President Pauly De Bartolo Signs Off

December 23, 2022

I’ve been trying to write this “last message” since Thanksgiving and am still not sure what to say. I should probably try to sketch it, but here goes.

I am finishing up my final two years as President, which combined with my previous 3-year term means I have served in this role for half a decade. At times I still feel like the young volunteer that came into the organization by an invitation to the O&O committee, (though the grey in my beard tells a different story) but fully recognizie how much SDAF has grown and evolved during that time.

I was asked (told) to share my accomplishments but I really don’t see them as mine. I am honored to have been a small part of a group that:

  • Made membership to our organization free to all San Diegans. Meaning, our entire region has free access to design – the design that we live, walk, and participate in every day.
  • Fostered that sense of community through diverse events, organizational partnerships, and an inclusive spirit.
  • Made thoughtful changes to the Orchids & Onions awards criteria. Sure, there are still things we want to improve on, but an intentional effort for a more thoughtful dialogue is in the works for the first time in over 15-years.
  • Took on internal strategic planning that is already shaping our future.
  • And patiently allowed me to lead in my own authentic & somewhat eccentric manner.

While I won’t be the President anymore, I really look forward to remaining engaged, active, and one of our biggest advocates. I am passionate about my new role that will reach out and engage almost 5-decades of SDAF’s contributors through an inaugural Alumni outreach effort, so get ready for that call or email. Included in this group are two of SDAF’s longest-standing Directors who are leaving the board this year after 10+ years (each) of service.

Margit Whitlock joined the Board in 2012 and created & curated our CONTEXT program which launched in 2014. Margit has been an active contributor to most of our programs, but her biggest achievement by far is lifting SDAF through the COVID pandemic. While life as we knew it was crumbling into pieces, Margit had the leadership to hold SDAF together, and to move us forward. She brings an unmatched passion, a cracking laugh, a warm heart & a decisive mind to everything she does, and I am forever in her debt for mentoring myself and many others through our volunteerism with SDAF.

If you have ever attended one of our 40+ PechaKucha Nights, you’ve undoubtedly experienced the work, passion & talents of our outgoing Vice President, David McCullough. David was invited to Co-Chair SDAF’s relaunch of the Orchids & Onions Awards in 2006, oh yeah, that’s long since he has been involved with SDAF! Following this success, David took on the role of curating a new, international presentation event that no one could pronounce (still to this day for me) – that we’ve all come to refer to as ‘PKN’. David leaves SDAF with a legacy that spans his involvement in over 50+ events from O&O, to PKN, Context, and others.

Thank you Margit & David for everything you have brought to SDAF over the years. We are a better foundation because of your input & contributions, and it has been a privilege to have served alongside you both.

The future is in great hands with incoming President Maddy Kent MacElwee and a round of talented new colleagues joining our incredible Board from both San Diego and Tijuana. Our regional, cross-border focus and presence is growing, and the ideas and opportunities are flowing.

Some of you may read this and wonder why I stay involved when I could easily fade out. I stay for the friendships. The friendships and camaraderie that are built around a common passion for our region’s built environment, and so, my last words would be – get involved. Join a committee, volunteer your time, come to our events, follow us on social media – but get involved. It is worth it, I assure you.

Thank you for allowing me to serve…now, tag you’re it, Maddy.

Posted in ,