I was asked to serve again and I will do so believing the Redwood Empire will continue to be a place for connection. I want to talk more about this, but first I wonder if you know the basic mission of the AIA. The mission reads “positive change through the power of design.” This ideal is enduring. It is what gets me to the office every day. Our work is based in optimism with many factors beyond our control, but in our power is showing up to do good honest work. In the words of Maya Angelou – Do the best you can and when you know better, do better. For example, just this year, the National AIA formally voted to “prioritize and support urgent climate action as a health safety and welfare issue” – a little late to the party, but an important win.

Thankfully you are willing to get involved in different roles bringing programs and new ideas to our community. Like Nate Bisbee and Danny Strening, who bring us inspiring architects to hear and see. And Don Tomasi, who reminded me that the Scholarship program is alive and well – handing out scholarships over the last 15 years to architecture majors. Mark Perry and Doug Hilberman have already provided input on engaging better with our retired and emerging architects. Jim Theis organizes the Leadership Academy for Associate members. Peter Levelle, created and brought us PSr1, a design competition for young architects to design and build a public art piece. There is a lot more to learn about our chapter and our members.

Over the last 3 years, the wildfires shifted the way we think about how we design, how we build, how we are housed, and where building a home makes sense. What I have witnessed is people working together to make life better for others. Julia Donaho jumped in to represent the AIA and re-envision a better Coffey Park. Aaron Jobson with Drew Weigl led a team of us to create Homes for Sonoma. I think we are on the right track when we see that we are more than the project on our table or screen.

15 years ago I served as president, with (2) 4-year olds, an 8 year old and a start up in Petaluma with my husband Chris called MAD architecture. Why would I want to come back in 2020? To help create positive change through the power of design, which I still believe in from my younger days at Cal Berkeley. To grow these connections with likeminded collaborators is a great way to spend your life.

In closing, I believe it’s all about connection through volunteering, collaborating, mentoring, and just showing up to tip back a glass together. Whether you are a sole practitioner or in a firm like QKA, being part of something a little bigger than your day to day starts with a simple invitation to connect – like Peter Levelle did with me.

And so I invite you all to connect with our new board twice as much as last year and help bring about positive change through your work. Now let’s raise a glass to Pete – a fantastic President – and thank our outgoing board members with a hardy Cheers!

Your 2020 President,

Mary Dooley

MAD architecture