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ASLA 2017 Professional General Design Honor Award. Chicago Botanic Garden: The Regenstein Learning Campus. Mikyoung Kim Design >

ASLA Presidential Candidates Forum Question 3: Thomas L. Mroz Jr., FASLA

Candidate Bio

3a. What should ASLA do to help both established and emerging professionals prepare for today’s practice environment?

Established professionals benefit from tools currently available in the Professional Practice Resource Center. ASLA can provide added value expanding offerings such as providing classes and hands on workshops in topics like business acumen, business development, marketing, proposal writing, effective negotiating, project management, and tips for employee recruitment, development and retention. Expanded offerings could also address technology-related topics that would help seasoned practitioners stay “in the game.” While many established landscape architects are in private practice, a significant amount are employed in the public sector. ASLA could also explore beefing up career development offerings that respond to their specific needs as well.

Engagement and mentorship are ASLA’s primary responsibilities to emerging professionals. Through chapters, committees, and PPN’s, emerging professionals who have recently graduated have opportunities to contribute to the decision-making process, take on leadership responsibilities, access coaches who can help guide their career development, and foster meaningful peer-to-peer professional relationships.

Emerging landscape architecture professionals in their last two years of school are another important demographic for ASLA to support. Through a mentor-finder tool, students could connect with practitioners to find mentors and learn about the industry. Chapters could also organize student participation in professional-led workshops and charrettes. ASLA could facilitate increased focus on externship, internship and work-while-studying programs, providing students with workplace familiarity. Lastly, ASLA could establish a grant program to assist with providing students out-of-classroom experiences.

3b. What can ASLA and the profession itself do to make the profession more diverse and inclusive?

Diversity and Inclusion need to be viewed together. Diversity is representational, inclusion is truly participatory. For ASLA the two perspectives that get the most attention on this topic are race and gender. From the racial perspective Black and Latinx people are drastically underrepresented in the profession of landscape architecture, which in turn is mirrored in ASLA’s membership. From the gender perspective, female graduates now outnumber males but ASLA membership has not yet caught up, with females representing only 37 percent of membership.

Strategies for continued progress need to advance diversity and inclusion. Foremost, we need constant attention on implementing the recommendations from the Diversity Summits. Things like diverse imagery and content that represent our society at-large; readily accessible digital resources and training materials that promote diversity and inclusion and highlight best practices in business, government and our chapters; and coordination of efforts with the President’s Council organizations to leverage our collective resources.

Next, we need to build on the resources that ASLA already has in place, by offering additional training to address unconscious bias, assembling diverse candidate pools for national and chapter positions, and developing a best practice approach to ASLA committees to ensure the opportunity for genuine participation by all committee members.
We should also look at proactive recruiting as a strategy. This could include a recruiting drive to improve understanding amongst K-12 students and their parents about the career of landscape architect. We could address the gender gap in membership through implementing a “peer to peer” membership campaign to reengage with experienced women professionals who are not currently ASLA members.

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