Interim Executive Vice President’s Letter


Dear AIA Chicago members and friends:

One evening in December of 1995 I was at the Cliff Dwellers Club with a good crowd of AIA Chicago colleagues for our Annual Meeting. I was there in part to make a few remarks to launch my year as chapter president. I arrived and headed to the hors d’oeuvres table and was approached by a new member of the chapter staff. She introduced herself as Joan Pomaranc. As you might imagine, we had a wonderful conversation that covered a lot of topics and included several substantial detours. 

It was obvious that Joan was a deeply Chicago person who loved the city and its architecture. And, to this very day, I remember thinking, “What a delightful person; aren’t we lucky to have her with us?”

25 years later, I’ve had the opportunity to see the six AIA Chicago staff—including Joan—in action. For the past month, I have seen first hand that this is a group of dedicated and talented professionals. They are truly the engine of AIA Chicago, keeping the many impressive events, programs, and countless other support systems actively in service to our 4,000 members. And their extra energy, creativity and generosity have been especially critical as we all navigate a global pandemic.

We have a lot of important events and activities coming up this fall. Here are several to pay special attention to:

  • This past weekend the AIA Chicago Foundation hosted our 30th annual Chicago Architecture + Design College and Career Day. The event was a great success. Taking full advantage of our virtual format, we welcomed over 100 students from 60 schools from all over the country. 
  • Mark your calendars: AIA Chicago will present Designight 2020 on November 13. We break new ground this year with a wonderful virtual celebration honoring the achievements in design excellence. We also celebrate Phil Johnson, FAIA, this year’s recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. The event will be free to all members for the first time in chapter history. “If design truly IS for everyone, then Designight is for everyone!”
  • Our Annual Meeting this year will be held in December and will also be virtual and free to all members for the first time. Join us as we honor the recipients of the Firm of the Year Award and the Dubin Family Young Architect Award. With this format, we will be able to include all members in voting as we conduct our business and welcome our new board members. 

In addition to these events, the chapter board and staff are focusing time and energy on several important initiatives including evolving a board committee structure to more effectively support our staff; revising the chapter bylaws to allow us to be more nimble and transparent; and finding ways to integrate Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at all levels of the organization.

Wishing you all good health,


John M. Syvertsen, FAIA

Interim Executive Vice President

AIA Chicago