BECAUSE OF AIGA ...

AIGA

 

This project was created by:
Bill Klingensmith
AIGA UPSTNY - Past President | Current Member

Jeff Barlow
AIGA Seattle - Past President | Current Member

Connections in Action Post-Katrina

1
I have always known that AIGA helped me personally and professionally connect with other like minded individuals who shared my passion for design. What I didn’t know was that it would prove to be a connector on a larger scale until Katrina struck our local AIGA New Orleans chapter.

After Katrina hit our town, I expected to hear from family and close friends checking on me to make sure I was safe and out of harm’s way. I didn’t expect to be contacted directly by AIGA Executive Director, Ric Grefe, within a day of the disaster to check on the safety and status of our members. His goal was to assess the damage as we knew it, and to offer to be a resource to help our chapter recover from this disaster.

Through AIGA, connections were made on a level greater than I had ever experienced with any professional organization.
• Displacedesigner.com was created to help connect those displaced with the outpouring of offers made available from the community.
• AIGA member, John Bielenberg, shifted the mission of the Mbulance to become a traveling vehicle bringing design supplies collected and donated by various AIGA chapters to members in our hard hit area, connecting designers along the East Coast with the Gulf South region.
•  AIGA members from across the nation worked with us to develop tools that might help others prepare for and avoid future disasters.

It was a professional association of designers that rushed in immediately to see how they could best aid our members recovery in one of our history’s most devastating storms. Never before had I felt so connected with others to work together toward a common goal. Here they were doing good…not just good design, but tangible, meaningful good for others that helped our chapter’s members get back to their lives and businesses as soon as possible.

2
A leader is someone who is able to effectively and positively gain the support of and work with others to reach a desirable, common goal.

Being a good designer doesn’t necessarily mean you are a good leader. You may be able to manage projects very well, but being able to manage/lead people is a completely different skill set. Because of my involvement with AIGA, I have had the opportunity to work on my own leadership skills.

Transitioning from being a member in an AIGA chapter to actually being part of the board of directors that lead the local chapter is where I have really discovered and developed my leadership skills…on the job training so to speak. I had the pleasure of serving the AIGA New Orleans chapter in several different board positions, all of which contributed in a different way to helping me hone my ability to work with and lead others. Serving as Secretary helped me learn to listen carefully and to clearly communicate in writing. Serving as Treasurer helped me to recognize the importance of fiduciary duties in running a smooth operation and to improve my bookkeeping skills. Serving as VP/Development helped me to initiate and foster relationships with partners such as print vendors, paper merchants, fellow creatives. Finally, serving as President allowed me to develop and exercise a democratic leadership style that focused on consensus building and working with a group of amazing volunteers to make extraordinary things happen. It also gave me the opportunity to represent our chapter on a national level at leadership retreats and national conferences, improving my public speaking skills as well.

These different positions on the AIGA board have greatly enhanced my ability to be a more effective and efficient leader that hopefully people want to follow–both in my personal as well as my professional life.

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