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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

About the Author

Jackson Reed, AIA

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