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Latinas in Architecture

March 30, 2022 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm PDT

Latinas in Architecture

This is a FREE virtual event.

AIALA Committee: J.E.D.I and Women in Architecture

As part of recognizing the diverse voices of women in the profession during WHM, the AIALA JEDI committee together with the Women in Architecture Committee and AWA+D have come together to create a panel discussion around the experiences of Latinas in Architecture, moderated by Alicia Ponce author of the book “Latinas in Architecture”.



Alicia Ponce, AIA – Author
A registered architect in Illinois and Wisconsin, Alicia Ponce is the founder and principal of APMonarch, a Chicago based Female and Latina owned Architecture firm. Her expertise and passion to design healthy buildings and equitable communities have supported many clients in creating architecture that is ambitious, thoughtful and healthy. Under Alicia’s direction, the firm provides architectural services, community engagement and sustainability consulting for projects throughout the Midwest and Latin America. Alicia refers to APMonarch as the pollinator of the built environment designing healthy environments that look good, feel good and perform great. The firm promises to build zero carbon architecture. Demonstrating that promise is Alicia’s recent architecture commission to design Centro Amazing, a civic youth center located in Aguascalientes, Mexico which is to be constructed from rammed earth. Alicia serves on the Chicago Landmarks Commission, the United Way Metro Chicago Executive Board, and HACIA’s sustainability committee. She is the founder and chair of Arquitina, a national non-profit organization with a mission to raise the fewer than 1% of licensed Latina architects in the U.S.


Monica Rodriguez, AIA – Senior Associate, KFA
Monica recently celebrated her fifteenth year with KFA. She loves the fulfillment of working on affordable multi-family projects that are part of the solution to the housing crisis in LA. As a native Angelino and second generation Mexican-American, she is especially proud of her work on Hollenbeck Terrace Apartments (Linda Vista Hospital), a low-income housing for seniors project in Boyle Heights. These days her efforts are focused on affordable housing projects including two ARO projects at the West LA VA, which will provide low-income homes for unhoused American vets. Community involvement is important to Monica; she is the newly appointed Board Architect of the Jefferson Park HPOZ. In 2021 she co-developed the new 8-week Architecture Program at the Santa Monica Boys & Girls Club, in the hopes to inspire BIPOC kids to be LA’s future architects. She enjoys exploring other forms of creative expression outside of work including stand-up comedy.


Ivette Diaz – Senior Design Strategist, Gensler
Ivette brings over 20 years of global experience that combines architecture, business strategy and research. She brings a diverse background that comes from living and working in different countries and learning from their rich cultures. She is a thoughtful leader with a track record of successfully developing projects from inception to close out. She understands the client’s business goals and her role as their trusted advisor. As a Project Architect and then Project Manager she worked with clients from different markets, but developing innovative, sustainable, and resilient design strategies has always been her passion. As a Senior Design Strategist at Gensler, she creates high performance workplaces that focus on people. She combines user research with her analytical process and multidisciplinary perspective to deliver projects that support both business and communities. Ivette holds an Architecture degree from the Universidad Nacional Pedro Henriquez Ureña in the Dominican Republic, and a Masters in Advanced Architectural Design from the Universidad de Buenos Aires in Argentina.


Thesla Collier – Senior Associate, Office Design Technology Manager
Design Technology Manager @ Gensler’s Los Angeles Office
CSI CDT Certified
Bachelor in Architecture UNAH/Master in Interior Design UCLA-Cal-Poly Pomona
Universidad Autónoma de Honduras
20+ years in the AEC Industry with experience in Healthcare, Aviation, Transit, Mixed-Used, Corporate/Commercial, and Education facilities.


Monty Espino
Monty Espino is a first generation Mexican American and the first in her family to go to and graduate from college. She received her B.Arch from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2014 and became a licensed architect in 2020. She began her career as a designer at Arquitectonica working on high-rise, luxury buildings. Although she was interested in the complexity and excitement of the work, she felt disconnected to the population she was designing for. After Arquitectonica, she joined Abode Communities, a Los Angeles based non-profit organization focused on affordable housing. Working for Abode’s in-house design studio unlocked her passion for mission based work and designing for underserved communities. In 2021, Monty began working at EBALDC, an Oakland based non-profit community development organization. She made the conscious choice to join their development team in the efforts to better understand the different sides that come together to design equitable and socially beneficial communities. As a child of immigrants, Monty is incredibly grateful for the opportunities she’s had up to this point. Although she doesn’t know what the future holds, she is positive that it will always include paying it forward.


Alicia Morales – Founder, AM Design Studio
Architecture School taught me that throughout any moment a problem could be securely solved through the conceptual definition of the project. Through my preparation at East Los Angeles College, then moving on to Southern California Institute of Architecture I was able to visualize what the priorities in my career were. What was really Architecture for me? Architecture is understanding the Nomenclature of a culture, tradition, the persona of each client and stepping up as a Woman in Architecture. As the end of my journey at SCI-Arc ended I had the desire to seek the best job opportunity that would be more enjoyable for the new journey I was about to begin. Emails and Phone calls with interviews and those opportunities that were going to help me network with other colleagues and Coworkers emerged but many were opportunities where the commute would not work, and others that possibly didn’t feel exciting to take. It was time to take a different lane on the highway and answer calls of those who needed my Architectural Services. That is when I decided to maintain the lane; it felt worth taking the challenge. To take the risk to start my own small practice in a garage that needed to adapt immediately from a storage room to a Design Studio. Knocking on the first client’s door and making sure that I was explaining myself to meet their needs were nerve wracking but in order to accomplish it I needed to break the ice with my fear of failure. Each moment was going to be either successful or a discouragement but it was all for the growth of the business that was starting to grow. Each project has been a lesson for me as the Business Owner to continue growing and to be convinced that even though each project can have a sweet and sour encounter with City Officials Knowledge and Experience makes you Step up without fear of falling. As a Women, Latina, Business Owner and as a Woman in Architecture I have been able to prove myself that the love for my business is important to make it grow and the clientele is evidence of it because if I were to be questioned “How do your clients hear of you?” My response would have a fixed stare and a smile of gratitude to life. As I repeat, the risks and challenges have not been easy and they will continue coming but as long as you keep the communication with the community and always extending your hand with sincerity by offering the best of you.


March 30, 2022
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm PDT
Event Categories:



AIA|LA JEDI Committee
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