NY Chapter Story

The SDA Story

Our Early Beginning as The Architectural Secretaries Association
(Oh, how times have changed!)
1959 – 1970

On an October evening in 1959, five secretaries in Miami met to discuss the possibility of forming a group consisting solely of architectural secretaries who could benefit the architectural profession and the community. Each of the five secretaries subsequently contacted other architectural offices, and on October 21, 1959, the first meeting of The Architectural Secretaries Association, Inc. (ASA) was held.

While the Miami group was off to an enthusiastic start, like any new organization they encountered problems. Early opposition to the group came from some architects who felt they were trying to form a union, or that they might discuss confidential office matters at gatherings. It soon became apparent that the group would have to prove itself – to stand or fall on its own merit.

The economic strength of Miami also proved to be somewhat of a handicap. In the land of eternal sunshine, people tend to come and go, and the frequent turnover in many architectural offices limited the group’s growth. However, it did not limit the group’s enthusiasm, as 13 of the 18 people who attended the first meeting signed the charter in May 1961.

The first officers of the Miami chapter were installed in January 1960, and three months later, its constitution and bylaws were adopted. Then, in May 1961, the chapter was granted its charter by the Secretary of the State of Florida, thus becoming the first chartered organization of its kind in the United States.

Chapter colors were blue and white (blueprint) and its motto was amiability, sincerity and assiduity.

During the next five years, the chapter held regular monthly dinner meetings, featuring knowledgeable and influential speakers, and maintained an average membership attendance of 75%. And, in addition to holding an annual bosses’ night banquet with selection of the “boss of the year,” the chapter also undertook a community project each year in which proceeds were donated to a charitable organization. The chapter received the Miami News Community Service Award in April 1964 for its donation to the Florence Crittenton Home and Children’s Hospital. As a service to the architects, the Miami chapter developed a program to provide temporary secretarial help to offices during vacation time, heavy workload periods, and illness. In addition, an employment center was established to help architects find capable, available draftsmen.

ASA played a significant role in the 1963 AIA national convention in Miami Beach. Members mailed literature, staffed booths, sold tickets, and provided information during the convention.

Also during this time period, the Miami chapter established other ASA chapters: Baltimore (July 1965), Washington (August 1965), Minneapolis (1965), Chicago (October 1965), and Southern California (January 1967).

1967 – National Convention (ASA’s First) in New York City

It is recorded that the 1967 ASA convention in New York City, held concurrently with the national convention of The American Institute of Architects, had fifty-five attendees. Six chapters were represented: Baltimore, Miami, Minneapolis, New York City, Pittsburgh, and Southern California. Patricia Younkins from Miami was national president.

Our very own Renee Spodak, who was a charter member and an Advisor to the Board of Directors of the New York Chapter, attended that first ASA convention. Helen Brewer from the Southern California chapter (now the Orange County chapter) also attended as a delegate. Helen Brewer went on to become national president of ASA in 1971-72.

The original New York chapter was organized in 1966. One of its organizers was Jeanne Genge who served as president in 1966-67. Jeanette M. Jedrison, also a charter member, served as chapter vice president in 1966-67 and as president in 1968. From the very beginning, New York chapter ASA members were asked to assist with the 1967 national AIA convention in New York City. Many members volunteered their services – Renee Spodak staffed one of the theatre reservation booths. For this much- appreciated help, AIA provided ASA members with tickets to a performance of The Royal Ballet at Lincoln Center in which Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyne appeared.

Unfortunately, after the convention many members lost interest in ASA and the New York chapter was finally dissolved in late 1968. Some 15 years passed before Renee Spodak again discovered ASA. It took another two years until our chapter was reorganized in 1985 as the Society of Architectural Administrators.

Our Chapter Presidents (since 1985)

2017 Ellie Tsakonas

2016 Ellie Tsakonas

2015 Peggy McGrath

2014 Peggy McGrath

2013 Maria Iacovone

2012 Maria Iacovone

2011 Pat Leyden

2010 Pat Leyden

2009 Michele Maestri

2008 Michele Maestri

2007 Amy Nanni

2006 Amy Nanni

2005 Audrey Platnick

2004 Audrey Platnick

2003 Ellen Blumenthal

2002 Ellen Blumenthal

2001 Lula Blackwell-Hafner

2000 Lula Blackwell-Hafner

1999 Jennifer M. Greene

1998 Jennifer M. Greene

1997 Ayala Malinovitz

1996 Ayala Malinovitz

1995 Susan Appel

1994 Carol A. Monahan, CDFA

1993 Carol A. Monahan, CDFA

1992 Lauretta O’Connor

1991 Fran Brill

1990 Cheri (Van Over) Melillo SDA

1989 Liz Block

1988 Mitzi Bollinger

1987 Marilyn Marullo

1986 Marilyn Marullo

1986 Anna Kelly (6 months)

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