What started four years ago as group of recently-laid-off design professionals who wanted to connect within the industry has grown into a robust organization with over 500 members and a monthly line-up of networking events.
Co-founders Graham and Chiuminatto
Interior designer Stephanie Chiumiantto and M Moser Associates Director Jennifer Graham are the co-founders of LMNOP. In this interview with Editor at Large's Samantha Snowden, Graham, who serves as Director for LMNOP, shares her vision for the organization.
What has been your biggest challenge with LMNOP?
Our biggest change has been growth. LMNOP's mission is to provide networking and education for the A+D community. We provide professional development opportunities at an affordable cost. I believe these to be recession-proof attributes. Now that the community sees that we have a timeless mission, our support has grown.
Where do you see LMNOP in five years?
I would like our professional development and mentoring programs to be as established and prominent as those provided by IIDA NY and AIA, Center for Architecture—a mainstay for the community. We also would like to further develop relationships with A&D firms as sponsors or partners and possibly have firms to ask us to develop programs for their staff.
What types of events does LMNOP host?
We host 10 monthly workshops (every month except August & December), four mixers (Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter) and an annual benefit in July. In February, we hosted our general meeting, and we also host two volunteer retreats. August is our planning month for the following year.
To kick off the year, Jenna McKnight, editor in chief of Architizer, presented How to Manage and Maintain Your Professional Network, and discussed ways to start up a conversation with a stranger. “Listening is key! As a reminder to all—follow up and check in with the contacts you have made. You will find that these contacts will be with you for your entire career,” said McKnight.
In January, the LMNOP members headed to Far Rockaway for a volunteer day and assisted those who were devastated by Hurricane Sandy. LMNOP’s next volunteer day will again aid victims of Hurricane Sandy, and will take place on April 20.
For the first workshop of the year, LMNOP hosted a Portfolio and Resume Review in the Bernhardt showroom overlooking Bryant Park. This workshop, offered every year since the inception of LMNOP, gives a third-eye look at the documentation we all use to professionally represent ourselves. The reviewers donate their time to offer suggestions and help provide direction on how to best communicate our personal talents and experience. A similar workshop, "Mock Interviews," will be held later this year.
LMNOP was granted a 501(c)(6) in November of 2009. For membership information, contact Jack Weisberg at firstname.lastname@example.org.