Clifford Marvin on the importance and value of being a volunteer

Peter Kray is a content strategist with CSI. He can be reached at

CSI is grateful for all the association’s invaluable current and past volunteers. This spring, CSI put the spotlight on its members who go the extra mile for their friends and colleagues.

Here, Clifford Marvin, CSI, CCS, CDT, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP, SCIP, talks about why volunteering is important to him, and the impact it has had on his career.

How did you first decide to volunteer, and what is your area of expertise?

I was a CCS before joining CSI. I was asked by the Metro NY chapter to consider teaching the CDT review course and to chair the certification committee. The chapter leadership didn’t realize I wasn’t even a member yet when they asked me to do this. After I accepted the position, CSI National informed me I had to join. I currently work as an architectural specifications writer for Katerra Inc., a major manufacturer of cross-laminated timber.

Why is the work you do as a volunteer important to you?

I’ve been a volunteer since my youth in Catholic school and at the YMCA. I sold cookies, mints, and buttered bread to support the homeless. Nowadays, I occasionally volunteer for the Block Project in Washington, and chair the membership committee and sit on the board of the Seattle Building Enclosure Council (SeaBEC). I’m expecting to be appointed in the coming fiscal year as a director in the CSI Mt. Rainier chapter, in which I’m also active. I do it for spiritual reasons. There are a lot of people in this world who are much less fortunate than I am. I just want to share what I can to try and make their life a little more pleasurable.

What impact have other volunteers had on your career?

I was inspired in my youth to volunteer by my family, my teachers, the leaders of my church, my community, and the YMCA leadership.

How might other AECO professionals volunteer in their community, and why might you encourage them to do so?

Volunteering is an ultimately gratifying experience. I’ve never regretted my volunteer activities. I’ve always gotten something out of them, although I’m never looking for any compensation when I volunteer. In my experience, there is no shortage of volunteering opportunities. You just have to look. If you go to church, ask your pastor or priest what you can do. If you go to the YMCA, ask the youth director if there are opportunities for volunteering. As professionals, our industry associations are always looking for volunteers. Go to your local AIA, CSI, AGC, or any of the other trade groups to find opportunities. there is no shortage of opportunities.

Favorite podcast or book?

I generally don’t listen to podcasts since I simply don’t have the time. Books are my passion, but my interests lie on the dark side. One of my favorite novels is “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad. I collect comic books because I love the artwork. I am currently re-reading “Amusing Ourselves to Death” by Neil Postman, “The Sibling Society” by Robert Bly, and I’m about to start “Stoics and Neostoics: Rubens and the Circle of Lipsius” by Mark Morford. I have the 13th and 14th books of the “Hollows” series by Kim Harrison, a fantasy about witches, elves, demons, vampires, werewolves, gargoyles, etc. set in the future in Cincinnati, waiting for me to read, and the 15th book will be published this summer. It’s on my list.

Favorite Hobbies?

Reading and movies are my favorite pastimes. I also like biking, swimming, and hiking. Hiking in the mountains in Washington is awesome! Eating out is another favorite activity.

Is there anything else you would have liked me to ask you?

My daughter gets it. From an early age, I taught her the value of volunteering, and she now works for a non-profit helping people less fortunate than she is. I’d like to see CSI taking the initiative to reach younger folk to influence them to venture into the construction trades and professions. I think the ‘let’s build girls’ camp’ is the best idea they’ve come up with in a long time. How about one for boys!

You’re invited to learn how to become a CSI Volunteer or opt into the CSI Volunteer Pool to easily apply for opportunities that are a match for your interests and availability.

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