Before I can offer you a presidential welcome into the New Year, I thought a brief bio might be appreciated for those whom I have yet to meet.
Although I was born in the Midwest, my affinity for Florida started decades ago with my first visit to Sanibel in 1972. I moved to Fort Myers after gaining my architecture degree from Notre Dame in the 1980s, and lived and worked here for a few years before moving to London in 1989.
When I left Florida, moved to England and started my own architectural practice, I felt constantly torn. I loved my life abroad, but I missed Florida, and not surprisingly, the weather.
Nonetheless, I stuck it out in London for 15 years and established my own award-winning RIBA architectural practice, which drew attention in Europe, Asia and in the United States. I worked the mandatory long hours, often integrating the lessons of design and professional practice that I had learned in my early years here into my work – and I fantasized about sunshine - all the time!
In 2003, I packed up my son and my portfolio and returned to Florida. We stepped off the plane on a glorious sunny day in December, and I never looked back.
I’ll admit, I carried back with me a passion for great design and an expectation that architects should be valued for their contribution to our communities. I had been spoiled in the UK. There, I was sincerely respected as a design professional, but here, I was surprised to find that wasn’t always the case.
The solution for me was to find a variety of platforms which could support my mission: communicate the value of architecture and good design. I became actively involved again in the local AIA chapter, became an architectural columnist at the local and then national level, accepted speaking invitations and invented numerous architectural events that engaged the public.
Now as President during 2017, I want to put an emphasis on how to Communicate Value to the public at all levels of our association. I’ll be supporting this message though out the year but initially, I look forward to serving you in the year ahead, as well as hearing your struggles, your successes and your suggestions as to how we can collectively remain valued and relevant.
“And now we welcome the new year, full of things that have never been”-Rainer Maria Rilke