CKLDP DC Call for Applications

The Application period for the Class of 2021 is closed.  Look for Application Information for the next class in Fall 2021.

The Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program’s (CKLDP) Application Submissions for the Class of 2021 opens Friday, September 11, 2020.

Here’s what you need to know to apply!

  • Applications will open Friday, September 11, 2020
  • Application period will end at 11:59 pm on Friday, October 23, 2020

“Applications 101” Information Session: An optional, informal Q&A session will be held via Zoom on September 23, 2020 at 6:30 pm. This meeting will be hosted by the CKLDP Advisory Committee and provides potential program participants with an opportunity to ask questions and receive helpful hints about what to include, or not, in their program applications. Interested candidates are encouraged to attend, but attendance is not mandatory, nor does it influence the likelihood that a candidate would be accepted into the program.

Please click the following links for relevant information, instructions and forms.  

Applications must include the following. Incomplete applications may be disqualified:

  1. Letter of Interest – Applicants must submit a one-page letter of interest describing their reasons for applying to CKLDP, including how participation in the program will help them become better leaders, any previous leadership experiences, unique qualities that set them apart from their peers, and other applicable personal details. Letters of interest should help the selection committee get to know the applicant beyond what can be discerned from their professional resume. Letters shall be uploaded in PDF format. (Last Name-First Name-Letter of Interest.pdf) 
  2. Letters of Recommendation – Each application must include at least one, but no more than three, letters of recommendation. It is in the best interest of the applicant to ensure only strong letters of support are submitted. Letters should be written by someone who has worked closely with the applicant, but they do not have to be from someone within the industry. Letters are limited to one page each and shall be uploaded in PDF format. (Last Name-First Name-Letter of Recommendation-1.pdf) 
  3. Personal Resume – Resumes shall include details of the applicant’s employment history, education, activities, volunteer experience, publications, and any honors or awards. Resumes are limited to two pages and shall be uploaded in PDF format. DO NOT submit a one-page generic firm resume with a list of projects only. (Last Name-First Name-Resume.pdf) 
  4. Agreement Form – Completed, signed, and uploaded in PDF format. Please see documents section above to download a copy of the form. (Last Name-First Name-Agreement.pdf) 

Optional Supplemental Documents

Tuition Assistance Request Form  Tuition assistance is limited to AIA|DC members and is dependent on firm size. Candidates are encouraged to apply for tuition assistance only in cases of genuine financial need. Please review the criteria carefully. 

Have more questions?

Reach out to Daniel or Claire for more information:

We look forward to your application!


Session 02: Entrepreneurship & Management


Date: November 1st, 2019
Location: Outrage, 1722 14thSt NW, Washington DC 20009
Led by: Rebecca Soja & Amanda Lewkowicz

Downloads: Session 02 PDF

The second CKLDP session took every opportunity to lean into its title, Entrepreneurship & Management. Through a hyper-local lens, the session centered on the successes of local business leaders in DC and dissected the entrepreneurial mindset needed to succeed when starting a business. Insightful discussion of hard-earned do’s and don’ts in business management provided key takeaways for management strategies that are applicable generally across the profession. The session came full circle by hosting the event in a locally and women-owned retail and co-working space, and provided lunch from a locally sourced, sustainable restaurant. Every aspect of the event told a close-to-home story of entrepreneurial success, and highlighted the diversity of ways to bring some entrepreneurial spirit into the scholars’ professional lives.

The session kicked off with a presentation from Devin Zitelman, who spoke to his experience growing DC’s status as a tech hub with a focus on equity and inclusivity for underserved populations with #WeDC. The tagline “#WeDC” grew as a shorthand for “We the People of DC” and encapsulates the inclusive and democratic spirit of the organization. Partially due to the work of #WeDC, Washington DC has become a hub for business incubators and strategic opportunities that support diversity and inclusion. D.C. is currently ranked as the #1 US city for entrepreneurial talent, and is #1 of 100 “resilient cities.” Between Devin’s own entrepreneurial talent, and the greater talent within the DC area, Devin’s presentation emphasized the value of the entrepreneurial spirit and the outsized impact it can have on the trajectory of a city’s future.

CKLDP Session 2_02

Devin Zitelman then moderated a panel of five local architects, who each created a non-traditional path to career success. Gregory Kearley and Clair Marie Wholean both shared stories of creating sibling companies, where one funds the other, to finance their dream businesses. Warren Weixler spoke about putting everything on the line and betting on success to get his office started. After stepping into motherhood, Marcy Giannunzio went out on her own in order to find the flexibility she craved. The unspoken similarities in their experiences painted a picture of successful architectural entrepreneurs who are decisive risk takers, persistent, and deeply passionate about their work. For those looking for advice to takeaway, the mantras of the day were Plan More, Just Do It, and Chill Out. (Clair Marie, Marcy – borrowed from Nike, and Theresa Sheils)


Theresa Sheils, the self proclaimed “Focused Juggler”, opened up about what it takes to manage people, projects, and finances in a large office. Initially cajoled into a managerial role, she had plenty of valuable lessons to share from her ups and downs along the way. When it came to daily management skills, the art of delegation, resisting the urge to micromanage, and taking time to develop others were topics of key interest. She examined the cliché that architects are generally bad negotiators, and encouraged valuing our work product like businessmen. Theresa was quick to emphasize that when running a business, the client, the team, and books need attending to every day. One person doesn’t need to take charge of all three – find business partners and leverage their strengths! After all, successful management relies on a foundation of teamwork and trust.

CKLDP Session 2_10.jpg

After a short break the scholars reconvened to work through uncomfortable management scenarios – generously provided by Theresa’s own professional life lessons. Everyone had their own experiences to bring to the table while debating the best solutions to the problems at hand. With the help of Theresa’s guidance, the groups quickly realized that cut-and-dry solutions are hard to come by – instead solutions should be based on the specific team, consultant and client dynamics. The manager’s role is to make a decision that will benefit the team or project as a whole and to provide guidance to keep everyone on the same page.

Kevin J. Bush, Chief Resilience Office for the Government of D.C, rounded out the session with a lecture on Resilience and Leadership. His presentation was split into four major sections: the story of his own career path that led him to focus on resilience, how and why D.C. has created a resilience strategy, the implementation strategy for “Resilient D.C.”, and finally the critical value of architects and designers buying into the plan’s implementation. Kevin describes resiliency as a city’s ability to maintain essential functions when it is threatened by both acute shocks and chronic stress. The strategy breaks own into 4 main goals: Inclusive Growth, Climate Action, Smarter DC and Safe and Healthy Washingtonians. Hearing Kevin explain D.C.’s path to resiliency gave everyone a much greater understanding of individual roles to be played when undertaking such an enormous task. Beyond resiliency, it was enlightening to learn how Kevin is navigating this important leadership role and contributing to D.C.’s entrepreneurial spirit.

CKLDP Session 2_19.jpg

Session 01: Working Together


Date: October 4th, 2019
Location: Gensler – 2020 K Street NW, Washington DC, 20006
Led by: Caitlin Parker, AIA, LEED AP BD+C and Dawntaya Rodgers, AIA
Session Downloads: Session 01 PDF

The session began with a small do’s and don’ts about fundraising. The main focus of the presentation was to highlight how personal behaviors and the behaviors of others can be influential and improve collaborative relationships in the workplace. The two speakers and closing activities were organized to take an in depth look at each scholars leadership styles and how those styles fit into workplace dynamics. The scholars ended the session with a group activity by using their leadership and collaboration skills to solve an escape room.

The first part of session was led by Cable Clarke, President of Clarke Consulting in Washington, DC., which is an international consulting firm, founded in 1994. As a prerequisite to the session, each scholar filled out a Life Style Inventory assessment. The point of the assessment was to gain an insight to their individual relational styles and pinpoint their individual leadership strengths and weaknesses. Then Cable presented strategies and practical techniques for improving the effectiveness of their leadership styles to positively impact the culture of their firms. The presentations stressed the importance of understanding different dynamics, whether cultural, corporate, home, or interpersonal, and how to navigate them.


The second presentation was led by Robert Holzbach, Principal and Director of Staff Operations with Hickok Cole, a 100 person firm located in Georgetown. Robert presented methods and ideas for managing individual, team, firm, consultant, and client dynamics as well as constructive ways to help facilitate and encourage strong office collaboration and productivity.


The last activity of the session was an escape room. On the walk to the escape room, the scholars broke off into assigned pairs and discussed their Life Style Inventory results and ways they saw themselves working to improve on what they had learned from the assessment. Once they arrived to the escape room, the scholars worked together splitting themselves up in several teams to solve each of the different colored clues. The scholars exhibited their great teamwork and escaped the room with a little over 16 minutes left to spare, the best time of the month so far.


Class of 2020 Bootcamp


Date: September 6, 2019
Location: District Architecture Center, 421 7th St NW, Washington, DC
Sponsors: HKS, Gensler, WDG, & AIA|DC

Downloads: Bootcamp PDF

CKLDP’s first official session of the 2019-2020 year was held at the District Architecture Center on Friday, September 6. Claire Dickey, current chair, and Teri Coates, past chair, led the events for the afternoon and began the session by welcoming the incoming class. Claire provided an overview on the history of the program, a summary of the goals and expectations for the program, and outlined the schedule for the day.

Teri reminded the class that the success of the program is scholar driven: what they put into the program is what they will get out of it.



To kick of the leadership discussion for the afternoon, the first Keynote, Julia Gamolina of Madam Architect, presented her story of creating the influential blog and the lessons she has learned from interviewing other architects within the profession. Career advice provided in the presentation included:

  • The importance of having a mentor;
  • The difficult balance of aligning one’s professional goals with personal ones in order to enjoy one’s ever-evolving career path;
  • The importance of being flexible while being consistent;
  • Finding a role one feels comfortable and confident in;
  • Setting goals and routinely re-evaluating them over periods of time in order to mantain one’s development.


After the presentation, the sixteen scholars were asked to deliver a Pecha-Kucha presentation in 60 seconds with 3 images: one to describe themselves; one representing the type of leader they are; and an image representing the type of leader they want to be in the future.




Following the Pecha-Kucha, the class took part in the first breakout exercise. The scholars organized into groups of four to review the eight sessions’ topics and themes. Members of advisory and executive committees facilitated the brainstorming exercise in which all groups identified topics and issues they would like to be covered in a session.



Once complete, the class reconvened to review and discuss the key takeaways for each session’s topic.



Following the discussion, Claire made the lon-awaited announcement: which sessions the scholars will be responsible for in the coming year, and with whom they are paired.


The eight teams were given time to review the class suggestions for each topic with the goal of capturing the most important concepts from each vision board.


The class then reconvened and the advisory committee briefly introduced the scholars to the basic guidelines of communications, graphics, the website, sponsorship. and online resources.

Shannon Kraus concluded the day’s focus on leadership by introducing the scholars to the concept of servant leadership. His talk, which was based on his TED Talk, titled “Leaders Wanted. (Apply Within)” descrived a leader as someone who focuses on people, shares power, and puts the needs of others first.


Mr. Kraus highlighted why successful leadership involves bettering others as you better yourself, telling the group that people often limit our expectations and potential to give without realizing it. Following the keynote, the class reconvened for the annual alumni happy hour at the establishment, Dirty Habit.



The AIA|DC 2020 Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Class