On Tuesday, July 13th the AIANY Emerging New York Architects (ENYA) and Women in Architecture (WIA) committees co-hosted a panel discussion, ‘Founders’ Showcase: Women-Owned Firms In The Spotlight’, highlighting female founders of firms ranging from less than 10 years to Fellows who have been heading their practice for decades. Their stories inspire and lead the way for a new generation of design professionals.

The speakers included Roberta Washington, FAIA, NOMAC, Principal, Roberta Washington Architects; Laura Heim, FAIA, LEED AP, Principal, Laura Heim Architect PLLC; Sara Jazayeri, AIA, Founding Principal, Studio 360; Julie Torres Moskovitz, AIA, Principal and Founder, Fete Nature Architecture; and Inés Guzmán Mendez, Director and Partner, Taller KEN. Their diverse backgrounds, paths and viewpoints resulted in an enriching and engaging conversation. Event moderator, Andrea Steele, AIA, Founding Principal, Andrea Steele Architecture did a marvelous job guiding the conversation and weaving the stories and themes together with her own experiences.

The speakers shared their motivations for starting their own firms. They shared some of the challenges they faced with workplace culture, racial and gender bias, not being recognized for their contributions, and family planning – and how those experiences shaped their decisions as well as the values of their practices.

A common vision and passion emerged for building and healing communities, social impact, client engagement, creating partnerships, and mentorship. We were inspired to focus not on limitations, but on possibilities and opportunities.  We understood the importance of empathy, critical thinking, perseverance, tapping into resources, learning, communication, and acknowledging the value of our work.

We are grateful for the speakers’ time, leadership, and contribution. We also thank all those who attended and participated in the Q&A.

We invite everyone to contribute to the WIA Programs and Events Survey to help make our future programs and events more relevant to your interests and professional development goals in the upcoming year. The survey closes on August 20. We also encourage emerging professionals to apply for the TORCH Mentorship Program, the deadline for which is August 1, 2021. Please follow the ENYA and WIA Committees on social media and register for upcoming events!