Reflections from the Director of Membership

My fellow Chattanooga Designers,
What can I say – the past (almost) 4 years have been a time of true transformation for me.

So vividly, I can remember the first mention of AIGA that crossed my path. I was in my third year of the UTC Graphic Design program – worrying of meeting project deadlines, taking in every word my professors and classmates gave me during critique, and trying SO hard not to shake at the thought of presenting a senior thesis to an auditorium full of people in just over 365 days.

Before a Web I studio class let out for the day, my fellow design peer, Taylor Kinser, stood up and talked about how she was a volunteer for a national organization for designers and encouraged us to attend a local event. I thought to myself, “How cool of her to not only stand up in front of the room and speak BUT also to be volunteering for a non-profit that was centered around her profession, allowing her to be a leader in the community she was passionate about.

I wanted that.

After about a year and a half of being an active volunteer for AIGA Chattanooga, I was asked by the Membership Director to consider taking on his role when it was time for him to step down. In 2017, the year of my first AIGA Chattanooga board meeting as an official board member, I was asked to come with positional and personal goals that surrounded my part in the AIGA Chattanooga board. My goals read as follows:

Community: I take pride in the fact that I get to have a personal hand in the community of creatives that are in Chattanooga. I look forward to pushing myself outside of my comfort zone to meet other peers outside of the city.

Leadership: I am also interested in really letting AIGA teach and sculpt me in my leadership skills. I hope to do this in everyday AIGA tasks as well as going to a leadership retreat. I loved the hype the former board had when they returned last year. I want to have that spark too and get other people hyped about being involved with AIGA and contributing to the creative community of Chattanooga.

Eventually: Create a Design for Good Chair/Event for AIGA CHA!

I can HONESTLY say, I one-million-catrillion-bajillion percent accomplished those goals during my stay as a volunteer and board member of AIGA Chattanooga. Thanks to past board members that laid ground before me, every teammate that planned beside me, all attendees that stood with me, and a nation-wide support system to teach me, I was able to proudly take myself to that next level I craved for as a professional designer in my hometown.

Not only was I given a platform to find my voice and learn professional skill sets through initiatives like Women Lead and Design for Good, I was able to make the very truest friends that will last a lifetime. Taylor and Gabby, I am the luckiest to have been able to learn and laugh beside such strong and spunky women leaders. This is only the beginning, my friends. (Ok, that is all I can say on that topic without weeping. Let’s just say, I am beyond grateful.)

From every inch of my five-foot-nothing self, thank you all for allowing me to transform. Though it is not sustainable for such a small volunteer group to carry such big aspirations of a city forever, I will continue to stand by any other new designer that may be scared to stand in front of a room. I will always be happy and honored to teach others the importance of being a leader in something that they are passionate about, and how they will never regret standing up.

Sincerely yours,




Bethany Paden
Director of Membership

By aigachattanooga
Published September 18, 2019
AIGA encourages thoughtful, responsible discourse. Please add comments judiciously, and refrain from maligning any individual, institution or body of work. Read our policy on commenting.