Women's Leadership Summit 2017: Creating Tailwinds

  • September 14 – 16, 2017
  • 8:30 am –5:00 pm ET



Registration for the Women’s Leadership Summit is currently sold out. If you are interested in being put on a waitlist, please email

The Women’s Leadership Summit 2017 is a two-day event focused on supporting women architects, creating new paths to leadership, and providing a forum to recognize and champion their work.

What began as a grassroots effort in Boston is now a biannual sold-out event that influences the national conversation around gender and diversity in the architecture profession..

Summit goals include:

  • raising the profile of women principals and leaders in the profession
  • sharing and promoting the design work of women
  • exploring new paths to leadership
  • learning from each other regarding issues and challenges


Thursday, September 14, 2017

10am–3:45pm Pre-summit check-in

10am–6pm Allied events (optional)

11am–5:30pm Pre-summit tours (optional)

6:30–8pm Welcome reception

8pm Dinner on your own

10–12pm 8x8 Night out meetups (optional)

The optional night out meetups are an informal way to get to know fellow attendees. You will be asked what location you prefer at the time of registration. Meetups are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Find your meetup location below. Please note you will be responsible for your own food, drinks, and any cover charge.

Friday, September 15, 2017

6am–7am Wellness sessions (optional)

Mall run: Meet some new faces and get some exercise at WLS. Friday and Saturday morning at 6am, we’ll meet in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt and split into running/walking groups, depending on participant’s preference.

Yoga class: Join fellow architects in basic yoga principles of alignment, breath work, and primary poses. Although you're welcome to bring your own, yoga mats will be provided.

Cycling class: Join fellow architects for a total body cycling class that packs interval training, rhythm riding, and upper body work in 45 minutes. This class incorporates a weights series and core exercises to improve strength, stability and coordination while increasing endurance. A challenging class for all skill levels.

5:30am–6pm Summit check-in

7:30–8:30am Networking breakfast

8:15–8:45am Welcome

8:45–9:15am National update on Creating Tailwinds

9:15–10:15am Capital clients

10:30–11:30am 100 Series: Women Architects Under Fire

11:45am–1pm Lunch and Table Topics (details below in Materials section)

1–2:30pm 200 Series: Divergent Voices of the Profession (details below in Materials section)

3–5:30pm 300 Series: In-Studio (details below in Materials section)

In-Studio is an opportunity to meet women who hold senior leadership positions in their firms (CEO, Principal, Owner, etc.). The professionals represent small, medium and large firms in the region with a range of client and project types. As an attendee of Women's Leadership Summit 2017, you will have the opportunity to meet with these women in their firms to learn about their practice, their path to leadership, and how each creates Tailwinds.

6:45–8pm WIDEA lecture with Dina Griffin, AIA, NOMA, IIDA, of Interactive Design Architects

Registration for summit attendees is included. Registration for the general public opens July 1, 2017.

8:30pm Dinner on your own

Saturday, September 16, 2017

6–7am Wellness sessions (optional) (see above)

5:30am–4pm Summit check-in

7:30–8:30am Networking breakfast

8–8:30am Welcome

8:30–9:30am Leadership keynote with Susan Colantuono

9:45–11:15am 400 Series: Tools for Moving Towards Equity (details below in Materials section)

11:30am–12:45pm Lunch with Leadership Workshop

1–2pm 500 Series: Stirring up Awards Locally and Globally

2:30–3pm 600 Series: Citizen Architect: Making an Impact in your Community

3–3:15pm Summation & Charge

Optional post-summit events

4–5:30pm Post-summit tours

4–5:30pm Allied organization events

6–8pm Dine Around Dinners


Registration cost

AIA member | $350 (June 16 or later)

Non-member | $425 (June 16 or later)

Cancellation policy

Cancellation requests must be faxed to (202) 639 7624 or emailed to no later than September 1, 2017. A cancellation fee of $50 will apply for this meeting. No refunds after the cancellation deadline.

Registration confirmation

After you register you will receive a registration confirmation via email immediately. If you do not receive a registration confirmation, please email AIA Meetings or call (800) 242 3837 ext. 7440. To ensure you receive the necessary conference materials (registration confirmations, conference updates, advance and final attendee rosters, etc.) please WHITELIST in your email program.

Registrations received by September 8, will appear on the advance attendee roster. Individuals registering after this date will appear on the final attendee roster sent after the meeting.

Special needs

AIA is committed to making meetings and conferences accessible to all to the degree reasonably possible. Please notify us at the time of registration if you have special accessibility needs or specific dietary requirements. Email Tonya Horsley if special arrangements are required.

Hotel reservations

The Women’s Leadership Summit 2017 is being held at the Grand Hyatt Washington, 1000 H Street, NW, close to a number of popular attractions and government landmarks.  You can reserve a room online at the conference rate of $239 plus taxes or call (202) 582 1234 and tell the agent that you are reserving for the AIA Women’s Leadership Summit.


You can book directly with the carriers below, or use your own agent.  Another option is to use the AIA’s official travel agency, Ovation Corporate Travel, by calling (800) 925 4055, or (516) 624 0308 for international callers, Monday through Friday from 9am-8pm ET.


Amtrak offers a 10 percent discount off the lowest available rail fare to Washington, DC between September 11-19, 2017. To book your reservation call Amtrak at 1 (800) 872 7245 or contact your local travel agent. Please refer to Convention Fare Code X95D-964 when making your reservation.

Travel using the Convention fare code cannot be booked via the Amtrak website. This offer is not valid on the Auto Train and Acela service. Offer valid with Sleepers, Business Class or First Class seats with payment of the full applicable accommodation charges. Fare is valid on Amtrak Regional all departures seven days a week.

Delta Air Lines

Reservations and ticketing are available via or through Ovation Travel or your agent. When booking at, select Book A Trip, click on Advanced Search and enter the meeting code NMLNR in the box provided on the Search Flights page.

Reservations may also be made by calling Delta Meeting reservations at (800) 328 1111, Monday through Friday from 7am-7pm CT.  There is a direct ticketing fee for booking through this reservation number.

United Airlines

United Airlines is pleased to offer discounts of 2 percent to 10 percent off published fares. Save an additional 3 percent off by booking your own reservations at Choose your flight times, and access your meeting discounts by inserting 743699 in the Offer Code box.

Or Call your travel professional or United Meetings at (800) 426 1122 for reservations.

Refer to Z Code ZXBU and Agreement Code 743699.

If you are outside of the US, please call your local United Airlines Reservation Office.


Table Topics

Table Topics is an opportunity to discuss subjects relevant to being a leader in the workplace. As an attendee of Women’s Leadership Summit 2017, you will have the opportunity to discuss the topic of your choosing with your peers. Download >


In-Studio is an opportunity to meet women who hold senior leadership positions in their firms (CEO, Principal, Owner, etc.). These professionals represent small, medium, and large firms in the region with a range of client and project types. As an attendee of Women’s Leadership Summit 2017, you will have the opportunity to meet with these women in their firms to learn about their practice, their path to leadership, and how each creates tailwinds. Download >

200 Series: Divergent Voices of the Profession

Women Shaping Detroit's Future

Speakers: Melissa Dittmer, Olga Stella, and Amy Deines

This session will discuss Detroit’s recent City of Design designation by UNESCO and the role of women in shaping Detroit's future urbanism. Through examination of design excellence standards in developments like City Modern, Brush Park, and Choice Neighborhoods, the panelists will explain how Detroit is creating an exciting new architectural landscape.

Super Tall

Speakers: Sara K. Beardsley, AIA and Ingedia K. Sanchez

Super tall towers are some of the most iconic buildings on earth. Women’s leadership in this building sector is relatively rare. Two women architects from SOM and AS+GG, each of whom is currently leading international super tall projects, will share their perspective on the demands of managing large teams – including evolutions in technology.

Career Journeys Beyond Design

Speakers: Mary P. Cox FAIA, Rebecca Barnes, FAIA, Pamela Delphenich, FAIA, Emily Marthinsen, AIA, Rosalba Ledezma, RA, and Lori Garrett, FAIA

This panel discussion will explore the personal stories of several professionals whose careers have taken them into higher education leadership and administrative roles. The discussion will focus on how management and policy decisions benefit from our unique training as architects, acquiring leadership skills, and what leadership means for women design professionals, cultivating social and emotional intelligence, and the critical nature of communications.

Women Leading in Public Service

Speakers: Debra Nauta-Rodriguez, FAIA, Jennifer Daniels, Susan B. Wertheim, Beth L. Savage, and Jame Anderson, AIA

How do women in architecture who are federal employees compare with their private sector counterparts? How does the professional client role, and stewardship of important public buildings, differ from private practice? This panel, comprised of leaders from varying disciplines and specialties (Architecture, Landscape, Planning and Historic Preservation) will discuss how an alternate career path in federal service can provide opportunities that impact the built environment.

Insight and Innovation: Where Research Fits

Speakers: Upali Nanda, PhD, Giyoung Park, PhD, AIA, and Kate Renner, AIA

Linking data to design and information to innovation is hard. Many people talk about research today as part of the design process, but what does this mean? Is it a business development or a practice development tool? This presentation will help the audience understand what the spectrum of architectural research really means - and how utilizing research pushes innovation.

400 Series: Tools for Moving Towards Equity

Six Steps to a Process-Based Culture Shift

Speakers: Joyce Polhamus, FAIA, Troy Thompson, AIA, and Saskia Dennis-van Dijl

How do you spark change? For SmithGroupJJR, it took two offices out of ten to catapult the firm onto a global trajectory towards equity. What started as a small-scale diversity effort in California launched a two-year firm-wide mission. So how did it happen? Learn from the six-step, scalable process that led this firm to turn itself inside out to solve a top-down problem.

Negotiation Is Your Power Tool

Speaker: Rosa Sheng, AIA

Would you like to become a more effective negotiator on behalf of yourself, your practice and for the architectural profession at large? Learn how to negotiate and effective skills for negotiating with competitive people. Learn HOW to negotiate by learning the key differences between negotiation mindsets through role play and gain experience in understanding both sides of the table.

Training Architects to Be Leaders

Speakers: Georgia Cameron, AIA and Je'Nen Chastain, Assoc. AIA

Utilizing the AIA workbook "Living Your Life as a Leader" as an interactive resource for participants, this session will teach the core competencies required for effective leadership. Participants will learn strategies for applying leadership, including working on teams, mentoring, motivating people, building consensus and navigating difficult conversations. Participants will also learn specific techniques for teaching leadership to others.

Leading the Academy

Speaker: Madlen Simon, AIA

This session is a facilitated roundtable discussion of why there is a persistence of gender inequity in academic leadership positions. Department chairs and academic deans are catalysts in efforts to promote equity in the academy; however, women remain underrepresented. Additionally, for women in academia, the timing of tenure decisions often coincides with the optimal childbearing years, frequently creating conflicts.

Making a Difference with Equity: A Business Approach

Speakers: Carole Wedge, FAIA, Gabrielle Bullock, FAIA, Emily Grandstaff-Rice, FAIA, and Aniela Unguresan

When the architecture profession does not reflect the society it serves, it misses the opportunity to understand trends and the perspective of its clients. When architecture firms fail to attract the best and the brightest, all are affected. This panel of architects and diversity and inclusion leaders will describe how using a business approach and setting standards towards equity leads to greater potential for business and innovation.

Additional information

For more information on sessions and events, visit


Susan Colantuono

Susan L. Colantuono is the CEO of Leading Women, one of the world’s premier consulting firms supporting corporate initiatives to advance women and close the leadership gender gap. She founded and ran the Women’s Institute of Leadership at Bryant University from 2002 to 2010; is the author of No Ceiling, No Walls: What Women Haven’t Been Told About Leadership; Make the Most of Mentoring; and innumerable articles about the leadership gender gap, leadership, and women’s advancement.

Dina Griffin

Dina became president of IDEA in 1999. Her experience in educational, municipal and corporate projects contributes significantly to the firm’s capacities and her adept leadership and collaborative skills are invaluable to all projects, especially those with multiple stakeholder groups. She often oversees interior architecture, FF&E and finishing details on projects, in addition to her duties managing the firm’s daily operation.

Dina is active in the community as a board member of the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and a former member of the Board of Directors for the Illinois Chapter. Dina is also past president of the Illinois Chapter of the National Organization for Minority Architects. Dina currently serves on the Illinois Architect Licensing Board, is a member of the Advisory Board for Contract Magazine and is a member of the Leadership Advisory Committee for The Art Institute of Chicago whose primary mission is to bring the arts to underserved neighborhoods in the City of Chicago.

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