Letter from the President

Returning the Favor

Letter from the President
August 2018

Hello Raleigh Design Community!

For those of you who do not know, a new board transitioned effective July 1, 2018. I am truly honored and excited to be the President of the 2018-2020 AIGA Raleigh board. Each board brings different energy and viewpoints but we all sign on under a shared purpose:

To create a place where design thrives for everyone.

That single sentence drives everything we do. Most importantly the “for everyone” tag. We want to ensure all our events are available and a safe space for all who wish to attend. We never want you to feel as if you are not welcome or do not belong. This chapter is very unique in that we are open source. We hold monthly community meetings to not only keep you informed, but also so we can learn what you want to see in the community. We regularly survey, continuously ask for feedback and invite participation from our attendees on any level. We are 100 percent volunteer run and the more voices we have, the more we can be heard. Most importantly, we want to empower you to bring your ideas to life.

I’d like to share a very quick backstory about why being a part of AIGA Raleigh—and ultimately the President—is so important to me. It’s about returning the favor.

Eight years ago, the bottom dropped out from under me. My family was dissolving, my career was at a standstill and I was generally unhappy with most facets of my life. In dealing with the fallout of these events, I made a decision to play the opposites game with my life. In other words, if I used to turn right, I would turn left; down is now up.

I have been a professional designer for 25 years now. For most of those years I kept to myself. I never engaged with the design community. In fact, I felt AIGA as a whole was a cliquey, elitist overpriced waste of time and money. But the funny thing is, these were only assumptions. I never gave them, or in reality, myself a chance. I was too afraid of getting in the mix and feeling like an imposter. So, in the spirit of opposites, I said, “Go to an event, and see for yourself.”

So I went to an event. I immediately thought, “Hey, this place is packed!” Everyone was so friendly from check-in to goodbyes. The content was fantastic (the speaker was Von Glitschka!) and just like that, I had gotten the AIGA bug.

A few months later, I decided to go to my first Community Meeting. I quickly hid in the back of the room, surveying the situation I had just gotten myself into. Within minutes, two people came up to me with video cameras and asked if I would be willing to answer a few questions. An interview was the absolute last thing I envisioned doing as a newbie. I tried to deflect. “This is my first meeting so I am probably not the best person to talk to,” I stated. “Even better!,” they said. So once again thinking about opposites, I decided to go for it and get into that uncomfortable space where growth happens.

So I got in front of the camera and they asked me: “If AIGA Raleigh was to give you a sum money to pursue something you’ve always wanted to learn but money has held you up, what would that be?”

I rambled on about Letterpress and Screen Printing and then went back into the meeting. Over the next few months, I came and went to events as I could. One evening, an email appeared in my inbox that said I was one of three recipients of the AIGA Raleigh Pursuit Fund, a $1,000 grant to pursue this side-hustle! I was only required to share my journey with the community. Something as simple as a blog post would have sufficed.

These people I barely knew and who barely knew me put complete faith in a dream I wasn’t even sure of myself!

A simple blog post just didn’t seem fitting to return the favor.

Fast forward. I have served on our Community Board, an elected term as Director of Uniting People and one term as Vice-President. Now, I am kicking off the next two years as President, all because of this organization. This elitist, cliquey, overpriced, waste of time and money organization that put its faith in me. Turns out, the only waste of time was not getting involved with our great community sooner. And it has been one of the best investments I ever made for myself.

Now the point of this letter is not to convince you to become a member. It is not to get you to take out your wallet and sign up. It is to promise you that I and the entire board will make it our goal to make you want to be a member. To prove to you that we will work tirelessly to bring all voices and viewpoints to the table. To create a place where design thrives for everyone.

Lenny Terenzi
AIGA Raleigh

By Lenny Terenzi
Published August 28, 2018