Nicki Dennis Stephens – New leadership; same values

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There may be no time of cultural upheaval as great as what we face today. There are many challenges facing our state that can benefit from design thinking and architects are in a unique position to take a long view and be of service to society. How can the AIACC be positioned to support members in this effort? As we head into a new era of staff leadership, there is no greater opportunity for AIACC to consider its role as a leader to the profession and the people of the Golden State. Nicki Dennis Stephens, Hon. AIACC, LEED Green Associate is ready to lead.

After 18 years of service from Resource Coordinator to Chief Operating Officer, Dennis Stephens is now stepping into the role of Executive Vice President, a position she is more than ready for, as she is taking all the experience, and all the relationships cultivated from this 18-year tenure, with her.

Dennis Stephens, is excited to take on this new role. Her predecessor, Paul W. Welch, Jr., who served as Council EVP for 38 years, has every confidence she will thrive in this position. “Nicki has prepared herself well for this new challenge. She has devoted herself to learning all she can about the architecture profession, and where there are places that the AIACC can assist in continuing the incredible work architects do.”

Dennis Stephens began her AIACC career in 1999 as Associate Director of Resource Development, and later became Director of Member and Component Resources, then Senior Director of the organization. As Chief Operating Officer since 2011, she is responsible for managing and directing AIACC programs, including professional practice, fundraising, communications, marketing, conferences, awards, and emerging professional programs. During her tenure, she led the development of groundbreaking publications, led outreach and advocacy for Integrated Project Delivery and other initiatives, created advocacy efforts such as the Capitol Forum, and envisioned new models for the regulatory process within state government. She created the AIACC’s annual corporate partnership program, raising more than $200,000 annually in sponsorships, advertising, and alliances. She also revitalized the statewide public policy program, working with members to position the organization as issue leader on a wide range of issues, including project delivery, livable communities, and sustainable design. And in 2010, she graciously accepted to serve as interim Executive Vice President while Welch served as interim EVP at national AIA, which further details she is no stranger to the nuances of the needs of the architecture profession.

With a membership of more than 10,000, Dennis Stephens will have many opportunities to continue the advance plans already in place, as well as create some new programs, while building relationships along the way. She has a passion for the profession and the architect’s role in the many social, economic and environmental issues that threaten the world as we know it. “There are complex problems facing our state and I believe in the value of architects as thought leaders and agents of social change. I want to empower members to tackle the current problems while also providing insight into what’s next on the horizon. The AIACC can be the vehicle to energize the membership and focus on initiatives that have high impact,” she said when asked about her vision for how the AIACC can assist all architects.

In 2017, an EVP Transition Task Group was created to ensure a smooth transition and find an appropriate individual to fill such a distinct position. 2018 President, Britt Lindberg, AIA, is looking forward to working closely with Dennis Stephens. “She has a vision for the future that places architects at the head of the table on issues from infrastructure development to resiliency and disaster assistance to housing. She believes in the value of the profession to help solve California’s challenges, and the entire AIACC board is confident she will move the organization to its next level of accomplishment—programmatically, financially, and in leading its professional and public effectiveness.

Dennis Stephens, Welch, the AIACC staff and Board of Directors will all be working closely to ensure a smooth transition and beyond.


Shannon Calder

Shannon Calder, a Sacramento-based writer, joined the AIACC in 2013. She is the author of, “Jack and Abigail Make a Compass,” a novel about people, birds, and orchids. She spends her days both on and off hours, looking for connection, which is a good hobby to have when linking the value of design to public perception.

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