Professional Development Council member Sandi Morris
Sandi Morris supports the education and certification of existing and future code officials through her work on the Professional Development Council
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 Sandi Morris to share her experience serving on the Code Council’s Professional Development Council, her professional career, and any insights or advice she has concerning the industry.
Director, Virginia Building Code Academy
VA Dept. of Housing and Community Development
Richmond, Virginia, United States
International Code Council member for 15 years
Women in Code Enforcement and Development
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?
I actually landed in the code industry by happenstance in 2005. I had been working in training and education for a Connecticut human services agency for nearly 20 years when I was looking for career advancement. It was at that time that I had the good fortune to interview with Emory Rodgers and Bill Dupler for the Jack A. Proctor VA Building Code Academy manager position. Although I knew very little about code enforcement or development I knew quite a bit about running a training program and now 15 years later I couldn’t imagine doing what I do in any other industry.
What major changes have you seen?
My view of the industry is through my learning and development or talent development lens. The most significant change, especially of late, is the use of technology in the delivery of training as well as in code enforcement and development. A recent example is the ability to attend and participate in the code hearings remotely. I know, just for my office alone, it allowed new staff, who would not have otherwise been able to attend, the opportunity to watch and learn from the hearing process. I think remote access will increase attendance and participation. And perhaps even encourage others who are interested in this field to see our work in action.
Also, women in the industry have grown since I started in 2005. Back then it was not uncommon for me to be mistaken as a spouse when I’d attend a conference or be given a curious look when I attended a meeting. We still have a ways to go but it’s great to see more women bringing their expertise, perspective, and commitment to code enforcement and development.
What excites you about the future of your industry?
In terms of the learning and development of our code enforcement personnel, I am most excited about the technology changes. The virtual platform has expanded the reach of training and learning opportunities that I think are here to stay. Virtual technology has not only opened up the classroom to remote attendance but it brings new experiences to the classroom like gamification and virtual reality or simulations giving learners hands-on experiences in the classroom. I think this will be especially beneficial for newer individuals entering our industry with less experience and knowledge than in the past.
What do you see as most surprising about the work that you do?
I don’t know if ‘surprising’ is the word but I am in awe of the passion of folks in our industry. They are some of the most dedicated and committed individuals I have met. Many give endless hours not only to their job but also to the work of their local chapters, to the code development process, and to boards or committees. In Virginia, as I’m sure everywhere, many code officials instruct for our academy, in addition to their involvement in everything else. These really are some of the most dedicated people I have ever met.
What led you to apply to become a member of the Professional Development Council?
Being an empty nester I had been wanting to increase my involvement at the national level and the PDC was a perfect fit for me given my background in managing learning and development. Ongoing learning is critical to stay current in our work and being a member of the PDC is a way for me to support the professional development of our industry.
What do you see as your role on the Professional Development Council/Education Committee/Certification Committee?
I believe my role on the PDC education committee is to bring my 35 years of experience in and knowledge of the training or talent development field to the work of the committee and hopefully offer valuable input to the future of ICC’s education efforts.
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?
I would say that if you are new to the industry the best investment you can make is in yourself. Be a lifelong learner; take advantage of the knowledge and experiences of coworkers and colleagues — they are a great source of learning and mentoring in our industry. Attend the numerous educational opportunities offered by ICC and its preferred providers. The ICC conferences and hearings are a great source of learning and networking as well. And of course, get those ICC certifications! After all that, pay it forward.
What has been your most satisfying accomplishment with your work on the Professional Development Council?
I am fairly new to the Council however being involved in guiding or advising ICC on education needs, initiatives, and programs impacting the professional development of our industry is very exciting and satisfying.
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?
Time travel… I would want my superpower to be the ability to move between points in time. I am so intrigued by time travel and think it would be just fascinating to witness history, meet people who are no longer here, and bring back what I see and learn to make a difference. Although I would love time travel the people around me say I already have a superpower and its event planning — I can plan quite an event or gathering!
Thank you Sandi Morris 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.