With just hours left for members to cast their votes, Annette Fisher explains why she believes Funmbi Adeagbo is best qualified to lead the institute


Source: FA Global

Annette Fisher

In 1999, I broke barriers as the first Black person elected to the RIBA Council. Three years later in 2002, 22 years ago, I even ran for RIBA President. Now as history unfolds, I see that the RIBA needs a critical refresh. Despite progress, the journey towards true inclusivity remains a long and very challenging one.

“We still today have a long way to go and we have to continue our work” — ROSA PARKS

In 2021, after an RIBA/NIA(Nigerian Institute of Architects) zoom conference during the pandemic, Miss Adeagbo reached out to me. She was polite and suggested we meet in person. Reflecting on the journey that began with a simple virtual introduction, we’ve fulfilled this promise. Fast forward to today and our connection has grown, and we finally meet.

I invited her to participate as a speaker at Let’s Build’s Pecha Kucha debate on Climate Change: Reimagine Our City, part of the London Festival of Architecture. She spoke from the heart about the very serious issues of flooding and coastal erosion in her home city of Lagos and how her experiences as a child led her to choosing architecture as a profession. I was impressed by her insight and critical analysis of material culture, colonial legacies and observations on how global interest affects marginal communities.

>> Also read: Funmbi Adeagbo: ‘Architects need to get their hands dirty. We need to be thinking more like builders’

She may appear young but that did not diminish her ability to take the crowd along the journey. We have had a similar trajectory. I am excited to see what the presidency under her would deliver for the RIBA. I believe the capacity to respect different perspectives and listen to others is so important for leaders.

She also doesn’t shy away from hard questions. In fact her ability to answer them honestly with careful consideration is something we could all learn from.

When it comes to commitment I am very sure she will do well. She proves it with action. No matter what she is asked for she always seems willing to step up with ease. These sort of characters are rare gems and the whole organisation would benefit from having these sorts of individuals at the helm. They bring everyone along.

It’s important that we empower the next generation and give them the confidence to take the reins and lead us to a better and sustainable future

Times have changed but the need for greater diversity within the institution has not. Funmbi is a dynamic character who speaks truth to power and is unafraid to be vulnerable if that is what it takes to bridge the gap. I encourage voters to look into her material and watch the election content, hosted on the RIBA site and Black Females in Architecture site. The president does not hold the money purse to the institute like back in my days on council. But they are still the person who gets in the ring to fight for/promote the profession. Funmbi is tenacious.

I’m pleased she has now come on board as a brand ambassador for Let’s Build. I founded the Let’s Build initiative in 2019 to address the lack of diversity in the profession, to promote and celebrate the underrepresented. We host a series of talks and events throughout the year focusing on key issues.

Our primary aim is to identify role models and inspire the next generation. Let’s Build Academy is now offering coaching and mentoring to young professionals. Supporting them through the early stages of development and partnering them with potential employers.

It’s important that we empower the next generation and give them the confidence to take the reins and lead us to a better and sustainable future, especially when things are changing at an ever increasing pace. We have had our time in the sun. Let them lead!

>> Also read: Inclusion Emergency: ‘An emergency that we can no longer afford to ignore’