A Letter from AIAVT's 2022 President, Matthew Bushey, AIA

January 2022

Dear AIAVT Members and Friends,

As we enter a new year, I am reminded of the old adage, “The only constant in life is change.”

The past two years have certainly brought changes to our profession and to our communities. While many of us have grown accustomed to the “new normal” of living with Covid, there are still plenty of challenges we are facing associated with the pandemic. Supply chain disruptions are affecting project schedules and budgets.  Labor shortages are impacting construction crews.  And Covid outbreaks continue to threaten the continuity of day-to-day business.  All of this makes it difficult to plan for the future and has brought additional stress to architecture firms.

After almost two years of this pandemic, it is also increasingly clear for many of us that remote work is becoming a permanent aspect of the workplace. The initial transition to remote work exposed new challenges, such as access to technology, mentorship, and isolation.  Remote work laid bare the inequities that had existed within our profession. But the rise of remote work has also brought new opportunities, with the potential to increase access to the profession.

Last year, Vermont was the state with the highest level of in-bound migration, based on a nationwide annual survey by United Van Lines.  74% of people on the move made Vermont their new home, compared to 24% who left the state.  The number one reason that drew people to Vermont was their job, a response given by 43% of the people who moved here. We are starting to see this influx of new residents in our businesses and communities, and in AIAVT itself.  In 2021, AIAVT grew by an impressive 26 new and returning members, a 9% increase in our total membership levels.

I am optimistic that the population of Vermont and the membership of AIAVT will continue to grow – in the short term, as a result of increased mobility and remote access to the workplace; and in the longer term, as an effect of our changing climate, with folks leaving areas of the country that are experiencing more extreme climate impacts. AIAVT is addressing many of the issues related to this changing professional and environmental landscape, and we are well-positioned to deal with the challenges that are sure to accompany so much social, political, and environmental change. 

Our work continues to be driven by our organization’s three core values, which were established three years ago and have proven to be even more pertinent since then:

  • Member Engagement, viewed through the lens of equity, diversity, and inclusion
  • Climate Action, with a focus on state policy, programming, and education
  • and Public Outreach, to promote architecture and strengthen connections with communities throughout Vermont

These values were on proud display at our annual meeting and design awards event held last month at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier.  Those of you in attendance heard me speak about our many volunteer committees, which is where all the good work of AIAVT gets done. Our committees are the structure by which members with aligned interests get together to address issues and pursue activities that are important to them.  We are making progress on a range of topics that have an impact on our profession.

A group of members from the Public Policy and the Public Outreach committees has been meeting regularly to address the affordable housing crisis in our state, and they are making plans for an Affordable Housing Charette to be held on the VTC campus this spring. A special task force is being formed to lay the groundwork for hiring a lobbying firm to better represent our interests in Montpelier. And members across multiple committees are organizing events that bring us together, such as the popular AIAVT golf tournament, building tours, and – new in 2021 – a series of family-friendly scavenger hunts in downtowns throughout Vermont.

All AIAVT members are eligible and encouraged to join a committee, whether they are a licensed architect, an associate member, or an allied member.  Committees typically meet once a month, on zoom, so participation is accessible to members from all corners of the state.  We also welcome involvement by members at all phases in their careers.  In fact, having a range of generations represented - from emerging professionals to senior principals – is critical to ensuring that all perspectives are included when we are developing programs or advocating on policy issues.

Carving out time for volunteer activities can be challenging when so many of us are still dealing with the challenges of the pandemic, but as an organization of architects, we are uniquely able to support one another most effectively.  What we get back collectively is always greater than what we put into it individually, and many find that involvement in AIAVT committees helps to develop leadership skills that are directly beneficial to their careers.

If you would like to become more involved with any of our committees or special task force groups, please do not hesitate to reach out to me or our Executive Director, Sarah O Donnell.

I look forward to the new year and all the change it will bring.  It is an honor to be stepping into my role as your President, serving an organization that serves all of us.  My hope is that we can increase the opportunities we have to connect with each other, support each other, and promote architecture throughout the state.


Matthew Bushey, AIA, LEED AP ID+C

2022 President, AIA Vermont

Associate Principal, TruexCullins