Member Spotlight: IIDA Members Elected to City Council

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Julie Sayers (L) and Bonnie Limbird (R). Photos by: (L-R) d. marie imagery and Heather Edwards

This past November, folks around the country voted in various local and state elections, deciding on the seats that will affect their lives most, including their City Council members. Our IIDA Mid-America Chapter had the honor of watching two of their members and past presidents be elected to their local City Councils. Bonnie Limbird, IIDA, and Julie Sayers, IIDA, will be serving Prairie Village, Kansas, and Lenexa, Kansas, respectively, bringing the skills and knowledge to the table that only an interior designer can. Limbird and Sayers both have multi-faceted experiences in the design industry, and in serving their communities in a volunteer capacity.

Limbird’s career includes designing low-income and independent housing, project management and business development, and she currently practices as an interior designer at Kansas City’s SFS Architecture.

Julie Sayers has specialized in the design and execution of collegiate and professional sports facilities including administration, large-scale project management, and multi-disciplinary coordination, and currently works as a senior project manager and associate at encompas where she specializes in design and execution of commercial office design.

What made you decide to run for city council? 

Bonnie Limbird: No one single reason made me decide, but reasons just kept coming up until I couldn’t not run any longer. The reasons were issues that are important to me, my family, and neighbors in Prairie Village, and that the Council had trouble passing, or couldn’t get passed at all, Issues such as a Non-Discrimination Ordinance, loosening of alternative energy regulations for homeowners, enacting neighborhood design standards, and repeal of breed-specific legislation, are just a few.

Julie Sayers: I got involved in local politics during the 2018 midterm election when I was introduced to a congressional candidate through the owner of my gym. As I spent months going door to door campaigning on behalf of someone else, I found that conversations often shifted to the issues that affect people most closely here in Lenexa: creating a sense of place and providing a safe, connected community that is accessible to everyone. Volunteering for that campaign opened my eyes to the fact that we need more diversity and women’s voices at every level of our government.

Can you tell us about the issues you are most passionate about working on for your community?  

JS: Like most suburban areas in the United States, Lenexa is experiencing explosive growth, which is creating an imbalance between new development and existing infrastructure. Our citizens are concerned that the older parts of our city are being left vacant and falling into disrepair, and I believe it is our responsibility as a municipality to provide cohesion between new development and revitalization to ensure that all parts of our community remain affordable and vibrant for all residents. I believe my background in design and commercial construction provides me with the skills to be a valuable voice in that process.

BL: As a designer, improving the neighborhood design standards, which were enacted to regulate the massive teardown/rebuilds, are important to me and important to our community to maintain the diversity and welcoming nature of our neighborhoods. However, a larger issue has arisen as an additional symptom of the rebuild problem: skyrocketing property values that are pushing our long-time residents and senior citizens out of their homes.

As a community, we need diversity of age, income, race, ethnicity, experience, and more in our neighborhoods and the rebuild trend right now is pushing out our seniors and fixed- and low-income residents, and keeping out most first-time homebuyers, young families under a certain income, and most folks with jobs that are foundational to our community’s well being: nurses, police officers, firefighters, and educators. Additionally, all of the homes being rebuilt are multi-story homes and are inherently inaccessible for the differently-abled and elderly with mobility issues, and they’re being built without any guidelines for sustainability or energy efficiency.

So altogether, this is a massive problem that can’t be resolved at the city level alone. However, with my experience in accessible, universal, and sustainable design, on top of my concern for our aging population and other residents, I am uniquely qualified to work with our county commissioners and local state legislators to identify the biggest concerns and write policy and create programs to resolve them.

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Julie Sayers’ campaign kick-off event. Photo courtesy of Julie Sayers.

Is there a particular project that you are especially excited to start working on?  

JS: The Metro Kansas City region is one of the recent recipients of grant funding from the Global Covenant of Mayors to support a newly-formed organization called Climate Action KC (CAKC). The purpose is to develop policies and solutions that can be implemented regionally to address the problem of global climate change. Over 70 elected officials from across the region signed on as leaders of this organization, and with my election I’m excited to be the first from Lenexa. I have been working for CAKC in a volunteer capacity since its inception, and am excited to use my elected position to educate and empower our community and to help implement solutions at the city level.

BL: See previous answer. 

How did serving your professional community as IIDA Chapter President prepare you for the campaign, and how will that experience help you to serve your community as a City Council member?  

JS: Serving as a chapter president teaches the skill of long-term leadership when it comes to visioning, goal setting, financial planning, and succession. Like an IIDA chapter, many of the initiatives and financial plans for my city have been decided prior to my election, and it is my job to ensure the successful implementation of that vision.

BL: Serving the IIDA Mid-America Chapter was my first true board experience, which led me to other non-profit and board roles, and now to a city council role. All of these organizations have had the same foundational structure of serving a mission on a budget, with care for those served. Listening skills, volunteer management, delegation, follow-through, and accountability are some of the leadership qualities I learned and refined the more I served. As an IIDA chapter president, I began the practices of listening, researching, and learning about all of the aspects of our local organization to prioritize and execute the most needed changes. To me, listening is the first and most important action to practice in leadership and will remain so in my service on the city council.

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Bonnie Limbird and supporters. Photo courtesy of Bonnie Limbird

What aspects of working in the interior design field will be most transferable to the decision making and policymaking that you will be doing for your community going forward?  

BL: Being able to see the forest and the trees while understanding how they each work to serve one another is important both in designing spaces for clients and governing a municipality. Being a good listener and practicing problem-solving skills are necessary to help teams formulate solutions and have buy-in from the very beginning. Change is hard, and working in the design field has taught me that there is always room for improvement from within and that proactive communication and involvement from the very beginning always makes for smooth and successful change management.

JS: From my perspective, there is no one better suited for public service than a designer.  It is central to our core as professionals to listen to our clients, help them understand their own goals, build consensus among often complex groups, communicate effectively, and responsibly manage a budget. Designers are also acutely aware that implementing a concept can often be a very long and complicated arc, and that periodic re-evaluation is necessary for ensuring success. I hope to be an engaged and transparent representative to whom my residents feel comfortable providing meaningful feedback, just as clients do during the design process. 

You have extensive volunteer and community-service experiences, what would you say to IIDA members and other creatives that ask why being involved in your community as a volunteer is important to both personal and professional growth?

JS: It often isn’t clear until later what skills and connections are afforded to you each time you volunteer. Every time you say yes to an opportunity, you are generating new threads that over time weave a tapestry that makes you a uniquely valuable voice within your professional organization and your community.

BL: I can’t say enough about how important volunteering is in your community for so many reasons, but relative to personal and professional growth: it will make you a better designer.

Learning about, meeting, and knowing people and organizations in your city that you wouldn’t necessarily interact with normally gives you an extended breadth of knowledge about:

  • How facilities really function when the designers leave the building, or
  • Types of organizations that don’t have the luxury of hiring designers
  • How debilitating bad design can be for organizations that need to run as efficiently and cheaply as possible
  • How you can give back with your time and talents even when you don’t have money to give 
  • How to prioritize what’s really the most important expenditure for an organization
  • How hard it is to raise money for capital improvements
  • Hands-on experience working with the community being served by the organization

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

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2019 Advocacy Symposium Inspires Collaboration in Public Interest

The 5th annual IIDA Advocacy Symposium, held this past September in Boston, was a resounding success thanks to a bevy of informative speakers, engaged attendees, and meaningful advocacy conversations. We cannot say thank you enough to our sponsors IdeaPaint who hosted the opening reception, and Allsteel who hosted Saturday’s event.

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IIDA member attendees tour the Massachusetts State House. Photo by: Caitlin Cunningham

On Friday, attendees were welcomed to the Massachusetts State House, one of the premier examples of Federal architecture on the East Coast. Docents gave a guided tour of the historic building before attendees settled in for a keynote presentation from Arline Isaacson, president of Isaacson Consulting. Ms. Isaacson was a lead advocate in the fight for marriage equality in Massachusetts and integral in the passage of the first same-sex marriage law in the United States. Her inspirational story included practical advice on having more than just a good idea, but how to do the work to back it up. Next up, our lobbyists from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Utah had an enlightening panel conversation about the work that goes into passing a piece of interior design legislation in today’s political climate.

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2019 Advocate of the Year Chealyn Jackson, IIDA. Photo by: Caitlin Cunningham

The day ended with an awards ceremony, naming Chealyn Jackson, IIDA, VP of advocacy for the Ohio-Kentucky Chapter, the 2019 IIDA Advocate of the Year. Three Legislator of the Year awards were presented by IIDA New England to their bill sponsors, Senator (MA) Joan Lovely, Representative (MA) Elizabeth Poirier, and Representative (MA) Patricia A. Haddad.

On Saturday, we focused on the successes and challenges of advocacy at the chapter and the state levels. Members from Oregon, Texas, Wisconsin, and South Florida shared techniques for successful advocacy, discussed challenges they have overcome, and identified opportunities for the future of interior design advocacy. Next up, Tracey Thomas, director of strategic sales at IIDA, gave an energetic presentation on the power of persuasion that provided attendees with communication strategies tailored for advocacy efforts.

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Attendees of the Symposium. Photo by: Caitlin Cunningham

The Council for Interior Design Qualification (CIDQ) provided an update, which was followed by a panel discussion covering the changing and unchanging landscape of interior design legislation that featured John Czarnecki, Hon. IIDA, Assoc. AIA, deputy director and senior vice president of IIDA; Megan Blacklidge, IIDA, Mid-America Chapter member; Matthew Whitehead, vice president of the Governmental Policy Group, Inc; and Amy Coombs, founder and executive director of Prestige Government Relations.

This was followed by two panel discussions to close out the weekend; the first focusing on effective communication strategies for chapter leaders to engage their chapters in advocacy efforts, and the second focusing on discussing advocacy at multidisciplinary firms.

We can’t wait to see you all next year at the 6th annual IIDA Advocacy Symposium!

Sign up to receive information on the latest advocacy emails and text alerts from IIDA or text “IIDA” to 52886. 


Featured image by: Caitlin Cunningham

Get Ready for the 2019 IIDA Advocacy Symposium

See what’s in store at this year’s annual symposium of interior design advocates from across the country. 


This year’s IIDA Advocacy Symposium is jam-packed with sessions that will not only help you develop your advocacy skills but will give you the tools you need to make your chapter better at advocating.

Attendees will enjoy programs, lunches, and networking receptions, and get to meet fellow interior design advocates to discuss advocacy issues, successes, and questions.

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 20

We are excited to be hosting Symposium participants at the Massachusetts State House, where we will focus on legislators, legislative strategies, and the importance of civic engagement.

The day will begin with a tour of the State House, designed by Charles Bulfinch, a National Historic Landmark considered a masterpiece of Federal architecture. Keynote speaker Arline Isaacson will then discuss the importance of civic engagement across all interests and groups.

IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, will then have a fireside chat with local Massachusetts legislators to give us a unique perspective on who legislators are, what they do, and what they want to hear from us.

We’ll follow that up with an informative session and Q&A with several IIDA lobbyists from across the United States about what they’ve seen work and how we can improve as an industry. After a full day of information, we’re thrilled that IdeaPaint will be hosting an opening reception at Boston’s District Hall from 5:30-7 p.m.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 21

We are elated that Allsteel will be hosting us at their beautiful Boston showroom where we’ll learn about strategies and best practices for implementing advocacy of all kinds at the chapter level.

In the morning, several chapters and states will be giving us updates on their advocacy activities over the past year and their plans for the future. Tracey Thomas, IIDA’s Director of Strategic Sales, will then teach us strategies to better communicate our ideas to the right audience through a comprehensive presentation. IIDA Headquarters will debut and give updates to our collateral and CIDQ will update us on what’s new in their world. Headquarters will also provide updates on the opposition landscape and how to fund and afford advocacy in your chapter.

We’ll end our day with panels featuring interior design advocates on how to communicate effectively and how to talk advocacy at firms. Allsteel has graciously agreed to then host a short closing reception, allowing us the opportunity to decompress and discuss all we’ve learned.

We can’t wait to see you all at this year’s Symposium!


Registration to the 2019 IIDA Advocacy Symposium is open until September 6. Learn more about this year’s program and reserve your spot at www.iida.org/advocacy-symposium

 

 

 

 

 

Spotlight on Oregon: Surveying Advocacy

This post was contributed by Whitney Dooley, Assoc. IIDA, Vice President of Advocacy, IIDA Oregon Chapter. 


In order to correctly represent and advocate for the interests of commercial interior designers, the IIDA Oregon Chapter conducted a comprehensive advocacy survey last spring. 

At the end of 2017, Oregon’s Interior Design Coalition, IDC-Oregon, dissolved and the IIDA Oregon Chapter took on the immense responsibility of leading future advocacy efforts in the state. As we embarked on this journey, we realized that there wasn’t an empirical understanding of the needs and desires of commercial interior designers in Oregon as it pertains to registration and regulation.

We decided that to properly represent our members’ interests, it was imperative to collect data about local attitudes towards governmental regulation, accepted benchmarking, and, above all, definition of the profession.

In February 2019, as part of the chapter’s annual keynote speaker event, NEXT, the advocacy team conducted a short Advocacy Survey. The goal was to determine how our members and other members of the design community feel about commercial interior design advocacy. The survey also contained questions that shed light on what our members already knew about advocacy, and where there were gaps that we could address with education.

In developing the survey, the advocacy team knew our questions had to be succinct and relevant, while still measuring meaningful data that would help us plan future advocacy efforts. We started with a brainstorming session and then edited the final survey down to six questions. We also determined that this would be a great avenue to recruit potential advocates and measure support from industry partners. See the final survey here.

The advocacy team distributed hard copies of the surveys to all event attendees at the door of the NEXT Breakfast. NEXT attracts a diversely affiliated crowd, giving us access to the feedback we may not otherwise see. We incentivized completion of the survey by entering all completed surveys into a drawing for a ticket to 2020 NEXT. The surveys were collected before the speakers began, and a collection box was placed at the exit.

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Image Credit: Emily Wright, IIDA, Director of Advocacy, Oregon Chapter.

Our response rate was 47% of all event attendees. 44% of respondents were currently employed as a commercial interior designer. In analyzing the results, we broke out some responses by IIDA members vs. non-members. Emily Wright, director of advocacy, used Piktochart to create a comprehensive graphic that summarized our results and contained more information about getting involved. We published the results on the IIDA Oregon Chapter website in April 2019.

Looking towards future survey efforts, we found success in tying the survey to an event. We plan to roll out these surveys at other chapter events, making sure that the event format allows for thoughtful responses. Incentivizing the survey completion seemed to have an impact on respondents, and we’d like to explore other methods of doing this. These surveys also complement our State of the Industry Report, which focuses on Oregon project types, revenue, and salaries.

In conclusion, the chapter and the profession benefit from bringing advocacy issues to the forefront wherever possible, and we look forward to continuing this survey effort. We hope to eventually pursue a data-driven approach to legislative efforts, proving to elected officials that voters care about the regulation of the commercial interior design profession in the Oregon State.


Stay up to date on all advocacy issues and alerts. Text “interior design” to 52886.

Spotlight on Florida: IIDA and ASID Lead Advocacy Team Against Restrictive New Proposals

Once again, the interior design profession is in the crosshairs of two pieces of legislation that seek to deregulate a variety of professions in the state of Florida. These proposals, HB 27 and SB 1640, have the support of a popular governor and the Florida Speaker of the House of Representatives. For several months, ASID and IIDA staff, member Government Affairs Representatives/chapter leaders, the profession’s contracted Florida consultants, and both organizations’ chief executives have been preparing for this moment and the forthcoming effort to make sure that at the end of the legislative session, interior designers are recognized by the State in an appropriate way befitting the professionalism of the practice.

HB 27 and SB 1640, which were introduced on March 1, 2018, will do several things. They would:

  • Stipulate, “A license or registration is not required for a person whose occupation or practice is confined to interior design or interior design services”;
  • Remove the interior design members from the current Board of Architecture & Interior Design and rename it as “The Board of Architecture”;
  • Remove “interior designer” from the definition of “Design Professional” in statute leaving only architects, engineers, and landscape architects;
  • Amend the definition of an interior designer under the “Qualified Expert” in the Building Construction Standards statute by deleting “an interior designer licensed under chapter 481” and replacing it with “An interior designer who has passed the qualification examination prescribed by either the National Council for Interior Design Qualifications or the California Council for Interior Design Certification.”

Additionally, as the result of IIDA and ASID’s proactive efforts in Tallahassee this year, unlike past deregulatory bills targeting Florida interior design, this year’s bills attempt (in theory) to maintain the ability of interior designers to independently submit interior design documents for permit by:

  • Stipulating, “Interior design documents submitted for the issuance of a building permit by an individual performing interior design services who is not a licensed architect must include written proof that such individual has successfully passed the qualification examination prescribed by either the National Council for Interior Design Qualifications or the California Council for Interior Design Certification” and,
  • Stipulating these documents, “must be accepted by the permitting body for the issuance of building permit for interior construction…”

IIDA and ASID Headquarters, in conjunction with ASID Florida chapters, IIDA Florida chapters, and unaffiliated designers, are jointly fighting to defeat or positively amend these bills to the best of our abilities.

To combat any harmful effects from these bills, IIDA, ASID, and our Florida teams, to date, have:

  • Assembled a biweekly call of leaders from Florida IIDA and ASID chapters to keep them apprised of our efforts and how members can assist;
  • Created an advocacy communication plan for Florida chapters concerning this issue;
  • Created new advocacy materials for use in Florida;
  • Retained Nortelus Roberts Group, a lobbying firm in Tallahassee, Florida, year-round and retained additional counsel to assist in the effort;
  • Created a synopsis of the two bills for chapters, similar to what has been laid out here;
  • Created a defensive narrative for chapter use in op-eds and letters to the editor across Florida;
  • Organized a Phone2Action Campaign so members may easily contact their legislators to voice their disagreement with the bills;
  • Testified before both the House and Senate.

As of April 8, Senator Joe Gruters of Florida’s 23rd district sponsored an amendment to remove interior design from the deregulation bill. The amendment was adopted and passed in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee. However, the industry is not in the clear yet since the bill still has to complete the legislative process and eventually go the to the governor for signature or veto. IIDA and ASID remain hopeful that interior designers will stay out of the bill, and staff and lobbyists continue to work on a compromise to appease both the design community and the legislature in Florida.


Stay up to date on all advocacy issues and alerts. Text “interior design” to 52886.

Interior Design Advocacy Update: Spring 2019

2019 has already proved to be an eventful and inspiring year for commercial interior design advocates. The hard work, passion, and ongoing efforts of the people within our community have been palpable, as we work towards legislation, build and sustain relationships, and bring important attention and understanding to the profession.

Here are the bills, efforts, and measures that have affected interior design across the country this year, and everything interior design advocates have accomplished:

Iowa

In Iowa, a proposed bill that would have deregulated Iowa’s interior design law died in committee in March. IIDA and our lobbyists opposed the legislation and IIDA Great Plains president Leann Pederson, IIDA, had an editorial published in The Des Moines Register.

Utah

IIDA and ASID, on the national and local levels, teamed up to introduce legislation that adds state certified commercial interior designers as registered design professionals in Utah. This bill was passed by both houses in the state legislature and was signed by the governor.

North Carolina

In an ASID-led, IIDA-supported effort in North Carolina, advocates are continuing to push for permitting privileges in the state, based on previous years efforts. Currently, the proposed legislation would create a registration for interior designers that would allow them to stamp their documents for permits. In 2018, the bill received a house committee hearing.

Ohio

In an IIDA led, ASID-supported effort in Ohio, advocates are planning to introduce a bill for voluntary certification of commercial interior designers with the ability to sign their drawings. In 2018, despite some political obstacles, HB504 was passed out of the Ohio House and received a Senate committee hearing.

Massachusetts

In Massachusetts, advocates are continuing to push for voluntary certification with permitting privileges that would also allow designers to be majority owners of design firms, in an IIDA-led, ASID-supported effort. In the previous legislative session, the bill gained dozens of cosponsors.

Pennsylvania

In a Pennsylvania-state coalition led effort, advocates are continuing to push for a state registration with permitting privileges.

Rhode Island

The Rhode Island governor introduced a budget that included taxing services such as interior design. IIDA and ASID, on the national and local levels, have teamed up to fight this effort. We have presented testimony about the detrimental effect the tax would have on our industry.

Connecticut

The Connecticut governor introduced a budget that included taxing services such as interior design. IIDA, ASID, and NKBA are working together to fight the tax.

Texas

In Texas, the state coalition filed two bills—one that would allow RIDs to file a lien on intellectual property and one that would add interior designers as registered design professionals in the government procurement bill. Both have been passed out of committee.


To learn more about the current state laws that regulate interior design, visit advocacy.iida.org.