Letter from AIGA’s incoming president

As I embark on this new and challenging journey, there are several goals I intend to focus on during my term as AIGA President. They include the following:

The Connectivity Initiative

No question about it: The way in which humans connect and communicate has fundamentally changed. In the United States alone, we went from three television channels to more than 500 channels, from no webpages to billions. It took 35 years for 150 million people to own televisions; it took seven years for 150 million people to own cell phones; and it took less than two years for 150 million people to sign up for Facebook. Nowadays, the average teenager sends more than 2,500 text messages a month! We are in the midst of a revolution of the way we communicate, and as visual communicators it is imperative that we embrace these changes. Yet in order to rise to this challenge we must also embrace and accept each other, so I am committed to crafting a new connective structure for AIGA that is progressive, authentic and meaningful.

The Inclusivity Initiative

My first foray into AIGA was both challenging and frustrating. At the time, I blamed my work as a brand consultant; I didn't feel AIGA was particularly interested in or respectful of brand design. But in subsequent conversations with members (and nonmembers) around the country, I have come to realize that, for many different reasons, designers of a diverse cross-section of disciplines don't always feel welcome to participate or that they're being heard. Let me say this here: I am deeply committed to fostering a spirit of transparency and inclusivity within AIGA and beyond. All design disciplines—whether online or offline, on paper or on screen, in code or in ink—are welcome to join our efforts! As we near our centennial celebration in 2014, we must break down the barriers separating our specialties and work together to design the change the world needs.

Advocate the AIGA Mandate

As we approach our 2014 centennial, AIGA membership, leadership and staff have taken a hard look at the organization's activities and positioning alongside the needs of the design profession. As a result, we have adopted a bold new course for meeting our mission “to advance designing as a professional craft, strategic tool and vital cultural force.” At our annual leadership retreat held in June in Portland, Oregon, 250 board members from more than 60 AIGA chapters nationwide met to exchange ideas and success stories, and to review and discuss the results of six months' worth of research to help chart AIGA's future. The three-day event culminated with a unanimous and enthusiastic endorsement of a new “mandate” for AIGA—in effect, a roadmap for the organization's progression over the next five years (and beyond) that will support the profession's aspirations for relevance, leadership and opportunity.

I am thrilled to be working for this incredible organization and its extraordinary members. Moving forward, I will be reporting back to the membership regularly in an effort to record our interim steps and accomplishments. I encourage you to reach out, to contribute, to volunteer and to get involved. Your voice is important to me, as it is to all of AIGA, and we can't do this without you.

Thank you for entrusting me with this opportunity.

About the Author:

 Debbie Millman is a designer, author, educator and brand strategist. She is host of the award-winning podcast “Design Matters,” Chair of the world’s first Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts, CMP of Sterling Brands, President Emeritus of AIGA, and the Editorial & Creative Director of Print Magazine. She is the author of six books on design and branding.