Recap of AAO CEO Network Meeting, 4/24

CEO Network – April 24
Hosted by AAO Chair Lynn Osmond

Representatives from 23 organizations (see list below) across the AAO Network convened a call to check-in on everyone’s progress in steering their respective organizations through the early days of the pandemic.

Opening Remarks
Lynn Osmond began the meeting by offering some high-level notes and updates on how the City of Chicago and the Chicago Architecture Center have been faring with the Shelter in Place order and what big picture thinking will guide the eventual steps to re-open the city for business. See Powerpoint download link in Resources section below.

(Note: All resources mentioned in this report are confidential and available to CEO Network participants only. If you are chief executive of an AAO member organization and wish to see the full minutes plus resources, please contact AAO Administrator Mary Fichtner,

Group Discussion/Check-In
As the meeting opened up to all participants, the following notes encapsulate some of the broader questions that were discussed.

What are your biggest concerns as you deal with the COVID-19 crisis?

  • Scenario Planning
  • Fundraising during COVID-19: Is it appropriate to launch a fundraising appeal at this time?
    • Several groups were making soft appeals as part of their general messaging/newsletters.
    • National Building Museum was mentioned as one group that has launched a formal giving campaign in response to COVID-19. Visit  At last report, they were nearing 25% to goal.

Has your organization offered virtual programs or virtual tours? What are our biggest questions around online programming?

  • Fee structure and revenue model for online programming
  • Organizations like New London Architecture and Open House New York have developed compelling online public programs (see links below).
  • For organizations that rely on tours for revenue, how can we think creatively about presenting this content? CAC has given docents some selfie sticks for live mini-tours several times a week (include link below).
  • When live tours are again offered, how do we put in place proper safety procedures for guides and guests?

How are we planning for a new way of convening and presenting content when we come back into the marketplace?

  • We can guess that audiences will become accustomed to consuming content remotely, and will likely develop an expectation for virtual programming. While many members are offering online content free of charge (at least to organizational members) as a public service, there is an understanding that a revenue model will need to be developed as part of a longer-term plan.
  • One benefit of remote programming is that organizations are seeing broader, even global audiences. How do we maintain the momentum of that global interest and ensure they have access to online programming even after things return to semi-normalcy?
  • Re-thinking the “Center” as a physical space, and re-evaluating the many ways a community convenes. Re-thinking how we use our buildings and centers, and what community means beyond our four walls.

How do we stay connected and what can AAO be doing to help?

  • Program sharing: Can we collaborate on programs together (like the “Global Dialogue” conversation) or promote one other’s programming in order to provide more content for our audiences?
    • Below are links to a few such programs. If you believe you have a program that could be of interest to more than your local members/audiences, please contact AAO and see how we can help bolster your marketing reach.
  • Resources Sessions: AAO is conducting additional calls and how-to sessions (i.e. expert-led scenario planning discussions).
    • In addition to the CEO Network, there are standing meetings for AAO members interested in Public Programs and in K-12 Design Education. See more here; we encourage you or select staff from your teams to participate.
  • Speaking Together: Develop collective messaging about the importance of our Centers and organizations during difficult times; similarly, there is much concern among membership to develop messaging that is pro-density/pro-cities/pro-green jobs, all of which may come under scrutiny in these times.


For a list of Resources mentioned above, along with participants contact information, please contact AAO Administrator Mary Fichtner,

  • Contact list from call (See below).
  • Lynn Osmond COVID-19 Resources:
    • Osmond Powerpoint can be downloaded here. (Not for public distribution.)
    • McKinsey Study on “Winning the (local) COVID-19 War can be downloaded here. (This is a public use document.) (Note: Some of this info will become out of date, but it’s worth reading and McKinsey is a good group to be following.)
  • New London Architecture online programming
    • Here is a short video chat featuring 4 members of the CEO Network.
    • You can sign up for the New London Weekly newsletter here.
  • Open House New York has launched an online series “Conversations on the City 2020”
    • See an archive of its first program here… a conversation on Epidemics with Gregory Wessner and Sara Jensen Carr.
  • CAC@Home is the new virtual program newsletter from the Chicago Architecture Center.
    • Here is the latest issue, plus an archive of past issues.
    • See an archive of a recent program CAC held in partnership with AAO… Lynn Osmond in discussion with Seattle Planning director Samuel Assefa
    • If there is CAC content you’d like to repurpose, please contact Michael Wood.
  • K-12 Resources… Our Architecture + Design Education Network (A+DEN) meetings have produced a number of worthwhile resources. If you (or someone on your staff) wishes to be part of this AAO group, please write direct to Mary Fichtner.
  • Public Program Resources… Our Public Programs Networks meets every few weeks to exchange notes about virtual programming. If you (or someone on your staff) wishes to be part of this AAO group, please write direct to Mary Fichtner.

Video Conference RSVPs

Gregory Wessner, Open House New York
Michael Monti, Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture
Rusty Bienvenue, Architecture Center Houston
Richard McCoy, Exhibit Columbus
Nate Eudaly, Dallas Architecture Forum
Ingrid Spencer, AIA Austin
Pauline Herrera, Denver Architecture Foundation
Jessica Letaw, Building Matters Ann Arbor
Peter Murray, New London Architecture
Ben Prosky, AIANY/Center for Architecture
Pauline Saliga, Society of Architectural Historians
Kent Martinussen, Danish Architecture Center
Marta Wojcik, Wescott House
Mary Fitch, AIADC/Washington Architectural Foundation
Amanda DeCort, Tulsa Foundation for Architecture
Cynthia Kracauer, Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation
Melissa Woolford, Museum of Architecture
Gary Scarboro, AIA Orlando
Stacy Williams, AIASF/Center for Architecture+Design
Stacy Segal, Seattle Architecture Foundation
Sarah Herda, Graham Foundation
Nathan Dennies, Baltimore Architecture Foundation
Kathleen Lane, Baltimore Architecture Foundation
Deborah Marton, Van Alen Institute
Lynn Osmond, Chicago Architecture Center