The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has announced that it is now accepting applications for Next to Lead, a new two-year pilot program that aims to advance ethnically diverse women architects to leadership positions within the organization by clearing away institutional barriers and creating a pathway through “experiential learning on association management and leadership, knowledge, and experience.”
Up to 16 Next to Lead “visionaries” will be selected for this first cohort, which is open to ethnically and racially AIA members who are women and have at least five years of professional experience in architecture. The program is funded by the AIA and, as such, most program costs, including conference attendance and travel, will be covered with the exception of required books and resources. The application deadline is April 30, with plans for the program to launch in the fall.
As described by the AIA, Next to Lead “isn’t just leadership training” and is “designed to teach essential leadership skills alongside successful, diverse women leaders with decades of experience.” Per an AIA news release, the first year/phase one of Next to Lead will find participants engaging in an online curriculum, monthly virtual leadership, sessions, and an in-person AIA leadership conference. During the second year of the program, participants will partake in a 12-month, volunteer-based “impact residency” in which they’ll assume a leadership role within a collaborate project developed by the AIA or a local- or state-based chapter.
As noted by the AIA, Next to Lead was born from a member-driven 2018 resolution intended to “ensure that the AIA is developing education, systems, and processes that are inclusive for the short and long term.”
“It’s critical that, as a profession and industry, we work together to advance racially and ethnically diverse women,” said AIA 2021 President Peter Exley, in a news statement. “We know that there’s an opportunity to improve representation within architecture, and Next to Lead is one way we’re working to make that happen.”
More details on this first-of-its-kind leadership program and application process can be found here.