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Aug 10, 2022 By IIDA HQ
Meet Stacey Crumbaker, IIDA’s National VP of Advocacy
With increased engagement from the passage of several interior design laws, this role will unify efforts on a national level
By IIDA HQ Aug 10, 2022
Published in Advocacy

With several recent legislative wins under the profession’s collective belt and increased momentum around the country, the appointment of Stacey Crumbaker, IIDA, as Vice President of Advocacy on the International Board of Directors comes at a pivotal time for both the organization and the profession. As an architect as well as an interior designer, her distinct ability to see the relationships between the two will serve her well in this role—emblematic of the ideal relationships that our profession is seeking.

As VP, she will work closely with Marci Merola, IIDA’s Director of Advocacy, and among her responsibilities will be appointing members to the Advocacy Advisory Council, with which she will work closely. Along with the International Board, the Advocacy Advisory Council is a direction-setting entity that offers guidance and clarity around advocacy issues.

The mission of the Advocacy Advisory Council is to unify and synthesize advocacy efforts from around the country; inform and increase member engagement around advocacy; and share trends, strategies, and best practices.

Get to know more about Stacey, her design ethos, her roles within IIDA, and how she views advocacy work as a tool for using design to unify— both communities and practitioners of the build environment.

Tell us a little about your design career, your history with IIDA, and what inspired you to get involved in advocacy work?

Not limited by what ‘we know’, I believe good design dives deep. It is rooted in curiosity, exploring the way space shapes human experience, and fosters community. Seeking work that serves the many rather than the individual, I focused my career on creating learning environments with Mahlum in 2015. By designing school spaces which consistently express the culture, aspirations, and identity of the communities they serve, our work honors the distinctive stories of each community.

I strongly believe that design is for everyone, and we as practitioners need to model deep collaboration and inclusion in all we do. Our built environment truly matters in shaping stronger, more equitable communities. To me, design is more than just shaping spaces to occupy—it’s about aspiring to empower our community to make meaningful, positive impacts on people’s lives. Design is a response to human experience and the design process has the power to link together designer and community in co-creation of the world we seek to shape.

Our built environment truly matters in shaping stronger, more equitable communities.
Stacey Crumbaker, IIDA
Stacey Crumbaker, IIDA

Bridging between the disciplines of architecture and interior design, I’ve been an advocate as a volunteer for stronger ties between not only architects and interior designers, but also the communities we serve. Prior to being invited to the IIDA International Board of Directors, I served on the IIDA Northern Pacific Chapter’s Board of Directors. Stepping first into the chapter VP of Advocacy role, I focused our efforts on strengthening connections in our local design community, cultivating leadership in members, and advocating for the interior design profession. We fostered IIDA’s advocacy programs for advancements in education, design excellence, legislation, accreditation, and community outreach. Our clear advocacy vision led to my nomination for the IIDA Northern Pacific Chapter Presidency.

Following my service as the Northern Pacific Chapter VP of Advocacy and Chapter President, I was asked to participate in IIDA’s national Advocacy Advisory Council. My continued work on the national Council allowed me to represent emerging professionals in the development of IIDA’s national advocacy agenda. In 2016, I was the recipient of the IIDA Distinguished Leadership Award, recognizing my on-going dedication to interior design advocacy.

IIDA empowered me to find the unique way in which I could impact our community and contribute to making a profession we are all proud to be part of. It has been a platform for my voice to champion the work of our profession and reshape public understanding of the interior design industry to better clarify the knowledge and expertise of interior design practitioners. Together we challenge the profession to never stop learning or listening, and finding the courage to allow ourselves to be changed by what is discovered along the way.

How does having a multidisciplinary design background inform your advocacy work?

With formal training and practice expertise in both architecture and interior design, I see myself as a connector between two intersecting professions. My learning was grounded in understanding the scale of an individual within space, focusing first on interiors. For me it was a natural transition to pursue a Master of Architecture, expanding that scale to a larger sense of placemaking in the community. In practice, I’ve held myself at the edge of each profession, pressing along the boundaries to expand my knowledge for the benefit of the spaces I’m working to create.

Moving through both professional pathways, I’ve seen the way in which each intersects with the other and the strengths each perspective offers to the built environment. It has also given me the insight to understand and acknowledge the tension that can be found in the overlap of expertise that often becomes those deeply rooted fractures in our advocacy work for interior design recognition. I understand the language and identities of both and actively work towards unifying us in common understanding. I strongly believe in the benefit both professions hold for each other, and that in bringing them together we can more strongly advocate for creating thriving environments for our communities.

With recent shifts in the policy statements of aligned professional organizations acknowledging the changing landscape of interior design certification and licensure, I am hopeful for a more open and inclusive legislative approach supporting stronger relationships between architects and interior designers. This is a step forward in recognition of the educational and professional qualifications of certificated interior designers that are responsible for the scope of specialized interiors and paves the way for more expansive legislative support for practice.

Below: 2022-2023 IIDA International Board of Directors. Photo By Elaine Miller.


Can you tell us a little more about your new role?

In joining the International Board as the VP of Advocacy, we will bring a renewed national focus towards our collective professional advocacy efforts, and building on momentum seen coursing across the country. My focus will be on continuing to refine and align our approach from state to state, providing clear vision and direct insights to help IIDA staff and Chapter leadership move professional recognition advocacy initiatives forward to the future we collectively envision.

To further amplify the profession of interior design, I would also like to see our advocacy efforts broaden beyond professional regulation at the state and national level. As design practitioners focused on the built environment, I would like to see IIDA add their voice to advocacy efforts that elevate the importance of design across the country and maximize our resources to collectively address and positively impact climate action and ensure justice and equity for all who inhabit the built environment we design.

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