As our industry looks for ways to change its landscape of diversity, equity, and inclusion, we also need to expand the capacity of individuals to perform in leadership roles within organizations.
While efforts to recruit from and build AEC awareness within our underrepresented communities are of critical importance, we cannot lose sight of the diverse and talented people working alongside us every day. Action is required to make sure they are supported, sponsored and included in an authentic, meaningful way. In the words of 2021 Participant Matthew Trotter “Leaders aren’t born. They are taught, they’re made, they’re created, they’re cultured.”
With that in mind KPFF led the creation of a new Leadership Development Program in collaboration with the Southern California Chapter of the National Organization for Minority Architects (SoCal NOMA). The initial cohort of twelve influential professionals from architecture, engineering, and construction came together to build their skillsets, forge important relationships, and make meaningful connections with leaders in our local industry.
The inaugural program included a series of carefully programmed meetings around topics like Emotional Intelligence, Project and Practice Management, Client Development, Crucial Conversations and Strengths Finders. A variety of guest speakers and active participants from local and national firms including WRNS Studio, Partner Energy, Focus on Leaders, Elise Boggs Consulting, Crucial Learning (formerly Vital Smarts), ZGF, Cameron McAllister, 4RM+ULA, A3K Consulting, STOK, Eskew Dumez Ripple, CO Architects and Moody Nolan.
Ample time was reserved for dialog around shared experiences, creating an environment of understanding and respect. Openness and vulnerability came naturally, as exhibited by Janiece Williams, 2021 Participant – “I felt like I could be myself, like I could be transparent, like I could be emotional if I needed to. It’s almost like therapy for your career. It was exactly what I felt like I was missing.”
Leadership is learned primarily by doing, with reinforcement and training that this program offers.
Activating existing diversity equips managers and teams to explore the impact on perspectives, assumptions, and approaches, and identify ways to enhance the contribution of all. “When you learn from people different than you, you start to grow in a different pattern or direction than you would have expected.” – Rachel Bascombe, 2021 Participant
This is just the beginning of a sustained effort to helping diverse talent thrive in our industry and hopefully ignite this type of program nationally. “This is really one step in a big puzzle of things we are all trying to address.” – Lance Collins, 2021 SoCal NOMA President
Learn more about this program in this informative video.