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Diversity and Inclusion > 2014 AIA Diversity Council

2014 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 2013 and 2012. Areas of focus for the Council will continue to include women within the profession, multiculturalism, and pathways to the profession.

Meet the 2014 AIA Diversity Council:

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.



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. 



*Camera Shy*
Antoine Bryant


Bio coming soon!



Gregory Burke, AIA, NCARB


Recognized as a leader on the Treasure Coast of Florida and with Florida AIA, Burke brings a strong commitment to the profession of architecture as a whole. His namesake firm was created in 1998 and has completed more than 200 projects in that time that range from small additions to large commercial facilities.

Being born with the twin birth defects of ectrodactylism and syndactlism (split and webbed [respectively] hands and feet), Burke has overcome the apparent physical limitations that might prevent some from being architects. As one who has been in the profession of architecture for more than 30 years, Burke has been recognized by his peers as a manager, designer and production specialist. Prior to forming his own practice, his work with such well respected firms as Gensler, Hillier, NBBJ and Gresham, Smith & Partners, designing more than 8.5 million square feet of space at a value of more than $1.5 B has established him as a noted architect in the eastern half of the country. His expertise in producing construction documents by hand and on a computer leads him to be sought out as a consultant by several respected design firms.

Having a commitment to give back to society, Burke has lent his time to several not-for profit

organizations such as Scottish-Rite Children’s Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, The Florida Foundation for Architecture and associations connected with the homeless. AIA confirmed the title “Citizen Architect” in 2012.

Burke and his wife Susan reside In Vero Beach, Florida and have two children and grandchildren.



Brent Castro, Assoc. AIA


Brent Castro, a 2012 graduate of The University of Tennessee’s Architecture and Design Program, has moved all over the south but calls Nashville, Tennessee home. Professionally he served as the 2012 – 2013 National Vice President to the American Institute of Architecture Students. This position brought him to Washington DC where he now works as an architectural designer at EYP Architecture & Engineering. Brent has also served as the 2013 – 2013 National Student Director for the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture and won the 2012 Alpha Rho Chi Bronze Medal for Leadership and Service. 



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.



Roland Day II, RA


Roland founded UrbanWerks in 1998 as a multi-disciplinary architecture and design firm around an evolving philosophy. The name comes from two parts; “urban“– having to do with the urban condition, city centers and downtown regeneration. The other is “werks” from the German “werkes”.

This is a nod to the modern industrial aesthetic of the Bauhaus period, the art of “making” and to the quest of excellence in detail and craft. The latter manifests itself in the pursuit of design, interiors and furniture design and fabrication.

Roland had worked for a variety of architectural firms in his 25 year professional career and has been involved with projects such as the Cobo Hall expansion, the new Museum of African-American History, the Hospice of Southeastern Michigan, the Compuware Headquarters and more recently on and the Greektown Casino permanent facility. The latter two projects were in a successful venture with Rossetti. The body of work also includes multiple retail stores and various projects for the Detroit Recreation Department. In 2010, Roland successfully completed the design and renovation of the west end of Belle Isle known as Sunset Pointe for the Belle Isle Women’s Committee.

The strong interest Roland has in the rebuilding of cities is enhanced by regular and ongoing travel in the States and abroad. The study of other cities, different projects and various urban conditions has allowed Roland to see and critique many design solutions. Having traveled to over 42 cities in 14 countries, Roland brings a unique set of experiences to bear on architectural and planning design problems.

Further evidence of Roland’s commitment to the city was the location of UrbanWerks, LLC’s office in Detroit to have close proximity to city offices and be part of the pulse and life of Detroit. In the spirit of collaboration, Roland was joined by the J. Edward Design Associate’s team in a collaboration called PUSHdesign to explore the unique design challenge of designing a lifestyle residence and community. The result of this 3 year effort is the 2kHaus, a compact very energy efficient home, incorporating new technology and a desire to enhance the quality of life for its residents. Additional work involves urban planning, interior design and social innovation.



Zurich Esposito



Linsey Graff, Assoc. AIA


Linsey Graff, Assoc. AIA, is an Architectural Planner within the Capital Planning Group at the University at Buffalo, where she is involved in the Planning and Programming of many of UB’s current Capital Projects. She holds a Bachelor of Art in Interior Design from the University of New Haven in West Haven, Connecticut and a Master of Architecture from the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo in Buffalo, New York.

In addition to her work at UB, Linsey’s passion is community outreach and educating youth about the importance of the built environment. She is the current Vice President and Education Committee Chair for the Buffalo Architecture Foundation. She also serves as Chairperson of the award winning ‘Architecture + Education’ program in Buffalo, New York, which is an innovative collaboration between local architects and Buffalo Public School educators, utilizing architecture to teach students Common Core curriculum using architectural concepts. Over the past decade, the program has worked with over 2,500 students and in 2013, the program was a recipient of the AIA Diversity Recognition Program.

Linsey has spoken at numerous public events about the importance of educating the public, specifically children, about the built environment in order to preserve a region’s architecture and culture, as well as the positive impacts it has on education in general. She is currently working on researching and documenting these impacts.



Renee Kemp-Rotan, Assoc. AIA


Renee Kemp-Rotan is trained as an architect but practices as an urban designer. She was one of twenty African American that won the 1970 AIA/Ford Minority Scholarship Program, through which she earned a B. Arch from Syracuse, cum laude; a MSUP from Columbia University; a RIBA II from Architectural Association, London. Kemp-Rotan is Director, Grants & Special Projects, Mayor’s Office, Birmingham, Alabama where she also served as Director of Master Planning for the Railroad Reservation Park, Crossplex Olympic Village for Children, Birmingham Civil Rights Heritage Trail Program.

Former Chief Urban Design/Urban Development, Director Economic Development after serving as Senior Program Manager for the Corporation for Olympic Development Atlanta, Kemp-Rotan has also directed the National Design Competition Program and National Design Demonstration Programs for the National Endowment for the Arts. She has since served ten mayors of major American cites on issues of urban design, economic development and master planning and has directed more than 30 major master plans for predominantly African American communities over the course of her career.

Kemp-Rotan was recently recognized by both Harvard University and Oxford University as a leading urban designer in their jointly published African American National Biography. References to her work reside in the archives of the African American Studies Center, Oxford, England and the W.E.B. Dubose Center on African American Studies at Harvard University, Cambridge Massachusetts.

She has two sons and four grandchildren.



Lira Luis, AIA


Lira Luis is a global architect specializing in organic architecture. She graduated with a Master of Architecture degree from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin and a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture, Cum Laude, from the University of Santo Tomas. She holds multiple licenses in Asia, North America, and a Chartered Architect designation in Continental Europe. She has designed an impressive army of diverse and socially-relevant building typographies in Asian and US markets from the small-scale award-winning Portable Transient Shelter Pods to large scale designs for several of the Fortune 100 companies in the US. In 2010, National Geographic and The Aspen Institute selected her as Visiting Scholar at the Aspen Environment Forum. In the same year, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) selected her as recipient of the AIA Athena Young Professional Leadership Award. In 2011, she represented the A&D community as one of the winners in the Reign In Spain Competition by Tile of Spain. She is one of the Midwest’s most innovative design pros who is making a difference in design as named by i4Design Magazine 2011 Suite 16 Top Picks. In 2012, she is named by Engineering News Record as the Midwest's Top 20 Under 40. In 2013 she was named one of the architect-winners in Thos. Moser’s Maine Event. In the same year, she initiated an ambitious rebuilding program post-Haiyan (Yolanda), the latest benchmark of extreme typhoon, in collaboration with public and private agencies in the Philippines, USA, and UK.



Paul Medrano, AIA


Paul Medrano, AIA has a history of more than thirty years providing project management for construction and renovation of municipal and state facilities. After retiring from the Public Works Department of the City of Austin, he has continued his service to his home state and currently serves as the Facilities Planner for the Texas Department of Public Safety. He holds a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin, and a Master of Architecture in Historic Preservation from the University of California, Berkeley.

Believing in giving back to the community and in promoting high achievement for minority students, he has mentored elementary students in Austin and made presentations on architecture in schools in Central Texas, the Lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas and Northern California. He is the 2014 Chair of AIA Austin Latinos in Architecture (LiA) whose mission is to serve and support Austin’s local Latino Communities, strengthen networks among design professionals and enrich professional practice through diverse cultural views and participation in education, professional and community oriented programs. Paul is particularly proud of LiA’s success in providing Austin minority high school students with scholarships to UT Austin’s School of Architecture Summer Academy in Architecture, an intense five week design course to assist those students with their decision regarding the pursuit of a career in architecture.



Tiffany C. Millner, AIA, NOMA


Tiffany Millner is originally from Linden, NJ and received her BArch. from Temple University in 2001. Upon graduation, she started working at well-established architecture firms and began her quest to change the world - one brilliant design or thought at a time. Her professional experience includes key roles in various project types including high-end restaurants, condominiums, townhouses, and senior living facilities. Tiffany is fully involved and responsible for all phases of design, construction documentation and coordination with clients and consultants.

She has been committed to advancing the field through various diversity initiatives such as bringing awareness to elementary school students and mentoring college bound young adults. he has volunteered her time with the AIE (Architecture in Education) program as well as the ACE (Architecture Construction & Engineering) Program of Eastern Pennsylvania. She is also the Corresponding Secretary for PhilaNOMA (The Philadelphia Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects) and is committed to enhancing the profession of architecture by promoting diversity.

In an effort to amplify her voice and increase her audience, Tiffany self-published a book called ‘200 Something’. The title hints to the fact that when she became a registered architect in 2009, she was only 1 of about 200 African American female architects in the nation.

In September 2013, Tiffany took a leap of faith and departed her firm (JKR Partners) after 10 years of employment in order to pursue her dreams and develop her own brand. It was at this point that her energy shifted and The AUX Collective was further developed into a boutique studio specializing in Architectural Consulting, Graphic Design and Photography. Current projects include owner's construction representation and architectural consulting for large renovation projects, development of a student-led community journalism team in Philadelphia, full branding and identity for emerging artists and companies, and photographic documentation for community development events in PA and NJ.



Luis Peris, AIA


Both an engineer and an architect, Luis pursues seamless multidisciplinary integration in his projects. This has allowed him to be an effective solutions provider through his 25+ years of professional practice, from wind-tunnel controls engineering at NASA Glenn Research Center, to project architect for the San Francisco Centre expansion and Tower 2 of CityScape in Phoenix (AZ), to design-build of sophisticated mega-panel systems for the building envelope and vertical construction in NYC.

Mr. Peris has successfully managed and led teams of architects, engineers, and specialty consultants from project start-up to completion for multi and single phased projects, with construction budgets ranging up to $470 million. His varied experience with all the phases of a project brings a valuable perspective to the development process.

He is a very hands-on project manager that enjoys wearing all hats: from RFQs (narratives, logistics, schedules, estimates), to project interviews, brainstorming with the client and A/E/C team, technical design and construction documents, production and implementation, systems commissioning and troubleshooting.

Value creation is never out of fashion and most clients appreciate the team that is able to provide it. Luis has worked in large and small teams in a variety of roles, where I have learned that process efficiency and good team work is what produces exceptional results. Repeat clients are his favorite clients as there is a learned trust that makes projects more enjoyable and efficient. Referrals from satisfied clients are the best compliment that facilitates the next best commission.

Mr. Peris is a Professional Engineer, Registered Architect, and a LEED Accredited Professional.



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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