized Interior Design as a profession with the state now allowing interior designers to bid on state works. While this is an amazing and incredible feat on its own, the true story of greatness here is one of perseverance and collaboration. As a united front, IIDA New England worked with ASID New England and the local Massachusetts Interior Design Coalition (MiDC) to pursue these efforts. It was as a team that we were able to achieve our goals here in Massachusetts with each participating organization playing an equally crucial role.

Why is advocacy important at the chapter level? How do you convey that message to members?

At a chapter level we are ultimately our own worst enemy if we cannot continue to effectively communicate the importance of maintaining current legislative efforts while simultaneously looking to the future. We achieved greatness this past year but need to keep the momentum going. Corinne [Corinne Barthelemy, IIDA, LEED AP, President of the New England Chapter] put this most poignantly when she said, “In order to effectively progress legislation, advocacy needs to be part of the vernacular of the entire design community and not just a few select individuals.”

Right now we have a strong support base but there is so much opportunity to expand our advocate population and the general awareness level among our peers. We will continue to promote advocacy at IIDA New England events and are beginning to strategize new events, either co-sponsored with ASID or MiDC, to deepen our collaborative bonds. We are also in the process of a kind of rebranding so that the voice of advocacy continues to be united across local organizations and to keep it relevant for multiple populations. In particular, our future goals include a broader spectrum of participation from student members so that as they mature into the professional realm, they have a clear understanding of our mission and our message, hopefully ensuring their continued support throughout their careers.

What do you wish other designers knew about advocacy and the legislative process?

In the grand scheme of things, designers should understand that it’s a living, breathing movement — one that needs an ever present voice until we receive full professional equality and recognition within the law. It literally is the future of our profession and that is why it holds such significance. On a more intimate level, designers should also know that advocacy is not just about legislation. It is also an opportunity for support and education. It is a forum for celebrating our accomplishments and brainstorming new ideas for those designers who come after us.


For more information about advocacy in the Interior Design profession, visit the IIDA Advocacy page.

Oregon Chapter: Excellence in Chapter Advocacy & GRA Activities Award Winner

Every year, IIDA celebrates its chapters with the Chapter Awards, which recognize individual chapters for their outstanding achievement in specialty categories. The awards are designed to encourage IIDA chapters to develop and maintain excellence in their work to enhance the Interior Design profession at the local level. The Oregon Chapter won the 2015 award for Excellence in Chapter Advocacy & GRA Activities for their work in promoting advocacy and the Interior Design profession in their state. The chapter has worked diligently to build support for legislation through creative events and a successful partnership with the state coalition. We asked Bethanne Mikkelsen, IIDA, NCIDQ Certificate No. 29445, LEED AP ID+C, vice president of advocacy of the Oregon Chapter, about what makes their program successful even though the states currently does not have an interior design law in place.

Why is advocacy important at the chapter level? How do you convey that message to members?

For many of our members, legislation can be overwhelming and confusing. Its inherent process and associated verbiage have long been factors that deter engagement. Our objective was to break down this barrier of understanding and to inspire participation through regular, clear, and simple updates about the pursuit of interior design legislation in Oregon.Preview Changes

In response to feedback from members, a blog was created as part of the new website. The advocacy team has utilized this blog to provide regular and informative advocacy updates including IIDA initiatives. This has served as an overall foundation for understanding and engages the community by bringing them along as partners.

To further encourage engagement, we focused the topic of our annual membership appreciation event around developing a consistent message about the services of commercial interior designers: what we do and why it is important and worth regulating. This empowering discussion highlighted the new advocacy tools and messaging from IIDA, featured a panel of advocates from our region, including the coalition lobbyist, and was attended by a legislator — a FIRST EVER for the chapter. The discussion continued well past the scheduled end of the event and has remained a major topic of discussion within the chapter.

How has the chapter worked with the state coalition? What makes is successful?

The chapter has been successful in working with the coalition in several ways. The coalition board restructured so that there is a co-chair from IIDA and a co-chair from ASID running the organization. The coalition felt that this was helpful in creating a unified effort between IIDA and ASID.

Also, every year the coalition enters into a business agreement with IIDA. The coalition submits the agreement to IIDA outlining sponsorship requests, funding requests, and anything else that is imperative for the year. This allows successful planning and helps to create a unified collaboration between the two organizations.

How do you build up support for advocacy prior to a bill being introduced?

One of the most important things we can do to build support for a bill is to start the discussion surrounding its development and its importance early. Keeping this conversation active is a way to foster consistent engagement while providing the education of the bill language, its positive outcomes, and clarity in messaging needed to develop advocates. We have found that consistent and clear messaging makes the bill more approachable and easier to rally around. Maintaining this dialogue has also made it easier to inform members of outreach opportunities and ways that they can actively be involved.

What do you wish other designers knew about advocacy?

We have all heard this before but I will say it again: You are your own best advocate; you have a voice, and a right to use it. Regardless if you are a sole proprietor or work in a large firm, qualified interior designers have the education and experience required to practice interior design without the oversight of another design professional. Helping to make a difference in professional recognition of interior design is really rewarding!


Want to learn more about advocating for the Interior Design profession, visit the IIDA Advocacy page!

Stamp and Seal Legislation: What You Need to Know

Josie is an interior designer in New York. She graduated from Cornell with a bachelor’s degree in interior design. Josie has also passed the NCIDQ exam and has over four years of commercial interior design experience at a firm in New York City. The state of New York recognizes her as a certified interior designer.

Josie is a project lead but she cannot pull the permits to start construction on a project. When she creates technical drawings of her work, she cannot submit them to local building jurisdictions for building permits. Despite her education, years of experience, passing of an examination that proves her competency in the health, safety, and well-being of the public, and state certification, Josie’s work has to be approved and submitted by an architect or an engineer – even if the work is for nonstructural interior spaces.

Why can’t Josie submit her own drawings? Because interior design is a new and still developing profession, the ability to submit drawings for permits has not yet been recognized in most states. But stamp and seal legislation allows interior designers who have met the education, experience, and examination qualifications to literally stamp and seal the construction documents for submission to local building officials for approval and permits. Is it any surprise that architects and engineers who have been regulated for decades are actively working to prevent interior designers from having the same privileges?

Stamp and seal legislation elevates the practice and profession of commercial interior design, by creating a new tier of professionals — like the hypothetical Josie — within the design industry. Look at landscape architects who work in exterior spaces like garden designers and landscapers, but must obtain more education, pass a stringent exam, and receive a state license since their work impacts the public. Likewise, attorneys receive more education and must be licensed as they are more liable than paralegals.

While there is a myth that stamp and seal legislation restricts decorators or residential designers from continuing to do what they have always done, this couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, one of the benefits of stamp and seal legislation is that it expands an interior designer’s scope of practice and encourages growth, allowing interior designers to own a controlling interest in their firms.

Commercial interior designers have the necessary education, experience, and examination to protect the general public’s health, safety, and well-being in the interior code-impacted environment. There is no question that stamp and seal legislation will do more for the profession.


Feeling empowered? Visit the IIDA Advocacy site and send a letter to your legislator supporting interior design legislation.