IIDA New England is excited to announce that they are the recipient of the 2019 Best Thing Ever Award from IIDA Headquarters for the Emerging Leaders program. 

The Best Thing Ever Awards celebrate participating chapters’ crowning achievements of the past year. Stefanie Comeau, Meaghan Kennedy and Nico Flannery-Pitcher received this award at the Chapter Leader Conference during NeoCon earlier this June. Below is an outline of the submission guidelines and a link to the presentation that our team submitted for review.


 – How does the project express and fulfill the mission to advance and promote the profession of commercial interior design?
Planning and Goals – Was there a clear business plan or plan of action for the program? What were the learning objectives, volunteer roles, and timeline?
Marketing and Communications – How was the program promoted? What graphics and media channels did you use? Who was your target audience?
Membership – How was the program attended or engaged with by members? Was it well received? 
Financials – What was the project’s budget, actual cost, expenses, sponsorships, and final profit? 


What is the Emerging Leader's program?
Now in its 6th year, the Emerging Leaders Network (ELN) is one of IIDA NE’s most valuable and successful programs. The program emerged from discussion at a Principals Roundtable as a way to provide specific professional development to young designers in our chapter. Many graduates of the program have gone on to chair IIDA NE committees, hold seats on our Board of Directors, and –most importantly –to achieve leadership positions on their project teams and within their respective design firms. 

Each year, a cohort of 20-25 rising professionals are nominated for ELN by their firm principals as a way to recognize leadership potential. Ideal nominees have been working for several years and are “ready for” the type of content, mentoring and networking afforded through the program. The program centers on an 11-month curriculum covering a wide range of skills and business fundamentals. Sessions have included: Effective Communication, Business Development 101, Financial Wellness, Golf & Networking, Codes, Strength Based Leadership Training, and The 90-Minute MBA. Sessions are held on a set weekday each month for consistency (i.e. “third Tuesday of the month”), start times are 5.30pm so firm principals/company leaders are expected to ensure that their emerging leaders’ workload and deadlines are managed so they can attend the sessions. In return for IIDA’s investment in their designer, firms pay the cost of their emerging leader’s IIDA membership for the year following their ELN graduation.

Graduating ELN’s and their principals gather at the end of the program for a celebratory dinner and certificate award ceremony. ELN’s share their favorite moments, what they learned, and suggestions to evolve the content areas. Graduates are then placed on chapter committees so they can start practicing their new leadership skills, for the benefit of the chapter and to further develop their IIDA network. Once actively involved on a committee, most ELN graduates stay involved in IIDA past that first year, maintain their membership and often advocating for their firms to continue to pay for their membership fees in exchange for their active participation in the chapter. IIDA NE recognizes our Emerging Leaders throughout the program in our email newsletter ‘The Wire’, on our website with headshots of the class and finally with our “Emerging Leader of the Year” award at our Business Leaders Breakfast in May (selected by the ELN co-chairs and Past President). 

The long-term impact of the ELN program on firm business and leadership development is well-recognized by principals throughout our design community, so much so the principals asked IIDA NE to craft a program for mid-career and senior level designers--our L.E.A.D. program now being piloted thanks to a generous Catalyst Grant. Participation in our annual Principals Roundtable (PRT) is required for those firms who wish to nominate their young designers for either program. As a result, attendance at the PRT has been positively impacted, giving our chapter leaders opportunities to continue to promote the value of membership and to receive ongoing feedback on our many activities and programs. 



Want to learn more about the Emerging Leaders program? Visit the main ELN page.