Passing the Torch

It feels like only yesterday that I had moved up to Baltimore and was just another fresh face at one of our chapter’s round-table events. Fast forward four years, and I’m closing out my two-year term as President. Our chapter has intentionally short terms, and mandates that president’s roll off the board after two years, because we believe that the chapter belongs to you, our members. We are a board of 100% volunteers, driven by a passion for design and innovation, and a desire to serve our community.

Two years ago, my goals were for our chapter were to expand on our solid foundation by growing our community involvement: 1) with the national AIGA organization and our other chapters, 2) with the broad Baltimore community, and 3) with the Baltimore creative community. I’m proud that our amazing team went above and beyond, and achieved some significant outcomes:

Expanded programming types and times
After redesigning our recurring events and offering Saturday morning events, we saw a spike in new event attendees. Last year our chapter put on 22 events, drawing more than 700 attendees across the greater Baltimore area. Design Week alone drew more than 400 people to nine events over the course of the week, 23% more than in 2015.

Getting involved in Baltimore neighborhoods
We also got involved in the Druid Heights neighborhood, leading a rebranding project for the Druid Heights Community Development Corporation. Check out their new branding on their website here: druidheights.com

Funding for two grant projects
In 2016, we were awarded two Innovate grants from AIGA to develop national resources for design entrepreneurship and design policy. We were able to develop these platforms due to the generosity and partnership of our amazing friends at Orange Element and Foxtrot Media: PolicyDesigned.com and YouLaunchIt.org.

Collaborating with other creatives
AIGA Baltimore co-founded the Creative Minds Crew, a team of leaders from six other creative organizations in the city: B’more Creatives, AAF Baltimore, AMA Baltimore, the Production Club of Baltimore, Girl Develop It, and the Society for History and Graphics. Together, we planned and co-hosted the inaugural Creative Mixtape networking event, bringing more than 250 professionals together.

Leading at the national level
I’m also delighted to share that AIGA Baltimore will host the national AIGA leadership retreat in 2018 – an honor that will bring leaders from AIGA’s 72 chapters across the country to convene here in Baltimore, to inspire and learn from each other, and chart the course for our field and our organization.

I’m thrilled to leave the board’s leadership in Joseph Carter Brown’s capable hands. Joe has been a rock for our chapter in his roles as programming director and vice president. He is also one of the most dedicated, visionary people I know, and he genuinely and deeply cares about this organization and the people in it. I know that under his leadership, the board will listen to the needs of the design community and the Baltimore community, to drive initiatives with impact.

Thank you to all the board members and volunteers who make this work possible. Thank you to the organizations who have partnered with us, the attendees who have learned with us, and the members who support our advocacy for design as a strategic business initiative and vital cultural force.

I am so exceptionally proud of everything the board has collectively achieved over the past two years, and I am honored to have had the opportunity to serve you as president. I am also so excited to see what AIGA Baltimore does next.

By Vanessa Ulrich
Published June 16, 2017