About the award

The Young Architects Award honors individuals who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and made significant contributions to the architecture profession early in their careers.

During a high school interview, Gathings was asked if she intended to leave Mississippi, a complex place with unique challenges, following her graduation. Her answer was a resounding no, a reply based on her firm belief in her power to enact change. Since completing her studies at Mississippi State University in 2010, she has worked at Duvall Decker Architects, rising to associate in 2021. She has led some of the firm’s most impactful projects, including the renovation of the Ellen Harris Center in Jackson, an important childcare facility that serves the city’s students and their families.

In her work for Duvall Decker, Gathings exemplifies leadership and ingenuity well beyond her years. When the firm designed the new U.S. Courthouse in Greenville, Mississippi, she led the team that designed its interiors. Further afield in Malvern, Pennsylvania, she oversaw the extraordinary fine detailing for the Selah House, a 2,200-square-foot home for a retiring doctor. Her broad skill set has made her a leader and teacher for all her colleagues.

As Gathings began her professional career, she also became involved with AIA Mississippi, becoming associate director before fully understanding what the role entailed. Since then, she has held a wide array of leadership roles, including chapter president in 2018. As associate director, she founded the chapter’s emerging professionals group to better connect the state’s associate and young architect members. Later, as communications director, she implemented a digital infrastructure that delivered quality content that sustained member engagement. Her quarterly newsletters and annual year-in-review publication were instrumental in reconnecting a disjointed community of architects across the state.

In her executive leadership roles for AIA Mississippi, Gathings carefully navigated the challenges of meeting members’ needs with limited operational budgets. Despite the obstacles, she organized and programmed the 2015 Mississippi Celebrates Architecture Symposium and the chapter’s 2017 annual convention in New Orleans. On the national level, she has represented the chapter at numerous AIA Grassroots events and served on the 2019 Diversity Pipeline and National Representation Task Force. Gathings and her peers shaped Next to Lead, a program that envisions sustainable pathways to leadership for ethnically diverse women based on the specific barriers they face.

By opting to remain in Mississippi, a place she cares deeply about, Gathings has committed to serving communities in need and bringing those who exist in the margins closer to the center. A tireless advocate for improving equity in the profession, Gathings is engaged in vital work that will lead to a better future for all.


Ann Marie Baranowski, FAIA, Chair, Ann Marie Baranowski Architect PLLC (AMBA), New York

Sarah Broughton, FAIA, Rowland+Broughton Architecture / Urban Design / Interior Design (R+B), Aspen, Colo.

Christian Joosse, AIA, Moody Nolan, Columbus, Ohio

Greg Luhan, FAIA, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas

Virginia Marquardt, AIA, HMC Architects, Los Angeles

Danielle Tillman, AIA, NOMA, BKL Arch, Chicago

Image credits

headshot of woman in a gray shirt

Andrew Welch Photo

group of people standing in a stairwell

Barrett Photography

building exterior at day

Andrew Welch Photo

row of homes at day

Andrew Welch Photo

home exterior at night with water feature

Pau Hana Productions