News & Press: AWARDS

Stephanie Silkwood, AIA, Recipient of 2016 AIA Young Architect Award

Tuesday, March 8, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: April Becerra

AIA Grassroots and the Emergence of Leaders


Stephanie Silkwood, AIAI once spoke with an architect who compared an AIA membership to a gym membership.  They suggested that the more you actively participate, the more benefit you will get out of your membership.  At the Grassroots Leadership Conference in Detroit in February, I learned about many champions of the profession who use the AIA as a springboard to have a stronger influence and greater impact on the built environment.


I was inspired by fellow architects who are not only doing great things for the profession, but also for their local communities.  I learned about architects who are leading a riverfront revitalization effort, architects serving as Council Members in their cities, and architect residents of Flint stepping up to help solve the water crisis.  These visionary architects have emerged as respected leaders in their communities.  But how do these architects gain a strong voice?  How do they build the trust of their peers and the community to speak for them?


In my personal experience, the AIA has created the opportunity for emerging leaders to grow and find that voice.  When I started as the AIA Santa Clara Valley’s Associate Director in 2010, my goals were simple—create learning and networking opportunities for local emerging professionals.  I quickly found that first step opened the door to many other leadership roles.  With a little courage (and maybe a little arm-twisting), I pursued many of these opportunities at the local, state, and national levels.  This includes participating in several AIASCV Committees, partnering with AIASCV and the City of San Jose for a community charrette, serving on a California Architects Board Committee, collaborating with NCARB to improve the licensure process, and contributing to several advocacy efforts.


Most importantly, I have expanded my network and opportunities for professional development.  I have connected with emerging leaders from throughout the country and gained a broader perspective of the profession and its potential to influence the world we live in. It is with this expanding network and understanding that architects can begin to build their voice.


I encourage our local AIASCV members to find similar opportunities to be leaders.  Flex your membership to its greatest potential by participating in a committee, joining our mentor program, attending chapter meetings, and engaging with the community.  As architects we have the skills and abilities to improve the world we live in if we choose to embrace the opportunities.  The emergence of a leader begins with stepping up.  Will you be next?


Stephanie Silkwood, AIA, is an Associate at RMW architecture & interiors in San Jose, CA.  She is a recipient of the AIA 2016 Young Architects Award for her leadership and advocacy efforts at the local, state, and national levels: