Year in Review with the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee


Chairs Janna Ferguson, AIA, and Kaci Taylor, AIA

In 2021, the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (J.E.D.I.) Committee was led by co-chairs Janna Ferguson, AIA, Partner at Pyatt Studio (left), and Kaci Taylor, AIA, Founder of THE5WH (right). This year marked the second year where committee goals focused on improving firm culture by incorporating J.E.D.I. practices into action. In addition, the committee addressed the accessibility of architecture education and how to best serve marginalized communities throughout Colorado. The committee also presented and engaged this work by actively hosting webinars that assisted in cultivating a culture of belonging throughout the practice. We caught up with Taylor and Ferguson to learn more about their experiences as the co-chairs this past year and how they best served the Colorado community.

What initially drew you to this group?

Kaci Taylor (KT): I was curious to see the direction in which AIA was approaching J.E.D.I. issues.

Janna Ferguson (JF): I was originally interested in being an AIA volunteer in general as a way to meet other professionals in Colorado and advocate for needed change within the profession. I chose the J.E.D.I. Committee to continue my personal commitment to be an advocate for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion.

How has this committee grown or changed since you initially got involved?

JF: To me, 2020 was a year for brainstorming ideas and projects we could pursue as a committee. It has taken shape into a committee with goals that are multi-faceted: (1) to improve J.E.D.I practices within the profession, starting with increasing awareness, understanding, and providing support for firms to take action; and (2) to introduce the architectural profession and education programs to underserved populations in K-12 schools and colleges.

What are some of the accomplishments this year you are most proud of?

KT: We hosted a great webinar series this summer that focused on J.E.D.I. issues.

JF: The three webinars led by the committee were very successful. It is also very exciting to see the Architecture Pathways map published on AIA Colorado’s website.

What do you think is the biggest contribution that this committee brings to the Colorado architecture community?

KT: We are trying to position ourselves as a resource for community growth within the profession, a place for others to come to if they have questions or need direction as to how to implement policies, procedures, and even design focusing around J.E.D.I. topics.

JF: In the wake of the murder of George Floyd in 2020, conversations about justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the United States seemed to take over; it is crucial that these conversations and the efforts that come from them continue to be at the forefront of our thinking. I think the J.E.D.I. committee can continue to both continue the conversation within the architecture community and work on projects that work toward lasting change.

As AIA Colorado strives to create a culture of belonging, what steps have you taken to reach beyond Denver?

KT: Through our virtual webinar series, we had the opportunity to reach every AIA member in Colorado.

JF: Pyatt Studio is located in Boulder; I’ve participated in, and will continue to participate in, the North section social events along with other committee members.

What are some immediate and long-term plans we can hope to see from the committee?

KT: More learning events and hopefully more integration with other committees and how they can bring J.E.D.I. practices and thoughts to their work, as well.

JF: Immediately, the committee can focus internally, increasing our awareness as individuals and as a group about J.E.D.I issues. In the long term, I truly hope the committee can help lead the Colorado community to a more just, equitable, and diverse place.

What one thing do you wish the membership and profession at large knew about this topic or what your committee is doing?

KT: That this work isn’t a check-the-box type of work and that you are never done learning and re-evaluating. The focus on J.E.D.I should not be to make yourself look good but to actually be and DO good with the knowledge gained in learning about J.E.D.I. issues.

JF: Overall, I wish that the efforts to increase J.E.D.I. were less focused on performance or participation and more focused on implementing actual change. For example, having a J.E.D.I. committee or serving on that committee in itself is not enough. It is performative. It is crucial to take the next step, creating and maintaining—through policy/programs—positive change.

About the Author

Victor Gonzalez

Victor Gonzalez, Assoc. AIA, is a recent graduate from CU Boulder with Magna Cum Laude honors distinction. He is a Mexican emerging professional currently based in Colorado Springs working for RTA Architects. His passion for design revolves around community-based design, enabling social service providers, organizers, and evaluators to serve specific communities in their environment.

Gonzalez is an active member of the AIA Colorado Editorial Committee and the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee.

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