PHOTO: dges Residence. Belzberg Architects. Detail from photo by Benny Chan


Greg Verabian, AIA – HKS

Greg has more than 28 years of experience as a design leader. He is a principal and practice leader at HKS Architects in Los Angeles. His knowledge of building types ranges from commercial office and multi-family/mixed-use towers to corporate headquarters, laboratory and academic projects. Greg served as Chair of the Design Awards Committee for the AIA California Council and has sat on the boards of AIA/LA, USC Architectural Guild and Southern California Development Forum. He currently serves as the Treasurer of the board for AIA Los Angeles.

Wade Killefer, FAIA – KFA, LLP

Wade started KFA in 1975 and it has been his only job since he quit framing houses to attend architecture school. Wade was born in San Francisco and grew up in Washington, D.C., before receiving his B.A. in English from Stanford. He attended UCLA’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning, where he met Barbara Flammang, his partner for 40 years; they were married in 1977 and have two adult children. Barbara and Wade received a special City Re-Builder of the year from the AIA/LA in 2004 for their work igniting adaptive reuse in DTLA: Wade was elected to the College of Fellows in 2006.

Mitra Memari, AIA – ZGF Architects LLP

As a Principal at ZGF Architects LLP, Mitra Memari leads projects with a collaborative approach, guiding multidisciplinary teams and diverse client / user groups from programming through construction while paying attention to the nuances of each design challenge to successfully deliver impactful projects. With over 25 years of professional experience in architecture, her work represents a mix of large-scale and technically complex projects, ranging from research laboratories, academic facilities, and healthcare buildings to high-performance commercial and mixed-use developments. Her portfolio includes projects for The University of Arizona, The University of Texas at Arlington, City of Hope, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, and the University of Southern California, where she was responsible for the successful management of the Keck School of Medicine of USC, Eli and Edythe Broad CIRM Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research—a recipient of the American Architecture Award from The Chicago Athenaeum & The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies and the Laboratory of the Year High Honors from R&D Magazine.

Born in Iran, Mitra emigrated to the United States when she was a teenager. Her experiences adapting and learning in a new country fostered a strong passion for diversity, inclusion, and equity. Internally at ZGF, she is one of the founding members of the Diversity and Inclusion Advocacy Group, which focuses on improving the employee experience by promoting a culture of respect and support, and implementing firmwide changes to encourage all employees to reach their full potential. Mitra is also involved in the Southern California Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects (SoCal NOMA) as a volunteer and mentor in the Project Pipeline Architecture Summer Camp, which introduces architecture and the design profession to minority youth. Mitra’s contributions to the community started early in her career. Her first volunteer effort was for Habitat for Humanity, where she designed a home for an elderly individual who was being displaced due to neighborhood development. This made an impact on her as she became aware of the challenges with housing and gentrification, and has resulted in her continued support for mentorship and playing an active role in the community.

Kevin Holland, FAIA, NOMAC – Perkins&Will

Kevin M. Holland, FAIA, NOMAC, has practiced architecture for over 25 years, and from 2015-16, served as the 30th National President of the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA.)

A graduate of the University of Virginia and the University of Michigan, Kevin holds, or has held, architectural registrations in Delaware, Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky. As a recent transplant to Los Angeles, Kevin now serves as the Director of Operations for the Los Angeles studio of Perkins and Will. In this capacity, Kevin was instrumental in establishing the first Annual Perkins and Will Visiting Scholar at Tuskegee University.

Barbara Bouza, FAIA, IIDA, LEED AP, EDAC – Managing Director, Principal,

Barbara is Co-Managing Director and Principal of Gensler’s Los Angeles office and a leader of the global Health & Wellness practice. Through her collaborative leadership role, she brings strategic design management to highly innovative clients such as Netflix, JPL/NASA, Amgen, Kaiser Permanente and the City of Hope. As a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, Barbara has been an influencer elevating human wellbeing through design excellence. She was featured on the internationally televised National Geographic Channel documentary, “Origins: The Journey of Humankind – Building the Future.” A proven advocate, Barbara has been a leader with the AIA LA POWERFUL: Women Leading Design series, active with Girl’s Inc, Dress for Success and the National Organization of Minority Architects.

In the community, Barbara was recognized by The Los Angeles Business Journal as the Executive of the Year: Women Making a Difference. This honor recognizes women who “lead by example,” successfully blend effective business vision with passionate commitment to positively “making a difference,” both in the world of business and in the communities they serve. She has also been named by Real Estate Forum magazine as a Woman of Influence: California. Barbara is on the Board of Directors of Imagine LA, a leading not-for-profit dedicated to mobilizing the community to end the cycle of family homelessness and poverty and is a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization.

Passionate about Gensler’s strong design culture, Barbara’s career has also been influenced through her work with Foster + Partners and Morphosis. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona and studied in the Graduate Diploma Program at the Architectural Association in London. Barbara’s work has been published nationally and internationally.

Pooja Bhagat, AIA – Abode Communities | Architecture

Pooja is Associate Principal at Abode Communities – a unique non-profit organization dedicated to designing, developing and managing a variety of mixed use and low income Affordable Housing & community serving projects. Her desire to shape community is manifested in many local projects in the Los Angeles region. Over the past 20 years, she has designed, detailed and managed multiple building types and coordinated master plans with complex client & consultant teams. Her focus on multi-family and affordable housing development projects has resulted in the creation of self-sustaining communities that have positively shaped the urban fabric. Her design process is deeply rooted in context, craft, and environmental planning strategies.

Pooja is founding co-chair of the Women in Architecture Committee of the AIA Los Angeles Chapter. She co-led the planning of the 2016 & 2017 Powerful Conference – a platform which attracts over 500 local women architects and designers to empower women to be assertive, lead, and to further the mission of Gender Equity in architecture. She serves as a Board of Director for the AIA LA Chapter and continues to collaborate with staff & AIA community to bring more conversations into actionable initiatives, to further the Chapter’s goal of equity and diversity, and to create links with other organizations that support similar and complementary initiatives. She also serves on the Land-use Comittee for the Del-Rey Neighborhood Community Council.

Pooja has an undergraduate degree in Architecture from Delhi and post graduate degree from Sci-Arc.

Ziba Ghassemi, AIA – Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield

Ziba is Vice President of Airport Design at Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, a global developer focused on making positive social, cultural, environmental and economic contributions to users and communities. She has led the experiential design of airport terminals across the country, including LAX Bradley International, Terminals 1, 2, 3 and 6, Chicago O’Hare, and Boston Logan. Her approach to design brings local architects and experts from the private and public sector together with an internal team of multi-disciplinary experts, to foster an investigative and explorative process where smart products, technology, sustainable features and strategies for resiliency all contribute to creating a more connected transportation facility and traveler experience.

Dan Herman, AIA – Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

A native of LA, Dan has been active in LA’s architecture world for over 20 years. After graduating from Harvard GSD (1998), he worked for SOM, Fred Fisher, DMJM and AECOM. He is currently Associate Director at SOM, focusing on large-scale mixed-use projects including Sunset La Cienega, 100 West Walnut and 1111 Sunset. He was on the Board of the LA Forum from 2003-2007 and on the City of Glendale’s Design Review Board from 2011-2013. Dan has taught studio at USC and has been a guest critic at UCLA, SCI-Arc, Woodbury and Art Center. NCARB member. LEED Green Associate.

Fabian Kremkus, AIA – CO Architects

Fabian Kremkus is a Design Principal with CO Architects in Los Angeles. Past Chair of the COTE AIA |LA. During his 23-year architectural career – 18 with CO Architects – he has worked nationally and internationally on academic facilities, secondary schools, and corporate headquarters, sports, and entertainment facilities. With CO Architects, he has designed major research, higher education, healthcare, museum, performing arts and justice facilities. Fabian holds both a Master of Architecture and Pre-diploma of Architecture from the University of Braunschweig, Germany, and is a California licensed architect. He is also one of Los Angeles’ most avid bicyclists.

Sarah Lorenzen, AIA – CalPoly Pomona; TOLO Architecture

Sarah maintains one foot in practice and one in academia. She is a partner at TOLO Architecture (previously Peter Tolkin Architecture), architecture professor and former chair at Cal Poly Pomona (2013-2017), and resident director of the Neutra VDL Studio and Residences.

Sarah spent her first eighteen years living in Mexico City. At 18 she left Mexico to attend college in the U.S. to pursue a BFA in Drawing at Smith College and at the Atlanta College of Art. After graduating art school, she broadened her interest to architecture, receiving an M.Arch I from Georgia Institute of Technology and later an M.Arch II in Metropolitan, Research & Design from Sci-Arc. During her early career, Sarah worked on the design of research and technology buildings at Lord, Arch and Sargent Architecture in Atlanta and at MBT Architecture (now Perkins + Will Architecture) in San Francisco. Sarah has taught urban design and architecture courses at Cal Poly Pomona (2005-present) and at Georgia Tech (in 2000). In 2011-12 Sarah spent a sabbatical at TU Delft in the Netherlands conducting research on the influences of technology on mapping and urban development. In 2015 Sarah was honored by AIA LA with educator of the year.

Jason E. Morris, AIA – Marx|Okubo Associates

Jason E. Morris, AIA, is an Architect at Marx|Okubo Associates. He has experience ranging from managing large-scale luxury retail projects for exclusive high-end brands to providing architectural consulting and owner’s representation services. Jason remains an active member of the AIA|LA chapter as well as other local organizations; and with his involvement in the SoCal NOMA chapter has taken special interest in increasing diversity in the profession and improved opportunities for minority-owned architecture firms. He was recently awarded by the AIA California Council the 2016 Associate Award. He was an invited speaker at the AIA|LA Encompass conference on equity and diversity, as well as featured a number of times on NPR radio stations for his work promoting diversity and inclusion in the profession.

Jason is a Licensed Architect in the state of California, and holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Leslie Sydnor, AIA – Cumming Corporation

I am a Director at Cumming Corporation, working as a Planning Project Manager at LBUSD. Born and raised in New York City I have lived and worked in LA for 28 years. In 2013, after 20 years in architecture firms, having risen to the level of Associate Principal, I left to work on the Owner’s side. I have worked for small firms and large firms, in both the public and private sectors. I have a B.A. in architecture from Yale and M.Arch from UCLA. I believe mentorship and visibility are the keys to the diversification and future strength of the profession.

Carlo Caccavale, Hon. AIA|LA – Executive Director, AIA Los Angeles

Coupled with his knowledge of architecture and passion for policies that support excellence in the built environment, Carlo Caccavale brings 15 years of experience at the American Institute of Architects Los Angeles chapter to his position as its Executive Director.

Carlo has initiated a number of AIA|LA conferences that contribution to the profession and surrounding region. They include Encompass, the AIA|LA Conference to Actualize Diversity and Inclusion; Design for Dignity, the AIA|LA conference focused on homelessness and housing affordability; and Powerful, Women Leading Design. To facilitate greater recognition for design excellence and widen the spectrum of offices participating in design awards programs, Carlo launched the Restaurant Design Awards in 2005 and the Residential Architecture Awards in 2016. In 2017, he started the chapter’s Architectural Photography Awards to celebrate those who translate three dimensional design to the single plane while capturing its intent.

Hector Puga, Assoc. AIA – USC Office of Real Estate & Asset Management

Hector Puga currently is a Project Manager at the University of Southern California in the Office of Real Estate and Asset Management. He graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a Bachelors of Architecture and most recently an MBA from Mount Saint Mary’s University. Previously, he has worked at Gensler, Marmol Radziner and the J Paul Getty Trust. The majority of his professional background has been in facilities management and construction. Hector is heavily involved with the AIA as the former Associate Director, South with AIA California and his local chapter. For the past few years, Hector has been part of the Emerging Professionals Task Force working, towards empowering recent graduates and those starting within the profession. His passion is to represent Latinos and emerging professionals within architecture and construction.

Francisco Arias, Assoc. AIA – Ware Malcomb

Francisco is a Senior Project Designer at Ware Malcomb, an international design firm providing planning, architecture, interior design, branding, civil engineering and building measurement services to commercial real estate and corporate clients throughout North America. He is actively involved in a series of projects in various stages of design and has been an integral part of design teams working on large-scale mixed-use projects internationally. As design leader, Francisco provides 11+ yrs of expertise to a diverse portfolio of projects, he embraces their respective communities and takes pride in helping them thrive.

Christopher Hawthorne – Chief Design Officer, City of Los Angeles

Christopher Hawthorne is the Chief Design Officer for the city of Los Angeles, a position appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti. Prior to joining City Hall, Hawthorne was architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times from 2004 to early 2018. With Alanna Stang, he is the author of “The Green House: New Directions in Sustainable Architecture” (Princeton Architectural Press). His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Slate, Architectural Record, Architecture, Harvard Design Magazine, Domus, Metropolis, New York, and many other publications. He is Professor of the Practice at Occidental College, where since 2015 he has directed the Third Los Angeles Project, a series of public conversations about architecture, urban planning, mobility, and demographic change in Southern California. Hawthorne has also taught at U.C. Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University and the Southern California Institute of Architecture. A frequent collaborator with KCET-TV, the PBS affiliate in Los Angeles, Hawthorne wrote and directed the hour-long documentary “That Far Corner: Frank Lloyd Wright in Los Angeles,” which had its broadcast debut in 2018, and received an L.A.-area Emmy Award for the 2016 KCET program “Third L.A. with Architecture Critic Christopher Hawthorne.” His other professional honors include a mid-career fellowship from the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University, the Bradford Williams Medal from the American Society of Landscape Architects and a Residency in Criticism at the American Academy in Rome. Hawthorne grew up in Berkeley and holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale College, where he studied political science and architectural history. He is married to Rachel Fine, executive director and CEO of the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills; they have two daughters.

Carissa Oyedele, AIA, LEED BD+C – Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners

Carissa received a Bachelor of Architecture degree with a minor in Construction Management from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Her education provided a solid foundation for solving creative design solutions to various project types, including those with complex programs, schedules, and delivery methods. With project experience ranging from masterplans to competitions, mixed-use, campus, and civic work, Carissa’s breadth of experience extends into local, national, and international communities. Carissa is an active member the AIA, serves as Director of the AIA/LA Board from 2016-2018, is an IDP Coordinator, and an NCARB Licensing Advisor.

John Egan, AIA – EGAN|SIMON Architecture

As Principal of EGAN|SIMON architecture, John Egan’s 24+ years of practice has focused on affordable housing, education, hospitality and mixed-use projects. Being a licensed architect, and well‐versed in both design and construction management, his work is recognized by many organizations including the Clinton Global Initiative, US Green Building Council and the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing (SCANPH). He is routinely called upon to speak at events including the Annual Housing California Conference and California Affordable Housing Development Association. John believes in environmentally responsible architecture and his practice borrows from the past, and current technologies, to create progressive architecture.