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Diversity and Inclusion > 2013 AIA Diversity Council

2013 AIA Diversity Council

The AIA remains committed to increasing diversity and inclusion within the organization and the profession. To that end, the AIA Diversity Council, a presidential-appointed committee, has been established to push diversity and inclusion initiatives forward.

This year’s Council will be chaired by Wendy Ornelas, FAIA, and Miguel del Rio, AIA, returning co-chairs from 2012. Areas of focus for the Council will continue to include women within the profession, multiculturalism, and pathways to the profession.

Meet the 2013 AIA Diversity Council appointees:

Wendy Ornelas, FAIA


Wendy Ornelas is the 2012-2014 Regional Director for AIA Central States and associate dean and professor at the college of architecture, planning and design at Kansas State University. She and her husband, Robert Condia –a professor in the department of architecture at Kansas State – also have a firm, Condia+ Ornelas Architects, with offices in Manhattan, Kans., and San Diego. The firm does small commercial projects, limiting themselves to one a year. The list of Kansas projects includes della Voce, remodeling a Manhattan retail space into a restaurant (2007).

Wendy Ornelas, FAIA, is the Associate Dean and Professor at Kansas State University. She is the director of the PhD program in Environmental Design & Planning and the director of the Architecture Internship Program at the College of Architecture, Planning, and Design. From her work at Kansas State, to her work with her firm, Condia + Ornelas Architects, she has earned distinguished recognition from her involvement with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture, a past member of the IDP Coordinating Committee, her participation in the 2008 Accreditation Review Conference, and her term as 2009-2010 president of the National Architectural Accrediting Board.



Miguel Del Rio, AIA


Miguel Del Rio is Past President of AIA Puerto Rico Chapter. Under his leadership, the Chapter organized the AIA Haiti Reconstruction Summit. Also during his presidency, he conceptualized the successful 2010 Puerto Rico Convention entitled Diverse City. The central themes of diversity, inclusion and collaboration were promoted beyond ethnicity, gender etc., but also in the broader sense of the word to encourage alternative practices, emerging professionals, students and general public participation.

Since 2001, he has been principal of Del Rio Arquitectos, CSP, a design firm specializing in residential, mixed use and hospitality projects. His practice has resulted in several collaborations with local firms such as JC Deya & Associates and SCF Arquitectos. Both alliances resulted in the award of two major RFP competitions: Metro City Village Mixed Use Development and Los Altos Mixed Use Development respectively.



Gabriel Durand-Hollis, FAIA


Gabriel Durand-Hollis was elected as the 2012-2013 Treasurer for American Institute of Architects. He was elected president of AIA San Antonio (1992), after serving on the local component‘s board and as it vice president (1998-1992). Gabriel was later elected president of the Texas Society of Architects/AIA (1999), after having been its vice president and chair of government affairs committee (1993-1997). He began a community service award program, the Jim Pfluger Award, which recognizes a Texas architect distinguished by their longstanding service to their community. Gabriel has been a member of the national International Committee (1997-2000), and chaired the Small Project professional interest area (1992-1995). He was elevated to the College of Fellows in 2003.

Gabriel is the president of Durand-Hollis Rupe, Inc. (DHR), a San Antonio firm that designs interiors, commercial, planning, municipal, aviation, research, medical and retail projects. DHR is noted for improvements to the San Antonio International Airport, Texas Medclinics, Alamo Colleges, and a portion of the restored Pearl Brewery that received Gold LEED certification.



Tamarah Begay, Assoc. AIA, AICAE, LEED AP


Tamarah has over 8 years of experience working with Native American Tribes on schools, housing, office buildings, cultural centers and multi-purpose buildings. Her experience includes project management, marketing, proposal writing, specification writing, programming, master planning, design (all phases), construction documents and construction administration.

Tamarah is one of the founding members of the University of New Mexico Student Chapter of the American Indian Council of Architects and Engineers (SC-AICAE). As a professional member she also serves as a board member for the AICAE and continues to help mentor Native American students in the field of architecture and related degrees. Tamarah is also an associate member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), a certified construction document technical (CDT), and a LEED® Accredited Professional.



Carla Jackson Bell, Ph.D.


Carla Jackson Bell, Ph.D., is currently the Director, Multicultural Affairs in the CADC at Auburn University.  From fall 1993 through spring 2006, Carla was a tenured associate professor in the Department of Architecture at Tuskegee University.  She is recognized as the first woman architecture faculty to receive tenure in the Department of Architecture and one of only eight tenured African-American women architecture faculty in the United States.

Carla also has the honor of being the only African-American to be awarded the specialized doctoral degree in Architecture Education.  Carla’s book manuscript, “Space Unveiled: Invisible Cultures in the Design Studio” is currently under series editor review with Routledge Publishing.  Throughout her 19 years of professional experience in administration and teaching, Carla has received over $480,000.00 from research grants and small donations to support diverse initiatives for new learning environments which concentrate on under-represented students' cultural experiences in architecture, design and construction programs at Tuskegee and Auburn Universities.  Her overall responsibility at Auburn is the recruit, retain, and advance minority faculty, staff, and students and seek funding for diverse programs in the college. 



Cesar Ceballos, AIA, CSI


Cesar M. Ceballos, AIA, CSI, is a Design and Construction Administrator with the Clark County Nevada Government System and is currently active in public outreach official functions. He is a registered architect in Nevada, Illinois, Colorado and Wisconsin; holds a Master of Architecture degree from the New School of Architecture and Design in San Diego, California; and a Master of Arts in Facility Planning and Management from DePaul University in Chicago. His entries have been exhibited in several international design competitions.

He oversees numerous projects for the County, including its contracts with architecture, engineering and construction firms. These areas of management provide Cesar with a strong background on how to build up community networking as an important factor in developing business partnerships. He works with planning commissions, assists in public hearings on design reviews and collaborates in zoning and land use approval processes.

He believes in helping minority and diversity groups aspire for leadership in the current reinvigoration of the national economy.



Donna deJongh, AIA, CSI, NCARB

(camera shy)


Donne deJongh co-founded The deJongh Group, Architects and Planners in 1973. Today, the Virgin-islands based professional has completed a significant body of work, with projects in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, and Georgia.

She has supported active development of the architecture profession for most of her career. She served on the Virgin Islands Board of Architects for over 16 years, and represented the Virgin Islands on the Southern Conference of NCARB. During much of that period, she actively participated ARE committees, in writing and grading of the ARE. She has continued to give time to NCARB, and is actively dedicated to encouraging youth to become involved in architecture.

Presently, she is completing her fourth term as President of the Virgin Islands Chapter of the AIA. In this capacity, she has supported many goals and objectives of the AIA, throughout the Chapter and the Florida Caribbean region.



Carmen Pérez García, Hon. AIA


Carmen is the executive director of Lower Rio Grande Valley AIA.  She is a retired educator with 25 years experience, having taught Early Childhood and Montessori Method to students of all ages from toddlers to adults as adjunct faculty at a Laredo, TX University. She is the first Executive Director of LRGV AIA and has served in this position for over 19 years. In those years, Carmen has been instrumental in bringing about significant improvements to her local community through critical alliances she has helped forge between architects and allied professionals.

In 2001, the Texas Society of Architects recognized Carmen with Honorary TSA Membership for her service to the LRGV. Carmen has chaired the Diversity, Continuing Education, and Public Affairs Advocacy Networks for CACE and served 2 years on AIA's Communities by Design Committee from which the notion of Centers for Architecture was born. She served as the CACE representative on the evaluation team for selecting the AIA's advertising agency, Giant Ideas, during her tenure on the Public Affairs Advocacy.



Valerie Hassett, AIA, IIDA, LEED AP bd+c


A registered Architect and Certified Interior Designer, Valerie has been practicing for more than 20 years. Currently employed by SBE Architects, she also manages her own firm, Studio of Valerie Hassett. Valerie has been actively involved with the AIA since 1994. She chaired the Northern Virginia AIA Chapter’s Women in Architecture Committee for 10 years and served as Chapter president in 2008. The following year Valerie was elected to the Virginia Society AIA Board, and she became state Secretary in 2011. Valerie is committed to the International Interior Design Association as well, having served as president for the Mid-Atlantic Region. She has been an instructor at George Washington University. Valerie received her Masters of Architecture from Virginia Tech and her BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University.



Brian McAlexander, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP


Prior to his appointment to the 2012 AIA Diversity Council, Brian McAlexander served on the AIA Dayton High School Student Design Competition, AIA Dayton Associate Director, AIA Ohio Associate Director, AIA Ohio Valley Regional Associate Director, and the AIA National Associates Committee.

He is also involved with Equality Ohio and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).



Joyce Raspa-Gore, AIA, Esq.


Ms. Raspa is a solo practitioner in the areas of Construction, Real Estate, Contracts, Collections, Wills/Estate, Corporate, Municipal and Personal Injury Law. She graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, with a Bachelor of Architecture, and graduated cum laude from New York Law School with a J.D. Joyce is admitted to the New Jersey Bar, United States District Court, District of New Jersey and the New York Bar. She is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association, Construction Law, Woman in the Profession and GLBT Committees, and the Bergen County Bar Association, Construction Law Committee.

Ms. Raspa is Past President of the Architects League of Northern New Jersey, a chapter of the American Institute of Architects; Directing Editor of The Leagueline, the Architects League’s quarterly award winning publication; and a recipient of the 2008 Distinguished Service Award and Trustees Award from the Architects League.



Amy Slattery, AIA, LEED AP


Amy Slattery is a Senior Architect and Project Manager with Burns & McDonnell. Her responsibilities include project management and design for a variety of building types, with a specialization in managing collaborative project teams, higher education, institutional facilities, and sustainable strategies and implementation. In her previous work at BNIM, Amy served as a project architect and design coordinator for the firm’s work — in association with Moshe Safdie & Associates — on the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Mo. 

Amy currently serves as project manager for the University of Kansas School of Engineering Expansion, a 129,790-square-foot building recently begun by Burns & McDonnell in association with Treanor Architects.

An established leader and advocate for diversity in the profession of architecture, Amy was recognized by Engineering-News Record as a Midwest Top 20 under 40 in 2012 and was an American Institute of Architects (AIA) National Young Architects Award recipient in 2011. She serves on the board of directors for Kansas City Commercial Real Estate Women (KC CREW) and the AIA National Diversity/Inclusion Council. Amy has been invited to lecture on the topic of gender parity in architecture at the Yale School of Architecture and Kansas State University.



Natividad Soto, AIA


Nati is president of Ferguson Glasgow Schuster Soto in Coral Gables, a 55+ year old Architecture and Interior Design Services Firm. She has over 30 years of architecture and interior design experience focusing on municipal, medical and institutional clients.

Nati currently serves as Vice President for AIA Florida, chairing the Communications Committee. She is Vice-Chair and trustee of the Florida Architects Political Action Committee and Co-Chair of the Women in Architecture Task Force. She has contributed to Florida Caribbean Architect and Design Book magazine, and was featured in the Miami Herald Business Monday for her mentorship initiatives. As a member of AIA Miami since 1984 she launched AIA Miami Women in Architecture with 2 colleagues, is one of the founding members of the Board of Directors for the Miami Center for Architecture and Design, Chairs the AIA Miami Advocacy Committee, participates on the Elections Committee, was 2009 president of AIA Miami and was a panelist on the 2009 and 2010 Bridging the Gap Between Architects and General Contractors program. Nati’s work on AIA National projects includes co-chairing the Public Relations Committee for the 2010 National Convention (Miami), committee member for the 2009 Architects as Agents of Social Change Conference and committee member for the 2007 Academy of Architecture for Health Conference.



Kathleen P. Starghill-Shearill, AIA


Kathleen Sherrill, AIA, was born and reared in northwest Baltimore City, and now lives in Windsor Mill with her family. Kathleen decided to become an architect when she was only 12.

She later earned a B.S. in Geography with certificates in Planning and Cartography from Towson University, and a M.Arch. from Morgan State University in 1997.

Kathleen began work with Leon Bridges, FAIA, after graduation and later with Beck Powell & Parsons where she worked for several years on community and institutional buildings, as well as adaptive reuse. With the encouragement of its principals, she first joined AIABaltimore while working at Beck Powell & Parsons. As a member of the Baltimore Chapter, she has served in several capacities on the Executive Board and as 2012 President. Her service to members of the profession has been both rewarding and educational.

In 2005, Kathleen established her own firm as a general practice in partnership with Mahendra Parekh, AIA, a former teacher and mentor. Although much of her work is in historic renovation, Kathleen enjoys all types of projects. In fact, she considers project type diversity one of the most appealing aspects of the architectural profession, providing the opportunity to learn constantly.


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