An Interview with IRWA International President
AIMIE MIMS, SR/WA
Aimie Mims, SR/WA, gazed into the crowd at the Annual International
Education Conference in Portland, Oregon. She had just been presented
with the International President’s pin and the audience looked back at her
with anticipation. This was an enormous moment in her IRWA career,
and she couldn’t help but think of the innumerable highs and lows that
led to this.
As she stepped up to the podium, her mind raced thinking of the
challenges she had faced in the previous year alone. There were moments,
she admitted to herself, when she wondered if it was all worth it. She had
joined the International Executive Committee in an untraditional way
and her journey hadn’t been the easiest. But in the audience, she saw the
familiar faces of her mother and her two month old baby, her mentors,
colleagues and friends—people who supported her throughout this
journey and who fiercely believed in her. In that moment, she knew the
struggles she faced and the challenges yet to come would be worth it to
ensure that this Association thrives.
There was no doubt that stepping into this position as President meant
an incredible amount of responsibility. She was about to embark on
what could be one of the most difficult and rewarding years of her entire
professional and volunteer career. But she also realized that despite any
nerves or any doubts, she was ready.
Aimie looked to the teleprompter and saw a single word rise up before
her: breathe. It was a reminder she wrote to herself knowing that her
emotions would be running high during such an important moment. So
she took a breath, smiled to the crowd and began her speech as IRWA’s
Tell us how you first became involved in the right of way
After serving in the United States Peace Corps as a Community
Education Promoter for four years in Guyana, South America, I returned
home to Minnesota unsure of my next move. I took a job as a temporary
front desk receptionist at an engineering firm in my hometown. I started
helping the project team on tasks such as landowner mailings, contact
log set up and quality control, document research and recording. After
several weeks of working together and getting to know each other,
the project manager said he was pleased with my performance and
intrigued by my background in conflict resolution. He asked if I would be
interested in joining their right of way team, to which I responded, “Sure!
What’s right of way?” And the rest is history.
Was there a particular reason or
person that led you to join the IRWA?
The person that got me started in right of
way, Michael Noonan, encouraged me to
join the IRWA to expand my professional
network and help build my technical skillset
through the educational courses. It was
probably the best advice I ever received.
Mike has been an incredible mentor to
me over the past decade and still is to this
day. He’s helped teach me the technical
aspects of our profession and has provided
unwavering support and encouragement in
my professional endeavors. My hope is that
I can “pay it forward” by mentoring and
supporting my team members as Mike has
done for me.
What was your initial impression
of the Association and has that
I remember attending my very first IRWA
Minnesota Chapter 20 meeting held at the
Midland Hills Country Club in St. Paul.
The room was packed with around 40-50
people. Everyone seemed like old friends,
which was initially intimidating. However,
I was warmly welcomed by many members
and that quickly put me at ease. I remember
thinking there must be a reason the meeting
had such a large turnout and I was intrigued
to find out why.
Now after having attended numerous
meetings over the past 10+ years, I believe
our education, credentialing, certifications
and networking contribute to what makes
this Association so great. But it’s clearly
more than that. To so many of us, when
we think about the IRWA, we think about
lifelong friendships and the ability to pick up