Developing a Volunteer Training Program to Help the NAAB Meet Volunteer and Organizational Needs

Developing a Volunteer Training Program to Help the NAAB Meet Volunteer and Organizational Needs
National Architectural Accrediting Board logo on a green background


The National Architectural Accrediting Board, Inc. (NAAB) ensures the quality of education for architects and sets standards for professional education in architecture — not tasks to be taken lightly. Tapping into a diverse group of volunteers to lead accreditation site visits, the NAAB needed to provide guidance for conducting consistent, objective evaluations of professional degree programs in architecture.

The NAAB retained McKinley to identify best practices and capture volunteer experiences, preferences and expectations, all to design a training program that would meet the NAAB’s goals and volunteers’ needs. In addition to interviewing staff, leaders, and site visit volunteers, McKinley conducted benchmarking interviews with other accrediting organizations to identify innovative approaches to training and to discover best practices.


McKinley developed a new volunteer training program that transformed the NAAB’s efforts from a 90-minute PowerPoint presentation to a dynamic year-round process, incorporating both online and face-to-face elements and differentiating between the training needs of site visit volunteers and Team Chairs. The content has been designed to be more interactive as well, including using webinars, case studies, role play, and group work. The new training program has helped to provide comprehensiveness and consistency to the accreditation process.

Interview Transcription:

Andrea: I am Andrea Rutledge; I’m executive director of the National Architectural Accrediting Board. [Our relationship with McKinley] goes back at least four years and maybe more. We had just released what, at the time, were new conditions for accreditation. We came to McKinley and said, “Would you be interested in helping us with this project?” And of course McKinley said, “Of course we’d be happy to help you with this project and we’re going to assign Mike.” And I said, “Yep, okay.” I had no idea then who Mike was, but he asked me some really tough questions about training, about accreditation, [and] about what we do. Then he went and looked around at our peer organizations and came back with some really strong, really implementable recommendations about what we could do to make our training program better. We acted, I think, on every single one.

We’re even at a point now with our peer organizations where they’re asking us, “How do you train your teams?” The most tangible improvement in the way the NAAB does business, over the last five years, has been all about training – training teams, training team chairs. We have a training program in place directly as a result of our first engagement with McKinley. That [has] made a significant difference in how our teams conduct their work and write their reports and that’s huge for us.

Mike: We had several instances throughout our projects where we had to pivot and shift on the fly because of the politics of a situation or because of the sensitivities to the research we were conducting.

I think your point’s really valid in that we were able to adjust as we went along. We wanted to make sure that what we were doing was going to be the right approach.

Even what we had laid out initially, we found as we started conducting focus groups, for example, that we needed to adjust our schedule.

We needed to, address some of those unintended consequences that we suddenly realized by setting up that initial schedule.

Andrea: Right, right.