Key Takeaways From the 2015 #AIGARetreat

02 Jun Key Takeaways From the 2015 #AIGARetreat

So I just returned from my second AIGA leadership retreat in Grand Rapids, Michigan! And it wasssss amazing. Thank you SO much for hosting us, AIGA West Michigan. You were awesome! I traveled with eight other board members from Raleigh to attend the retreat, and let me tell you, it is a JAM PACKED three days of learning, growth, laughter and friendship.

We were asked to give four key takeaways from the event, below are my takeaways and some recaps from the event!

And bravo Mr & Mrs who did the branding for the event (as seen in the header image). I loved everything! 


1. Introvert? Too bad, you’re an extrovert now! 


My first year at the conference, I was totally shocked by how busy they kept us! My experience at past non-design related conferences was that you attend a bunch of sessions that you try not to fall asleep at, maybe get dinner with some people, and then go back to your hotel room and do it all again the next day. Ummmm….this is NOT the case here! They keep you going and around people from about 7 am until 12 am…or 2 am…or 4 am…and every moment is awesome! I’ve been an introvert my entire life and tend to be very type b, keeping to myself and struggling with shyness. The thing about the leadership retreat is that we’re all there for the same reason, the same purpose, with the same goals and everybody is so extremely friendly that you can really come out of your shell. No worries of acceptance here, we are all one AIGA!


2. Get ready to get Grefaced.


*All of these pics were spotted on the AIGA Retreat Facebook page!

If you’re involved with AIGA, chances are the name Ric Grefé has come up. Ric is the CEO of AIGA and is involved in all of AIGA’s activities. He has been at AIGA since 1995, and in that time, has been such an enormous advocate of design. Where AIGA is today is a testament to everything that Ric has put in, and we truly appreciate all of his efforts and accomplishments. It was recently announced that Ric will soon step down from his leadership role with AIGA, and trust me- he will be missed! In honor of Ric, stickers were passed out with his face on them. Throughout the retreat, you could spot the Grefaces all across the city, in the most random places! A true testament to how much AIGA loves him! Thanks Ric for all your hard work!


3. We run this show better than most businesses, AND we’re 100% volunteer! Designers also apparently really love human pyramids. And 80’s music. And partying. 

rachel elnar

The AIGA Leadership retreat isn’t all work and no play! We are, after all, 100% volunteer run organization. We deserve to haave some fun, right? With that being said, it’s really something to look around a room of 300 other leaders working toward the same cause and realize that our chapters run better than most businesses do! Why is this? What is the secret? I think it’s the love for design and the love for each other! It’s important to have fun once in awhile, to laugh and truly get to know each other. That way, when it’s time to get down and tackle hard work, it’s FUN. And one thing I learned from these retreats is that we know how to have fun! What’s the deal with the human pyramids, you might ask? I have no idea…I just take pictures!


4. Raleigh 2016 is going to ROCK IT!!! 

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We are SO EXCITED and HONORED to be the official hosts of the 2016 AIGA Leadership Retreat! I had previously written a blog post, 10 Reasons Why Raleigh is an Awesome City for Designers, to announce the retreat if you want to check it out! I don’t know how we’re going to top the past leadership retreats since the previous hosts have done such an outstanding job. I guess, as our president Laura Hamlyn says, “You guys have all done such a good job, I don’t think we’ll be able to top it, we’ll just have to go off sideways or something”. Haha! Well, in any case, we’re going to kick some @ss planning this thing- just wait!


Thanks to everyone who made this such an amazing experience!


Other Board Member’s Takeaways:


Lenny Terenzi

1. Looking around there were almost 300 people in that room doing what we do for thier own chapters. All volunteers. Think about that. Volunteers.

2. AIGA is not about design. It’s about what people who create design, who love design can do. Change a life, start a revolution, create a community, save a community.

3. Truly honored to be a part of a chapter that is looked up to by the entire country. Called out as an innovator and leader.

4. No matter how tired, how utterly exhausted (ok, and sometimes drunk) people were everyone was ready to share and listen on how to make AIGA better.

5. For me? Clarity, focus, determination and pride. I feel as if everything up to the retreat was training and now I have been given the tools to play in the big show. I am just getting started so y’all better watch out!

Kristen Fowler

1 . Together we can do amazing things.

AIGA Raleigh is part of one big family of volunteers who commit their time to making our communities a better place. 25,000 members, 70 chapters, 1 big family of VOLUNTEERS. ONEAIGA.

2. AIGA believes in you and supports you.

100%. Theres nothing better than knowing everyone has your back, especially when you’re a young designer. Stay humble and take one step at a time! Make a decision daily that influences your community and helps everyone move forward together. “design is changing the course of anything for the better” – Milton Glaser

3. Take risks!

People are like plants. You need to be replanted or you’ll be root bound. Determine what you’re passionate about and go do that thing!

4. Raleigh is Raleigh awesome.

Everyone is looking to us as the model for their chapter, and to know we are hosting next year is extremely exciting. I’m proud to call Raleigh my AIGA chapter!

Sophia Hitchcock

1. AIGA Raleigh Rocks

I knew we are an amazing talented group of people at AIGA Raleigh. But seriously, we really have set ourselves apart as a chapter as leaders and innovators. It was evident by the first few breakout sessions. We are doing things right, and people want to know how.

2. The Sky Is The Limit

With that being said, just because we are awesome now, doesn’t mean we should ever stop growing. Anything we dream as a chapter is possible. My takeaway from this retreat that has to do with growing this chapter is: Don’t be afraid to speak up — and don’t forget to listen.

3. Why You?

I was asked many times throughout the retreat, why did you join AIGA? What makes you stay? And I’ve been asked these questions before, from family, friends and even my own chapter. Why do you volunteer? What keeps you involved? Here is the answer I’ve always given: The more I give to AIGA Raleigh, the more I’ve gotten back. Friends, collegues, jobs, feedback, laughs, late nights, respect, acheivment, fufillment. This is the place you go to grow, because you choose to go and grow. You get what you give, and oftentimes you get much more.

4. Passion Unveiled

I wasn’t sure what to expect at my first retreat. Now that I’ve experienced it, I’ve realized one thing. I want every. Single. Person. In our chapter to feel the inspiration, talent, love, excitement, and awe that I felt. The things we imagine we can do to make our community, our city, our state, our nation, our world better…people are doing them every day TOGETHER! And we can do them too. All we have to do is ASK. Speak. Join. Lead. Anyone can make a difference. Why not us?

Amy Lyons

1. Design is more visible today than ever. we can’t lose sight of the power of design or of the craft. Never stop learning and growing.

2. Creativity can defeat habit. It’s a change agent. We can’t become who we want to be by staying the way we are.

3. Everyday challenge yourself to do something creative and different.

4. AIGA is an amazing network of passionate and dedicated volunteers. When we all come together, it’s amazing and together we can do amazing things. We already are. The fact that all 70 chapters, and 25,000+ members are volunteers dedicating their time ad talents to our chapters and communities is incredible.

Laura Hamlyn:

1. Any time one or more things are consciously put together in a way that they can accomplish something better than they could have accomplished individually, this is an act of design.

2. Anyone who joins AIGA should feel she’s linked to her chapter and all of the other chapters across the organization. Graphic design’s role is creative placemaking. Let the community own and control the narrative of this place.

3. “We all have privilege. It’s how we use that privilege, which is power, to serve those who do not.” This will stay with me forever #aigaretreat

4. No one is more cherished in this world than someone who lightens the burden of another.

Niki Litts:

1. Utilize national network and coordinate other chapters.

2. “Inclusion is the only way forward.”- be conscientious about our inclusiveness.

3. Have more fun! Membership parties, art battles, etc.

Jacqueline McAdams

1. One of Ric’s takeaways as we continue to grow as AIGA and adapt to change:

Relevant, Leadership, Opportunity – We want to be able to make sure our design is relevant and people recognize it as such. We want to continue to gain the leadership and opportunity within our communities/nation. So we should stand in the same room with lawyers, accountants, doctors, etc. So the big question is, designers don’t run for public office, why is that?

2. Enforcing our mission statement:

“AIGA advances design as a professional craft, strategic advantage, and vital cultural force” We belong to this organization because of the community, information we gain from one another, the understanding and respect for design as a whole and each another that in-turn gains respect from others and our communities in what we do.

3.  A takeaway about our worldwide community:

“We are strong together.” We are supported and encouraged by like-minded individuals from our AIGA national board which helps us bring all of us together as OneAIGA. It is our duty to continue to bring the support to our communities.