Newsletter | Mar/Apr 2009

Member's Forum

We have gotten a few members agreed to write a paragraph on their involvements, thoughts and comments on OWA. It is to be informal and informative. We would like to keep this forum open for more input from our members. Please email your paragraph to the newsletter editor, Carolyne Orazi

Stacy Webb
Over the past year, I have sat simultaneously on the OWA Steering Committee and on the AIA EB Board of Directors, as the Associate Director, after verifying that neither group found it to be a conflict of interest. However, I felt conflicted being privy to each group's "inner workings". I dealt with this by overcompensating and sharing nothing about one with the other. Additionally, I was stretched thin serving both and had difficulty committing fully to either in the process.

All AIA Board of Directors posts are of a two-year duration and the OWA Steering Committee's tenure is for one or two years. I was contemplating how to juggle both and once the two-year tenures were completed, what to do. I have stayed on six months past the yearlong tenure, while looking for a replacement, continuing to co-edit the newsletter with Mui Ho and attending Steering Committee meetings. Happily, Carolyne Orazi agreed to take over my post which includes being editor of the OWA newsletter, a task which can take several hours to a couple of days to complete, if none of the members submit articles. If you have anything you would like to write about, please go onto the OWA website and submit your article to the editor and help lighten Carolyne's load.

As I have heard said by many people from the time that I volunteered with the Steering Committee, the reason the post runs for one or two years is so that members do not get overworked and burnt out volunteering, as well as to let other people get the chance to volunteer. As is encouraged, many members come back and rejoin the Steering Committee after being away for some time.

I want to take a moment to thank everyone for such a wonderful experience working with the Steering Committee, attending OWA retreats and presentations, sharing dinners and great conversations and, through the OWA, getting to know some of the most accomplished, supportive, generous, intelligent and kind women that I have ever met. It has been a great experience and opportunity for growth and I plan on remaining active with the OWA. Currently, I am organizing this year's panel discussion which Hafela has, once again, generously agreed to host. The panel's topic is "Women in Green: Voices of Sustainable Design" and it is named after the book of that title by Kira Gould and Lance Hosey. Please look for it on the OWA calendar, and I look forward to seeing you there on August 18.

Phoebe Goodman Bressack
Although my living on the peninsula keeps me from attending meetings, much as I want to, the newsletters and annual retreat at Westerbeke keep me feeling still part of the OWA group, which is a very good thing. The OWA was founded at a time when there were few women architects, and almost no work. The old boy network was not one that included us, so the new girl network we formed ourselves was an effective answer. I got my first three jobs in the Bay Area through OWA contacts. As times got better, the group focus expanded beyond employment networking into sharing different approaches to coordinating our personal and professional lives, as well as exploring many areas of professional development. As a group we were diverse before it was fashionable, creative, intelligent, often well dressed and very funny. We still are. We were generous in sharing our knowledge and experience, mentoring each other long before it, too, was fashionable. That spirit is the heart of OWA.. Now I am one of the old girls, looking at today with great concern. As we appear to be heading into a recession worse than I have seen in my 30 years of practice (and it was pretty bad in the 70's), I am glad the OWA community remains, as it was then, a source of mutual support and strength for whatever is coming next.

Mignon Young
Friendship and Support, You Can't Beat That

Flurries of snow lightly fall while the sun peeks in and out of the clouds. Enjoying my hot spiced cider in a ski pub, I reminisce about my first OWA steering committee meeting at Pat McGowan's home. My former professor, Mui Ho, told me to just "check it out since it would be a great way to meet people." After a tasty home cooked meal and dynamic conversations, I immediately joined the committee. Over the years, serving in two rounds of steering committees, I not only developed meaningful friendships with my fellow committee members, but also have gotten to know many OWA members--what a great group of smart, supportive women with common as well as varying interests.

Most memorable to me was the 30th Anniversary Retreat. Friday night's Show and Tell theme was to share our experiences in life and career, and how we arrived at where we are now. I learned about what many women of the older generation had to go through after they graduated from college. It never occurred to me that way back when, women were told that women just didn't become architects. What a strange concept to me, considering that I was told that I could become anything when I grow up. If it were not for these strong, courageous ladies who paved the way in the design professions, then our current generation would not have had the abundant opportunities to accomplish and enjoy what we do today. So, thank you to all the OWA members for setting the standards and inspiring us.

With a walk down memory lane, I can't believe that I've been a member for more than 10 years! How time flies by quickly as one gets older-yikes! That said, OWA will soon be celebrating its 40th anniversary. It's time to get cracking on planning the events--is everyone ready to party?

View this page in your browser