Interview With Bennie F. Johnson

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Automatic TRANSCRIPT

All right so tell us who you are and what you do all right. My name is beneath johnson. And i'm the new executive director of a professional organization for design. And i know you've been in the role now for for several months. It was announced earlier this year. But congratulations to you. Thank you thank you. It still feels new. It feels a bit surreal. We started in january with the announcement that was my first day in the office. And you know before we know it. We're here under quarantine. And i'm back here in dc so it. It still feels new but a lot of work and a has happened since we started. So where were you when you first got the news that you got the role you know. It's funny i was in the car in. Dc about have lunch with a dear friend. And i received a phone call it said. Are you available to talk in a couple of minutes. So it's always like that pre call to a call. And then i received the word that i was selected to be the next executive director. Now our audience of course has heard of aig. A if anyone. I think has been listening to vision. Path that links at least since twenty fourteen or two thousand fifteen. They know about aig but for those who don't know who might be new to this conversation might be new to you and organization. Can you just talk about what. Aig a is and also what specifically attracted you to this role. What is is a legacy organization in many ways. It's a hundred year plus professional association. And there aren't that many hundred year organizations you can imagine but. Ai has been at the center of design design community design education profession for larger than assists century. And so what attracted me to spent the last ten years working with professional organizations and helping them reinvent reimagined and position themselves for a contemporary world. And so the opportunity to come into space. I'd always been designed always been central part of my experience professionally personally. So they have the opportunity to take the experience that i had working with other professional associations and apply to design professional organization was a really big draw for me. My background is really been coming into organizations to try to help pivot in move from what has been to build a better future of what can be so. I saw an opportunity. Here with edgy. A. and space to help the organization expand along with the design professional expanding right. You can't have the profession expand the professional organization stay the same. So what does an average day look like for you. You said earlier you were in new york. Now you're back in. Dc what does it look like running this organization like this remotely. The first couple of weeks. The average day was starting off monday mornings hopping on the train. Amtrak in heading from dc union station to tribeca new york and spending the bulk of the week. They're meeting a connecting with design leaders and professionals on students having meetings and getting acclimated to the organization. So that was about two months of that kind of back and forth. After we went into fool states that you can imagine of and we all have kind of lived through our pandemic this became. How do we think about the organization in physically from running from my living room. Dining room the favourite corner in my house right in and it quickly became. It wasn't a question of where. I was physically but using the tools and the opportunity to bring together our team to deliver and build for our profession. You know how do we deliver our mission. Yes we're used to being in office spaces in traveling. But what can we do more dynamic way. What's really nice about edgy. A is we were already positioning ourselves to be more virtual part of even my being able to come in at the role i lived in. Dc and so having ceo who is not based in the office was deliberate point for the organization as we stands right now only about sixty to sixty five percent of my team is located in new york the rest of the distributed across the country. And i think that's an incredible opportunity in advantage for us. And i think there's probably important to note here because when people think of aig a they think of the chapters. Each of those chapters has their own kind of bored and everything. Those are not employees of lateral organization. Itself is pretty small right. Those are nine employees so we are what you know. Many people haven't had experience with but we are federated model and it's very common in professional associations and spaces we all exist under a core mission in brand right that his asia but we're network community so we have seventy five chapters who are individual chapters. They have their own. Bores volunteer leaders were connected with them but they're connected through affiliation and grew an overall network to larger aig a mission brand. We also have two hundred student chapters across colleges and universities so the power of a federated model is just that you have this connection to community at a really directing granular level. But you're tied together in the national office in which i lead gets to serve as really kind of the infrastructure and the backbone organization that at its heart in all of the chapters and the student groups and are forced to be to do that work that they get

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