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Meet an OAA Volunteer: Toon Dreessen

11 Sep 2019
Image Credit: Toon Dreessen
Architectural Credit: NA
OAA members who volunteer on Committees are vital to the Association’s work, with a diversity of voices, opinions, skills and knowledge critical to its decision-making process.
Right now, there are vacancies opening up for three-year terms in 11 OAA groups, ranging from the Regulatory, Interns and Communications Committees to the Sustainable Built Environments Committee (SBEC) and Policy Advocacy Coordination Team (PACT). If you’ve ever considered sharing your skills, perspective and experience to serve the profession and the public interest, now is the time! (To find out more about how to put your name forward by October 18, click here.)
To help demystify what OAA Committees do and what work is involved, we’ll be sharing the stories of OAA volunteers on the blOAAg over the month of September. Today, we’re talking with Toon Dreessen of the Experience Requirements Committee (ERC).
1. Who are you?
My name is Toon Dreessen, and I’m the president of Architects DCA in Ottawa. I served on the Practice Committee for six years (since the first year I was licensed), and then I was on OAA Council for six years, including roles as VP Communications, Senior VP/Treasurer and President for two years. I’m still involved with some committees and national initiatives. 
2. Why did you decide to join the Experience Requirements Committee?
I applied in the fall of 2017, knowing I was coming off of Council but wanting to stay involved. Participating in a regulatory committee reinforces that the OAA is, first and foremost, a regulator of practice. Serving reminds me that the protection of the public interest is our first and foremost responsibility, and that the promotion of the value of architecture and its role in society is critical, but secondary to the protection of the public. 
3. What kind of things do you do as an ERC member?
I participate in committee meetings, helping review submissions/applications and asking the difficult questions that help differentiate those who deserve exemption from those who don’t. 
4. What are the meetings like?
They can be very stressful—applicants come to the meeting with their hopes high and it’s hard to let people down. When we do, it’s only because the standards are so high, and we need to make sure that successful applicants meet the same high standards as anyone else.
Meetings are also a good time to connect with peers and share experiences and viewpoints, helping ensure a diversity of thought is represented in the committee and in the questions being asked. 
5. Why should someone join the group?
Someone should join the group if they believe that architecture matters. This is as much a part of the profession as education, experience and examination; it’s as critical as blogging and conferences because this is, for some, their final hurdle before licensure.
Without a rigorous, fair process, we undervalue the profession and ourselves.

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