Bringing National Design Lessons to the Local Level

It’s been over a week since Bri and I were in Raleigh, North Carolina for the AIGA Leadership Retreat, and it’s taken that long for me to process all the great information we received.

In talking to other chapters and going to sessions, it affirmed that I’m not alone in what I experience through and feel about AIGA. Chapters across the nation face the same challenges, fears, hopes, and dreams—it’s comforting to speak collectively and share everything you know in an effort to help the greater good. Over the last six months, our chapter has decided and began to put the majority of it’s focus on community building and the retreat only strengthened this idea in my head.

Every year, each of our 70 chapters sends at least one Board Leader to the National Leadership Conference where they get together with other chapter leaders and discuss the success and challenges their chapter has experienced, the issues they face and what they’ve learned over the previous year.

As a first year attendee of the retreat, both Bri and I were blown away by the level of friendliness towards strangers and love within AIGA. I could walk up to absolutely anyone and knew we had an immediate bond because of AIGA. There are so many great people in this organization doing many amazing things, and to think that I’ve only met the fraction of them that had the opportunity to attend this retreat blows my mind. As cliche as it sounds, the leadership of every AIGA chapter coming together truly feels like a family.

Listening to AIGA’s Executive Director, Julie, give the closing remarks at this year’s AIGA Leadership retreat.

A photo posted by AIGA Central PA (@aigacentralpa) on

Julie Anixter—the organization’s new Executive Director—also blew us away, radiating positivity around the bright future of AIGA. She spoke highly of the idea of Design for Good and talked about how chapters can bring this initiative to a local level, showing examples of posters, videos, and other collateral from the recent Get Out the Vote campaign. Shout out to national board member Agustín Garza, who directed his efforts towards the Latin American population in California, encouraging them to vote. His short ad starring Edward James Olmos now appears on Latin America channels nationwide.

Learning about design thinking and facilitation with @ibm at the @aigadesign retreat #aigaretreat

A photo posted by AIGA Central PA (@aigacentralpa) on

IBM was the Design Leadership sponsor of the retreat. Members of their design team hung out at the retreat & did a workshop with attendees on facilitation and design thinking (We can’t wait to use some of what we learned at upcoming community & board meetings – Bri). Although my agency, Maga Design, uses design thinking as one of our core strategy & practices with clients, I learned quite a few things I hadn’t known before. “Everything is a prototype” was the mantra of the session, so we weren’t getting attached to anything we created over the few hour workshop.

With all of that said, Bri and I have notebooks full of ideas, tips and stories from other AIGA Chapters and can’t wait to share all of it with the community in Central PA. Keep an eye out for some really great things coming this fall and next spring. I can’t encourage everyone enough to get involved, and as always feel free to contact any of the board (or whatever AIGA chapter you’re currently near) about anything, anytime. We’re a friendly bunch!

By Jared Adams
Published June 29, 2016
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