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Feb 24, 2020 By Fiore Barbini, IIDA Leaders Breakfast Manager
Leaders Breakfast 2019 in Review
This past December, IIDA’s Leaders Breakfast series wrapped another successful year, and an incredible decade of celebrating the history of IIDA, its design leadership, and our dynamic community of designers and industry members.
By Fiore Barbini, IIDA Leaders Breakfast Manager Feb 24, 2020
Published in Events

During our fall season, we presented five design professionals and one charitable organization with the prestigious IIDA Leadership Award of Excellence. Each honoree was presented with the iconic Eames stool, customized in Leaders Breakfast red, to commemorate their achievements. We were pleased to recognize and honor the career achievements of Collin Burry, FIIDA, Vicki VanStavern, Isabelle Talbot, Diane Schroeder, Mitchell Cohen, and Humble Design, for their contributions to and the advancement of the design industry as well as the philanthropic work they do within their own communities.

Collin Burry, FIIDA, and principal at Gensler was our 2019 San Francisco honoree and receiver of the Eames stool. IIDA Executive Vice President and CEO, Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA, sat down with Heather McGhee, political contributor and Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos for an open, honest, and timely conversation on racial healing. This talk was prompted by an encounter Heather had with a white male caller on C-SPAN who admitted to being prejudiced and wanting to know how he could change. She spoke about their conversation that day, as well as the many that followed in the months and year after, until the racial divide was bridged, and they could call each other friend.

Heather McGhee delivering her keynote speech at the San Francisco event.
Heather McGhee delivering her keynote speech at the San Francisco event. Photo by Sam Breach.

Urban revitalization strategist and public radio host Majora Carter returned to the IIDA Leaders Breakfast stage, this time in Los Angeles, to share her work in urban development, specifically working towards environmental equality to revitalize neighborhoods without pushing residents out, and encouraged others in our industry to join her in this work. Her mantra, “nobody should have to move out of their neighborhood to live in a better one,” is a personal quote, and appears on the wall of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.

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“Nobody should have to move out of their neighborhood to live in a better one.”
—Majora Carter
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—Majora Carter

She spoke about her work in her neighborhood in South Bronx where she pushed for eco-friendly and green-related economic and urban redevelopment and shared the positive economic and health results. The 2019 Los Angeles recipient of the IIDA Leadership Award of Excellence was Humble Design, honored for their work transforming homes for families emerging from homelessness through donated furniture and design work.

At the Dallas and Chicago events, IIDA favorite Terri Trespicio, an award-winning author, speaker, and brand advisor, spoke to attendees about why following our passion isn’t always the right course to chart when choosing and growing our career. She explained that “passion is a tricky topic” and that “passion is not a plan or a goal, it’s a feeling—a wonderful feeling.” She went on to recommend we find the passion in the job we’re currently doing instead of continuously seeking out a job based on what we perceive to be our passion. Once we find passion in what we’re doing, we’ll find more fulfillment in our lives.

Chicago Leaders Breakfast attendees listen raptly to Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA in conversation with Mitchell Cohen and Diane Schroeder. Image courtesy of IIDA headquarters.
Chicago Leaders Breakfast attendees listen raptly to Cheryl S. Durst, Hon. FIIDA in conversation with Mitchell Cohen and Diane Schroeder. Image courtesy of IIDA headquarters.

The 2019 Dallas leadership honoree was Vicki VanStavern, owner and founder of VanStavern Design Group; Chicago honored the husband and wife team of Mitchell Cohen, principal at DESIGN Advisory and Diane Schroeder, owner at Diane Schroeder: Art & Design.

Toronto’s event honored Isabelle Talbot, principal at Ray Inc and featured speaker Drew Dudley, founder of Day One Leadership and best-selling author. Drew helped us discover the leader within each of us and instructed us to celebrate ourselves and our own achievements because, “if we only celebrate giants, we devalue what we do as leaders every day.” He encouraged us to learn why we desire certain behaviors because “if we don’t know what the behavior means, how can we live the value?” IIDA President-elect, Sacha Wagner, FIIDA, AIA, also addressed the audience and implored us to “keep designing for the human experience.”

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“If we only celebrate giants, we devalue what we do as leaders every day.”
—Drew Dudley
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—Drew Dudley

Over 2000 industry professionals gathered to celebrate and honor their design community during our Fall 2020 Leaders Breakfast series, each participant walking away with valuable insight applicable to both their personal and professional lives. We are looking forward to 2020—another year filled with amazing networking opportunities, noteworthy educational experiences, and the celebration of design industry leaders. We can’t wait to see you at our Spring 2020 events in New York, Houston, and Atlanta.

A special thanks to our international benefactors Herman Miller and Interior Design.

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