President's Column September 2022: Looking Down the Road


Robert Meckfessel, FAIA


Docomomo US President


U.S. Board, President's Column
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Last April, the Docomomo US Board of Directors and staff assembled in Milwaukee for our first long-range planning retreat in five years, to consider the future of Docomomo US — our goals, aspirations, challenges, opportunities, and role in the future of preservation. This was sorely needed, especially since the context we work in has dramatically changed in the past five years, as we have dealt with COVID, a leadership transition, a dynamic political landscape, our own growth and expansion, and more.

During a very long two days, the board and staff worked through a rigorous series of questions and challenges from facilitators Cindy Olnick and John Bwarie (both from Los Angeles). Cindy and John pushed us to question everything, to avoid pre-conceptions, to focus on what was most important, and to be succinct. 

Admittedly, we did have some fun, visiting several nearby icons of modernism, including FLW’s Johnson Wax HQ and Wingspread Residence. And we also greatly enjoyed meeting members of Docomomo US Wisconsin, our newest chapter, at a great reception at the beautifully restored FLW Adelman Residence in Fox Point. Thank you, Wisconsin!

By the end of the retreat, after much hard work and collective soul-searching, the board and staff had created a new five-year Strategic Plan, one that will guide us to a vibrant, meaningful, sustainable and effective future. It’s a very good plan, and — if you want to dive into it or the process in detail, you can download it here — I encourage you to do so.

But I’ll hit the high points now. First, we wrote a new Vision Statement:

A world where people value modern heritage and use it to shape vibrant communities.

That was followed by a new Mission Statement:

Pushing boundaries to preserve modern architecture, landscapes, and design through principled advocacy, collaboration, and celebration.

And, ultimately, five primary Goals were established that are key to the organizational characteristics required to achieve the Vision and Mission statements — diversity, financial stability, mission effectiveness, quality-of-life, and documentation.

  1. Docomomo US is an inclusive and diverse organization.
  2. Docomomo US is a financially stable organization with robust reserves.
  3. Within three years, Docomomo US’s influence is felt in all 50 states.
  4. Docomomo US is a rewarding place of engagement for board, staff, members, and volunteers. 
  5. Docomomo US has a renewed, formal documentation program.

By design, these are all quite succinct, with each word carefully chosen to avoid cliched phrases and buzzwords. I don’t have space to go through them in detail, but I do ask you to consider some of the key words — vibrant, principled, collaboration, celebration, inclusive, diverse, renewed, and more. Simple words, loaded with meaning.

So, what’s next — what do we do with this?

Well, for each goal we also set strategies and tactics to achieve them (again, see the Strategic Plan). It’s a pretty long to-do list, and accomplishing it will not happen overnight (it is a five-year plan after all) and it’s already clear that the Board and staff alone cannot do it alone. We will need help from the leadership and membership of the chapters.

So we’ll be reaching out for help in coming months, but if you have an interest in working at the national level to help us achieve the Vision, the Mission, and the Goals, please please please reach out to either our Executive Director, Liz Waytkus (  or me (email below) and let us know. We’ll put you to work.

We have a great road map to a great future. Let’s start the journey.


Robert Meckfessel, FAIA