The IIDA Oregon Chapter’s Commitment to Social Justice

April 12th, 2022
Kate Stuart, IIDA
Past President | IIDA Oregon Chapter
Interior Designer | Bora Architecture and Interiors

The IIDA Oregon Chapter has been busy working behind the scenes to advance and include a new foundation for a commitment to social justice. Now that we’ve taken real actions we are ready to share our new social justice mission, current efforts, and future goals to our members and the Oregon design community.

When I stepped into the IIDA Oregon Chapter’s president role in the summer of 2020 I called it a pivotal year. We were in the midst of a rising pandemic, continuing climate disasters, the Black Lives Matter movement, and a presidential election. I challenged our community to remain strong and optimistic. To uphold our mission to be the face of professional Interior Design in the State of Oregon by continuing our dedication to serve our members and our community through change and uncertainty, to design for humanity with dignity, equity, and justice.

When Amber Turner took over as president in 2021 she was able to build on that momentum. She further committed our chapter to implementing principles of social justice, diversity, equity and inclusion into our every day operations, so that as an organization we can contribute to a more inclusive and just society. In addition she committed the IIDA Oregon Chapter to expand our reach with more student engagement.

The IIDA Oregon Chapter board first discussed our challenges with diversity, equity, and inclusion during our Winter Board retreat in December of 2020. At that retreat, we asked, “How can we expand beyond our current majority demographic of white women to include a more diverse membership and audience?” As we shared ideas and brainstormed, it became clear that we can – and should – do more.

Our goal as a Chapter is for diversity, equity, and inclusion to be a consistent thread that runs through all the work we do. To begin this work, we determined that our community-facing engagement tools and the policies and procedures by which our Chapter is run should be analyzed to determine what needs to be added, modified or removed. To achieve this goal we applied for and received a grant from IIDA Headquarters to hire a professional consultant that specializes in diversity, equity and inclusion, Ann Su Consulting, to help guide us through this process and discover actionable steps that we can take to make the IIDA Oregon Chapter a more diverse and inclusive group – for our Board, our members, our local design community and the integrity of the Commercial Interior Design profession as a whole.

Through the formation of a Diversity Equity and Inclusion committee and the ongoing work with our consultant, the IIDA Oregon Chapter has been able to:

  • Award our first ever membership grants, removing financial barriers and prioritizing BIPOC (black, Indigenous, and people of color) professionals in our community who would otherwise not be a member of IIDA.
  • Started revisions to our Chapter policies and procedures to add more inclusive language and set policies for more equitable meetings, purchasing guidelines, nominations, and awards.
  • Create a new ‘Director of Social Justice’s position for our Chapter board of directors.
  • Implement a new social justice mission statement, defining what diversity, equity, and inclusion means for the IIDA Oregon Chapter. You can read our new mission statement on our website, here.
  • Committed to apply for another grant in 2023 to build a More Diverse Future by creating new programming for K-12 students, targeting BIPOC and underserved communities in an effort to spark more interest and bring awareness to interior design as a profession and career path.
  • Partner with other chapters to formally request IIDA Headquarters to collect and share demographic information for our membership so we may track progress.

In addition to the progress listed above, we have also taken actions to create more programming outside of Portland, expanding our reach to other parts of Oregon to create a more inclusive design community state-wide. This year’s Design Crawl Series features project tours in Eugene, Milwaukie and Portland – don’t forget to get your tickets here! We also recently hosted a happy hour event Giving Back with Friends of Trees taking place simultaneously in Eugene, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. We are hoping to offer more philanthropy partnerships like this in the future, continuing to give back and serve our local communities.

Even though my term as Past President concludes this summer, I am confident that we have set a clear foundation that will live on and continue to grow, improve and ultimately lead to a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive future for the IIDA Oregon Chapter. If you’d like to get involved with the IIDA Oregon Chapter it’s the perfect time to join!

We are currently seeking passionate candidates to volunteer and serve on the IIDA Oregon Chapter Board of Directors for the 2022-2023 board year, including finding an appropriate candidate to serve as the Director of Social Justice to lead these continued initiatives! If you’d like to get involved please apply or reach out to us at ( for more information. We’re happy to do in person coffees or zoom chats!