Updates from ASLA

ASLA 2019 Professional General Design Honor Award. Glenstone, Potomac, Maryland. PWP Landscape Architecture >

ASLA Presidential Candidates Forum Question 1: Emily O'Mahoney, FASLA

Question 1: What role should ASLA play in addressing the day-to-day practice- and business-related concerns and needs of the profession?

Candidate Bio

ASLA should play the go-to role in addressing the day-to-day practice and business-related needs of the profession. Eighty percent of our membership is working in private practice. Of that 80 percent, the majority are employed by small landscape architecture firms. As my position statement states, ASLA is landscape architecture and landscape architecture is ASLA,so it is appropriate that such needs and concerns be addressed within the Society. 

In 1993, I started a small landscape architecture business that consisted of me, myself, and I. Talk about immersion into “business.” Today, I am a partner in a small landscape architecture firm with one of my partners taking on the business management side of business, thank goodness. It is not enough to just create great landscapes! You have to set up a company, secure clients, pursue Requests for Qualifications, understand contract law, keep books, prepare payroll, and handle HR. Oh, and we cannot forget marketing and business promotion. Who is out there to help beyond SCORE – “the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors”?  I used SCORE for the basic business set-up, but I would have dearly benefited from mentors and business aides geared towards a small design firm start-up and in the day-to-day running thereof.

Many of us today take advantage of the documents that ASLA has made available to membership. These documents include: standard contract templates, construction administration, and project management aids, as well as salary survey information. ASLA offers informational webinars on many business-related topics along with software reviews and discount offers. Our Business Quarterly provides a snapshot of the landscape architecture industry to gauge our own business against.  

The question is, should ASLA do more than it does? The answer is yes. We can provide mentoring and business support activities on a real-time platform and in an engaging way. What could this look like? We already know we have the foundation, the building blocks. Now we need the framework to expand and grow the business support culture. Below are some ideas from which to start. Additionally, these ideas can be applied to other member support needs.


  • Mentoring Program
    • Processes – Big Picture Concepts – Starting a Business – Selling a Business: Business Mentoring Group (under the Professional Practice Committee) comprised of various sized firm owners and firm types.  A mentee would ask to be mentored through our website and assigned staff. A one-on-one relationship would evolve with the mentor, with back-up from the Group.
    • Simple Questions: Sometimes just a quick answer is needed. It could be handled through the same system as above. 
  • Outreach Forum
    • A column of frequently asked questions could be a monthly feature in LAND and the website.
    • A live, online forum with practitioners presenting differing views and experiences on important business-related topics.

Continuing ASLA’s strong volunteer culture in new ways will create welcome channels of advocacy for the practitioner member and other member needs inside the framework of the Society. 

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