Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program: 2023 Mid-Year Recap

The Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program is aimed at nurturing and developing emerging leaders in the field of architecture. Named in honor of Christopher Kelley, an influential architect and advocate for mentorship, the program provides selected participants with a unique opportunity to enhance their leadership skills, expand their professional networks, and engage in meaningful dialogue and collaboration. Through a series of immersive sessions, seminars, and mentorship opportunities, the program equips participants with the knowledge, tools, and perspectives needed to navigate the complexities of the architecture industry and make a positive impact on their communities. 

The Colorado chapter, founded in 2017, continues the mission of supporting and developing emerging architects who aspire to become influential leaders in their field. Now entering its seventh year, the program is well underway, with four events already in the books for 2023. Below are some highlights from the program so far.

Boot Camp

The Colorado chapter of the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program (CKLDP) kicked off its 2023 program with an eventful Boot Camp session, held in the salon space of rowland+broughton. The session began with Rachel Yee, AIA, former AIA Colorado President and founder of the CKLDP Colorado chapter, sharing the history of the program and the importance of storytelling in architecture. Mike Waldinger, Hon. AIA, CEO AIA Colorado, also provided valuable advice on traits that successful leaders should embody, emphasizing the power of storytelling. To conclude the session, Martin Moe III facilitated a discussion on culture and group norms, setting the stage for future interactions throughout the program this year.

  • Date and Location: January 20th, Rowland+Broughton
  • Speakers:
    Rachel Yee, AIA – Architect at SmithGroup and founder of the Colorado chapter of CKLDP
    Mike Waldinger, Hon. AIA – CEO, AIA Colorado
    Martin Moe III – Senior Analyst, Facilitator, and Process Improvement Trainer
  • Organizers: CKLDP Executive Committee

Session 01: Entrepreneurship and Management

The first session delved into the world of entrepreneurship and management. The session started with a panel discussion featuring Stacey Passmore, Diane Lipovsky, Adam Wagoner, AIA, and Miles Dake, who shared their experiences and insights on starting a business and building a team. Key takeaways from the panelists included the importance of flexibility in entrepreneurship, establishing a clear mission and vision for a business, and looking for humility in team members. The session also included presentations on relational leadership tools by Jimmy Carnes and practical leadership tools and resources such as articles, books, podcasts, and tools to enhance their leadership skills. Lastly, Krista Trofka shared insight on the importance of personal relationships, value proposition, and staying curious.

  • Date and Location: March 10th, Arch11
  • Speakers:
    Stacey Passmore – Founder of Superbloom Landscape Architecture
    Diane Lipovsky – Founder of Superbloom Landscape Architecture
    Adam Wagoner, AIA – Co-founder of Further Architecture Office
    Miles Dake – Founder of Dake Collaborative
    Jimmy Carnes – Coach at Capable Life
    Krista Trofka – National Business Development Leader at DLR Group
  • Organizers: Levi Wall, AIA, and Linnaea Stuart, AIA

Session 02: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

The second session focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Joy Crouse delivered a keynote address that provided definitions, conceptual overviews, and engaging activities to foster meaningful conversations about DEI. The session highlighted the importance of recognizing the difference between intent and effect, understanding surface and deep culture, and striving for equality and liberation. Additionally, a panel discussion featuring representatives from the National Organization of Minority Architects addressed the past, present, and future of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the profession, with panelists sharing personal experiences and emphasizing the need for action. The session concluded with a DEI workshop led by Jen Skidmore, which encouraged participants to envision the future of architecture in terms of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The session focused on challenging dominant narratives, considering barriers and solutions, and reflecting on personal actions for advancing equity and justice in the field.

  • Date and Location: April 14th, Gensler
  • Speakers:
    Joyous Crouse – Training and Development Facilitator
    Patricia Joseph Gill – Associate Project Architect at The Abo Group
    Ron Abo, FAIA – Founder of The Abo Group
    Guadalupe Cantu, AIA – Associate Principal at Davis Partnership Architects
    Ivan Patino – Associate at Tryba Architects
    Jen Skidmore – Director of Professional Development and Internships at the University of Colorado, Denver, College of Architecture and Planning
  • Organizers: Andriy Grygorenko and Kelly Buchanan, AIA

Session 03: Community Engagement

Session three focused on community engagement for architects. The session explored the importance of meaningful engagement with communities and how it can enhance architectural work. The first speaker, Evelyn Lee, discussed the traits of effective community leaders, emphasizing the need to establish a personal brand and voice to create influence. Laura Rossbertshared her research on trauma-informed design, highlighting the importance of understanding the diverse experiences of a building’s various users to create inclusive environments. Rick Sommerfeld discussed the Colorado Building Workshop and emphasized the value of finding opportunities within the community for architectural projects. Lastly, Deanna Weber and Jay Renkens led a workshop on effective facilitation in public interest design, emphasizing empathy, active listening, and creating an inclusive and safe environment for community engagement. The session provided attendees with tools and resources to enhance their community engagement practices, including podcasts, open-source research, and recommended readings on facilitation and design.

  • Date and Location: May 12th, TreanorHL
  • Speakers:
    Evelyn Lee – Global Head of Workplace Strategy and Innovation at Slack Technologies
    Laura Rossbert – COO and Supportive Housing Specialist at ShopworksArchitecture
    Rick Sommerfeld – Associate Professor and Director of the Colorado Building Workshop at the University of Colorado, Denver
    Deanna Weber – Principal and Vice President, Buildings + Places US West at AECOM
    Jay Renkens – Principal and Director of Firmwide Planning and Design Services, MIG
  • Organizers: Pratiksha Achari, Assoc. AIA, and Sarah Long, AIA

The first four sessions of the CKLDP Colorado chapter provided participants with a diverse range of topics and perspectives. By addressing topics such as entrepreneurship, management, DEI, and practical leadership tools, these sessions equipped the participants with valuable knowledge, insights, and tools for their personal and professional growth. As the program continues, the participants can expect to further develop their leadership skills and contribute to the advancement of the architecture profession in Colorado.

An Intro to the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program

Mentorship and professional development with emerging professionals is invaluable—a must. AIA Colorado is grateful to provide its emerging professionals a pathway in career development while honoring the legacy and contributions of the late Christopher Shawn Kelley, AIA, a Washington, D.C.-area rising star who passed away suddenly in 2012.

The Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program (CKLDP) started in Washington, D.C. in 2013 and expanded to Colorado in 2016 by way of AIA Colorado President Rachael Johnson, AIA. Johnson is a CKLDP founding member and a scholar of the 2014-15 D.C. class. She saw, firsthand, the benefits for members and architectural firms. With great vision, Johnson influenced AIA Colorado to be the first expansion location for the CKLDP.

In 2021, 16 emerging professionals were selected as CKLDP Scholars. An emerging professional is defined as someone who has graduated from college with an architecture degree and is not yet licensed or within 10 years of receiving their professional license.

Apply soon if you meet the aforementioned criteria and want to expand your architectural horizon in 2022. Applications are due by December 6, and a detailed application timeline is below.

CKLDP applicants need to submit four different items: 1) a written application, 2) a recommendation, 3) your resume, and 4) a short-answer form. A fifth item, the Tuition Assistance Form, is optional.

A unique and fun aspect of each year is every class of scholars collaborates and plans out the details for their upcoming schedule. Speakers, topics, and locations are defined by the scholars themselves. This tailored approach makes this year a win-win for each individual class.

During this webinar, recent scholars shared takeaways from this past year’s CKLDP (see below). Of course, COVID made an impact, but this class was steadfast and adaptive. AIA Colorado CEO Mike Waldinger said, “This class was inspiring at what was learned and how to head forward thanks to their resilience.”

What should upcoming CKLDP Scholars expect?

  • A diverse, quaint environment enriched for learning.
  • Learn from industry leaders in architecture and other career sectors.
  • Gain lifelong friends.
  • Grow and be challenged.
  • Discuss latest architectural trends.
  • Become a better architect and understand business/leadership.

What 2021 session topics were noteworthy?

  • Justice, equity, diversity, and inclusiveness: getting out of one’s comfort zone and learning from others.
  • Contracts and negotiation: very timely topic that can be scary, yet very important to an architect.
  • Environmental threat analysis software: view upcoming challenges and how to establish mitigation protocols.
  • National/International Architects: Moshe Safdie, Peter Gluck, Grace Kim, Jonathan Segal, Enoch Sears and Jaron Lubin.

For those emerging professionals, please consider applying for this distinct professional development program. Understand the application process and the important dates below. Let’s honor Christopher Kelley by learning from each other as we design buildings for a better Colorado.

2023 Application Timeline / Schedule

  • Applications Open: November 16, 2022
  • Applications Due: December 11, 2022
  • Bootcamp Session: January 2023

For more information or questions, please contact CKLDP Chair Leah Gordon, AIA.

An Intro to the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program

Virtual Connect: Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program info session

© AIA Colorado 2023