The 2017 National Plenary Broadcast will open live from the National Housing Center in Washington, DC, including remarks from the AIA Center for Civic Leadership, 2017 Honorary Chair Clark Manus, FAIA, 2017 AIA First Vice President Carl Elefante, FAIA, and founder of the re-envisioned AIA Leadership Institute Je'Nen Chastain, Assoc. AIA.

(left to right) Je'Nen Chastain, Assoc. AIA; Carl Elefante, FAIA; and Clark Manus, FAIA;

Act 1: leadership dynamics in the industry

Act 1, features distinguished leaders who will illustrate the key career perspectives at play within the workforce of architecture. These perspectives include: new entrants to the workforce, new managers, seasoned managers, firm managers, and firm owners. We will discover what keeps these leaders up at night, how they think about their responsibilities as practice leaders, and how they are positioning their teams for success. This conversation will help participants understand how to frame and advance pipeline development conversations within their own companies.

(left to right) Keshika DeSaram, Assoc. AIA; Korey White, AIA, Shannon Kraus, FAIA; and Al Rubeling, FAIA

Closing Act 1 Vaki Mawema will deliver an inspiring keynote framing the design challenge of leadership within the industry. Vaki will discuss taking risks, generational leadership, merging design thinking and leadership, how he approaches team and studio dynamics, and career leadership.

Vaki Mawema
Project Architect, Gensler in Washington, DC

Vaki is the Director of Gensler DC’s 40-person Lifestyle Studio, which focuses on the design of experiential, branded environments like hospitality, retail, mixed-use, and F&B. Vaki is also a business leader in the industry and community and was named one of the Washington Business Journal’s 40 under 40 for 2016. A former rugby player and then referee, he is a strong believer in the power of teamwork to accomplish extraordinary feats and his design studio has created a working culture that embodies creative passion and design excellence, exceptional client service and supports leadership and entrepreneurship.

We will end with an interactive Q&A session with all of our Act 1 participants. Questions will be accepted from each of our Regional Venues, our Virtual Attendees, and Twitter using #AIALi17.

act 2: organizational behavior and leadership

After define the factors that influence our ability to be leaders within the industry, we will take a deep dive in Act 2 exploring team dynamics through the lens of organizational behavior. Organizational behavior is the study of human behavior in organizational settings. Topics we will address include self awareness, individual behavior, team dynamics, collaboration, and strategies for success. This year we are joined by distinguished keynote Sally Blount, dean of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. 

Sally Blount Bio Picture 300dpi.png

Sally Blount
Dean, Kellogg School of Management

Sally Blount has served as dean of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University since July 2010. An internationally recognized thought leader in management, negotiation, and behavioral decision-making, Blount brings more than 25 years of experience in business education. Under her leadership, Kellogg has successfully completed a bold 7-year plan for transforming the school including strengthening its innovative degree portfolio, repeatedly breaking fundraising records, expanding Kellogg’s premier Executive MBA Global network, and completing construction of a 415,000 square foot state of the art, lakefront education center. Blount’s academic research and unique perspective on business have been featured in prestigious academic journals including the Journal of Applied Psychology, the Negotiation Journal and the Academy of Management Review, and business news outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and The Economist. Blount is a proud alumna of Kellogg, where she received her Ph.D. in management and organizations. Blount serves as Kellogg’s Michael L. Nemmers Professor of Management & Organizations and has taught courses in behavioral decision making, ethics, leadership, negotiations, management, and organizational behavior. In addition to leading Kellogg, Blount is also a director at Abbott Laboratories, and she serves on the advisory boards for the Aspen Institute's Business and Society Program, Indian School of Business, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Business School, and Fundacao Dom Cabral in Brazil.

Act 3: citizen architect, a case study in detroit

Closing the National Plenary, we will pivot the Broadcast from Washington, DC to Detroit, Michigan and join our Regional Venue in the Midwest. Our team in Detroit will present a case study on their work to transform their city. A lifelong Citizen Architect, Steven Lewis, FAIA and 2016 winner of the AIA Whitney M. Young Jr. Award will lead the discussion, joined by key collaborators from Detroit, including Kimberly Dowdell, AIA; David Alade; and Charlie Klecha, Assoc. AIA.

R. Steven Lewis, FAIA, NOMA
Urban Design Director, City of Detroit

Steven Lewis is an architect and a tireless advocate for social justice and diversity within the field of architecture. In 2016, Steven accepted an appointment by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to serve as Urban Design Director for the central region of the City. Steven is also an entrepreneur, previously launching "Thinking Leadership" - a consulting practice distinguished by a facilitated approach to collaborative problem-solving. Prior his work in Detroit, Steven worked with TRC for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Parsons Corporation in Pasadena, and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) as a Program Manager with the Office of the Chief Architect in Washington, DC. Steve was admitted to the prestigious Loeb Fellowship program at the Harvard Graduate School of Design for the 2006-07 academic year. As part of his fellowship year, he organized a symposium on the subject of race and architecture titled, "Forced Perspective." Steven is also a former president of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). More than anything, Steve is a facilitator of partnerships and alliances between groups and individuals who seek to use design to bring about positive change to our world.


(left to right) Kimberly Dowdell, AIA; and David Alade


The AIA Leadership Institute is organized by a team of AIA volunteers from across the country. This group includes committees members of the AIA Center for Civic Leadership, component leaders, firm leaders, emerging firm leaders, associate members, architects, Fellows, Citizen Architects, AIA staff, and our invited guest speakers. Without the shared enthusiasm of this group on the topic of leadership, this program would not exist. We continue to collaborate on this program with our friends at the AIA College of Fellows, the Young Architects Forum, and the Small Firm Exchange

2017 National Planning Team
Je'Nen M. Chastain, Assoc. AIA
Glenn Kessler
Kelsey Oesmann, Assoc. AIA
Jud Kline, FAIA, LEED AP
Michael Ayles, AIA, NCARB
Kimberly Yoho, CAE
Christian Taylor

2017 Regional Venue Planning Team
Ben Allen, AIA, LEED AP
Sherri Carney
Douglas Crawford, AIA, LEED AP
Danielle Haynes
Charlie Klecha, Assoc. AIA
Michael Lejong, AIA, LEED AP
Steve Lewis, FAIA, NOMA
Lauren Myrand

Ryan McEnroe, AIA, ASLA, LEED AP
Alison L. Pavilonis, AIA
Joel Pominville, Assoc. AIA
Amanda Rivera, AIA, LEED AP
Brent Stevenson, 
Susanna Watt
Zelda Wong

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