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DBIA's CEO Lisa Washington Remembers - Part 1

Lisa Washington joined DBIA in 2004 and rose to become Executive Director/CEO by 2009. She is a Certified Association Executive and has been working tirelessly over the last nine years to grow DBIA into the organization it is today. We sat down with her recently to discuss some of her contributions to the organization.

Could you describe your career with DBIA?
Lisa Washington: I joined DBIA in 2004 as Vice President of Education and Conferences. This was a new position for DBIA and I was given a blank slate to develop a plan and accompanying strategies to enhance DBIA’s educational offerings. At that time, they were not quite as robust as we have today, and individuals were looking for more educational opportunities to meet certification requirements. During my first six months at DBIA, I developed what is now known as the “Design-Build Education Tour,” where we work with the DBIA Regions to make education “always available; always accessible.” The plan required a dramatic shift in the way DBIA worked with our Regions and instructors.

As a result of the program, the A/E/C industry began to rely on DBIA for design-build education and we saw an increase in those seeking DBIA certification as a result of more widespread offerings. Educational programs quickly became a significant revenue generator and in 2007 I was promoted to Chief Operating Officer. Two years later, I was appointed Executive Director/CEO upon the retirement of then Executive Director/CEO Lee Evey.

Could you describe some history of DBIA’s certification program (DBIATM and Assoc. DBIATM)?

Lisa Washington: When I started in 2004, DBIA had only 86 Designated Design-Build Professionals, as the program was relatively new. The greatest challenges for those interested in certification were availability of courses and consistency of course content across the country. The “Design-Build Education Tour” addressed this challenge quickly, with nearly 90 total offerings of the three core courses required for certification (which is now a four core course requirement). At first, DBIA made a commitment to cancel none of these offerings, even if it meant teaching to only a few people. Parallel with that effort, we worked with a small group of subject matter experts to revise and update the core courses and to review the Certification Exam so that we were truly offering a curriculum-based certification. Upon completion of this review and update, we implemented an instructor training program to assess qualifications, train instructors on key content and outline rules for supplementing content. By expanding the number of course offerings, standardizing content and selecting only highly qualified instructors, DBIA was able to quickly make the road to certification easier to navigate for the industry.

The increased access to the program resulted in many individuals outside of traditional A/E/C careers expressing an interested in becoming certified. In particular, we saw a great deal of interest from government procurement professionals and business development professionals. Given that both these disciplines – as well as others – are key players in the design-build process, the Associate DBIA™ designation was created in 2009 to demonstrate knowledge among this expanded universe.

Today, we are pleased to have more than 2,300 DBIA-certified design-build professionals and we train more every year. The certification program has come to have such recognition that some owners are even awarding additional points in their bid scoring for teams that have Designated Design-Build Professionals on their staff.

Look for part two of Lisa Washington’s interview next week, where she will discuss why she feels DBIA has been successful and what we can expect in the future.


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