Wednesday, June 21 2017

KFA’s Andrea Urmanita, AIA, Presents at the AIA|LA Encompass Conference

Andrea EncompassIn May 2017, AIA|LA held its inaugural, daylong Encompass conference that focused on problems and solutions concerning diversity, inclusion, and equity within the profession of architecture. KFA celebrates AIA|LA’s effort in creating the proper forum for continuing the vitally important conversation about diversity and inclusion.

AIA Statement on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, 2017

The American Institute of Architects, as part of the global community, champions a culture of equity, diversity, and inclusion within the profession of architecture to create a better environment for all.  Achieving this vision has a direct impact on the relevance of our profession and the world’s prosperity, health, and future.

Among the speakers was Andrea Urmanita, AIA, a rising star at KFA and a board member of the Association of Women for Architecture + Design (AWA+D). Invited to share her personal journey as a woman and as a first-generation American, she discussed how her cross-cultural upbringing formed conflicting expectations about career success and how taking ownership of her career was key towards gaining confidence and becoming a licensed architect.

Much work remains to be done to increase diversity, inclusion, and equity within the profession, in order to attract future generations of architects and to mentor and retain emerging talent with diverse backgrounds.  The Encompass conference was a valuable chance for AIA|LA members to speak candidly and identify real action items to achieve as a chapter.

Andrea focused on the need to capture and retain the pool of young talent that the architecture profession risks losing: those who don’t get the validation that they’ve earned, those who don’t have a clear picture of the career ahead, and those who don’t make it to positions of leadership.  Among the key issues she raised:

  • Aspiring architects must take ownership of their own career development, and tirelessly seek out work environments and opportunities to gain a better understanding of the profession.
  • Architecture firms need to recognize the untapped talent and leadership potential within their staff. It’s in their best interest to encourage staff to integrate personal interests into office culture, provide opportunities for mentorship, and cultivate their young professionals towards leadership and career growth.
  • Members of the profession, at any level, can become engaged both in and out of the office. Participate actively in professional organizations such as AIA|LA and AWA+D to advance and support fellow colleagues at different career stages.
  • Every future architect can create her or his own path, regardless of gender or race, and not allow the habits and expectations of past generations to hinder their success.

With 42 years of sustained, visionary leadership by Barbara Flammang, AIA, and Wade Killefer, FAIA, KFA has developed a culture that values and celebrates diversity and inclusivity.  KFA encourages intern development program (IDP) participation, and the firm’s leadership strongly supports architectural licensure, paying for study guides and test fees and creating a competitive test-taking culture.  Currently, 50 percent of the firm’s architectural staff is female, 49 percent represent minority groups and 50 percent of our eligible architects are licensed.   The firm has developed an internal mentorship program that supports the growth of every staff member.  KFA respects the talents of its employees, and compensates them fairly and equally.

Our firm looks forward to further participating and supporting both AIA|LA and AWA+D in their missions and visions for broadening the landscape for current and future architects.