AIA Seattle - Executive Director

Seattle, WA | Full-time | COVID-19 remote


Comprehensive Position Profile



AIA Seattle champions the visionary and integrative thinking of architects and designers. We believe that responsible design solutions can positively impact our region, and our community of engaged and committed members, partners, and staff work collaboratively to promote the central role of architects in creating and sustaining a better built environment in the communities where we live and work.   


A chapter of the American Institute of Architects, AIA Seattle is a 501(c)(6) non-profit membership service organization that is deeply engaged in the community. Founded in 1894, AIA Seattle supports more than 2,500 architects, emerging professionals, and allied individuals throughout the Puget Sound region. AIA Seattle is the 5th largest urban component of the American Institute of Architects and one of four local Washington components affiliated with AIA Washington Council.

Our members are deeply engaged in our work. In collaboration with AIA Seattle staff, member committees are responsible for educational programming, thought leadership, building partnerships, and elevating the profession in the Puget Sound region and beyond.

In addition to our primary work as a member-led non-profit, in 2011 AIA Seattle founded Design in Public, a public-facing 501(c)(3) non-profit, to unleash the design thinker in everyone to illuminate Seattle’s challenges and ignite action. Design in Public produces the annual grassroots Seattle Design Festival to celebrate the ways that design makes life better for Seattle and promote public awareness of design. Our Executive Director will also have oversight for this work. AIA Seattle and Design in Public’s boards are coming together in 2021 for common direction, integrated planning, and opportunities for greater innovation.   

In 2015, AIA Seattle partnered with Seattle Architecture Foundation, Design in Public, and AIA Washington Council to create the Center for Architecture & Design in historic downtown Seattle. The Center is Seattle’s premier public space for exhibits, programs, and conversations that explore design’s role in shaping cities.



AIA Seattle is committed to identifying our next Executive Director to advance and help grow our impact in the region. This is a unique opportunity for an experienced leader and strong strategic thinker who has a passion for architecture and urban design.

Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director is responsible for managing operations and directing strategic initiatives for our professional organization – providing leadership for the organization and staff, directing strategic planning, influencing policies, supporting programs and initiatives, and enhancing outreach – to satisfy the expectations of members and maintain the viability and influence of the organization.

Our Executive Director for the past 15 years is prepared to welcome and transition our next leader. With over 125 years of history, a committed and experienced team, a strong financial position, and a dynamic and engaged board, AIA Seattle is well positioned for the future.


Areas of responsibility for our new Executive Director:

Strategic & Organizational Planning

  • In partnership with the AIA Seattle Board of Directors, update and refine our newly launched 2020-2024 strategic plan to advance the organization’s impact. 
  • Collaborate with stakeholders from across our community to ensure that AIA remains a connector and convener.
  • Guide development of the annual work plan in collaboration with staff, member committees, and Board members.
  • Manage the combination of the AIA Seattle and Design in Public boards. 

 Leadership in AIA Seattle’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

  • Nurture an equitable and diverse work environment where all employees feel safe, included, valued, and supported.
  • Together with staff, the Board, and members, apply an equity lens to membership programming, education, communications, advocacy, and all workplace roles, programs, and initiatives.
  • Emphasize life-long learning, reflection, courage, empathy, transparency, and humility in the work that we do at all levels.

Board Relations

  • Nurture and maintain strong relationships and communications with the Board of Directors.
  • Steward the diverse perspectives and opinions provided by the Board toward a common purpose and clear priorities. 
  • Secure and grow engagement of Board members in championing our priorities and contributing to our shared goals.
  • In collaboration with key Board and leadership committees, facilitate and support committee chair appointments, orientation, management, and support.

 Policy and Advocacy/Strategy and Direction  

  • Leverage and maximize AIA Seattle’s influence through relationships with non-profit and advocacy organizations working in our advocacy focus areas. Build coalitions and partnerships that extend AIA Seattle’s public policy reach.
  • Promote well-designed, sustainable cities that create opportunities for everyone. 
  • Promote architects’ roles in public policy discussions and encourage active member engagement in civic issues.
  • Develop relationships with key public officials. 

 Local Leadership with Statewide, Regional, and National Impact

  • Participate on national AIA and Council of Architectural Component Executives (CACE) committees and task forces as requested or appropriate. Lead AIA Seattle’s participation in the “Big Sibs” coalition of large city AIA chapters.
  • Guide and facilitate AIA Seattle’s participation in state, regional, and national AIA issues and elections. Represent AIA Seattle at regional and national meetings and support the Board’s interests in AIA National repositioning.

 Membership Development

  • Reinforce and expand AIA Seattle’s role as an integral resource for the architecture and design community in Seattle and the Puget Sound area.
  • Provide vision and strategy to support staff in promoting active member engagement on various committees that present programs and host events on topics of interest to our members and community.   
  • Actively solicit input from members to enhance engagement and alignment. 

Program & Services Development

  • Advise and empower AIA Seattle staff and committees with the tools, guidance, and resources needed to deliver high quality, value-added programs, benefits, and services to members and the public. Drive innovation and programs that provide significant value and impact to members. 
  • Provide intellectual and content leadership for major programs and initiatives, including public-facing events such as the Seattle Design Festival and public exhibits at the Center for Architecture and Design. Provide staff and Board with guidance about issues and industry concerns.

Fiscal Stewardship

  • Develop and drive an annual business planning process, including goals and objectives, a $1.5M combined annual budget, and investments in conjunction with priorities determined by the Board.  
  • Evaluate and consider long-term trends, planning, and risk management for the organization.
  • Manage revenues and expenses in accordance with the established budget while evaluating opportunities for strategic investments that increase impact for AIA Seattle and our members. Work in collaboration with the Board’s finance committee to regularly evaluate the organization’s financial position.
  • Actively participate in major sponsorship development for AIA Seattle.
  • Establish the vision and work with staff and board members to support Design In Public’s major fundraising activities, including individual giving, sponsorship, and grant support.
  • Oversee the organization’s relationship and work with an outside financial services vendor.

Strategic Leadership and Direction for AIA Seattle Staff

  • Demonstrate an ability to motivate and develop staff to create an engaged, empowered, and diverse team, consistent with our values and shared vision.  
  • Balance accountability for results and outcomes with the professional growth and development of staff.  
  • Encourage risk taking and innovation, guiding staff to create new levels of impact and value for members and our community.
  • Clarify and create decision-making frameworks that support staff engagement, ownership and accountability for all chapter activities.



Job Skills and Attributes:

  • Brings a passion for architecture, urban design, sustainability and/or the built environment
  • Entrepreneurial nature, business and financial planning skills
  • Effective leadership and motivational skills
  • Strategic thinker, strong planning skills
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Eager to build and nurture organizational and interpersonal relationships in the architecture, design, urban planning, engineering, construction, and other built environment fields 
  • Ability to thrive in a small, entrepreneurial non-profit atmosphere

Background, experience you will bring:

Candidates will be evaluated on the full range of their professional and personal background, experience, and direct and transferable skills. AIA Seattle seeks candidates with a compelling combination of demonstrated knowledge and skills in some, or all, of the following areas:

  • Leadership experience in dynamic organizations, preferably within a membership, civic engagement, and/or mission-based nonprofit entity.  Demonstrated ability to create a shared vision, inspire and motivate others to join in realizing this vision, and create a path to achieve it.
  • Experience serving as an executive director or senior staff member of an organization, division, or department.
  • Familiarity with fundraising, social sector or non-profit services, policy and advocacy work, and/or membership engagement is a plus.
  • Entrepreneurial approach to building and sustaining a nimble, growing organization.
  • Ability to serve as a compelling voice for the organization and mission.  
  • Strength in verbal and written communication and an ability to apply communication across a variety of scenarios and stakeholders.
  • Ability to think strategically and creatively about solutions that impact our members and our work.
  • Successfully able to set goals, prioritize, and be accountable for personal and organizational progress toward objectives.
  • Experience facilitating engagement of diverse communities locally, regionally, and nationally.
  • Commitment to and understanding of the unique nature of a professional membership organization preferred.


With 11 collaborative team members working in an open office, the AIA Seattle team is nimble, creative, and action-oriented. AIA Seattle has invested in strong internal systems, and staff produce work that is exceptional and highly professional with moderate resources and time. Staff provide most of their own administrative support. Most work takes place during a regular work week, but some events and programs begin earlier in the morning or take place on evenings or weekends; in some cases, everyone pitches in to support those events.

AIA Seattle is member-led and highly interactive, and volunteers have a lot of input on the work of the organization. Harnessing the wisdom and leadership of the architecture (and wider) community is key to expanding the organization’s impact and making a difference in our communities.

AIA Seattle is deeply committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion across all facets of our work. One of our organizational goals is to support industry-wide culture change so that architecture and the allied professions actively attract and retain more people of color, women, and non-binary people. Through all our programs and processes, we are working to value and promote diversity. Our entire team has received training using the Intercultural Development Inventory, and we are a JUST-certified organization and a signatory to the National Organization of Minority Architects’ Call-To-Action pledge.  

We strongly encourage candidates from a variety of backgrounds and experiences to express their interest in this opportunity

Salary and Benefits:

This is a full-time position with an expected salary range of $130,000-150,000. Benefits include fully paid health insurance, full paid disability insurance, dental insurance covered 50% by employer, 401k match up to 4% of salary, starting vacation of 10 days per year, flexible schedules, generous public holidays and the week between Christmas and New Year’s off. We are a family-friendly employer that supports work-life balance. Most of the team works from home on Mondays, and during COVID we are almost exclusively working from home.



This role will remain open until filled. The preferred application date is May 17, 2021. Candidate materials are reviewed on an on-going basis and initial interviews will begin in early May.

To be considered please submit a resume and cover letter (in a single Word or PDF document) as soon as possible addressed to the Search Committee.   

You may direct questions or make referrals to Christine Martin at Valtas Group. She can be reached at  or 206.349.4774.