Updated 5/15/2020:
 

I have served on the IIDA New England Board of Directors for over 6 years, and during those 6 years I have grown to understand what a group of dedicated and passionate volunteers can accomplish. The truth of the matter is COVD-19 has not changed that – but it has changed how we operate as a Chapter. Stefanie Comeau, IIDA NE Immediate Past President, put it perfectly to me during one of our many IIDA discussions, “IIDA NE is relearning how to be a Chapter.” We knew how to put on spectacular events for up to 2,000 people with production value of a paid workforce…not a volunteer one. We knew when and where we should offer our events. We knew how to budget and predict for the years ahead. COVID-19 has changed all of that and I’m sure it has changed your daily life and work as well. We now have to relearn as a community how to safely gather, learn, celebrate and advocate.

We know returning to our workplaces, schools and daycare will be stressful, gradual and dependent on workplace, local, state and federal direction. We also know that the desire for our community to come out to after-work events will be different than it was before the pandemic. As a Chapter, we feel the best way to support this change is to continue to offer our events virtually through the end of July. This will allow our community to interact while making lunch for their children, between client meetings, and with new adjusted schedules – all from the safety of their home or workplace.

Many things will stay the same. Our hard-working volunteers have committed to build on the success of virtual events from April and May by bringing you a professional development event, a fitness fundraiser, and a membership Coffee Chat each month until the end of July. Leaders in our Lifelong Leadership Program will continue their monthly meetings. Designers will have significant influence on how environments will alter due to this pandemic, therefore our commitment to advocate for the profession will not change. Nor will our commitment to encourage design discussions and reinvention. 

Some things will change – IIDA New England’s dedicated Board of Directors has been meeting twice a month since March to discuss these changes. As developments in the pandemic and the economy are changing rapidly, we’ve dedicated our discussions to next steps to keep our community safe and ways for our Chapter to evolve. All IIDA chapters are entirely self-funded and IIDA New England, like many other chapters, are able to operate due to income from Chapter events and generous support from our sponsors. Therefore, discussions surrounding our events was imperative. None of the following decisions were made lightly and were made with the utmost concern for the health and safety of our community. These decisions were made with the knowledge that the New England area is reeling from the emotional and economic impact of COVID-19. IIDA New England’s Chapter event offerings for 2020 will be drastically reduced in order to ensure our community has the time to recover and continue to keep their health as their top concern.

Due to timing, the 2020 Design Awards was postponed after careful consideration. After many discussions with the venue, vendors and committee we have decided to move to a virtual presentation of the 2020 Design Awards. This will ensure project teams will be able to celebrate within the year of award submission and allow us to do so in the safest way. Stay tuned for details. We look forward to returning to the Park Plaza for the 2021 Design Awards in late winter/early spring.

Business Leaders Breakfast (BLB) was also postponed after gathering for a 500-person breakfast and speaker became unsafe for our community. IIDA New England has decided to move BLB’s 2020 speaker and honoree program to 2021 at the Westin. Inspiration and leadership have always been important to our Chapter; we will continue to touch on those topics throughout 2020 and be able to gather as a group to do so in 2021.

Fashion Show is our biggest event at 2,000 people and although November seems far away, the planning for this event begins in January. We have had the committee on pause since February as we tried to learn more about the future of the pandemic. Fashion Show is an incredible feat of design collaboration with firms and vendors who donate their time, resources and materials to create unbelievable entries. Sponsors contribute resources to allow this event to happen and our community purchases tickets for the show. Although IIDA New England plans Fashion Show, we have never taken for granted that the event is a team sport and impossible without the support of our community. When reviewing with the committee and Board of Directors, it became clear that we could not expect the same involvement as years before. We also could not expect the same attendance given the current local mandate of limiting the number of people that can gather in person. We do not see that being lifted to 2,000 people by November. IIDA New England cannot fathom the complete turnaround of the economy, health crisis, and our communities’ spirit that would allow us to hold Fashion Show in 2020. Fashion Show will return in 2021 and the spirit of collaboration will continue in different ways in 2020.

IIDA New England leadership continues to review our planned events for 2020 as COVID-19 continues to affect our lives. We will continue to update you as things develop. Our community’s well-being and best interests are at the forefront of our mission. We appreciate your support during these times, and we hope to continue to deliver content, programs and support for you.  IIDA NE’s leaders are here for you during this time – please reach out and let us know how we can support you. Our Chapter will continue to evolve, and we will do so based on what our members and community need. On behalf of all of us at IIDA New England, stay safe and connected, be well, and continue to DESIGN.


Meaghan Kennedy, NCIDQ, IIDA
IIDA NE President


 
Updated 10:48am 4/3/2020:
 
Over the course of the last few weeks, our members and industry peers have been forced to make some very difficult decisions in response to COVID-19’s rapid spread. These are extraordinary times, and as your colleagues, we are experiencing the same concerns for our loved ones, firms, colleagues and clients as you are. While it is essential that we all remember that this situation will eventually pass, it is also more important than ever that we remain calm in our response and that we lean on each other for support in the coming days, weeks, and months.
 

Closures, cutbacks, and cancellations have become necessary to slow the spread of this fast-moving, insidious virus. While we’re all at different stages of this crisis, we encourage you to utilize the local and national resources made available to you. At the bottom of this message are links to various resources made available to you.

Your well-being and best interests are at the forefront of IIDA’s evolving mission. We know that you are an incredible group of caring, brilliant minds and that you are an invaluable resource to this community and to one another. We encourage you to reach out to your industry colleagues and friends. It is through each other that we will come out of this on the other side as a stronger community.

While we may be quieter than usual rest assured, we are working hard to begin providing you with alternative, virtual offerings. Our incredibly dedicated team of volunteers continues to discuss ways that we can bring us all together during this time through philanthropy events, professional development events and others. Earlier this week, we held our first ever complimentary Virtual Yoga event where more than 40 industry friends gathered in the comfort of their own home to connect, get moving and take some calming breaths. Through the generous contributions of these attendees, we were able to raise close to $600 for United Way's COVID-19 Relief Fund. #IIDANECARES

We have amazing leaders within IIDA NE that are here for you. This moment reminds us that we’re all connected like never before. We’re called upon to be our best selves, with patience, empathy, understanding and compassion. On behalf of all of us at IIDA NE take care of yourselves and one another. 

Center for Disease Control
IIDA Headquarters
State of Connecticut
State of Maine
State of Massachusetts
State of New Hampshire
State of Rhode Island
State of Vermont
World Health Organization

 
Updated 9:38am 3/16/2020:
 

IIDA New England continues to monitor the rapidly changing situation related to the spread of COVID-19. We understand that concerns for health, safety, and the impact on meeting attendance, among other issues, are affecting our members. Our main priority is the health and safety of our design community. At all of our IIDA NE events, we are committed to working with our venues to ensure that all appropriate sanitary, health and safety measures are met and encourage attendees to follow guidelines recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.

Out of an abundance of caution, IIDA New England has also made the decision to POSTPONE all events through the end of April.

As the situation continues to develop and evolve, IIDA New England will continue to review our process concerning this matter and update and provide necessary information to our members and event registrants. Please check our website and social media for updates. Please do not hesitate to contact IIDA NE at [email protected] with any specific questions you may have.


Updated 2:30pm 3/11/2020
 

Due to the extreme and severe circumstances caused by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak and the ongoing threat posed to all, IIDA New England has immediately postponed our Design Awards event scheduled for tomorrow evening. Because this virus is a hazard to the public health of our design, client and immediate community, it was decided in the best interest of all, that the protection of our members and our community was of the highest priority. While this action is unfortunate, it was done with intention, thoughtfulness and with a thorough commitment to the wellbeing of all involved with this event.

It is our intention to reschedule this event for later this year; however, as you can imagine, much work goes into this decision and how it impacts you. We ask that you stay tuned and we will be contacting you again with more information and how this might apply to the money you have spent on tickets and sponsorships.

Please be on the lookout for more updates and we cannot thank you enough for your continued support of IIDA New England and the interior design industry.

Meaghan Kennedy, NCIDQ, IIDA
IIDA New England Chapter President