Announcements about the November 9, 2018 program coming soon.



The 2017 National Plenary Broadcast opened live from the National Housing Center in Washington, DC, including remarks from the AIA Center for Civic Leadership.

2017 NATIONAL PLENARY moderator


Je'Nen Chastain, Assoc. AIA
2017 Chair, AIA Leadership Institute

Je'Nen M. Chastain is a designer with Heller Manus Architects in San Francisco, and a recent graduate of the Mills College, Graduate School of Business & Public Policy with a MBA in social entrepreneurship. She authored the business plan for the re-imagined AIA Leadership Institute, now in it's third year; and is a key content contributor of leadership training programs with the AIA Center for Civic Leadership, including “Living Your Life as a Leader, 3rd edition". She was recognized for her outstanding leadership in 2016 with a presidential citation from AIA California Council, and again in 2017 by the American Institute of Architects as a national associates awardee.

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, studio managers, and firm owners. 


Keshika DeSaram, AIAS, Assoc. AIA
61st President, AIAS

A recent graduate of the M.Arch program at the University of Minnesota College of Design, Keshika was elected by his peers into a one-year term on the AIAS board of directors as the organization's national president. Keshika works collaboratively with architecture students at leading design programs across the US and abroad. Currently, the AIAS advances leadership skills with students and recent graduates through volunteer work and programs such as Freedom by Design.


Korey D. White, AIA
Project Architect, Stantec

Korey White is a Project Architect at Stantec in Washington, DC, and currently serves as the 2017 Chair of the AIA National Associates Committee (NAC). As a recently licensed architect, Korey has been working in the Public Studio focusing on projects that serve the community at various scales. She was recently selected for the 40 Under 40 Class of 2017, organized by Building Design + Construction. Her career has merged leadership, collaboration, and communication and allowed her to make an impact on the communities she has worked with. She continues to be an active leaders of the American Institute of Architects.


Albert W. Rubeling, Jr., FAIA
Senior Vice President, Rubeling & Associates

Al served as the 53rd Chancellor of the AIA College of Fellows, and is a firm owner at Rubeling & Associates in Maryland. A native of Baltimore County, Maryland, Al launched his own architecture practice in 1981. Over the years, Al has been appointed to the Maryland State Board of Architects and the Baltimore County Architectural Review Board. Al is currently on the faculty at the University of Maryland College Park School of Architecture as a Lecturer having taught the “Professional Practice” course, and currently, the “Careers of Architecture” course. He also published a book, "How to Start and Operate Your Own Design Firm", in 1994 and 2007.


Closing Act 1 Vaki Mawema keynote: Seasoned designers groomed in the days of analog technology meet upstart digital natives seeking to “disrupt”. Leaders within design firms must balance competing viewpoints of these generations, while simultaneously creating opportunities that harness the innate strengths of both. Vaki will discuss how to adapt to the accelerated nature of work, while also training tomorrow's leaders of the industry.

Vaki Mawema
Senior Associate and Studio Director, 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 all participants using both the CES Ed Q&A forum and Twitter via #AIALi17.


After we define the factors that influence our ability to be leaders within the industry, we will take a deep dive in Act 2 exploring communication in leadership. Using principles from organizational behavior, this topic will discuss self awareness, individual behavior, team dynamics, collaboration, and strategies for success. 

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

We will end Sally's keynote with an interactive Q&A session. Questions will be accepted from all participants using both the CES Ed Q&A forum and Twitter via #AIALi17.

Act 3: citizen architect movement

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 on how to inspire collaboration towards civic change and engagement.

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. 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.


Kimberly Dowdell, AIA
Partner, Century Partners

Kimberly Dowdell has designed or managed over $100 million in assets as a licensed architect, a real estate project manager and a city government official. Her career with major architectural firms in Washington, DC and New York coupled with her real estate experience with Levien & Company in New York and her tenure working with the City of Detroit have all rounded out Kimberly’s experience as an equitable development professional. Kimberly is a native of Detroit and a lecturer at the University of Michigan. She is the First Vice President/President-Elect of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). Kimberly is passionate about the revitalization of cities and is excited to lead real estate development efforts in Detroit as a Partner with Century Partners.


David Alade
Partner, Century Partners

David Alade is a born and raised native New Yorker. After graduating with a degree in Urban Studies and Economics from Columbia University in 2009, he pursued a career on Wall Street where he focused on providing an array of secured financing solutions for consumer finance companies. During his six years in investment banking at Barclays Capital and Credit Suisse, David facilitated over $100BN in financing for mid-size to Fortune 500 companies, including tens of billions of dollars of financing for the finance arms of the Big 3 US auto companies (Ford, GM and Chrysler). In the summer of 2014, David fell in love with the charismatic energy burning within the city of Detroit and began financially investing in its neighborhoods. He is a co-founder of Century Partners.

We will end with an interactive Q&A session with all of our Act 1 participants. Questions will be accepted from all participants using both the CES Ed Q&A forum and Twitter via #AIALi17.



Lindsay Brugger, AIA
Sr. Manager, Resilient Communities

Lindsay manages the AIA's Disaster Assistance and Resilience and Adaptation programs. Her work focuses on education, resource development, and policy related to disaster response and recovery, hazard mitigation, climate adaptation, and community resilience to help architects address the wide-ranging shocks and stresses that prevent communities from thriving. Lindsay is an avid partner in advancing resilience action throughout the building industry. She currently serves as the Coordinating Committee Secretary for the National Institute of Science and Technology’s cross sector Community Resilience Panel and, in 2012, co-founded Open Architecture DC’s Resilience by Design program to engage architects in risk reduction and climate adaptation. 


Carl Elefante, FAIA
2017 First Vice President /
2018 President-elect,
The American Institute of Architects

A nationally recognized expert on sustainability, Carl Elefante serves as principal for Quinn Evans Architects in Washington, DC. Carl has brought his expertise to projects across building types, including the renovation of Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Museum; design of Ames Hall at George Washington University; collaboration with William McDonough + Partners on the School of International Service at American University; renovation of the Sant Ocean Hall at the National Museum of Natural History; and renovation of Baltimore’s Peabody Institute. Carl has been an active member of the AIA at the local, state, and national levels. Nationally, he represented the Middle Atlantic region on both the AIA Board of Directors and Strategic Council, and has worked closely with the AIA Committee on the Environment, the Historic Resources Committee, and the Sustainability Scan Advisory Group. He also served as President of both AIA Maryland and AIA Potomac Valley.


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


AIA College of Fellows

Heller Manus Architects

Align Virtual Learning Solutions
Gruen Associates
Little Diversified Architectural Consulting

Antinozzi Associates
DLR Group
Gangi Architects


Find more detailed information about locations,
learning objectives, and event schedules.

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