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September is Emergency Preparedness Month

Posted By Administration, Monday, September 24, 2018
Updated: Monday, September 24, 2018

September is National Preparedness MonthAs the wildfires in the west and more recently, Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas, remind us, we all need to be prepared for a variety of emergencies, both at home and at work. Is your office ready for the emergencies that might arise in your area? Remember, "Disasters Don't Plan Ahead, But You Can." 

The emergency could be large (fire, flood, storm, etc.) or it could be something smaller that impacts the ability of your firm to operate for a few hours or days (power outage, pipe burst, etc.). SDA has many resources to help you think about and prepare for emergencies. Have you completed a Company Emergency Plan to consider all of the emergencies that might affect your firm in your particular location?  Find a template in our Office Administration Forms and Templates toolkit. SDA offered a webinar a while back entitled "Emergency Preparedness for Home and Office" that covers some of the basics for a home and office emergency plan and the items that need to be planned for in advance, as well as ways to help your office practice for them.  Is your front desk ready for the office security issues that could arise? SDA also provided a webinar that reviewed the issues to consider as well as ways to help your front desk team be prepared to handle situations in a calm manner.  You can find all of these resources in the SDA Store (use keyword search "Emergency").

In addition to the resources offered as a benefit to being a member of SDA, our discussion forum has several conversation threads about topics related to emergency planning.  Be sure to join in the conversation or start a new topic to get your particular questions answered by the SDA community. 

What does your firm do to prepare for business continuity planning? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comment box below.

Tags:  Business Contingency Planning  Emergency Planning  Front Desk Security  SDA  Society for Design Administration 

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Effective Communication

Posted By Administration, Monday, September 17, 2018
Updated: Monday, September 17, 2018

We can smell Fall (and bacon) in the air on this crisp September morning as we enjoy a pancake breakfast at Grange Hall #15. A benefit for my sister’s volunteer fire department, and we are attending with our sons. After sitting for just so long, our 15-month-old kids want to squirm away from the confines of the table.  I glance at my son’s sticky face and use American Sign Language (ASL) to sign (as well as speak), “Are you finished …or do you want more?”  He shakes his head, “No”, like many typical toddlers and I laugh, “Ok!”  We are finished. 

I use a handful of baby wipes to chase drips of syrup down sticky baby arms and legs, when a fellow breakfast guest approaches our table. She politely inquires, “I’m sorry to eavesdrop, but I ‘read’ your conversation from across the room.  … Is your son hearing impaired?”  I kindly reply, “No, he is not, but we use ASL as a strategy to talk/communicate.”  At 8 months old, we began signing in addition to using spoken words.  Since children this age often struggle with verbal skills (think ‘Terrible Twos and tantrums’), ASL allows communication without spoken language.  Now we sign; ‘more, eat, no, yes, cat, dog, bird, book/read, sleep, bath and I love you’ regularly.

Our new friend finds this practice intriguing. She shares that she knows ASL because her sister is deaf, although she is not hearing impaired.  She learned ASL alongside her sister when they were very young. While we pack, we reflect on how a small interaction between a mother and child has sparked our thoughtful and pleasant conversation. The act of signing and communication, without barriers; in an open and boisterous gathering space, spurred the connection of two strangers.  

Why do communication failures occur in our workplaces?  Perhaps for a multitude of reasons. It’s not typically one strategy or means that fails.  Stephanie Watson shares a quick overview in her article ‘10 Tips for Effective Workplace Communication.’ However, at the end of the day, it may simply be patience and respect of others that supports and fosters effective communication. Both at work and at home.

So how do you connect and share information in an effective and agreeable manner?   Share your ideas in the comment box below.



Nikki Pierce, CDFA, LEED AP BD+C, currently serves as the SDA National Vice President. 

She is the Administrative Manager for Clark Nexsen in Charlotte, NC.

Tags:  Effective Communication  SDA  Society for Design Administration 

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SDA National President's Message - September 2018

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 6, 2018
Updated: Thursday, September 6, 2018

SDA National President, Susan Lankey, CDFA is back to share her September President's Message and to let you know what's happening in SDA!

Be sure to share your comments in the box below.

Tags:  SDA  Society for Design Administration 

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Welcome Our Newest SDA Members

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 30, 2018
Updated: Thursday, August 30, 2018


Please join us in welcoming our newest SDA members who joined in the month of August:

First Name Last Name Firm Chapter
Megan Ajamian MG2 Corporation Orange County
Polly Benjamin ARI Resources, LLC Member-at-Large - Chicago
Denise Bourassa SPB Engineering San Antonio
Sarah Cawthra ZGF Architects LLP Seattle
Karen Hansen Johnston Architects Seattle
Christina Kimbler Design Group Member-at-Large - Columbus
Lissa Moon Lynn Capouya, Inc. Orange County
Margaret Vandenberg Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. Seattle

Be sure to connect with our newest members on SocialLink and encourage them to join in our many discussions!


Tags:  New Members  SDA  Society for Design Administration 

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On Becoming a Fellow

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 8, 2018
Updated: Thursday, August 9, 2018

Congratulations on becoming a Fellow for SDA, now you can sit back and relax after all your hard work for the organization!” I heard this quote and others very similar to this at EDS18 in Salt Lake City. This could not be farther from the truth!  I am very honored to be among the inaugural class of Fellows.

The SDA Fellows application states that: “The SDA Fellows Program recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to SDA, the A/E/C community, and have elevated the standards of practice management.”

The Fellows program was not only created to recognize these individuals who have already achieved the Fellow requirements of industry experience, service, publications/presentations, and mentorship, but to establish a clear vision, goals, and path for mid-level administrators and managers to up their game in their pursuit of excellence in design firm management. Those who wish to follow the path to Fellow should now have a clearer understanding of what it takes to succeed in our profession, our industry, and our Society. With so much focus on the A/E professionals, their advancement and successes in our firms, the SDA Fellow designation is a visible goal to strive for and an accomplishment to gain for the business professionals in the A/E industry.

The application also states: “In addition, the Fellows program is designed to identify senior-level members who are willing and able to continue to advocate for best management practices within the SDA and the A/E/C community through educational presentations and written resources such as white papers, blogs, and social media, as well as other contributions that promote design firm excellence.

“The Fellows designation also encourages SDA members to participate in continuing future activities that will lead to further self-development and the development of other SDA members and the profession.”

So, as Fellows we still have work to do. During EDS18 the inaugural class of Fellows met to discuss our initiatives and strategy to implement the many things that we would like to accomplish. We are a resource to help our members and the Society to continue to grow and to advance our recognition in the industry.

To date, the Fellows have identified a few initiatives that are already in progress:

  • Review the Fellow application and guidelines incorporating comments from applicants and jurors and work with HQ to get the next Call for Fellow Application out to our members. This includes creating a separate document for jury members who review the applications
  • Create an advanced content webinar to present to members
  • Develop a panel discussion on best practices for EDSymposium19
  • Research the development of an advanced certification in accounting/management to be pursued after obtaining the CDFA certification

In addition, current Fellows continue to work individually on SDA and other A/E community activities and are involved with the following:

  • Serving as Chairs and members of national committees and task forces such as Bylaws, Branding, A/E HR Group
  • Administering the SDAPPC scholarship program as Past Presidents
  • Updating the SDA Story
  • Working on local Canstruction events
  • Providing BizTrak and other educational seminars within the A/E community

The next Call for Fellows application will be released soon, and we look forward to having more members become Fellows next year. If not now, but you anticipate setting this as a personal goal further in the future, take a look at the application now. It may give you guidance for your own continued professional development and service within your community.

What questions do you have about the process of becoming a Fellow?  Place them in the comment box below.




Debra Ellis, FSDA is the Office Manager for Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture in Denver, CO.

Tags:  SDA  Society for Design Administration 

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