by Murrye Bernard Assoc. AIA LEED AP
Event: Women’s Leadership Development Summit, Collective Capacity: Building Leadership for Women in Architecture
Location: The Desmond Tutu Center, 09.23-24.10
Speakers: George Miller, FAIA – President, AIA; Betsy Myers; Sue Henderson — VP of Advancement, Queens College; Kathryn Anthony – Professor, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Joan Blumenfeld, FAIA, IIDA, LEED AP — Perkins + Will; Joan Capelin, Hon. AIA — Capelin Communications; Nicole Hollant-Denis, AIA — AARRIS Architects; Jennifer Murphy — Plaza Construction; Barbara Nadel, FAIA — Barbara Nadel Architect; Jinhee Park, AIA — SsD Architecture; Nancy Aber Goshow, AIA — Goshow Architects; Maria Kook, AIA — MSKarchitects; Diane Tien, AIA — Perkins + Will; Rebecca Shambaugh — SHAMBAUGH Leadership Development; Sho Ping Chin, FAIA — Payette; Heather Taylor, AIA — EYP; Carole Wedge, FAIA — Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott; Pam Loeffelman, FAIA — Perkins Eastman; Angela O’Bryne, AIA — PEREZ; Suzane Reatig, FAIA — Suzane Reatig Architecture; Jean Zagrodnik, AIA — Zagrodnik + Thomas; Randy Steiner, AIA — Montgomery College; Katy Flammia, AIA — THEREdesign; Anne Frederick — Hester Street Collaborative; Kimberley Hickson, FAIA — Gensler; Carrie Salter — DSA Builders; Laura Pastine, AIA — form field studio; Molly Jones, AIA — Benham, an SAIC Company; Anne-Marie Lubenau, AIA — Community Design Center of Pittsburgh; Janice Olshesky, AIA — Olshesky Design Group; Margery Perlmutter, Esq., AIA — Bryan Cave; Roberta Washington, FAIA — Roberta Washington Architects; Susan Chin, FAIA — City of New York Dept. of Cultural Affairs; Jeanne Gang, FAIA — Studio Gang
Organizer: National AIA Diversity and Inclusion Council; Boston Society of Architects Women Principals Group; Women in Design Kansas City; AIANY Women in Architecture Committee; Women in Architecture Committee AIA San Diego
As the number of women employees rise in the architectural profession, more women are ascending to leadership positions. Women from a variety of locations and firm types with differing levels of experience recently gathered to tell their stories and discuss leadership strategies at the Women’s Leadership Development Summit.
Leadership is a multifaceted concept, and several words repeated throughout the summit were mentorship, passion, and collaboration. Several speakers, including the lone man in the room, AIA President George Miller, FAIA, emphasized the importance of women seeking mentors (who are not necessarily women themselves) within the profession as they provide invaluable support and advice.
Many women are naturally strong communicators, and speakers encouraged the audience to use this skill to develop relationships and expand their personal networks. However, a common roadblock to women’s success is fear. Sue Henderson, Vice President of Advancement at Queens College, reminded the audience that “to be perfect is to never get anything done.” Betsey Myers, who served as a senior adviser to Barack Obama’s Presidential Campaign, emphasized the importance of knowing when to ask questions and for feedback on one’s performance.
Although Angela O’Bryne, AIA, president of PEREZ, feels that, “being a generalist is good” to understand the ins and outs of accounting and business, Nancy Aber Goshow, AIA, principal of Goshow Architects, suggested that women should “find a need and fill it.” For example, Diane Tsien, AIA, an associate at Perkins+Will became a technology expert, while Barbara Nadel, FAIA, founder of Barbara Nadel Architect, specialized in building security design. Carrie Salter of DSA Builders mentioned the importance of choosing a firm based on size. Some women thrive in smaller, more intimate office environments while others prefer the resources offered by a large firm. At the same time, it is necessary for women to keep their own goals at the forefront. “Remember that it is your career, not your firm’s,” reminded Carol Wedge, FAIA, who became the first woman president of Shepley Bulfinch Richardson & Abbott. After all, knowing what you want is half the battle.
Murrye Bernard, LEED AP, is a freelance architectural writer and a contributing editor to e-Oculus.