Elsa Long, IA designer and IIDA Oregon chapter ACTING president, shares why 2017 will be a year to thrive.
How did you first get involved with IIDA?
Early in my career, a colleague took me to a meeting of the IIDA Northern Pacific Chapter Event Planning Committee for a sustainability conference. I vividly remember being blown away by the interior designers and industry members on that committee, and the members’ passion for sustainable interior design. I left the meeting as a new volunteer for the public relations committee, and a newly registered member of IIDA. Subsequently, I was asked to become the chapter public relations chair, a position I held from 2006 to 2009. And in 2012, I was awarded the IIDA Northern Pacific Chapter’s Emerging Professional Award.
How did you become involved with IIDA in Oregon?
When my husband and I moved back to Oregon four years ago, I joined the IIDA Oregon Chapter Planning Committee, which was working on an annual celebration and fundraiser. I was impressed, and appreciated the instant community and warmth that the board and membership extended to me—in addition to the welcome back to my home state. IA had just opened its Portland office, and I felt very lucky to be part of an incredible global firm, invested in the unique Portland market, and an amazing IIDA chapter. On the Oregon chapter board, I served as public relations chair (2013-2014) and spent the following year as the vice president of communications. This past year, I stepped into the president-elect role, and am currently acting president of IIDA Oregon.
What do you hope to accomplish during your term?
With the input of the past-president and president-elect, we develop the calendar for the board’s year, including forums and events, educational programs, communications plans, membership and sponsorship surveys, philanthropic efforts, and fundraising drives. As acting president, I will represent the IIDA Oregon Chapter to the public, as well as in contracts with business, professional, civic, and governmental organizations to advance the chapter’s mission. I will preside over monthly board meetings and the chapter’s annual membership meeting and fundraiser. I will also monitor the activities of the International Organization of IIDA, to ensure our chapter initiatives directly align with the association’s international goals, attend national chapter leadership conferences, and a western-region chapter leadership conference, where we gather with leaders of neighboring IIDA chapters to share resources, develop leadership skills, and plan multi-chapter collaborative events.
How has IIDA affected you professionally? Personally?
Professionally, IIDA has provided invaluable industry connections and on-going educational experiences. It’s helped me grow my leadership skills and learn how to best motivate and encourage the strengths that each person brings to the table. IIDA often uses the analogy of connecting the dots and it’s my goal to be a “continually-improving-professional-dot-connector” for my colleagues and our design industry.
Personally, IIDA has introduced me to many talented, passionate design peers who work tirelessly to advance our profession. I am inspired and awed by these individuals, and proud of the events and opportunities we’ve created together to help others progress in their design careers. It’s so satisfying to hear that a student member has landed a first-job by meeting someone at an IIDA event. And it makes me very proud to hear internationally acclaimed designers praise the caliber of design coming out of our region.
Working beside IIDA members over the years, I’ve forged strong partnerships and long, lasting friendships that I treasure. For instance, at that first planning committee, I met Nancy Heywood, a principal at IA in Seattle, who became one of my career-long mentors. And while attending my first IIDA Northern Pacific Chapter board retreat, I sat next to Dave Kutsunai, managing director and principal at IA’s Seattle office, who brought me into the IA family.
What do you foresee for your future following your term as acting president?
I will continue to develop professional skills at IA in Portland. I look forward to participating in IIDA Oregon forums and events, and connecting talented IIDA student members with professional opportunities. As past president, I will plan the 2017 Design Excellence Awards, and serve on the planning committee for the Western Regional Student Design Charette: I’m so excited to see even more students from hundreds of interior design programs compete, develop their design talents, and connect with firms that can lead them to gratifying careers! I will leverage relationships with other professionals across the country, and worldwide, to advance the excellence and impact of interior design.