The American Institute of Architects reports that Paul W. Welch, Jr., Hon. AIA, executive vice president of the AIA California Council, will serve as interim executive vice president/CEO of the AIA, replacing Christine McEntee who will leave the institute July 23 to become executive director of the American Geophysical Union.

Welch will begin his appointment July 19 and will continue in this role through the conclusion of a national search to fill the position. A search committee working under the guidance of the AIA board executive committee was formed, with a national search for candidates to be conducted by an executive search firm. McEntee will work closely with the AIA leadership and staff to ensure a smooth transition.

“Paul Welch embodies all of the qualities we seek in an effective interim staff executive,” says AIA President George H. Miller, FAIA. “I know that the AIA will be in the hands of a capable leader whose commitment and dedication to the profession of architecture is well documented. He will be an integral team member working to achieve the AIA strategic goals for 2010 and beyond. Paul’s leadership during this transition will give us an opportunity to be thorough in our selection of the next AIA executive.” Welch assumes the full legal and fiduciary responsibilities of the AIA EVP/CEO position, including managing the national Component staff, annual operating budget, and AIA programs, as well as overseeing the day-to-day operation of the institute.

“I am honored to continue serving members of the American Institute of Architects in this new interim role,” says Welch. “The future of the AIA is important to the future of the architecture profession and I will work hard to ensure that the next staff executive steps into their position leading a vibrant and thriving organization.”

Welch joined the AIA California Council in February 1981 and is active at all levels of the institute, within California and throughout the nation. During his tenure at the AIACC, he served and/or chaired numerous national AIA committees and task forces across a span of issues, including licensing law, membership, government affairs, and most recently, the Component Partnerships Committee.

Prior to his career at the AIACC, Welch was the executive officer for the California State Board of Architectural Examiners from 1978 to 1981, and served earlier as director of Consumer Affairs for the California counties of Stanislaus and Monterey. A native of Modesto, he graduated from California State University, Humboldt with a degree in Natural Resource Management, post-graduate work in Public Administration at California State University, Stanislaus, and holds an Honorary Masters of Architecture from the New School of Architecture and Design in San Diego. Welch will relocate to Washington, D.C. during the interim period.

So that Welch can devote his time and energies to his new assignment, the AIACC executive committee will appoint Nicki Dennis Stephens, Hon. AIACC, to serve as interim AIACC Executive Vice President.

“As AIACC senior director, Nicki is well prepared to assume the responsibilities of the position, and we are confident that AIACC staff will continue the high quality of member services and delivery” said AIACC President Nicholas Docous, AIA.