November 3, 2017 – The AIA California Council Board of Directors has named Chief Operating Officer Nicki Dennis Stephens, Hon. AIACC as the organization’s next executive vice president beginning on January 1, 2018. She will succeed Paul W. Welch, Hon. AIA, who is retiring on March 31, 2018 after 37 years in the position.

“Nicki was the unanimous, enthusiastic choice of the EVP Transition Task Group,” said Jana Itzen, AIA, 2017 AIACC president. “She is highly respected for her leadership skills and active involvement on the state and national levels of the AIA. Her unique experience, deep knowledge of the profession, and vision for the Council’s future will lead the profession to an exciting new future. ”

Dennis Stephens began her AIACC career in 1999 as associate director of resource development, and later became director of member and component resources, then senior director of the organization. As chief operating officer since 2011, she is responsible for managing and directing AIACC programs, including professional practice, fundraising, communications, marketing, conferences, awards, and emerging professional programs. During her tenure, she led the development of groundbreaking publications, led outreach and advocacy for Integrated Project Delivery and other initiatives, created advocacy efforts such as the Capitol Forum, and envisioned new models for the regulatory process within state government. She created the AIACC’s annual corporate partnership program, raising more than $200,000 annually in sponsorships, advertising, and alliances. She also revitalized the statewide public policy program, working with members to position the organization as issue leader on a wide range of issues, including project delivery, livable communities, and sustainable design.

In 2010-11, Dennis Stephens served as interim executive vice president while Welch served as interim EVP at national AIA. During that year, she oversaw programs, governance, and financial management of the 11,000-member organization, resulting in a $100,000 contribution to reserves at year-end.

“Nicki’s passionate advocacy for the value of architects and architecture was unparalleled among all the candidates,” said Britt Lindberg, AIA, the organization’s 2018 president. “She has a vision for the future that places architects at the head of the table on issues from infrastructure development to resiliency and disaster assistance to housing. She believes in the value of the profession to help solve California’s challenges, and the entire AIACC board is confident she will move the organization to its next level of accomplishment – programmatically, financially, and in leading its professional and public effective   effectiveness.”

Dennis Stephens was selected as the top candidate by the AIACC’s EVP Transition Task Force, appointed by Itzen in coordination with the Executive Committee earlier this year. Consisting of a diverse representation of members statewide, the Task Force developed the EVP position description, application, and the recruiting process, then reviewed applications from a national search from June 1 through July 31. From that pool, they selected highly experienced and qualified candidates to interview. Video interviews were conducted in September, followed by in-person interviews in October. The Task Force made their recommendation to the Executive Committee in October, and the decision was ratified by the Board of Directors at their November 3 meeting in Palo Alto.

Dennis Stephens will work closely with Welch until his retirement in March 31, 2018, ensuring a smooth transition of leadership.

For more information about Dennis Stephen’s professional background and experience, click here. See the EVP Transition’s microsite for more detailed information, at, including details about the position and links to the recruiting schedule, AIACC background information, and related announcements.


Recruiting Timeline:

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