Young Architects Forum

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The Young Architect's Forum (YAF) is a program of the American Institute of Architects and the College of Fellows (COF) and is organized to address issues of particular importance to recently licensed architects, within 10 years after licensure. YAF is an outgrowth of a 1989 AIA Grassroots program. The issues raised and potential benefits visualized at that meeting led to the 1991 formation of a national YAF advisory committee to encourage the development of national and regional programs of interest to young architects and the creation of YAF groups within local chapters.

The New Mexico YAF is chartered by the state component. We have taken into consideration the small size of the populace of NM by including all emerging professionals, unregistered architects, Associate AIA and AIAS members. We focus on developing leadership, fellowship and mentorship.

We feel that the biggest challenge now is the economy. Young Architects are discouraged in their development of critical skills for the profession and frustrated with job searches for those who are unemployed or newly graduated. We are here to engage and provide hope for these emerging professionals.

Events to Foster Your Professional Development

We would love to hear ideas for future YAF events or any questions you may have!

Email us at

Mentorship Program

Early NM YAF organizers felt that a mentorship program was something that the AIA chapters were not already doing and this was a niche YAF could fill. In the fall of 2009, NM YAF introduced a mentorship program for Young Architects to connect with an experienced architect or AIA Fellow for a duration of six months. We had 18 participants our first year. Since the spring of 2010, NM YAF has mentored students from the UNM SA+P. We typically have around 30 participants 15 mentors and 15 students in the program with excellent results! We start and end each program with a get-together where we can share experiences.

Hard Hat Tours

In addition to the mentorship programs, NM YAF has been sponsoring hard hat tours. The annual AIA tour is completed buildings, and we wanted to show buildings at 50% completion to teach students and young architects about construction and building systems. YAF NM tries to have one every spring and fall and we are always looking for suggestions.

Mock Bid Night

A joint effort between YAF and AIA NM Associates, Mock Bid Night is a live example of the bid process. We work with Bradbury Stamm Construction to get the practice we need in a fun environment.


A joint effort between YAF and AIA NM Associates, Architrivia is a fun way to study, or just refresh your memory. Keep an eye on the AIA NM page for upcoming dates.

Did you recently receive your Architecture License? Congratulations!

Biennial YAF Gala

In 2012 we started the YAF Gala where we celebrate newly licensed NM Architects. This event is hosted every two years - so be on the lookout for it in the fall of every even-numbered year.

Hey, I Just got my License, Now What?

In January of 2018 we held our first post-licensure seminar. Why?

Architecture school and the licensure process teach you how to be a designer and how to pass a test, but there is very little attention focused on the business of architecture, specifically starting your own firm. The number of newly licensed architects in New Mexico has tripled in recent years - there have been over 100 since our first YAF Gala in 2012. The young architect demographic is coming of age and we feel that there will be a lot of new budding firms or employees taking over existing firms in the next several years. Our goal is to help these future firm owners start off on the right foot and make responsible, ethical, economical decisions. We will also touch on licensed employees currently employed who are looking to advance in their roles.

For up-to-date information, join the YAF e-mail list!

If you’re getting ready to start the path to licensure, or need some guidance along the way, check out the AIA New Mexico Associates Page or e-mail our State Licensing Advisor, Evan Berger.

Ready to join?

We’re ready to welcome you! Other than the benefits listed above, and additional ones provided by AIA National, all new AIA members receive FREE registration to the upcoming AIA National Convention.

A’23 | San Francisco | June 7-10, 2023

Transferring to New Mexico

Welcome to New Mexico! We look forward to meeting you. To transfer your membership from one component to another, please complete a transfer form here.

Newly Licensed

Congratulations on becoming licensed! To upgrade your membership from Associate to Professional and learn about our Step Dues Program, please contact Valerie Stefani.


AIA Emerging Professionals

Refer to the AIA National website for in-depth resources about

  • Continuing Education--track available courses on trending topics and utilize our transcript service
  • Knowledge Communities​--Connect, discuss and share your knowledge in 20+ interest areas
  • Targeted resources in the "Center for Emerging Professionals"--including licensure information, support for architecture students, and information for newly licensed architects
  • Scholarships & Grants--Information on Scholarships, Grants, and Fellowships


Efrén López, YAF Chair



YAF Program Roles:

YAF Co-Chair

Supports the YAF Chair, first year of 3 year commitment.

YAF Chair

Second year of 3 year commitment.

The Young Architects Forum (YAF) promotes the professional growth and leadership development of Emerging Professionals, including early and mid-career architects and unlicensed professionals on both traditional and non-traditional career paths. The YAF is both a place to connect socially with the design community and a venue to build leadership and advocacy skills. The YAF Director is responsible for addressing issues and discuss topics relevant to young architecture and design professionals in New Mexico, working with AIA New Mexico, the local chapters, AIAS, and Emerging Professionals to share relevant events and information, and to plan the Biennial YAF Gala. The next Gala is to take place in Fall 2020.

YAF's mission is to:

  • Encourage professional growth and leadership development among recently licensed architects through interaction and collaboration with AIA and allied groups
  • Build a national network, and serve as a collective voice for young architects by ensuring that issues relevant to young architects are properly addressed by AIA
  • Make AIA membership a valuable tool for young architects and encourage them to pursue leadership roles within the architecture and design community

YAF Adviser

Final year of 3 year commitment.

Image credits

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