2017 Call for Applications


In 2013 the AIA|DC Chapter established a program to help train and develop the next generation of architectural leaders.  Demonstrating sustained success since its inception, the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program looks to continue this trend by calling for applications to the 2017 class.

The year-long program consists of nine monthly half-day sessions attended by a competitively selected group of sixteen emerging professionals – defined as someone who has earned a degree in architecture and is within ten years of their first licensure.  Prospective participants will go through an application process for selection through which they must demonstrate proven career success, community involvement, and full support by their firm/agency.


The CKLDP focuses on core professional skills, such as: entrepreneurship and firm management; teamwork and collaboration; negotiation skills; client development; community leadership; understanding industry trends, and; developing your future within the practice.  The selected scholars to CKLDP will plan and participate in each of the sessions.  The program is kicked off with a “Boot Camp” session to introduce the participants and develop the curriculum for the year.


Applications for the Program are due by Monday June 26th 2017 at 11:59 pm. To apply, visit the following link: Application Link
Please have the agreement completed (Agreement Link) and ready for upload.

If you are applying for tuition assistance, please visit the following link and fill out the form along with your application: Tuition Assistance Link

Want to learn more before you submit your application?

CKLDP Applications 101 is on June 5th 2017 from 6:30pm-8:00pm @ HKS (1250 Eye St NW Suite 600).. The CKLDP 2017-2018 Selection Committee will discuss the benefits of participating in CKLDP and how to successfully apply. Register and find out more via the following link: http://www.aiadc.com/event/ckldp-applications-101.


What is the difference between a Letter of Nomination and Letter of Recommendation?

Letter of Nomination – a letter of nomination should come from someone who is familiar with the program and Institute as a whole, as well as the applicant themselves. The letter should address specific leadership skills that the candidate will bring to the program, as well as what the candidate expects to gain from the program. The nomination letter should also explain why the author and/or author’s firm see the candidate as a current and/or future leader. A self-nomination letter from the applicant is also acceptable, but note that self-nominations are highly encouraged to provide additional letters of recommendations as support.

Letter of Recommendation
– a letter of recommendation speaks to the leadership character of the applicant. Individual and specific stories are shared, which reinforce both the personal qualities and professional traits of the applicant. Letters of recommendation are encouraged to be provided by others who have worked closely with the applicant, but do not have to be from within the industry (church, university, client, contractor, coach, etc.).


The Fifth Year sessions will be held monthly from 12:00pm – 5:00pm, September 2017 through May 2018. You can find more information here.  Please contact Kate Renner (Chair) & Ricardo J. Rodríguez (Past-Chair) if you have any questions.


Session 6: Industry Trends

Date: March 3, 2017
Location: The Studio Theater
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led by: Tim Nuanes, AIA, LEED AP BD+C and Clay Jackson, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C

Session 6 PDF
Session 6 Agenda
Session 6 Speakers


How is new and emerging technology shaping the profession of architecture? This is the question addressed by Clay Jackson and Tim Nuanes in their seminar for the 2017 Christopher Kelley Leadership Program. Throughout the afternoon’s session, presenters discussed how new technology is redefining business models, the many uses of virtual reality and augmented reality technology, the impact of “big data” and the architect-consultant, and how all of these tie together in architectural practice.

Hosted at the Studio Theater (14th and P St, NW), Session 6 of the 2017 CKLDP began with David Woessner of Local Motors kicking off the afternoon with a perspective from outside of the field of architecture.  Local Motors is an automobile manufacturer founded in 2007 with the mission of solving niche product needs through mass production on the scale of just a few thousand. Local Motors strives to shape the future, influencing humanity through the hardware they provide by taking advantage of 21st c
entury technological advances.

00_LocolMotors“What would Henry Ford have done in 1908 if he had the internet?” Woessner asked. “How would his assembly line structure be different?”

The team at Local Motors sought out their own answer to this query, structuring the organization by mirroring two major emerging trends: co-creation (i.e. crowdsourcing) and micro-manufacturing.  Through a co-creation platform, engineers and designers come together as a “hive-mind” to generate solutions for complex problems; they rely on cloud-based collaboration tools and brainstorm internationally.  On the production end, the manufacturer strives to “do complex things utilizing the best tooling and software to produce complex products on a limited footprint.” Or in more basic terms, create big things in small spaces. While the complexities of the auto industry and manufacturing may be foreign to most of the Scholars, there are transferrable lessons to be learned from another industry that has used technology to reinvent its entire process of design and production.

Following the lecture from Local Motors’, the session pivoted to a focus on technology becoming more ubiquitous in the field of architecture through virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Hailing from Canada, Anthony Murry and Thomas Hirschmann of The Third Fate detailed their application of virtual reality for storytelling of spaces through the lens of “past, present, and future.”

00_ThirdFate-1Focusing on the past, The Third Fate uses VR to capture the memory of a place.  This can recreate an experience for someone else – such as amazed recreations of the BIG maze at the National Building Museum, or unglamorous moments such as the dilapidation of the Miami Marine Stadium. In the realm of “transforming the present,” VR is a tool for experiential tours, such as their idea for Battersea Station. Visitors to an historic smokestack could take in present day London in reality or, through virtual reality, experience London as it was during the World War 2 air strikes with barrage balloons floating high above the city.  In the final segment called “envisioning the future,” the speakers discussed the importance of a “render-to-real ratio” to trick your brain into thinking the entire rendering is real.

Throughout The Third Fate’s presentation, the group engaged in a discussion of morals and ethics in storytelling – in recreating the past through virtual reality, how do you distinguish between what was real and what is a modern conception superimposed into the past? Will virtual reality introduce a more real experience of a design concept, complete with “the un-prettiness of reality?”, e.g. street signs and traffic signals that block a view and are obscured from typical design visualization.

While the Third Fate focus their work in virtual reality, the group got a glimpse of augmented reality through Bill Santos of Gensler. Santos introduced the Microsoft HoloLens and its potential as the workspace of the future. Virtual monitors projected on a real-life surface can allow you to transform any seat or piece of wall into a workstation. Some of the challenges to integration right now are the reliance on Wi-Fi for connectivity, and the weight of the hardware that is worn around the user’s head.

00_HololenseDuring a short break, the Scholars and presenters were able to experiment with the VR experiences The Third Fate brought, and try out Gensler’s HoloLens.

“Big data” is another emerging industry trend that was addressed by Fady Barmada of Array Architects.  He spoke about the use of GIS to layer data and maps and guide decision making that happens before the constraints of a project scope and budget are set. Presenting from his perspective of practice in healthcare architecture, Barmada demonstrated how use of big data can drive hospital expansions and services based on the needs of the demographics they serve. Post-occupancy evaluations are another practice common in healthcare architecture that can harness the power of technology. Database technology can aggregate data from front-end metrics and POE’s to refine the decision-making process and evidence-based design power.

The topic of ethics arose again with the concept of the architect as a consultant. Acting as an architect-consultant, professionals can help a client to determine their need and set a budget, expanding the realm of architecture beyond the conventional constraints usually inherent to a pre-defined project. However, this business model may raise suspicions that the architect-consultant is using its position to drive clients towards a self-serving solution in the shape of a new building project that may be beyond a client’s true requirements.

The day’s presentations wrapped up with a lecture from Jeff Barber, a Principal and Regional Design Experience Leader with Gensler. Through his presentation, Barber knit together how many different technologies – new and old – are useful in achieving the ultimate goals of the profession: design and construction. In their Fab Labs, Gensler integrates technology like laser cutters and 3D-printers in the production of conventional physical models. A myriad of technologies go into producing many design and visualization tools, from 2D renderings to simulations and (with the advent of VR) immersion. These tools aid both designers and clients to understand and experience spaces as they are developed. Meanwhile, digital fabrication, full scale 3D-printing, and point-cloud scanning are transforming the construction process.

00_JeffBarber“We are not leaving behind the ways we used to draw, think, investigate,” Barber says, “but now the spectrum is much richer.”


Session 5: Marketing & Business Development

Date: February 3, 2017
Location: Town Hall Conference Center
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00pm
Led By: Valerie Berstene, AIA, LEED AP, CNU-A and Joey Ijjias, RA, LEED AP

Session 5 Program


The fifth session, “Rain-Making” focused on marketing a business with the goal of becoming profitable in a viable way. The session was organized by Valerie Berstene and Joey Ijjas at the Town Hall Conference Center at 19th and K Street. The session began with two energetic presentations, first by Amy Cuddy and Laura Ewan, then followed by Carol Dorscher. The day ended with a panel discussion about business development that included the following panelists: Joe Brancato, Co-Managing Principal for Gensler’s Northeast and Latin America Regions; Joanna Hoffschneider, Business Development and Marketing Team Lead at Grimm + Parker Architects; Deborah Kuo, Vice President of Real Estate & Facilities for Exelon Organization, and; Sean C. Cahill, Senior Vice President of Development for PGP Development LLC.

2017-02 CKLDP Session05 Edited-5

Amy and Laura started off the day by discussing their perspective on what marketing means to the A/E/C community. Both women are members of the Society of Marketing Professional Services (SMPS), a community of marketing and business development professionals working to secure profitable business relationships for their clients. Amy explained how the marketing industry is changing rapidly from a time when faxing proposals and cold calling clients was a common practice, to new approaches such as the use of social media. Some firms, for example, create themed marketing booklets to share their portfolio of projects with current and potential clients – a relatively novel marketing strategy that is starting to be adopted is the sharing of information that would be unique to a firm.

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Even in a competitive market, sharing information that would typically have been hidden from the public view could now be beneficial to aid clients. Amy then went on to discuss how her firm has restructured their marketing team to become more diverse, robust, and introduce a new hierarchy. In the past, a standardized title system and clear career path didn’t really exist within marketing. Amy, who is very much into data, started to describe the benefits of a robust Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. CRM are practices, strategies and technologies to manage and analyze customer interactions and data with the goal of improving business relationships with customers. CRM can be successfully implemented in a firm if the employees are empowered to enter the information. It can also be as sophisticated enough to track the number of clicks and information that is being read by individuals within a database.

Amy went on to explain that social media has boomed in the last five to six years. Due to the changes in marketing practices, several roles have been defined the scholars were walked through their descriptions. Amy described the importance of participating in a debrief even if the team wasn’t successful in winning a pursuit. There are many benefits that could come from the debrief, including an opportunity to work on another project. An interesting statistic that was mentioned was that 90% of pursuits should make the shortlist. This is because there should be more filtering of the pursuits so time is used more efficiently as there are other ways to get potential clients to know who you are. Lastly, Amy explains that firms needs to identify how to differentiate themselves from the competition. The differentiating factors can be unique for each project. Boiler plate templates can be appropriate for branding, but otherwise proposals and marketing content should be client focused.

Laura, after her introduction, explains that the industry is a bit behind in content marketing. She explains that “content marketing” is a relatively new term and it’s the art of communicating with customers without selling. It was explained that blogs should have a marketing mission and focused on what is being talked about constantly. Laura explains that various content has it’s advantages in different ways. For example, social media is useful for promoting blog content while video can be used to share testimonials. Conferences is an excellent way to capture an audience. Laura then shifted the presentation in talking about brands and how they should align with actions. Brand is a reputation and without proper alignment, clients and employees are going to realize the disconnect.

After the first presentation, Carol started her interactive workshop “The Human Connection: Bringing your Presentations to Life.” Carol is the CEO of Graceworks, a company that trains thousands of professionals on the importance of human connection during presentations and business development activities. Carol, a former Broadway actress, was quickly able to capture the participants’ attention right from the beginning of her workshop. She explains that there is a direct connection of the listeners to the speakers and that live communication is contagious. She further explains that clients care about trust, commitment and chemistry.

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While live presentations can be stressful, Carol suggested ways to minimize the anxiety. Some examples included a breathing exercise and even the simple suggestion of showing up to the meeting early to make friends. Following these examples, Carol facilitated an interactive exercise to understand the “responsive” handshake. Scholars shared their reactions to the exercise and through some more practice were able to feel more comfortable with it. Carol then asked the scholars to share the various “masks” one may use during a presentation. Many of the “masks” are nervous tendencies used which result in severing the connection with the audience. Carol then went into more specifics on some techniques that can be used during a presentation. Body language can contribute positively to a presentation, especially where “big moves” are being use to show commitment. When presenting from slides, Carol explains that the story should come first and the graphics should only be used to reinforce. For slides with a lot of content, you can break it down into multiple steps so it’s early to process. The session ended with one scholar giving a presentation about “What does she love about what she does” and another one use “big moves.” Scholars followed up with some constructive, supportive feedback.

2017-02 CKLDP Session05 Edited-8

The day ended with a fruitful panel discussion about business development. Panelists included practitioners, business development professionals, and client side representative. Valerie and Joey facilitated the session with several questions. Some of the takeaways were that business development activity should be natural and purposeful; it’s important to make that meaningful connection. Building relationships is a professional effort but can be personal and ultimately long-term relationships are ones that matter. When aiming to keep connected with a client, understanding the metrics that are important to them and keeping them informed are great ways to maintain the relationship. For maintaining repeat clients, the culture of the firm and the people you will be interfacing with are some main drivers. To finish off the panel discussion, the panelist each gave their advice. Some examples, listen to the opinions of others and don’t get too attached to your outcomes. Be curious of what you are clients are thinking and concerned about. Be passionate about what you do and think long term but still have a good life/work balance.