CKLDP 2016 – 2017 Bootcamp

Date: September 9, 2016
Location: District Architecture Center
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: CKLDP Committee

Bootcamp PDF


The 2016-2017 class of the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program kicked off 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 speakers for the day were Mr. Vaki Mawema and Mr. Ned Cramer.

The first speaker was Mr. Vaki Mawema, the director of Gensler’s Lifestyle Studio where each team member provides amazing contributions. Mr. Maweme’s number one rule for leadership is to never allow motivated people to become demotivated. They way to achieve this is by cultivating an environment of self-belief and continual self-betterment. Mr. Mawema inspired the class to believe in one’s own courage, strengths and to immerse themselves totally through life obstacles.


“Everything you have been through means something right now and will continue to mean something across your trajectory through time”                                                                -Vaki Mawema

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 for the two sessions the group were given. After presenting their findings, the scholars were 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 with the executive committee providing guidance.


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 inspiring and arrogant leaders. 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.


“Your job is not about you. Your job is to serve the people around you.”                                  -Ned Cramer

The discussion continued over drinks at happy hour at the nearby Iron Horse tavern. The new class of scholars are ready to begin their year long journey.


Closing Reception

The 2015-2016 class of the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program wrapped up a successful second year with a closing reception held at the District Architecture Center on Friday, May 6, 2016.  The reception began immediately following the final class session, with a theme of optimistic celebration as scholars were inspired by the future of the practice.  Invited guests included current and past scholars and their family members, as well as speakers and sponsors from the 2015-2016 program year.  Future candidates were also encouraged to attend the reception to meet the organization and become more familiar with the aspects of the program.

After some time to enjoy the refreshments and partake in socializing, program Co-Chair’s Ryan McEnroe and Sean Stadler made a short presentation to the crowd, which included a tribute to the late Christopher Kelley, acknowledgement of the AIA board support and the benefactor sponsorship.  Special thanks were also noted to the firms, speakers, and suppliers who continue to support the program each year.

As Aimee Woodall called each of the 16 2015-2016 scholars to the podium, a certificate of completion was presented to each individual with congratulations made to the entire class for their successful year in the program.  On a final note, the 2016-2017 schedule was reviewed by incoming program Chair Ricardo Rodriguez, with specific attention to the upcoming call for applications and application deadline.  It was clear that the Executive and Advisory Committees for the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program shared great enthusiasm for the success of the outgoing class and even greater optimism for the future 2016-2017 class.

At the closing reception a slideshow was shown providing a yearlong recap of all the sessions and events that took place. Follow this link to view: Closing Reception Slideshow


Session 8: Developing Your Future within the Practice

Date: May 6, 2016
Location: AIA DC District Architecture Center
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: Laura Reyes, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C | Fentress Architects
& Adam Schwartz, AIA, NCARB | HGA Architects & Engineers

Session 8 PDF


The development of future trends, career paths and leadership development formed the framework for Session #8 – “Developing Your Future within the Practice”. The session was organized by Laura Reyes and Adam Schwartz, in the AIA DC District Architecture Center.

The day started with Elizabeth Kinkel presenting ‘Architecture and Beyond – Exploring Non-Traditional Career Paths.  Ms. Kinkel began by sharing her non-traditional architecture career path, catalyzed by the 2008-2009 recession.  At that time, she diverged from a traditional architecture career and worked for a vineyard and Whole Foods.  As the economy recovered, EB went back to architecture, while maintaining her other jobs and evolving her focus to the business and people side of architecture.  Throughout her work, she made key decisions based a criteria list or checklist:

  1. Who do you work with?
  2. Do you feel valued in this position?
  3. Are you able to grow professionally and learn?
  4. Does this create opportunities for mobility?
  5. How does this affect the greater good?

This checklist led her to question architecture vs. sales within the spheres of skills, passion, market, hobby, paycheck, goal and dream job/ unicorn.  Each of these spheres intersect with respects/values skills from the other, resulting in an understanding that the smallest of achievements is has an impact on career, and fundamentally, life choices.  Ms. Kinkel left the group with seven final thoughts:

  1. “be the change you want to see in the world” Gandhi
  2. Things will ALWAYS change
  3. get to know yourself
  4. ask others what you’re good at
  5. confusing is okay, it means you’re asking questions
  6. have mentors
  7. you define youSession 08 Photo 01

The class then recapped the year by returning to the Pecha Kucha exercise conducted at the Bootcamp Session in September of 2015.  Each scholar presented on the following three prompts:

  1. What makes you hopeful about the future of the profession?
  2. What makes you fearful about the future of the profession?
  3. What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned from the CKLDP?

The second presentation of the afternoon, a panel session titled ‘Work Life Balance,’ showcased Carlyn Sponza, Greg Holeyman and Paola Moya as they discussed their perspective on how to balance the many factors of maintaining a balance between one’s career and personal initiatives.

Ms. Sponza initiated the session by sharing her personal journey through goals/results, events and people/places, highlighting key moments and realizations, such as ‘design does not happen in a 40 hour work week’ and that ‘five years is a good period to master something and then do something else’ to continue to grow.’  She emphasized that one should not need an excuse for work life balance.  Three key takeaways from her presentation are:

  1. Decisions have consequences
  2. Pick three: work, family, friends, fitness, hobbies
  3. Read Everything: Believe some of it
  4. Imbalance can lead to growth

Mr. Holeyman spoke second about maintaining a balance while developing a practice.  The reason behind starting a practice was to having more flexibility and control over his schedule.  Emphasis was placed on the gender neutral nature of work life balance and the importance of dialogue as one focuses on maintaining this balance.

The final speaker, Ms. Moya, talked about the importance and discipline required to create time for personal pursuits, which has, in her career translated into better projects.  “It takes a lot of will power to take care of yourself and you are important.”  This discipline requires one to own decisions, mentor, and push people to be responsible and thrive.  Work life balance is not day to day – it happens over time.

Following the Pecha Kucha style presentations, the panel opened a discussion about how to achieve work life balance with the following key take-aways:

  • Timing never works out as planned. There are always outside forces, such as the economy, a job or a spouse.
  • A lack of work life balance can lead to burnout.
  • It is important to focus on diversification, both in background, skillset and experiences.

Session 08 Photo 02

The final presentation of the afternoon was ‘Keeping the Creative Passion Alive,’ given by Roger K. Lewis, who characterizes himself as a polymath – passionate about many things. Mr. Lewis described his career from MIT to Tunisia to firm owner to writer, as well as his passions outside of architecture.  It is important to love what you are doing and have a desire to keep learning.  As a writer for the Washington Post, Mr. Lewis learned how to write about architecture for a broad audience, finding that there is a general misunderstanding of architects and architecture.  This is due media, a lack of public outreach and a tendency for architects to talk amongst themselves, rather than the public.  Future generations of architects need to focus on public speaking and telling the story of architecture in a compelling manner.

Session 08 Photo 03

The group wrapped up the final session of the 2015-2016 class with a year in review discussion, facilitated by graphic artist ___________________.  The class talked about insights gained, experiences shared and inspiration taken forward.

Session 08 Photo 04


Session 6: Industry Trends

Date: March 4, 2016
Location: USGBC
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: Leah Ijjas, AIA, LEED AP BD+C | Gensler & Vivek Sarma, LEED AP BD+C | WDG

Session 6 PDF


Session 6 was presented at the USGBC headquarters, a fitting location given that two of the discussion topics for the day were Urban Ecology and Sustainable Design.

Janet Pogue of Gensler started the afternoon with a presentation highlighting thought leadership, which has emerged as a replacement for public relations and word of mouth, becoming the beacon bringing clients to our doors. She emphasized Gensler’s approach of writing about insights learned on in-house research projects as a critical source of generating topics for thought leadership.


Jennifer Dowdell, ASLA, a landscape architect at BioHabitats, spoke on Urban Ecology and Whole Systems Planning.  In addition to plantings, green roofs and meeting storm water management best practices, projects can broaden their impact by enhancing the natural water cycle, improving biodiversity, and embracing regenerative design as the next paradigm beyond sustainability.  Ms. Dowdell’s talk dovetailed with Julia Craighill, LEED AP BD+C, President of Ensight Consulting, who helps businesses become environmentally sustainable operationally and managerially, and Mike Binder, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, who champions regenerative design as a professor at University of Maryland.


Next up was Adam Simmons, BIM Manager for Gensler, who showcased upcoming visualization technologies including virtual reality.  The group was able to play with VR goggles, which can now be linked to a BIM model so you can walk in, around and through a project.  Daniel Davis, PhD, Lead Researcher at WeWork, spoke about how WeWork is changing the business model of architecture by harvesting occupant data and using it to continually refine the design per the occupants needs, thereby reducing the time typically needed for post-occupancy evaluations by providing short-term solutions to current occupant needs. In addition, WeWork is both a designer and an operator of built space, a new combination for an industry where these roles are traditionally compartmentalized.