Stepping Aside From AIGA

Gravel path leads to worn wooden planks extending into a rocky dry grass landscape without trees
photo courtesy of Nic Jackson via Little Visuals

Today

Two months after being named co-president of AIGA Chicago, I’m stepping aside—not down—and looking forward to what’s next. Next for the board, the chapter, the community, and myself.

Yesterday

After three years as AIGA Chicago’s first-ever Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion, I made the decision to share in the co-presidency alongside my friend and colleague, Valerie Craig. I struggled with this choice out of a desire to focus on my young family and simplify my work and project commitments. But I submitted my application because I believe in the work we’ve started and its impact — however modest — on the Chicago design community.

Tomorrow

Reflecting on past successes, I know it’s still not enough. While there are clear synergies, we cannot conflate diversity and inclusion efforts with anti-racism work. That work requires new partnerships, strategies, and understanding we don’t have yet. The board is aware of these deficiencies and looking to partner with individuals and organizations to learn from and model itself after.

  1. Expand Board Leadership
    With concerted effort we’ve changed the composition of our board to include more leaders of color and continue to create an environment more conducive to inclusion and belonging, but it’s still not reflective of Chicago’s racial makeup. There’s an opportunity to partner with an external Chicago DEIB consultancy to help us improve our volunteer recruiting and retention.
  2. Focus Programming & Events
    Dissatisfied with the Design Census, we partnered with Culture Amp in 2018 to survey our membership as well as our broader (non-member) design community. The findings exposed our failings as a chapter and helped determine all our programming for 2019. In addition to fielding both surveys again this year, there’s an opportunity to center our content on education and mentorship — two areas we can serve Black and Brown creatives better.
  3. Build Sustained Community Partnerships
    To date our partnerships have primarily been through event sponsorship and local white-owned studios and agencies — limiting our outreach and providing a myopic view of the Chicago creative scene. There’s an opportunity to identify and partner with BIPOC individual practitioners and studios — as well arts & culture organizations — to collaborate on longer-term initiatives.

Beyond

The AIGA Chicago board has an avalanche of work ahead — the majority of which is internally focused. To that end, they’re winding down programming for the summer to reflect and recalibrate in order to show up better for the design community this fall.

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Antonio García

Antonio García

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design leader, public speaker, educator, illustrator, yearly marathoner, occasional beat selector, Head of Design @TableXI, founder & host of @DadwellCo