AIA Women’s Leadership Summit: Strengthening the community of women architects

Last September, as a fairly new employee with Cushing Terrell, I had my first opportunity to travel for work. Part of our communications team, I met up with architects from four of our offices — Billings, Minneapolis, New Orleans, and Seattle — to attend the AIA 2019 Women’s Leadership Summit (WLS) held in the lovely city of Minneapolis.

My first WLS, it was amazing to be there with team members, plus 750 other attendees! Described as the largest gathering of women architects in one room known to-date, the event also convened design professionals, engineers, project managers, storytellers, and so many more. Speakers included Thrive Labs founder Priya Parker; Toshiko Mori, founder of Toshiko Mori Architect; Julie Snow, founder of Snow Kreilich Architects; and Debbie Millman, summit emcee and host of the Design Matters podcast. Workgroups covered everything from technical fundamentals and innovative design processes, to career trajectories and starting up your own practice.

Aside from being there to learn and take in as much as I could about the industry and this gathering of professionals, one of my primary goals was to interview each of our team members to capture some of their thoughts about their careers.  This happened wherever I could catch them, be it at our Minneapolis office or in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency where the conference was held.

My colleagues, Ava Alltmont, Kara Eberle, Rebecca Muchow, Sarah Berwald, and Shannon Christensen talk about why they became architects, who inspires them, and what they feel are the qualities of a good leader.

Becoming an architect

Professional inspirations

Qualities of a leader

Speaking for the group, we had an incredible time at the summit — making connections and meeting new people, touring the amazing architectural sites old and new in Minneapolis, and taking in the collective knowledge and energy of everyone attending.

A huge thank you to AIA National and AIA Minnesota for all they did to put this on!

Header image caption: Julia Gamolina, founder and editor of Madame Architect, speaks with Bolanle Williams-Oley, chief financial officer of Mancini Duffy, and Michelle Mongeon Allen, chief executive officer with JLG Architects.