Aug 09, 2021 By IIDA HQ
Building Community and Engaging Members
IIDA's Janella Curtis catches up with Claudia Padilla, IIDA, Advocacy Vice President for IIDA Michigan to talk about shaping an advocacy program and planting roots towards affecting change.
By IIDA HQ Aug 09, 2021
Published in

Advocating for your profession doesn’t always mean lobbying for or working with an active bill. For chapters that are just getting started building out their advocacy program, or strengthening their network and reassessing their goals, it’s all about building and refining connections, and getting the local design community excited about what it can mean to work towards and achieve recognition through advocacy work.

Claudia Padilla, IIDA
, Senior Interior Designer, NORR, and the VP of Advocacy for the IIDA Michigan Chapter sees her role as building interest and literacy in the meaning and goals of advocacy work—not just in IIDA membership but the board and the greater design community as well. By hiring a Director of Advocacy at the chapter, Tiffany Pupa, IIDA, the chapter has been able to dedicate more time to events and grassroots efforts to build a community and a volunteer team dedicated to advocacy.

IIDA Advocacy and Policy Manager Janella Curtis caught up with Claudia to talk about her strategies, goals, and building an advocacy program from the grassroots level.

Janella Curtis: How did you find your way to interior design, and what was the reason that you felt drawn to advocacy work?

Claudia Padilla:
I am naturally on the more creative side of things, but I also wanted a career where I helped people, one that was a balance between creative and technical work— interior design presented itself and I decided to go that route. I got into interior design with the intent to work on commercial work because that's where you have a more direct impact on people.

The more I learned about my career and the industry as a whole, I started to really embrace the importance and advocacy. To work in the field and to see how interior designers really have a direct impact on helping communities and helping people, yet there is still a lot of confusion about what we do. We work in environments that are regulated by codes, it’s important to be qualified to do so. When there was an opening on the chapter board to represent advocacy, I went for it. Adding Tiffany as the advocacy director, we’re slowly growing and building awareness around the profession and getting people talking.

Claudia Padilla, IIDA, Senior Interior Designer, NORR, and the Vice President of Advocacy for the IIDA Michigan Chapter
Claudia Padilla, IIDA, Senior Interior Designer, NORR, and the Vice President of Advocacy for the IIDA Michigan Chapter

JC: I love that you said you wanted to give back, and this was your way. What has your focal point been for your advocacy program?

My goal for Michigan is to educate our chapter and community about what it means to advocate for your profession, and why it's important. We don’t want advocacy to be its own separate team within the board, but we want it to be a common thread woven into the entire group, and throughout the chapter. Our team will have a presence at chapter events, and work closely with different

JC: Tell me about the panel discussion that you've been organizing?

When I was starting to get my bearings in this role, it was early 2020, and we had to switch gears. We decided to put together a short series of virtual events, starting with Introduction to Advocacy, following up with Interior Design Advocacy 101, covering the What, Why, and How of advocacy, and finally Interior Design Advocacy Panel: Starting a Movement featuring a slate of panelist including you Janella, and leading design advocates from across the country covering ways to be involved, and the path forward to legal recognition for the profession—we’re starting a movement.

We want to engage with not just interior designers, so we're planning other advocacy and non- advocacy related events where we're still there talking to people and getting them to sign up for phone to action.

JC: What are the next steps you’re taking in terms of building out the advocacy program?

By the end of this calendar year, we want to have introduced ourselves to our local legislators, and tell them about what we do and invite them to some of our events and programming. I want them to see some of the work that we do. We are planning on surveying our members to see how they would want to be more involved, and we are partnering with student affairs to educate students about advocacy work and how to get involved.

We’re also making sure to have a presence at other events like our membership boat tour, and other networking events so that we can connect with members there as well. It’s important to start incorporating the work of our advocacy work chapter-wide so that when we get to the point where we start talking about introducing a bill we have support from members state-wide, and existing relationships with our legislators.

Visit the IIDA Advocacy page to learn more about being involved in advocating for interior design.

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