BusinessKimberly Dowdell becomes first Black woman president of AIA

Kimberly Dowdell becomes first Black woman president of AIA

Kimberly Dowdell, a Chicago-based architect born and raised in Detroit, was sworn on Dec. 15 as the first Black woman and 100th president of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

“I am the seventh female president of the American Institute of Architects, the third Black president and the first Black female president,” Dowdell, 40, said, after accepting the presidential medal from her predecessor, Emily Grandstand Rice. “I am also the first millennial president.”

The AIA, headquartered in the District, was founded in 1857. It accepted its first Black member, Paul Revere Williams, in 1923.

“I assume this position 100 years after the first Black member joined the AIA,” she said.

Dowdell, a former first vice president and president-elect of the AIA, received a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University in 2006 and a master’s in public administration from Harvard University in 2015. She served as president of the National Organization of Minority Architects in 2019-2020.

 Dowdell is employed as a principal with the HOK Chicago studio.

Lakisha Ann Woods, also a Black woman, serves as CEO of the AIA.

During her acceptance speech, Dowdell talked about her platform #Morein24.

“We want more money for architects,” she said. “We want more money for the work that we do and ways to make our businesses more profitable. We want more members. We are presently at 98,000 and my goal is to reach 100,000 members by the end of 2024. The value of AIA membership should be stressed.”

Dowdell said the mission of AIA is to continue to promote the interests of the architecture profession while promoting diversity, inclusion and equity. She is also interested in growing the ranks of people of color in the professions and strengthening the ties the association has with HBCUs that offer architecture as a major.

Source: Washington Informer

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