Finding AIGA Chicago’s North Star

Crafting a new mission for our chapter

To serve on the board of AIGA Chicago is to stand on the shoulders of giants—many of whom I learned about in an art school lecture hall, and some of whom I’ve had the honor to either work alongside, meet briefly, or socialize with at some over the course of my time in the city.

The responsibility—and gravity—of building upon the legacy of those who formed the chapter doesn’t escape me. And codifying changes to the direction of the chapter is a significant undertaking.


I was present when Sara Frisk unveiled the chapter mission below, which functioned exceptionally well as a vehicle to advance the chapter:

To unite, educate and advance the Chicago design community.

However the mission of our chapter must evolve over time, always considering the needs and desires of the current design community. And the mission of our chapter must drive us forward, illuminating a pathway towards a vision of who we’d like to become—even if we’re not completely there today.

Over the past year it’s become clear to me and my colleagues on the board that an evolution of our mission was necessary—a modification to reflect our intentions, beliefs, and actions in this time of professional evolution and societal dischord. Our chapter mission is a statement of intent — a reflection of our philosophy that steers the ship moving forward. Ensuring that our intent is clearly communicated is of the utmost importance.

So on Thursday, November 15 at our annual town hall event, we revealed our new chapter mission:


AIGA Chicago exists to embrace, amplify, and advance designers and the role of design in our community.


1. To embrace designers and the role of design

  • We celebrate our local design community, and serve as a hub of connection.
  • We strive for inclusion, serving a membership base truly reflective of the Chicago community considering diversity in demographics and modalities of practice.
  • We recognize the fluid, evolving nature of our profession today and the role it plays in the world around us.

2. To amplify designers and the role of design

  • We are a platform of empowerment, elevating the voice of the individual designer.
  • We serve as a vehicle for visibility, bringing awareness to our local design community.
  • We advocate for the power and potential of design to impact real change in the world around us.

3. To advance designers and the role of design

  • We uphold standards of excellence in design practice — championing craft and ethics.
  • We are a platform to support the evolution of the modern designer, championing opportunities for development at all levels of a designer’s career.
  • We create opportunities to engage with and impact the world around us through the power of design.

There are undeniable similarities to the mission Sara introduced during her term as president. However there are nuances in the updated language that have been designed to sharpen and clarify the message, ensuring broad understanding of our purpose, perspective, and intent.

  • It must be understood that we’re not only here for the designer, but for the potential of design as a powerful agent of change.
  • It must be understood that we’re not only here for the designer of today, but for the designer of tomorrow—considering the many ways in which the definition of design is rapidly evolving.
  • It must be clear that we believe it’s essential that the next generation of designers comes from an increasingly diverse—and supported—pool of talent.
  • And it must be understood that our chapter is an evolving platform, firmly rooted in a passion for design that unites us all.

Of course none of this means much if our actions don’t reflect our words.

However I’ve had the privilege of being able to serve alongside those who I consider to be the next generation of giants — giants with a collective passion that has resulted in some of the most inspired, diverse, and impactful action I’ve seen.

Our mission statement is meant to be the North Star that guides our chapter’s evolution moving forward. Thankfully, this North Star has been born out of the passion, momentum, and action I’ve been lucky enough to witness on a daily basis. It is my hope that the direction we’re heading will truly resonate with everyone in our community, and that we can all embrace this as a call-to-arms moving forward.