Letters from SFx Leadership

Chyanne Husar, AIA
2018 SFx Chair

In March of 2018, our news feeds seem filled with conflict and varied opinions on issues that hit society at its core. As architects, we have a tendency to look for ways to build solutions. While the Small Firm Exchange can’t solve all the world’s problems, the heart of our mission is to curate solutions by (1) Advocating for small firms within the AIA and in outside organizations and agencies; (2) Promote leadership in Small Firm professional development and practice; and (3) Facilitate and support the local component round tables and small firm networks. 


Through regional representation, the SFx represents a majority of small firms in this country. These firms are at different points in their development and finding their niches of design, practice, culture, sustainability, and project type. It is amazing and inspiring to realize how many differences of opinions, points of view, directions, and issues we represent. At our core, we are all architects, bound by our care for our profession. As architects we were trained within a studio culture.  We were taught to coordinate and communicate with contractors, engineers, and navigate the trades. Oftentimes, when we branch out on our own, it can be a lonely journey that disconnects us from this network and leaves us working within our own bubble. It is here where the power of the SFx becomes most valuable. 


The SFx representatives have been developing and curating content to support small firms since 2011. However, an Exchange is not a static collection. This year, the SFx will focus on increasing our reach and our awareness to connect with our representation and share our voices from local to national issues.


I look forward to spending this year supporting our small firms and building connections to spread knowledge and experience. In a country divided, let us work together to help grow our firms, to support our communities, and design a world better than the one we inherited.


In unity,


Chyanne Husar


It is with great hope that the Small Firm Exchange (SFx) closes out 2017. It has truly been a wonderful year for SFx! We’ve honed-in on our three-fold mission to: 1) advocate for small firms, 2) promote leadership, and 3) facilitate and support our local components. We’ve divided ourselves into five dedicated work groups who are actively advancing the profession through small firm leadership:

  1. Advocacy – is researching, exploring and presenting sessions on “Lien Rights for Architects” as a tool for getting paid
  2. Leadership – is supporting AIA leadership programs around the country and has completed a Leadership Scan, evaluating existing programs to create a new 3-Year National Leadership Program
  3. Practice – has completed the 2017 Small Firm Business Models Survey and is currently working on a Business Plan Template
  4. Outreach – reaches over 2,000 followers weekly through the Scan, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
  5. Conference – had a great presence at the A17 Conference with the SFx Lounge, Workshop, Seminars, and Tour. A18 in NYC is just around the corner and we are planning some fun and educational activities!

Watching the changes take place in our country and our world this past year reminds us more than ever that we need good leaders, and that the very skills and passions that make us successful architects also serve to make us excellent leaders. Whether our leadership takes the form of guiding a group of people to work together to design an environment, building, or product, helping a neighborhood implement a strategic plan, or demonstrating via tactical urbanism, our powers of creative problem-solving and collaboration are second-to-none in the professional world. We architects are often gentle leaders by trait and by circumstance. With the financial constraints inherent in running a small firm come opportunities that arise where we can influence good policy and professional practice by showing we care and by recruiting others to work toward a common goal of good design for all people.

A few years ago, we wrote an article for the AIA Kinetic App titled "Mentoring Up and Down” and I like to think of the job of SFx in these terms. Our mission has crystallized in the six years since SFx began, and our job is to ensure that the good work we are doing is shared with decision makers at the top of the AIA and our government, as well as with the smallest of local component groups. Every area of the country has needs that are unique to that locality, and yet as architects, we have needs that are common to all of us. It is our job as the Small Firm Exchange to become a perfect conduit of that information up and down the various organizations that have an impact on how we practice.  

As we move into 2018, let's think about everything we do through the lens of sharing. Share the work that you do with your employees, share the work that your firm does with your local AIA chapter, and share the work that your local chapter does with us. By opening this dialogue, we will collaborate with our peers, build appreciation, trust, and leadership amongst our employees, and build more resilient firms and design communities.

We hope you enjoy this exchange. Be on the lookout for even more amazing things from the SFx community as your new Chair, Chyanne Husar, takes the reins! Thank you so much for allowing me to serve the small firm community and I look forward to a wonderful 2018 for SFx and the AIA Design Community!


Mel Price, AIA, LEED AP®

2017 SFx Chair

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