Thursday, July 15 2021
5:30pm - 7:00pm
The AIA|DC Equity Committee by WIELD, in collaboration with Women in Architecture AIA Northern Virginia (NOVA), are pleased to host a panel discussion, with participants from local, mid-sized architecture firms, on their DE&I initiatives and programs. Most large firms have implemented formal DE&I programs in the recent past, but small and mid-size firms often rely on grassroots efforts by staff, with minimal direction or investment from firm leadership. Through this discussion, we hope to share experiences and best practices and evaluate measures implemented over the last year. We'll look at how we can improve our current practices and influence firm leadership.
Ahmed Kurtom, Design Force
As Founder and Managing Principal of DesignForce, Ahmed Kurtom’s business model combines an unbiased and people-focused approach to both workforce strategy for mid-size A|E|C firms and career consulting for industry professional. His unique skill-set stems from a distinctive career path built upon years of hands-on business management, engineering training and direct-hire recruitment. With almost two-decades of industry-specific experience, Ahmed utilizes his expertise to consult his clients on enhancing the employee experience, creating long-term business strategies, developing marketing and business development efforts, effective change management. Ahmed aims to support and advocate for those in the built environment by putting people first.
Michelle Amt, Director of Sustainability, VMDO
Michelle has 20 years of international experience overseeing a wide range of projects focused on sustainable design. As VMDO's Director of Sustainability, Michelle facilitates design dialogue, leads research and educational efforts, and helps teams achieve sustainability goals across all projects. She ensures VMDO's compliance with the AIA’s 2030 Commitment leads to further innovation in the fields of health and wellness, building performance and zero-energy and evidence-based design.
Abigail R Brown, AIA LEED AP, Hickok Cole
Abigail R. Brown, AIA, is an Associate and a project architect in the multifamily residential group at Hickok Cole in Washington, DC. She is leading Hickok Cole’s efforts to pursue a JUST transparency label, and she is a member of the firm’s seven-person Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion working group. Abi is the 2021 Chair of the AIA National Young Architects Forum, and she was a 2020 winner of the AIA Young Architects Award.
Omar Vega, HR Director, Beyer Blinder Belle
Omar Vega is BBB’s HR Director and has served on several boards, including the AIA’s SDA-NY Chapter. He currently serves as President of the PAC Council at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and served as an advisor to New York City Police Commissioners Bratton and Commissioner O’Neill. He holds a BS in Business with a concentration in HR with honors from the University of Phoenix, and completed Employment Law and Network Systems coursework at NYU and DeVry.
- Evaluate celebrations and opportunities for growth with respect to DEI at their firm.
- Articulate the importance of DEI to the success of their firm and the profession at large.
- Articulate the importance of having intentional DEI initiatives and policies for staff hiring and retention.
- Share best practices for initiating and maintaining DEI initiatives and policies within firms including commitment from firm leadership.