December 23, 2020—The close of the year marks a transition of the American Institute of Architects Los Angeles Board of Directors and the end of Greg Verabian, AIA’s, term as the 2020 AIALA President.
During Verabian’s tenure, the Chapter held 129 events including six conferences — a number of which markedly exceeded previous attendance levels — and 96 virtual sessions, as well as three robust awards programs.
But the story of the Chapter during Verabian’s AIALA presidency is the story of a Chapter that strove to serve member needs during two historic moments. The first, COVID-19; the second, the renewed urgency of the need for racial justice.
During the first, the AIALA initiated numerous programs, direct assistance, and town halls that supported members and the larger built-environment community as offices transitioned to virtual working conditions. They also provided guidance of the field in terms of designing to mitigate the impacts of the virus. These events, many of which were personally helmed by Verabian, also provided individuals an opportunity to connect during a time of isolation and uncertainty.
Verabian also led the Board of Directors in its response to the widespread call to further equality, and diversity in the profession in the wake of George Floyd’s killing. Verabian assessed how larger goals could be turned into pragmatic change within the field, how the field could better address the needs of the communities it serves, and better reflect its composition. These advances built upon ongoing changes the Chapter has and will continue to enact.
“Greg was the leader for these times,” noted 2020 Vice President / 2021 President-Elect Wade Killefer, FAIA. “He undertook the position of President expecting to host the AIA National Conference but instead was called to address the national COVID19 lockdown and the national social justice reckoning. He handled everything that was handed to him with grace, determination and humor. AIALA was fortunate to have his leadership this last year.”
Once the Chapter established strategies to address these crises, the office, led by Executive Director Carlo Caccavale, Hon. AIALA, turned to rethinking, and in some cases reinventing established programming during a time of virtual events. These goals included those that Verabian had set prior to the extraordinary events of 2020:
+ programming that [took] deep dives into areas members had noted as priorities such as climate change and homelessness
+ securing national figures for conferences and juries
+ more directly targeting advocacy initiatives, most specifically through the AIALA’s Legislative Day
Finally, by reducing costs, the Chapter was able to remain financially secure, and still host numerous free programs for members.
“In the office, we are truly grateful for Greg’s leadership this year,” said AIALA Executive Director Carlo Caccavale, Hon. AIALA. “His clarity of vision and drive for excellence was coupled by his leadership style — an intrinsic understanding of how to inspire and support a team.”
Verabian will remain on the AIALA Board of Directors as the 2021 AIALA Past President.