Class of 2020

AIA New York is pleased to announce the 2020 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. Download the Class Yearbook here.

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Sarah Ahmad, Assoc. AIA

Inspired to help rebuild communities around the world, Sarah Ahmad pursued the M.Arch program at the CCNY Spitzer School of Architecture. While there, she explored different facets of architecture, from redefining the public sphere as a political tool to the study of smart materials like shape memory polymers and alloys. At Gregory Switzer Architecture, her work ranges from residential projects in Harlem to mixed-use projects throughout New York City. Her core beliefs center around inclusivity and diversity for more women of color in STEM fields. She prides her work with the Intrepid Museum’s GOALS Mentorship program, which provides resources and networks to a diverse group of female New York City high school students. As she continues to pursue licensure, Ahmad hopes to eventually work abroad in hard hit communities to help rebuild. Until then, she spends her free time reading, traveling, and always ready for a debate.

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Corey Arena, Assoc. AIA

Corey Arena is a designer at Gans & Company, where his work engages public architecture and community-focused design. He received his B.Arch from Pratt Institute, where he was co-founder and president of Pratt Student Action for Inclusive Design (SAID), an organization that seeks to uncover how disciplinary and pedagogical practices systematically disadvantage individuals. His thesis critiqued the single-family home as a cultural, economic, and spatial project in the shadow of the 2008 recession. Arena is a member of the AIANY Diversity and Inclusion Committee and The Architecture Lobby New York City Chapter, where he recently helped organize “Recession Roundtable: What’s it like to graduate into a recession?” for graduating architecture students. Current projects include post-Sandy housing through the NYC Mayor’s Office of Housing Recovery Operations and a garden courtyard renovation for the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.

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Betsy Daniel, AIA

Betsy Daniel is a civically minded and community-orientated designer, urban designer, and licensed architect. Upon graduating from Syracuse University in 2014 with a B.Arch, Daniel practiced for several years at a small architecture firm that focused on high-end residential work. While there, however, she realized that design should have a greater community impact and that the silo of architectural practice could not achieve this. Daniel then pursued an M.S. in Architecture and Urban Design at Columbia University, a program that fostered the importance of multi-scalar systems thinking and community engagement. At Columbia, she was a 2018 Engage Community Design Fellow for the Mayor’s Action Plan for Neighborhood Safety. She was also a research scholar for the Hudson Valley Initiative. Daniel is currently an Associate Urban Designer at HOK New York, working on projects ranging from entitlement projects and ULURPs to campus design and future districts. Daniel also serves as a mentor for the ACE Mentorship Program.

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Stephanie Jones, Assoc. AIA

Stephanie Jones received her BS in Architecture from Ohio State University and her Master’s degree at Columbia University. Following her graduation in 2015, she went to work for Architecture Outfit (AO) where she continues to be a Project Designer working toward licensure. Many of her early AO projects involved the design of fast-casual restaurants and retail spaces, which serve hundreds to thousands of diverse people every day. She strives to improve people’s daily experiences and engages closely with owners to establish branding and identity through architecture. From these small-scale projects, she has learned about social dimensions, system strategies, and placemaking. Outside of work, Jones is a volunteer for Open House New York and a founding member of the Hell’s Kitchen Democrats, a political club focused on community issues and local elections. She is also an avid volleyball player for multiple teams in both the New York Urban Professionals League and Volleyball Long Island.

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Charlotte Laffler

Charlotte Laffler is the Project Manager for Skidmore Owings & Merrill’s City Design Practice, where she manages urban design and open space projects, including the master plan for the South Street Seaport, and supports the practice’s new business efforts. In her past role as the Assistant Director of Operations and Public Space at the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, Laffler supervised the district’s maintenance, sanitation, and landscaping programs as well as a portfolio of over 1.1 million square feet of public space. She also co-developed the Partnership’s Living Lab program, which builds collaborations with urban tech companies to produce district improvements based on neighborhood-level data. Laffler has volunteered with Minds Matter, a high school mentorship program, for the past three years and is a proud alumnus of Coro’s Leadership New York program, where she completed a group research project on the impact of New York City’s nightlife ecosystem. She has a Master of Urban Planning degree from New York University and a BA in Urban Studies from the University of Michigan. Her favorite things about New York include BAM, the Tribeca Film Festival, and (unfortunately) the Knicks.

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Peter Martin, Assoc. AIA

Peter Martin is a graduate of Syracuse University School of Architecture and an emerging professional pursuing licensure in New York. At Syracuse, he took an interest in civic-minded design, culminating in the Chancellor’s Award for Public Engagement. This experience propelled him to pursue a career in architecture that would balance formal aspirations with socially equitable design. He is currently an Associate at Bergen Street Studio, working on projects that range in scale and typology from small residential to large healthcare projects. Throughout that time he has contributed to expand the firm’s civic engagement through projects that address global health inequality. Martin is also a member of the AIANY Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

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Christopher Perrodin, Assoc. AIA

Christopher Perrodin is a designer at Curtis + Ginsberg Architects, where he works on a variety of projects, including large-scale rehabilitations of existing New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) properties, new ground-up townhouses, and a community center renovation. Architecture’s ability to shape public space and advocate for civic ideals was impressed upon Perrodin as a graduate student at Washington University in St. Louis, where he collaborated with students aged 12-16 a to develop architecture briefs s a means of generating engagement and partnership. He previously worked at Fivedot in Seattle, where he designed a farming village for previously landless tenant farmers in Nicaragua that used a variety of methodologies for interacting and weaving the community’s needs into a proposal. Since moving to New York City, he has actively engaged with his local community board.

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Motoko Shoboji, AIA, LEED AP BD+C

Born and raised in Tokyo, Motoko Shoboji has lived, studied, and worked in 10 different cities across five countries. After she and her husband moved to New York City in 2009, their love of the city’s diversity and energy made them decide to stay and raise a family. After earning a BA in Economics at Waseda University in Tokyo, Shoboji worked as a research consultant to the Japanese government, helping to shape various financial policies. Although the work was interesting, she could not deny her passion: architecture. She later gained a Master of Architecture from Southern California Institute of Architecture. Shoboji has designed innovative and environmentally responsive projects at Coop Himmelb(l)au, Behr Browers Architects, and David Hertz FAIA Architects. Currently, Shoboji is a Senior Project Manager at the NYC Department of Design and Construction‘s Public Buildings Division. In NYC, she has initiated and led several events, including “Dialogues for a New Japan” at the Center for Architecture in 2011. In 2011, she received the AIANY Women in Architecture Recognition Award.

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Vera A. Voropaeva, AIA, CPHC

Vera A. Voropaeva is a registered architect in the State of New York and is a Certified Passive House Consultant with expertise in sustainability and architectural design. Voropaeva is a project architect at Paul Castrucci Architects where she develops multi-family affordable and supportive housing projects that provide healthy environments. Voropaeva is originally from Minsk, Belarus where she was introduced to civically minded design through social modernist Soviet architecture. She holds a Bachelors of Architecture degree from the University of Oklahoma with a concentration in Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Environment. Upon receiving her degree, she worked for Shigeru Ban Architects, where she contributed to disaster relief efforts following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. She has worked in sustainable product design and prototyping and, while at River Architects, executed multiple Passive House projects. Voropaeva is a founding member of the COVID-19 Volunteer Response Partnership, a coalition of volunteers that support pandemic response, connectivity, and open-source resources. She is currently engaged in advocacy for embodied carbon reduction in the architectural system as well as stewarding the philosophy that quality housing for all is foundational to social equity.

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Jean You, Assoc. AIA

Originally from South Korea, Jean You is an urban planning and resilience expert at UN-Habitat’s Urban Lab, supporting emerging economies in the Global Future Cities Program  prepare and adapt to the impacts of climate change. You is currently working with cities to implement urban projects that are participatory, socially inclusive, and sustainable, in alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals and the New Urban Agenda. Prior to her role at UN-Habitat, You worked in the public sector, where she sought to shape the built environment by bringing design conversations into urban policy. As a senior urban designer and planner at the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP), she worked on Zoning for Coastal Flood Resiliency. At the NYC Department of Design and Construction, she contributed to the Design and Construction Excellence 2.0 Guiding Principles. Whether in a local or international context, You has been an advocate for vulnerable communities, especially those on the frontlines of climate change. She has also been a proponent of people-centered architecture and planning both in her academic studies and professional work. You received a B.Arch. from Cornell University and a dual degree in MAUD and MDes (Risk and Resilience) from Harvard GSD. 


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