IIDA Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Delaware Chapter: Why We Advocate

In July, the IIDA Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Delaware Chapter hosted “Why We Advocate,” a roundtable series where attendees engaged in a moderated panel discussion about what it means to be an interior design advocate, what issues the profession faces, and where members could learn more about IIDA’s advocacy efforts. The roundtable featured five panelists with a wide range of expertise in the architecture, interior design, and legislative professions. We chatted with Jessie Santini, IIDA, vice president of advocacy of the Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Delaware Chapter to learn about what sparked the idea to start this series.

IIDA: What motivated the chapter to plan advocacy panels throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey?

Jessie Santini: Pennsylvania has active legislation in need of support and New Jersey has title regulation that is vulnerable to deregulation efforts. In seeking support for this legislation, the chapter board realized a lot of our members have a limited knowledge of interior design regulation and what it means to be an advocate. We determined that grassroots advocacy is critical for making headway with future legislative effort, and so we planned a three-city advocacy roundtable with the intent of educating and activating members throughout our chapter.

IIDA: How and why did you choose the panelists and questions you did?

JS: The goal for the “Why We Advocate” roundtable series was to have a diverse group of professionals that represent all aspects of commercial interior design. Panelists included NCIDQ-certified interior designers, including those who are business owners, firm leaders, educators, and coalition leaders, as well as individuals with government relations and lobbying backgrounds.

Emily Kluczynski, director of advocacy, legislative affairs, and public policy at IIDA Headquarters, was present for all roundtables and was able to provide insight into the bigger picture of what’s happening legislatively around the country, while Carrie Hillman of Milliron Goodman was able to speak to the legislative climate in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. We were even fortunate enough to be joined by an accomplished Philadelphia-based architect whose thoughts and perspectives were a welcome addition to the panel’s robust discourse.

As we developed the list of panel questions, we looked at this as being an “Advocacy 101” course for many attendees. The first several questions touched on the basic concepts of advocacy and interior design regulation, and as the list progresses, the questions delved into more complex issues that specific panelists could speak to. We had the same list of questions for all three events to serve as a foundation for the dialogue, yet each event had its own unique and vibrant conversations.

IIDA: Do you feel as though attendees walked away having learned something about advocacy?

JS: Most definitely! Whether new to advocacy or long-time supporters, we feel that attendees walked away feeling energized, enlightened, and ready to advocate for commercial interior design! Stay tuned for videos in which attendees share their takeaways. We hope these videos, once complete, will help to keep the advocacy energy high throughout the Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Delaware Chapter!


To learn more about the outstanding advocacy campaigns the IIDA Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Delaware Chapter is doing, visit iida-panjde.org/advocacy.

Q&A with the Interior Design Legislative Coalition of Pennsylvania

The Interior Design Legislative Coalition of Pennsylvania (IDLCPA) has been diligently working to promote the Interior Design profession through legislative efforts. IDLCPA introduced legislation in 2016 that would allow for the registration of interior designers in Pennsylvania. Currently, the architecture law prevents interior designers from working to the fullest extent of their abilities. Here, Jennifer Winters, NCIDQ, President of IDLCPA, provides highlights of the organization’s work, her insight into advocating for interior design, and an overview of the new legislation.

IIDA: How would this legislation impact your career and the careers of interior designers?

Winters: Interior designers are currently restricted by the state of Pennsylvania from practicing interior design in a code-based environment. IDLCPA is working on legislation seeking interior design registration for designers that practice code-driven interior planning and design. Senate bill PA SB 1021 will address registration in a way that will not impact designers currently practicing in residential, kitchen and bath, and decorative markets. When passed, the legislation will directly impact my career and the career of many other interior designers in a positive way by allowing interior designers to:

  • Submit permit drawings for their clients without having to hire an architect.
  • Bid on state and federal interior design contracts.
  • Certify documents for permitting.
  • Benefit from reciprocity.
  • Provide consumers a venue for the redress of grievances.
  • Reduce consumer costs by eliminating the expensive document processing.

Additionally, this would establish a requirement that licensed interior designers continually educate themselves on the practices of interior design.

IIDA: How has the coalition built grassroots support for the legislation?

Winters: For the IDLCPA coalition, communication has been key. We are constantly looking for new ways to communicate with architects, interior designers, and industry members.

We host town hall events across the state, which tend to be more intimate group conversations.

We use LinkedIn and Facebook.

We partner with IIDA and ASID. Both organizations always allow us the time and space to advocate for interior design licensure.

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IIDA: What has surprised you the most about the legislative process?

Winters: I was surprised at how many people have an opinion regarding an issue, but do not take action. I also was surprised at how approachable our legislators are and how interested they are to hear from their constituents. The time and consideration that senators and representatives have given IDLCPA has been amazing. Many have offered support and strategies over the years, and this has been a critical part of our success.

IIDA: What do you wish other designers knew about interior design legislation?

Winters: Interior designers need to understand that the profession is restricted and that their future is limited to working under a registered architect. This legislation supports the growth, development, and future education of the Interior Design profession.

IIDA: How has the IIDA Pennsylvania/New Jersey/Delaware Chapter supported the legislative efforts?

Winters: Over the years, our IIDA local chapter has donated endless hours of time and resources. We often partner in fundraising events that allow IDLCPA to continue to pay for our lobbyist fees, Interior Design Day at the Capitol, marketing materials, and travel expenses. IIDA also allows IDLCPA to advertise and promote our cause within its communications. As the IIDA Advocacy platform has grown, the coalition benefits from new marketing materials and the connection with the government relations department, as well as the energized supporters that want to help.