VOICES | Break Out
A4: Building an Equitable Workplace from the Bottom Up
11am - 12noon | Room TBD
A crucial element of the fight for equity in architecture is the small, day to day efforts of passionate professionals to change their firms, their colleagues, and their careers. We envision this breakout as a 'Yes and’ rap session with experts - attendees are encouraged to bring their ideas for grassroots, incremental action for critique and further development.
Thought Leader Profiles
Staff Architect, WDG Architecture
The vast majority of Melissa’s work experience is with Karn Charuhas Chapman & Twohey (KCCT) Architects in Washington, DC. As a Senior Designer, she served 9 years on mission critical facility projects for federal government agencies. Her leadership responsibilities included coordinating projects with consultants and managing a team within the office. Looking to expand her portfolio, Melissa seek out an architecture firm with multi-family housing experience. Currently, she is a Staff Architect at WDG Architecture in Washington DC.
Melissa served as an Officer for the DC Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (DCNOMA), she has served as both its Historian and Treasurer. Melissa has implemented programs emphasizing inclusion such as bringing together AIA|DC Emerging Architects Mentoring Workshop and the DCNOMA monthly meeting to a diversity workshop presentation on the strategic plan to move AIA forward to become a more inclusive professional organization.
On the AIA National level, Melissa has served two years as a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Council. As chair of the Pipeline Development Working Group, Melissa brings a fresh perspective on how to engage youths’ interest in architecture as well as reaching out to them through social media when promoting the profession. Encouraging, empowering and engaging women in architecture is a passion of Melissa simply because someone has done it for her. ‘Pay it forward’, according to the famous saying. Since 2013, she's been ensuring women would have an established platform to showcase and an inspiring story to tell. There are three ways she has succeed:
• Founder of the Women in Architecture Series in the DC Metro Area
• Executive Co-Chair 2017 AIA Women’s Leadership Summit
• Social Media maven for promoting women architects
Director of Community Involvement, Diversity & Inclusion, GastingerWalker&
Samantha McCloud is the Director of Community Involvement, Diversity & Inclusion and a licensed architect at GastingerWalker. She was recently honored by Kansas City Ink Magazine and Star Newspaper as a 2017 “30 Under 30” top individual making a difference.
With empathy and intention, she designs projects that serve diverse populations nationwide. As Director, she engages in human resources, recruitment and culture, community connections, business development and P&L responsibility. In both roles, she researches/tracks outcomes, leads and trains teams, grows relationships, and helps build a future that is more inclusive, accessible, and engaging.
Samantha leads teams in a variety of projects from initial concept through to construction and close-out. Projects include new-builds and renovations of places to work, learn, live, heal and play. Many of these projects integrate cutting-edge technology, require complex coordination, and perform as places of assembly for hundreds of people.
In addition to her professional roles, Samantha is passionate about empowering others through education and social connection. She initiated and co-authored a 60-page report about local perceptions on equity in architecture based on survey data from 270+ Kansas City architects and presently hosts monthly training sessions to spread the knowledge metro wide. She also led an internationally-distributed trade journal celebrating women in design, called “RISE”. Over the last ten years, she has continuously launched and led multiple recurring mentoring programs and talent pipeline efforts to improve diversity and inclusion in architecture, regularly speaking to youth on success and governing the annual distribution of $50,000+ of scholarship funds.
As a Midwestern native, a millennial in her twenties, a woman, a person of color, a first generation citizen and a dreamer-doer, Samantha strives to help others think bigger, try more fearlessly, and believe in their own value and power to make a difference.
Workplace Experience Manager, Gensler
My name is Morgan Pegus-Thomas and I strive to elevate conversations that tell the story of the human condition. In bygone years, we shared our history, lessons and warnings by word of mouth and through engaging storytelling. These stories ultimately came to affect our culture. They tell of our existence, offer advice and ultimately engage our condition. At their root, stories are what bind us to our past.
By itself, technology is simply a tool that's purpose is for the betterment of the human condition. I use technology as a tool to dynamically advance a narrative. for me that narrative is often centered around human engagement. I want to share dialogues of what is plaguing, advancing, assisting, trending and challenging the human condition and maximize these stories with dynamic imagery, installations and performance. Working within design I believe we have the tools and resources to really lead the way in being the modern story tellers of our age.
We live in a world of constant distraction. I strive to create a space that binds bygone storytelling with of technology to create a more engaged, informed and impactful experience.
Project Manager, Tipping Structural Engineers
Natalie Y. Tse is a California Licensed Structural Engineer with a broad range of design experience in educational, commercial/retail, residential, science and technology sectors. She is a Project Manager at Tipping Structural Engineers in Berkeley, California. Her portfolio includes the structural design, assessment, and seismic retrofit of over 35 school campuses, a mission critical laboratory and office building, and the design of a new wood-framed cathedral over concrete post-tensioned podium. Natalie is deeply passionate about innovative solutions, well-integrated and cost-effective designs, responsiveness during construction, and open communication. She is profoundly committed to learning, mentoring, building strong relationships, family, and giving back to the community. In 2015, Natalie co-founded the SE3 Project, a project established to understand and mitigate issues of employee engagement and retention, advancement, work-life balance, and gender equity in the structural engineering profession. Natalie received her BSE in Engineering and Mathematics from Queen’s University in Canada in 2002.