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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.

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Winter CLC 2015, Focused on Advocacy

Three IIDA board members. 10 IIDA HQ staff. 120+ Chapter leaders, presidents, and president-elects. This winter saw the biggest IIDA CLC turnout yet in its 20-year history. The two-day leaders conference kicked off February 6th in Chicago with a welcome reception at the Kimball Office showroom followed by a packed weekend of idea sharing and incubating, networking, and general catching up!

This winter’s CLC conference focused on advocacy, a call to action for interior designers to get the tools they need to advance the profession. Advocacy has been a hot topic as legislators throughout the country have been making key decisions that affect to what extent an interior designer can practice in his or her state (New York and Utah recently introduced two new interior design bills).

Emily Kluczynski, Director of Advocacy, Public Policy, and Legislative Affairs at IIDA HQ, played a huge role in preparing for this CLC conference. Through presentations from advocacy experts and fun breakout activities that used improv to help designers talk about what they do to the public and lawmakers, this winter’s CLC’s conference showed that advocacy isn’t so intimidating. Here, Emily talks about how the idea for an advocacy-themed conference came about and describes how it emphasized grassroots advocacy to harness the power of IIDA membership and truly make a difference in the Interior Design profession.

Why an advocacy theme?
Since IIDA branded itself as the member association for the commercial interior designer, I have aspired to elevate the level of advocacy knowledge and participation for all members. The very hardworking Advocacy Committee–IIDA VPs of Advocacy from each chapter board–has wanted to learn more and grow their skills in grassroots advocacy. Having an advocacy-themed CLC provided them with experts in that field as well as opportunities for them to learn from one another, while encouraging other chapter leaders to be supportive of advocacy work.

How did the theme guide the meeting’s agenda?
We gave a presentation on legislative initiatives throughout the country and introduced the IIDA Advocacy Advisory Council, a group of members who are leaders in advocacy and act as consultants for the International Board, Cheryl, and me in how best to engage members in being better advocates. On Saturday, the Council for Interior Design Qualification gave an update on recent happenings with the National Council on Interior Design Qualification. Amy Showalter of The Showalter Group, and an expert in the field of grassroots advocacy, presented to members. The day ended with a breakout session for the VPs of Advocacy on how to develop their “elevator speech.” The conference ended Sunday with an informative panel on the purpose and functions of state legislative coalitions.

What were the main goals and objectives?
To learn from one another and learn more about grassroots advocacy from experts in the field. Also, to have chapter leaders practice talking about what interior designers do to others. It doesn’t have to be scary talking to legislators and policymakers about interior design.

What would you say was the biggest takeaway from CLC?
Everyone can be an advocate for interior design. Remember that your story is important.


Be on the lookout for details about the next CLC conference this coming June during NeoCon! To learn more about advocacy and how to get involved, check out the new IIDA advocacy microsite. #IIDAadvocacy