Community Connection: IIDA-WI with Emili Spencer

Through JLA’s Community Connection blog series, we’re sharing some of the causes and industry organizations that are nearest and dearest to our team member’s hearts. Meet Emili Spencer, JLA’s Senior Interior Designer. Emili has 20 years of experience designing in a variety of market sectors including commercial, higher education and senior living environments. She has a passion for designing specialized environments and mentoring the next generation of interior designers. She is an active member of the International Interior Design Association, so we sat down with her to learn more about the organization.


In what capacity are you involved with the International Interior Design Association Wisconsin Chapter (IIDA-WI)?

Emili: I’ve been an active member of the IIDA Wisconsin Chapter since 2017.  I joined the DEI committee 18 months ago and became co-chair in January 2023.  I have also been a member of other chapters in other states over my 20+ year career.

Tell me more about the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee.

Emili: Our committee mission statement sums it up well:

“As interiors designers and industry partners, diversity and inclusion are in our DNA.  IIDA WI’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee commits to be a catalyst and source of empowerment for those who are underrepresented in our communities, specifically engaging with the youth of Boys and Girls Clubs of Wisconsin (BGCWI) a partnership through volunteering.” 

We are building a relationship with BGCWI, and IIDA members are volunteering at clubs in their local area. We hope to inspire youth to explore careers in the interior design industry. Additionally, IIDA Wisconsin Chapter holds an event, Evoke, in the fall to raise money and awareness for BGCWI.

We are also reintroducing a DEI book club for the chapter, and I will be moderating the discussion. Typically, the discussions give us an opportunity to discuss DEI subjects in a brave space to explore personal experiences and new pers0070ectives on the topic. A few books from previous club meetings were “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah, “Such a Fun Age” by Kiley Reid, and “The Seed Keeper” by Diane Wilson.

How does this your involvement with IIDA impact your work at JLA?

Emili: My involvement with IIDA Headquarters and IIDA Wisconsin is integral to being a professional interior designer. It creates opportunities for networking, education, inspiration, and professional development to support my career and work at JLA. The relationships I have built within the organization support project development and access to the products that are current and fit each client’s needs. Not to mention, I consider many members personal friends. I can’t imagine my career without this connection. One of my favorite events is IIDA Wisconsin’s Celebrate in Design Awards event in the spring. Supporting interior designer’s achievements and seeing the work my colleagues have completed is inspirational and keeps me relevant to work in the community and across the nation.

What else should the greater community know about IIDA?

Emili: I love that IIDA and IIDA Wisconsin support interior design students with scholarships and networking. Mentoring emerging professionals is a passion of mine. I served three years as an IIDA campus center student advisor and was honored with Madison College’s Outstanding Club Advisor of the Year in 2021. IIDA Wisconsin holds two events each year:  The Great Bag Bash raises scholarship money for Wisconsin interior design students and they hold a Career Day for students to network and learn more about the industry. Additionally, they have student entries for the Celebrate in Design awards. In 2022, two of my students entered their projects from a course I taught that was DEI centered and won Best of Competition and First Place Hospitality/Retail!


The Wisconsin Chapter of IIDA was founded in 1994 to support local designers in their journey for design excellence.  The Chapter supports its member’s growth in the industry through continuing education and networking.

IIDA has more than 13,000 members in 30 Chapters around the world committed to enhancing the quality of life through excellence in interior design and advancing interior design through knowledge.

Learn more about IIDA-WI here.


Here at JLA, we believe giving back is the right thing to do so we support organizations working to make the world a better place. Through our community outreach program, JLA Gives Back, our team works hard to make a positive and tangible impact in our local Colorado & Wisconsin communities. In this blog series, we’re sharing some of the causes and industry organizations that are nearest and dearest to our team member’s hearts.  Whether we are designing a library or volunteering at a food pantry, every day we are driven to create change in our communities through the practice of action in tangible ways.