So You Want To Be A Citizen Architect

May 21, 2021
3:00 pm -4:30 pm EST
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The Young Architects Forum

Have you been inspired to get involved as a Citizen Architect, but do not know where to begin? Are you an emerging professional who wants to make a tangible difference in your community? Are you seeking new ways to transfer your architectural skills to improve the wellbeing of others? If so, this session is for you.

Attendees will hear from a diverse group of architects and designers who currently serve as board members, commissioners, and civic leaders in their communities. The panelists will share their path to involvement, lessons learned, and insights in why civic engagement is important for architects. Attendees will learn of various levels of civic engagement and the stepping stones needed to jumpstart or reinvigorate the path to becoming a Citizen Architect.

The panelists will expand on how and why architects should take on a leadership role in their communities as members of governmental agencies, panels, and various boards. This session will have ample Q&A time, allowing for attendees to engage with the civic leaders.

This webinar is the first in a three-part series called "So You Want To..." brought to you by the Young Architects forum.


Register for this session on AIAU. More information >


Trinity Simmons, Executive Director of the Mayors' Institute on City Design

Trinity Simons has served as the executive director of the Mayors’ Institute on City Design (MICD) since 2012. In this role, she works with mayors across the country on the nation’s most pressing urban planning and design challenges. She speaks about the intersection of design and politics at universities, events, and symposia across the country. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she led the MICD transition to serving mayors in a virtual environment, including the creation of new program offerings, such as Mayors’ Virtual Seminars, MICD Alumni Technical Assistance, and the MICD Just City Mayoral Fellowship (in partnership with the Just City Lab at the Harvard GSD). Under her leadership, in 2021, MICD was awarded the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s Founders’ Award, its highest honor for organizations. Trinity has a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Arkansas and a Master of City Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Tiara Hughes, Assoc. AIA, Commisioner of Chicago Landmarks

Tiara Hughes, Assoc. AIA, NOMA, is the Founder and Executive Director for FIRST 500, a national research initiative focused on highlighting African American women architects and raising awareness of their distinctions. As the Founder and Executive Director, Tiara travels the country to raise awareness of the importance of black women architects throughout history  and their contributions to the built envirionment. Guiding the future pipelines of black voices is critical to the survival and growth of our industry. Black women architect voices are needed in spaces where decisions are made, policies are considered, and positions of leadership and power are given. FIRST 500 offers a different lens and point of view that’s often missing from these spaces.

Thomas Hurlbert, AIA, AIA SD President and Sioux Falls Re-Districting Commission

Tom is Co-Founder and CEO of a 20+ person firm, COOP Architecture. Tom is also the President of AIA South Dakota, advocating for architects to become more involved in their communities.  He was recently appointed to the five-person Sioux Falls Re-Districting Commission. His firm, COOP Architecture, is involved in several community-building and innovation efforts, and has received 6 design awards from AIA South Dakota. In 2018 Tom became the only South Dakota architect to ever receive the National Young Architects of the Year Award from the American Institute of Architects.Tom is co-founder of a community revitalization effort that includes raising funds and purchasing dilapidated core buildings, renovating and selling them to new business owners.  His firm is currently invested in and helped develop the first mass-timber building in South Dakota, and COOP’s Sioux Falls office will be housed there in July.

Jessica O'Donnell, AIA, Young Arhitects Forum 2021 Vice Chair

As a proactive and engaged young architect, Jessica O’Donnell is a leader in her community, her firm, and the AIA. She is devoted to preparing the next generation of architects to propel the architectural profession forward and continually seeks opportunities to get others engaged. Jessica is a project architect at Kitchen & Associates, where she focuses on multi-family housing projects, internal staff development initiatives, and leads BIM management initiatives.  Outside of the office, Jessica is avidly involved with the regional STEAM Tank program and ACE Mentoring. She has also held a number of leadership positions with the AIA at the local, regional and national level, and is currently the Vice Chair of AIA’s Young Architect’s forum. Jessica was named AIA New Jersey’s 2019 Young Architect of the Year and spotlighted by AIA as a 2020 Citizen Architect.

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