Education Chair, Jessa Wilcoxen, and Membership Chair, Timothy Hykes represented the AIGA Saint Louis board at the national AIGA Leadership Retreat in Philadelphia this past June. Below is their reflection on the experience.
From Networking to Friendships.
It is difficult to prepare yourself for the experiences you are about to have just by being surrounded by 300 of the top design leaders in the United States that represent each of the 68 AIGA professional chapters. Branding experts, UX designers, UI designers, photographers, mobile app designers, illustrators, design professors, and publication designers were represented at every event that we attended. And while many of these designers are at the forefront of the industry, there was no room for intimidation. We came ready to network and left feeling like one big happy AIGA family.
Unifying, unforgettable, intoxicating, familia, inspiring, enlightening, connected, energizing, empowering, affirming, rejuvenating, motivating, phantabulous, communal, cross-cultural, and intense — these are just a few words that our fellow attendees used to describe their experience at the AIGA Leadership Retreat.
Jump Right In.
Even though this was our first retreat, we chose to jump right in with a leadership position and conducted a breakout session titled “Engaging our student members and area youth.” We had almost 50 people attend, and we managed to provide useful information and also keep the session interactive. With Jessa Wilcoxen leading the seminar and discussion, and Tim Hykes taking notes, we had many people telling us that we made quite the professional pair and they were excited to take back some of our youth involvement tips to their own chapter. While our session was the only session that directly addressed our student members, a few other engaging sessions included: Design For Good, Volunteer engagement, Leveraging partnerships, and Membership Basics.
Bringing It Back.
After listening to multiple inspiring presentations, participating in small group discussions, and getting updates from the national board on the state of the association we began to talk about how can we push AIGA Saint Louis FORWARD. There are four main programs that we hope (with our local members’ help and new chairs added to the board) AIGA Saint Louis can implement:
- Mentorship Program available to all levels of designers
- In-House specific programing
- Centennial (2014) programing and celebrations
- Additional programing at the K-12 Level
You can’t spend four nights in Philly without checking out some of the local attractions. Within one afternoon we managed to check off most of the “must-sees” in the Old City District including visiting the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, and having a Philly Cheesesteak at Campo’s on Market Street. Being designers and art lovers the remainder of our sightseeing involved visiting AIGA Philadelphia’s local Design Exhibition, touring the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and walking the Mural Mile. The Mural Mile was our favorite tourist experience.
Each mural stop led us to a part of Philly that we would have otherwise never ventured to during our short trip. We enjoyed touring the bohemian South Street Headhouse District, prideful GAYborhood, downtown shops and local cuisine along with the historic murals.
We will not soon forget our trip nor will the lucky board members who attend next year’s leadership retreat in Denver, Colorado.
Check out our Flickr set for more pictures.