Donny Phipps: Upholding the high standards of professionalism in the building safety community
Whether you are new to the construction profession, an experienced tradesperson or an accomplished code professional looking to enhance your knowledge, advance your career or earn certification, you need a variety of education and certification options to help you reach your professional goals. Dedicated to strengthening the credibility of the International Code Council’s certification and education programs, the Professional Development Council (PDC) advises the Board of Directors on coordinated career path resources for Code Council members. The Professional Development Council is comprised of the Education Committee — that provides strategic direction and facilitates the development and delivery of comprehensive code-related courses to help code officials, inspectors and design professionals elevate their qualifications, advance and grow in their profession — and the Certification Committee, which promotes the professionalism of individuals in the built environment by providing professional examinations and certification services worldwide.
It takes the time and expertise of many individuals working through the numerous Code Council committees to shape it into the world-class membership association that exists today. Volunteers, one of the most important assets of the Code Council, play a key role in the day-to-day work of the Professional Development Council and are integral to helping develop the certification and education avenues that help building safety professionals to be effective in U.S. and global communities.
In this exclusive feature for the Building Safety Journal, we asked Donny Phipps to share his experience serving on the Code Council’s Professional Development Council, his professional career, and any insights or advice he has concerning the industry.
CC&I Services / Town of Irmo
Irmo, South Carolina, United States
International Code Council member for 20 years
Building Officials Association of South Carolina
How long have you been in the industry?
What was the path to your career — how and why did you pursue a profession in building safety?
My father was a home builder, developed and drew house plans. I helped out at an early age with clean-up. In high school I drew house plans, help my brother lay off homes, digging footings, placing concrete and framing. My uncle was also a builder and was the first building official for the city of Columbia. Attended school drafting technology and design. Joined the army and signed up for 81B drafting in AIT. After the service of which most of my tour was a Drill Sgt. at Fort Leonard-wood, MO. I worked several jobs in the hotel/motel front office manager and night auditor; for Miles construction company for a brief time and last SC Dept. of corrections. in October 1974 I was hired by the city of Columbia as a housing inspector. 29 years with Columbia, 14.5 years with Richland County and currently from October 2019 with CC&I as Business Development Manager and now building official for the Town of Irmo, SC.
What major changes have you seen?
Technology has come so far in construction and design. How homes and commercial were built then and now. Fire and life safety is some of the most important changes that I have seen.
What excites you about the future of your industry?
Growth, more to learn, new technology, but most is refurbishing old buildings of the past to safe and beautiful structures today. Seeing the construction methods in historical buildings be saved and highlighted.
What do you see as most surprising about the work that you do?
The fast pace growth of development and homes, apartments and renovations being done.
What led you to apply to become a member of the Professional Development Council?
I served on the BIPS before it was divided into the PDC Committees. Enjoyed the work we did then. I requested to serve as the ICC Board Liaison and have enjoyed the new style and how it works, chair, committees and staff are extremely sharp and well-motivated.
What do you see as your role on the Professional Development Council/Education Committee/Certification Committee?
To participate as needed, report information back to the board.
Being a part of the Professional Development Council provides you with an overarching view of the education and certification offerings provided by the Code Council. With that knowledge, what would you recommend to individuals who are entering the industry?
Be involved as early as you can seeking out quality training courses, train with co-workers, taking tests after any training course for certification.
What has been your most satisfying accomplishment with your work on the Professional Development Council?
Listening to committee members and learning from them, giving input of ideas and experience when needed.
And finally, this last question is a fun one we ask for our Building Safety Journal readers. If you could have any superhero power, what power would you have and why?
Peace and health. To bring peace among everyone to get along with each other, to shake hands and hugs. Health to end viruses such as COVID-19.
Thank you for your work on the Professional Development Council. Your dedication to strengthening the Code Council’s certification and education programs is impressive and we appreciate your commitment to upholding the high standards of professionalism in the building safety community.
About the Professional Development Council
The Professional Development Council recommends initiatives identified by the Education Committee and the Certification Committee to better serve the needs of the membership, coordinates the goals and objectives of the Education Committee and the Certification Committee, and identifies certification and education issues arising from Code Council policies that will improve or enhance the position of the association.
The Education Committee is committed to providing strategic direction and facilitating the development and delivery of the most comprehensive portfolio of code-related courses available to meet the needs of code officials, inspectors and design professionals to elevate their qualifications as well as help them advance and grow in their profession. The Education Committee is responsible for advising Code Council staff and the Board of Directors on matters related to the ICC Education Program and the Learning Center, reviewing and selecting the topics and presenters for the annual business meeting, providing a review and recommendation for the Educator of the Year award, serving as a resource for review of potential learning initiatives and curriculums within the Learning Center, providing new topics and concepts for learning initiatives within the Learning Center, promoting and encouraging members to take advantage of the training offered by the Learning Center, and relaying information provided by the membership to staff in order to improve programs.
“The insight and guidance the Education Committee provides the Code Council is beyond measure,” said Tracy Lendi, vice president of Training & Education for the International Code Council. “While not only offering a myriad of educational ideas, the committee offers a safe place to discuss and debate these ideas so we can provide comprehensive and effective training solutions to the building industry. Being a part of the Educational Committee is truly my honor and privilege.”
The Certification Committee is dedicated to promoting the professionalism of individuals in the built environment by providing professional examinations and certification services worldwide. It has sole authority over the rules and procedures of the ICC Certification Program, including such topics as the renewals process, examination security policies and disciplinary action. The Certification Committee is responsible for advising Code Council staff and the Board of Directors on all matters related to the Certification Program, maintaining the International Registry of current ICC Certified professionals, supporting international recognition of ICC Certifications, direction and oversight of the Examination Development Committees, and serving as a disciplinary board.
“It is a privilege to work with the members of the Certification Committee,” said Autumn Saylor, director of the International Code Council’s Assessment Center. “The Code Council appreciates the committee’s commitment to upholding the high standards of professionalism in the building safety community.”
From an array of training options for every individual to the ICC Assessment Center, the Career Center, the signature Safety 2.0 initiative, or its Scholarship Program, the Code Council is committed to supporting the education and certification of existing and future code officials.