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Class of 2019
AIA New York is pleased to announce the 2019 class of the Civic Leadership Program (CLP). Ten talented and civically-minded emerging architecture professionals will participate in a six-month mentorship and training program to develop skills to engage in the civic process.

Frank Ball, Assoc. AIA, Edelman Sultan Knox Wood / Architects

Frank Ball is a graduate of the Pratt School of Architecture and currently works as an architectural designer pursuing licensure. At Edelman Sultan Knox Wood / Architects, Ball is working on the construction of supportive and affordable housing, an extensive public school addition/renovation, and the conversion of a boutique hotel into a homeless shelter for women. Ball also regularly volunteers with children’s workshops like nycoba|NOMA’s Project Pipeline/Architecture Day. Before pursuing architecture, Frank explored careers in EMS, aviation, and fine arts, but ultimately found inspiration in designers like David Adjaye, Charles Moore, and Buckminster Fuller. Outside of his architectural interests, you may find him tinkering with junk or stringing together lines of code.

Ane Gonzalez Lara, Assoc. AIA, Idyll Studio

Ane Gonzalez Lara is a designer and founder of Idyll Studio and a professor at Pratt Institute with wide-ranging interests in Ibero- and Latin-American contemporary design and urbanism. Her professional work with Idyll balances social and cultural concerns with extensive formal and material research. As part of her studio teaching, she has developed academic research initiatives that examine the United States-Mexican border and the Morocco-Spain; she has also hosted programs, including a roundtable at this year’s Venice Biennale, on these issues. Gonzalez Lara received her Master and Bachelor of Architecture degrees from the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura in Navarre, Spain. Prior to Pratt, she taught at the University of New Mexico and the University of Houston.

Casie Kowalski, Assoc. AIA, Andrea Steele Architecture

Casie Kowalski is a civic-minded designer, an emerging professional pursuing licensure, and a proactive community member. She is currently a Project Manager at Andrea Steele Architecture (ASA), working on projects ranging from an artists’ residency to a three-tower mixed-use project in East Harlem. She is a mentor in her office and strives to expand the firm’s presence in the local community through volunteering and events. Since moving to New York in 2014, Kowalski has volunteered for organizations focusing on the arts, gender, and social equity. She is currently serving her second year as a Portfolio Mentor for Free Arts NYC and also serves on the Junior Board of the organization. In addition, Kowalski just completed her first Grant Advisory Committee session for the New York Women’s Foundation. She also serves on a newly created Emerging Leaders Network for the Women’s Foundation, which highlights grantee partners, local activists and organizers, and those seeking to empower women, girls, and gender non-conforming individuals.

Richard May, AIA, HNTB Corporation

Richard May’s early years were spent in Ringwood in Northern New Jersey. His character and worldview are largely influenced by an amalgamation of the tenants of Unitarian Universalism, the Boy Scouts of America, and the architectural pedagogy of Carnegie Mellon University. These are summarized by the belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person, the importance of rigor in pursuing our passions, and the responsibility of enlightening those around us through mentoring. After graduating in 2015 with a B. Arch, he interned at NASA before returning to New York City. Here, he began his career at the infrastructure firm HNTB, where he designs and manages projects in the transportation sector. At HNTB, May has developed his architectural, collaborative, mentorship, and planning skills. In 2018, May received his architectural license. Having reached this milestone, he seeks to continue to learn so that he can one day contribute to solving society’s most pressing challenges. May has a passion for the environment, both enjoying it and preserving it; he is an avid cyclist, camper and vegan.

Kenneth Nelson, Assoc. AIA, Think Design Architecture

Kenneth W. Nelson was born and raised in Brooklyn and moved to Staten Island in 1996. A few years after graduating from high school, he obtained an internship at Christopher V. Papa Architects. While attending the New York Institute of Technology, Nelson was offered a full-time position as a junior draftsman at the firm. This early role influenced his later work designing residential, commercial, manufacturing, and industrial projects across New York City’s five boroughs. Following Hurricane Sandy, Nelson began volunteering with the Construct Relief Foundation, which sparked his passion in making a difference in his local community. Today, as Lead Project Manager at Think Design Architecture, Nelson represents a team of 14, making sure that the relationship between owner and contractor is smooth across every project. As a future civic leader, he hopes to introduce children and teenagers in rural areas to the architecture, making them aware of how design expertise can bring positive change to their surroundings. In Kenneth’s free time he enjoys being with his two daughters and wife.

Delma Palma, AIA, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)

Delma Palma is a licensed architect and urban designer at NYCHA. She was brought on as a Design Innovation Fellow to lead the Connected Communities Initiative, which helps to better connect the over 400,000 public housing residents to their surround­ing neighborhood through the design of the public realm. Palma leads several of NYCHA’s strategic partnerships to further design excellence across the authority’s 2,400 acres. Her work focuses on combating the effects of social isolation, addressing physical and mental health, and mitigating issues of safety and security through a community-led and holistic design process. Prior to her work at NYCHA, she worked at Torti Gallas and Partners in Washington, DC, working on affordable and mixed-income communities all over the country. Prior to that, Palma worked with the largest social housing organization in Latin America, TECHO, doing research on housing policy and modular construction. Delma is committed to using design as a tool to build equity and livability in urban areas. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame School of Architecture and currently resides in Jackson Heights, Queens.

Fahir Burak Unel, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Ennead Architects

Originally from Istanbul, Turkey, Fahir Burak Unel earned his B. Arch. from Syracuse University, with a secondary focus on applied entrepreneurship. After graduating, he took part in a New York State-sponsored fellowship on sustainable technologies before being invited to work abroad in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, where he designed projects at various scales, both as a part of a larger international practice and as a volunteer architectural designer for regional NGOs working to empower disenfranchised communities. Upon returning to the US, Burak pursued his M. Arch. II in advanced building technologies at Cornell University. He currently works at Ennead Architects, where he continues to explore the intersection of sustainability, affordability, and technology. He further dedicates his time to mentorship programs and works with organizations like NCARB to tackle issues of diversity, equity, and representation in architecture. Burak also contributes think pieces to architectural publications like Metropolis magazine.

Athena Unroe, Assoc. AIA, Dattner Architects

Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Athena Unroe’s formative years were spent exploring Olmsted parkways, verdant forests, and the waterfronts of the Ohio River Valley region. Constantly inspired by the complexity of urban systems, she is drawn to the intersection between the natural and built environment at multiple scales: regional, infrastructural, architectural, and human. As an architect, she understands these systems through active engagement with her environment, analyzing and documenting sites on the move through running, biking, hiking, and boating. This method of research, along with her deep ties to the region, led to her thesis, Civic Landscapes: Ohio River Passage, at the Cooper Union in New York City. While in school, she was able to more deeply pursue her interest in civic projects, working on NYC’s Build-it-Back program. This taught her the importance of building resilient structures as infrastructure for houses in Far Rockaway, Queens, connecting her to larger scale issues that both regions share: how to develop public space from formerly active infrastructure zones on the water. She is currently working on civic projects in multiple NYC boroughs in the Infrastructure and Transportation Studio at Dattner Architects.

Becky Yurek, AIA, NYC Department of Design and Construction

Becky Yurek works at the intersection of architecture, landscape, and urban design, giving voice to design quality in the public realm. A registered architect with 15 years of professional experience, she believes in the power of design to shape daily experience and its ability to address the most complex of urban challenges. Serving as Design Liaison on the Design and Construction Excellence team at NYC DDC, Yurek helps ensure the quality and viability of design throughout the life of a project. She leads design procurements and engages with projects from predesign through construction, working with design consultants, City partners, and agency technical teams to ensure that capital projects align with key City priorities of equity, sustainability, resiliency, and wellbeing. In addition, she serves as DDC’s liaison to the NYC Public Design Commission. Prior to joining DDC, Yurek served as Project Architect at Leroy Street Studio and designer at Marpillero Pollak Architects, Hargreaves Associates, and Hester Street Collaborative. Yurek holds a BA from Brown University and an M. Arch from the University of Virginia.

Leanne Zick, Assoc. AIA, Perkins Eastman

Leanne Zick was born and raised in Baldwin, New York. She is passionate about accessibility, equity, and fairness in the sustainable built environment. Zick received a B. Arch. From the Macaulay Honors College at CUNY City College. During her undergraduate studies, her neighborhood and home flooded in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. As a result, she volunteered in rebuilding efforts in Long Island City and other affected tri-state areas. Informed by this experience, Zick’s thesis project explored a design for a climate change museum sited as part of the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project’s berm. While in college, Zick also participated in study abroad programs in Barcelona, Spain, and Istanbul, Turkey. She is currently an architecture designer at Perkins Eastman, focusing on governmental and institutional projects, in particular the Manhattan Courts Master Plan and the borough-based NYC Jails Master Plan. She is a LEED Green Associate and completed her Architectural Registration Exams, expecting licensure in summer of 2019. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering with Habitat for Humanity, exploring NYC waterfronts, and playing intramural volleyball.

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