Webinar- Architecture Uncensored: Barriers - Getting Hired

  • Date

    Monday, October 19 2020

  • Time


  • Location


Architecture Uncensored is an annual series organized by the Emerging Architects Committee that discusses challenging topics within our profession.

Our series this year will identify and discuss barriers to entry (and beyond) within our profession. Architecture is tough to get into. Once you’re in? Tough to rise. These barriers are faced most prevalently by POC.

Starting with unfair resources across different architecture schools, students of color fight hard to put together a resume and portfolio that can compete with students coming from wealthy Predominantly White Institutes (PWIs).

Why are barriers still so prevalent within our profession? What steps should firms take to implement a more diverse and inclusive recruiting and hiring policy? How can our profession support POC emerging professionals and architects through their early careers?

Presented by:

Gina Fernandes, Associate NOMA, Associate AIA, LEED GA

Gina Fernandes is an Architectural Designer and a co-chair of the Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Team at Ayers Saint Gross. She serves as 2019-2020 President of the DC Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (DCNOMA), which received the 2019 Most Improved Chapter of the Year Award within NOMA. She is also an adjunct faculty member at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) teaching a fourth-year studio that focuses on sustainable design and requires students to submit a project to the Annual Solar Decathlon Design Challenge. Gina is a graduate of The George Washington University, where she received both BA and MA degrees and the University of Maryland's School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, where she received her MArch. She is currently working to complete her architecture license.


Ronnie McGhee's career includes almost forty years of professional practice in architecture including twenty years as partner-in-charge and owner of a Washington, D.C. based architectural firm, R. McGhee & Associates specializing in sustainable urban architecture, interior design, historic preservation, and adaptive reuse.  He believes that architects have a responsibility and a role to play in defining the direction and future of their communities through design, mentoring and advocacy. Mr. McGhee has concentrated his recent work on the design of sustainable new and existing schools, libraries, parks, offices, residences and retail spaces that reflect good construction and urban design practices and foster neighborhood development.

Damon Sheppard, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, NOMA

Damon is a licensed architect with a passion for designing, planning and programming complex projects in the Science + Technology and Higher Education markets. As the Regional Leader of HOK’s Washington DC S+T practice he leads a team of architects, lab planners and designers. In addition to his project responsibilities, Damon places a premium on dedicating time to people development through education, mentoring and diversity initiatives. He is a co-chair of HOK’s Diversity Advisory Council, champion of the local mentoring program in the Washington DC studio, and has been an adjunct professor at Howard University.

Bonike Akinsanya, PHR, SHRM-CP

Bonike Akinsanya is a Senior Associate and leader with the Human Resources team at CannonDesign. Driven by a deep passion for diversity and equity within the AEC profession, she supports the firm in recruiting and retaining top talent, fostering an inclusive workplace culture, and creating rewarding employee experiences. Bonike is a founding member of CannonDesign's Diversity + Inclusion Council and leads the firm's partnerships with historically black colleges and universities. In her hometown of St. Louis, she is a regular presenter and workshop facilitator for the INROADS program—a non-profit addressing the lack of ethnic diversity in corporate America. She’s also actively involved in the Greater St. Louis Society for Human Resource Management, the Young Leaders Group for Construction Forum STL, and is a former Young Friends Board Member for Starkloff Disability Institute. Born in Nigeria, Bonike obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Psychology from the University of Tennessee at Martin and a Master of Human Resources from Lipscomb University.

Moderated by: Ruben Quesada, AIA

Organized by: Emerging Architects Committee

Sponsored by: HOK

At the completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Identify barriers within the profession to people of color, specifically emerging professionals;

  • Identify new opportunities for more diverse and inclusive recruitment strategies

  • Analyze benefits of diverse and inclusive recruiting and hiring; and

  • Apply lessons learned and strategize ways to encourage diversity and inclusion for emerging professionals of color.