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Morrow is honored with Unsung Hero Award

Interior designer turned political activist

Published on Wednesday, December 3, 2014

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Patti Morrow of Greer, center, was honored with the 2014 Unsung Hero Award. Clark Neily, left, nominated Morrow and Helen Krieble presented the award.
 

Patti Morrow of Greer, center, was honored with the 2014 Unsung Hero Award. Clark Neily, left, nominated Morrow and Helen Krieble presented the award.

 



Enlarge photo

Patti Morrow is a former interior designer turned political activist.
 
 
 

Patti Morrow is a former interior designer turned political activist.

 

 

 

Patti Morrow of Greer was honored with the 2014 Unsung Hero Award.  For more than seven years, she has voluntarily led a national campaign to fight against anti-competitive licensing of interior designers.

The Vernon K. Krieble Foundation awarded a $25,000 check to Morrow at the State Policy Network’s 22nd Anniversary Annual Meeting in Denver, Colo.,

“Many excellent candidates from around the country were nominated for the award,” said Helen Krieble. “Patti embodies the spirit of the Vernon K. Krieble Foundation Unsung Hero Award and stood out for her work to protect independent interior designers around the country.”

Morrow is a former interior designer who put aside her furniture catalogs and space plans to challenge the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID)’s rent-seeking efforts to shut out independent practitioners through occupational licensing.

“ASID is the money and muscle behind the 35-year push to shut out potential small business competitors like me,” said Morrow. “They’ve tried to create a monopoly in which only their so-called 'professional' members can practice.”  Morrow, who entered the field of interior design as a second career, told the audience at her presentation she was not going to just sit by and let ASID mandate who could and who could not practice interior design.  

Morrow assembled networks of independent-minded interior designers in each state where ASID-backed legislation had been filed or threatened and transformed those designers into an effective opposition force. She took on ASID in the media, at state capitols and in the blogosphere—sometimes at great personal cost to Morrow, who quickly became a target of vicious personal attacks from ASID members frustrated by the effectiveness of her advocacy.

To circumvent the personal attacks, Morrow created and operates as the Interior Design Protection Council and has been instrumental in derailing more than 150 interior design bills across the country.  “I know, it’s not curing cancer or solving world peace,” said Morrow, “but saving thousands of jobs, well, that’s a good thing.”

Morrow said the award was timely. “Just four months ago, I was nearly killed in a car accident in South Africa,” she said, crutch in hand.  “The $25,000 cash prize will help me pay my expenses from the accident."

Morrow was nominated by Clark Neily, senior attorney at the Institute for Justice. In his nomination, Neily said, “Patti Morrow’s valiant efforts to keep interior design free from ASID’s pro-regulation, pro-licensing juggernaut is a true David-versus-Goliath battle.  If not for her practically singlehanded resistance, several important states such as California, New York, and Texas would likely have adopted ASID-backed occupational licensing laws for interior designers, leading other states to follow suit.  That she has the courage to keep fighting that battle every day is admirable; that she keeps winning is extraordinary.”

Said Neily, “It is no exaggeration to say that of the tens of thousands of people practicing interior design in America today, many are still in business because of someone they never even heard of: Patti Morrow.”

 

 

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