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.

2018 IIDA Advocacy Symposium Speakers Challenge Interior Design Licensing Opponents from Another Angle

Professional and occupational regulation has been a hot topic of conversation in Washington, D.C., and across state houses, but are we looking at the full picture? Opponents of occupational regulation argue that it hurts workers when in fact, research has shown that the opposite is true.

This year, we’re proud to bring inspiring and motivating speakers who can talk more on that perspective, and arm interior designers across the nation with updated knowledge and tools to advocate for themselves and the profession at the fourth annual IIDA Advocacy Symposium.

Representative Ray Dehn of the Minnesota State Legislature graduated with a master’s degree in architecture at age 39. Rarely, do we get an opportunity to hear from a legislator with a strong professional understanding of the built environment. So, it comes as no surprise that we’re excited to welcome Rep. Dehn as this year’s keynote. Rep. Dehn will offer insight on organizing, advocating, and staying engaged.

In her series of papers entitled New Closed Shop: Inequality, Diversity, and the Rise of Occupational Licensure, Dr. Beth Redbird, assistant professor of sociology at Northwestern University, looks at the impact of regulation and formal procedures, particularly for women and racial minorities. Dr. Redbird brings a fresh outlook to occupational regulation that will help advocates understand that there are always multiple sides of the same issue. Dr. Redbird’s research focuses on occupations, social class, and inequality, particularly within Native American communities.

Since late 2017, the #MeToo movement has become a very visible, impactful movement that has made waves in some of the most powerful institutions today – and the state house is no different. Multiple states have had elected officials resign or removed from office for sexual harassment, sexual assault, and retaliation. Four IIDA lobbyists from three states — Haley Blood of A&A Advocates, Melanie Layton and Zoey Wolfe of Colorado Legislative Services, and Christina Marcellus of Capital Advisors — will share the advantages and challenges of being a female lobbyist in the #MeToo era. Additionally, they will discuss how to approach interior design as a gender issue, new ideas and tactics on how to advocate, and what they’ve learned from lobbying.


Registration to the 2018 IIDA Advocacy Symposium is open until Sept. 7. Learn more about this year’s program and reserve your spot at iida.org.

Advocacy Spotlight: New Report Makes the Case for Interior Design Licensing in California

IIDA Chapters and interior design coalitions are on the front lines of state-level advocacy. Starting today, we are spotlighting the advocacy efforts of these organizations, beginning with the Interior Design Coalition of California. 

Article contributed by the Interior Design Coalition of California.

On Oct. 4, 2016, the Little Hoover Commission released their report on Occupational Licensing in California. The report makes a case for licensing commercial interior design in California, despite interior design was used as an example of a profession that should not be licensed at the first hearing and in initial discussions between commission staff and the Interior Design Coalition of California’s (IDCC) lobbyists. Continued discussions with Commission staff and IDCC testimony in subsequent hearings resulted in the case for the licensing of commercial design.

The Little Hoover Commission is an independent state oversight agency that was created in 1962. The Commission’s mission is to investigate state government operations and promote efficiency, economy, and improved service. By statute, the Commission is a balanced bipartisan board composed of five citizen members appointed by the Governor, four citizen members appointed by the Legislature, two Senators and two Assembly members. The Commission selects study topics that come to its attention from citizens, legislators, and other sources. In addition, it has a statutory obligation to review and make recommendations on proposed government reorganization plans.

This year, the Commission took on the challenge of putting together a series of thoughtful hearings to discuss occupational licensing in California. The focus of the Commission’s review is on the impact of occupational licensing on upward mobility and opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation for Californians, particularly those of modest means. The Commission also examined the result of occupational licensing on the cost and availability of services provided by licensed practitioners to consumers. Lastly, the Commission explored the balance between protecting consumers and enabling Californians to enter the occupation of their choice.

During the first hearing, one panelist raised interior designers as an example occupation that did not require licensure because the panelist confused the work of designers and decorators. To counter this point, the Interior Design Coalition of California (IDCC) was thrilled to participate in the second hearing in June.  Deborah Davis, FASID, director-at-large for IDCC, testified to the Commission regarding the work of interior designers and the need for interior designers to be licensed in the state of California. Davis was able to educate the Commission on our work and raise a variety of relevant points as to why licensure for interior designers working in the code-impacted environment would especially help those who own small businesses, 90 percent of whom happen to be women. The Commissioners responded well to Davis’ testimony, featuring our arguments in the final report. IDCC is looking forward to continued collaboration with the Little Hoover Commission and other stakeholders in the future as we continue to work towards our goals for the interior design profession in California in 2017 and beyond.

Read the Commission’s Full Report.


The Interior Design Coalition of California advocates for the legal recognition of qualified Interior Designers in the State of California. Through collaboration, education and advocacy, IDCC strives to present a unified voice for the California Interior Design community to support and protect the profession of interior design.