Session 2: Entrepreneurship & Firm Management

Date: November 13, 2015
Location: One Judiciary Square
441 4th St. NW, South Lobby 11th Floor, Conference Room 1112

Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: Tyler Ashworth, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C & Vinson Camacho, Assoc. AIA

Session 2 PDF


Session #2, entitled “Entrepreneurship and Firm Management” was organized and hosted by Tyler Ashworth and Vinson Camacho and held at the District of Columbia Department of General Services. Tyler and Vinson addressed the theme by inviting a variety of guest speakers to impart their wisdom on the CKLDP scholars through a series of talks, pecha-kucha style presentations, a break-out session, and reflective discussions.

The day began with a brief presentation by Ms. Patricia Harrison, a Business Development Specialist with the District of Columbia Department of Small and Local Business Development. She touched on the wide variety of government resources available for small businesses in the District and the opportunities that come with being a Certified Business Enterprise (CBE).

The second talk was given by Shannon Kraus, managing partner at HKS, Inc., who encouraged the group to “Be Entrepreneurial” not by developing a particular skillset, but by cultivating an attitude of embracing risk. Kraus challenged the group to identify their passion and use that as motivation to live outside themselves and continue to evolve. Kraus described how you can be good at something for about five years, and that’s when you hit your peak. To avoid lingering within your comfort zone, you must reflect on your trajectory, explore new paths, and reinvent yourself. To illustrate this, Kraus summoned the cautionary tales of companies who were once ground-breaking in their fields but over time failed to take risk and ultimately succumbed to more entrepreneurial competition. He concluded his talk by reviewing an insightful list of things to invest in as a leader, and things to avoid.


The Panel Discussions focused on firm management strategies and were broken down into four segments of pecha-kucha style presentations discussing the topics of transition and firm leadership, financial management strategies, project management tools, and the use of data and analytics in business strategies. The invited guests included some of DC’s top firm leaders representing both small and large architectural practices – David Shove Brown, AIA, Partner of // 3877; Yolanda Cole, AIA, IIDA, Senior Principal of Hickok Cole Architects; Steve Parker, AIA, Chairman, Co-Founder of Grimm + Parker; and Chris Morrison, FAIA, Managing Director of Perkins + Will. Each provided valuable insight and guidance to anyone engaged in firm management and entrepreneurship.

Highlights of the presentations included the recommendation to establish a clear vision for your business and a strong strategic plan. Being an entrepreneur involves proper planning and understanding of your financial risk. Early planning includes establishing contracts and stakeholder agreements, which maintain a professional business relationship and outline essential processes and procedures, such as exit strategies and management transitions.

It is essential to develop good communication skills, both within your team and project manager, and with your clients and user groups. As leaders of a firm you must mentor and empower the future leaders of your organization, providing them the path to leadership opportunities and professional growth. It is critical to build a supportive team with a diversity of talents, skills, and viewpoints. Finally, one must always monitor your progress, analyze the data, and be flexible to make adjustments and changes when necessary – be nimble and establish tangible goals.


Following the Panel Discussions the CKLDP class was broken down into 4 small groups and paired with one of the firm leaders. Each team was provided with a hypothetical business problem or challenge to develop suggested strategies for resolution. Each scenarios was related to the firm management strategies discussed.  Following small group discussions, each group presented their thoughts and recommendations as they pertained to options for firm ownership and management transitions; assessment of firm growth, productivity, and finances; project management and communication strategies; and understanding market analysis to inform and improve practice sectors.





Session 1: Working Together

Date: October 16, 2015
Location: Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: Lesley Golenor, AIA and Susan Pommerer, AIA, LEED AP

Session 1 PDF


The first session of the 2015-2015 Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program, entitled“Working Together,” was organized by Lesley Golenor, AIA and Susan Pommerer, AIA, LEED AP, and brought together multiple speakers and presentations that focused on the theme of productive collaboration. Before the session, all of the CKLDP scholars were asked to complete an LSI, or Life Style Inventory, a questionnaire aimed at helping us understand ourselves and our interactions with others.The scholars were also tasked with watching an informational video about the 1993 fire which destroyed Founders Hall at Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, the site of the day’s session.
The first event of the day was a presentation entitled “Personal Development: Understanding Thinking Styles and Skills for Working Effectively with Others.” The presenter, Cable Clarke of Clarke Consulting,spoke of his work traveling to different organizations administering the LSI and helping employees understand the results. After explaining the difference between a company’s culture and climate, he passed out the personalized results packets to the CKLDP scholars and explained how to interpret the results. The LSI is scored using a circumplex, organized into three clusters (passive/defensive, aggressive/defensive, and constructive) each of which contains four styles, providing a compelling and easily understandable graphic analysis of our dominant aspects. Ideally, the highest scores for successful leadership would be in the constructive styles (humanistic-encouraging, affiliative, achievement, and self-actualizing) and lower in the passive/defensive and aggressive/defensive styles. Armed with the knowledge of our primary styles, Cable encouraged us to use that knowledge to take action and improve where necessary, and presented several case studies that showed how people can develop themselves over time by focusing on the constructive aspects of their LSI.
The second event of the day was a roundtable discussion entitled “Engaging the Community: Understanding the Process” and brought together panelists Daniel J. Kerns, head of Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School, Bill Spack, AIA, principal at cox graae + spack architects, Ron B. Lewis,Chair of ANC 2E, and Thomas Luebke, FAIA, Secretary of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. The panel discussed a variety of topics pertaining to how the owner, architect, local government, federal government, and general public interact while a building is being approved and built. The panel also spoke of Georgetown’s unique historic status and how that affects the building process, the paramount importance of engaging the public, and tips on how to achieve consensus when faced with many parties that have competing interests. Throughout the discussion, the panelists discussed how their organizations collaborated successfully in the rebuilding of Founders Hall, giving a concrete example of teamwork done well.
Following the roundtable discussion was a tour of the Georgetown Visitation campus, led by Bill Spack and Daniel J. Kerns. The tour helped explain the evolution of the campus over time, including the rebuilding of Founders Hall, the creation of the central quad, the renovation of the old gymnasium into space for both theatrical performances and the celebration of Mass, and the current renovation of the school’s dining facilities. Apart from giving the scholars a chance to stretch their legs and enjoy a beautiful fall day, it also gave them a chance to see a beautiful piece of the city that many were unfamiliar with before the session.
The final event of the day was a presentation entitled “The Challenges of Collaboration: Lessons from Working in Conflict Zones.” Jeffrey Helsing, Acting Vice President of the Academy for International Conflict Management and Peace building at the U.S. Institute of Peace, drew on his experience with international negotiations to lead a lively discussion about how to successfully collaborate with others,even people with whom we may not agree. Drawing parallels between his line of work and architectural negotiation, Jeffrey used real world examples to speak of the importance of active listening, using context and identity to increase understanding, and how different conceptions of power can skew discussions, particularly when dealing with international clients. He also stressed being cognizant of consequences, both first consequences and the consequences they generate, a concept with much crossover to the architectural profession.  After the session, the scholars decamped to El Centro D.F. for happy hour, enjoying margaritas and a lively discussion of what they had learned in their first Christopher Kelley session.

CKLDP 2016: Bootcamp

Date: September 11, 2015
Location: District Architecture Center
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: CKLDP Committee

Bootcamp PDF


The 2015-2016 class of the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program kicked off with a bang at the AIA|DC District Architecture Center.  The class was welcomed by the CKLDP Executive Committee, outlining the goals and expectations for the program.


The keynote address came from Mr. Michael Ayles, AIA, Principal at Antinozzia and Associates in Bridgeport, CT.  Mr. Ayles inspired the class with his talk about the Importance of Leadership.  Mr. Ayles focused on service and involvement within the community as being a key component to leadership. Mr. Ayles left us with some important final thoughts: prepare thoroughly, figure out your passion, practice humility, parlay what you can and most importantly, maintain a proper work-life balance.

The next portion of the session was dedicated to a Pecha-Kucha style presentation from each scholar. The sixteen participants each had 90 seconds to present three slides describing themselves the type of leader that they are, and the type of leader that they’d like to be.


Following the Pecha-Kucha, the scholars were broken up into groups of four to brainstorm potential topics they’d like to address over the course of the program.  After presenting their findings, the scholars were further broken up into teams of two.  These teams were each assigned one topic to plan for the program and given time to break out and further develop ideas.


The final lecture, Leadership, Architecture and You, was presented by Ned Cramer, editor-in-chief of ARCHITECT magazine. Ned was very energetic and shed some light on the differences between leaders and managers.  He left us with some great advice: it’s not about you, surround yourself with people smarter than you, listen to them, ask them questions, set clear expectations, be transparent, explain why, let them fail, let yourself fail and make them proud.  The discussion continued over drinks at happy hour at the nearby Iron Horse tavern. If the excitement and sheer energy of the day are any indicators, this is going to be a fantastic class!

Meet the 2015-2016 Class!

We are excited to announce the 2015-2016 CKLDP class. This year we had a record number of applicants and a very competitive application process. We look forward to kicking off this year’s program with the Bootcamp on September 11, 2015