Leslie Sydnor, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP
President, AIA Los Angeles & Director, Cumming Corp.
Leslie is a director at Cumming; currently working as a design manager for Los Angeles City College. She has over 25 years of experience in the design of education, aviation, industrial, and low-income housing projects. Leslie is past co-chair of the Justice Equity Diversity and Inclusion (J.E.D.I.) committee. She teaches Architectural Project Management at Cal Poly Pomona, is on the Woodbury University Construction Management Program Advisory Board and mentors emerging professionals. Leslie has a B.A. in Architecture from Yale and an M.Arch from UCLA.
Nick Saponara is the Executive Officer of Transit Oriented Communities at the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (LA Metro) where he oversees a wide range of planning and development strategies to foster transit oriented communities around Metro’s growing transit system, including through real estate development partnerships on Metro property. Prior to joining Metro in 2013, Mr. Saponara was a project manager at the Community Redevelopment Agency of the City of Los Angeles where he led various geographically targeted community revitalization efforts. Mr. Saponara holds Master of Urban Planning and Master of Real Estate Development degrees from the University of Southern California and a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Syracuse University and serves on the Advisory Board of the Urban Land Institute Los Angeles District Council.
Originally a design professional from Richmond, VA, Dawn holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Architectural Engineering from The North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. She also holds a Master of Architecture degree from University of North Carolina-Charlotte, where she focused on how the cultural, social and economic impacts of Hip Hop on Architecture helps create space. Dawn has a passion for enhancing urban environments through influences of social and cultural forces that help shape built environments. As an Enterprise Rose Fellow, Dawn has worked the past five years with Venice Community Housing developing affordable housing in Los Angeles helping create inclusive communities in affordable ways. With a focus on Community Led Design, Dawn has worked to facilitate dynamic engagement between architects, developers and the communities they serve, for the purposes of co-creating design and development. In 2022, Dawn founded DesignCyphers, a consulting company focused on helping architects and developers engage communities through a participatory design approach. Dawn works to promote diversity and inclusion by fostering collaborative design engagement and uplifting community voice within the design and development processes.
Rudy Espinoza is the Executive Director of Inclusive Action for the City, a non-profit, Community Development Financial Institution based in Los Angeles whose mission is to bring people together to build strong, local economies that uplift low-income urban communities through advocacy and transformative economic development initiatives. Rudy specializes in designing economic development initiatives in low-income communities, building private/nonprofit partnerships, and training the working poor to participate in the socio-economic revitalization of their neighborhoods. Under his leadership, Inclusive Action helped legalize street vending in Los Angeles, passed statewide legislation to support street food vendors in California, has deployed over $4,000,000 in low-interest micro-loans and grants to under-served entrepreneurs, and co-created a unique, commercial real estate initiative that preserves small businesses in gentrifying neighborhoods. Rudy serves on the Board of Directors for UNIDOS US, the United Way of Greater Los Angeles, the Center for Nonprofit Management and Abode Community Housing, and as an appointee to the California Organized Investment Network (COIN) Advisory Board. Rudy is a Civil Society Fellow, an initiative hosted by the ADL and Aspen Institute.
Michael H Anderson, AIA, NOMA is the Principal and founder of Anderson-Barker Architects. As a California registered architect, he has been practicing for 42 years and currently is a member of AIA, NOMA, and ULI. Michael is a specialist in transit and aviation architecture, and urban economic development. He is the proud author of URBAN MAGIC: Vibrant Black and Brown Communities are Possible. This book describes a pragmatic, practical recipe to trigger urban regeneration along with land uses and building types needed to kick-start revitalization for the wider community, with multiple concrete examples of what did and didn’t work from decades of his own work in low-income–impacted communities of color in and around Los Angeles. Check it out!
Genelle Brooks-Petty is the principal designer of BPC Interior Design, a Los Angeles-based design firm servicing contract and residential clients. Her work bridges gaps as she aims to foster community development through design. Genelle is a graduate of Howard University’s School of Business, and she holds a Master of Interior Architecture from the UCLA Extension/ California State Polytechnic University, Pomona joint study program. She is an associate member of AIA, a member of SoCal NOMA and AWA+D. She currently serves on the boards of SCOPE-LA (Strategic Concepts in Organizing and Policy Education), BOOCLT (Black Owned and Operated Community Land Trust) as well as the Marina del Rey Design Control Board. Genelle is also co-owner of All Chill, a community-centered artisanal ice cream shop in the historic Leimert Park neighborhood.
Ronnell Hampton is a policy and urban design practitioner who leverages his academic, professional, and lived experience to achieve equity as an outcome in the policy, projects, and programs that he leads and supports. In 2017, Ronnell started Growing Greatness Now, a policy and urban design consulting firm committed to social and environmental justice. He also serves as the Principal Equity Strategist for the LA Civil Rights department and is a professor in the College of Environmental Design at Cal Poly Pomona. He holds an M. A. in Urban Sustainability; B. A. in Negotiation Conflict Resolution and Peace-building, a Minor in Africana Studies; and an A. S. in Architecture Drafting and Design.
Lisa has led public projects in Los Angeles to improve the quality of life for diverse and transit-dependent residents. Since founding Cityworks Design in 2006, she’s brought design leadership to over 75-miles of transit lines and main streets –including Metro’s Rail to Rail Active Transportation Corridor now under construction along Slauson Avenue. She’s helped shape public policy, contributed to design publications, created best practice guides, and modeled innovative engagement methods to affect change locally and nationally. She serves as a national peer reviewer for Federal public projects, and as both an architect and planner strives to help communities shape their vision of the future.
As the Director of Community Affairs covering Southern California, Joss Tillard-Gates ensures Clark Construction maximizes its opportunities to partner with small and diverse business entities for each of its projects, in addition to supporting workforce development programs throughout the region. Joss also shares responsibility in business development, client relationships, strategic business planning and represents Clark Construction in a variety of public engagements. Prior to joining Clark Construction in 2022, Joss led affordable housing policy in Southern California for Enterprise Community Partners. Prior to Enterprise Community Partners, Joss was a registered lobbyist representing Los Angeles County in Sacramento, and prior to that role he served as the legislative director for the Office of the Member of the Board of Equalization, 3rd district. Joss holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Connecticut, a Juris Doctor and Real Estate Law certificate, from Western State College of Law, and a Construction Management certificate from UCLA. Joss Tillard-Gates also serves as a Board Member of Crete Academy charter school in the Crenshaw District and takes advantage of every opportunity to give back to communities in Los Angeles.
Seleta Reynolds joins Metro from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, where she has been General Manager since 2014. There, she has championed rider-serving innovations including the introduction of mobile ticketing and free transit for students, the development of the nation’s largest electric vehicle carshare program, and the pilot of the nation’s largest universal basic mobility plan. Previously, Ms. Reynolds served at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, leading the Livable Streets Unit. She has published four articles in Forbes magazine and a key article in the Eno Center for Transportation regarding the adaptation of Los Angeles for Urban Mobility in our Digital Age. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in American History from Brown University. “It has been an honor and privilege to work alongside the incredible women and men of the Los Angeles Department of Transportation,” Reynolds said. “Under the leadership of Mayor Garcetti and the City Council, we have made traveling in L.A. a safer, more equitable and dignified experience for Angelenos. I could not think of a better place to build on this work than at Metro, supporting a bold leader and board with an ambitious agenda to tackle the region’s biggest challenges with creativity and a steadfast commitment to advancing opportunity for all.”
Erick is a licensed architect at KFA Architecture who has 10 years of experience as a design and community development professional. He is dedicated to the intersection between affordable housing, community network building, justice and equity. Erick’s role has ranged from project architect, urban designer, and community organizer with communities in both Los Angeles and Cleveland, Ohio. His experience spans housing, commercial, and greenspace development from schematic design through construction. His roots are in the San Fernando Valley of LA. He is passionate about leveraging design as a way to inspire youth to make a difference in their community.
Johanna Hauser grew up in Austin, Texas and spent much of her childhood observing dramatic landscapes and old buildings on road trips with her family. After studying German literature at Bard College, she landed a temp job as a receptionist at an inspiring architecture firm in San Francisco, which led her to pursue a Masters in Architecture from the University of Texas at Austin. During that time, she traveled to Europe, studying the effects of fascism on the built environment in pre-war Italy and post-war Germany. A collage artist at heart, Johanna sees architecture as a practice of working with what’s available, be it good, bad or ugly. Her belief that anything can be uplifted, however broken it may appear, combined with her love of complex puzzles, makes her happiest working on adaptive reuse projects and organizing around restorative justice. She has over a decade of professional experience, and is currently employed at KFA.
Breana Weaver joined PCL Construction – California Buildings as assistant manager of diversity & inclusion in March 2021. In this role, Weaver manages the ambitious community outreach, workforce development and local hire initiatives for Destination Crenshaw, a 1.3-mile-long outdoor museum along Crenshaw Boulevard celebrating Black culture in Los Angeles. A South LA native, born and raised in the Crenshaw district, Breana is passionate about holistic approaches to addressing industry-wide challenges such as a lack of diversity and workforce shortages, while creating equitable access to high-paying construction careers. Weaver also leads business inclusion efforts and manages DEI strategy for PCL’s $1 billion California Buildings District and serves as an advisor for company wide initiatives. Before coming to PCL, Weaver served Council District 8 for five years as a member of City Councilmember Marqueece Harris-Dawson’s team as senior jobs and legislative deputy and chair of the City’s Targeted Local Hire Task Force. Additionally, she drove the development of key policy issues and legislation related to economic development, housing, and public safety. She is also an alumni of the Coro Fellowship for Public Policy, an intensive nine-month leadership development program where she gained cross-sector training and experience through a rotation of placements that included Northrup Grumman, LA Metro, Yellow Cab and a campaign for state senate. With professional experience in both the private and public sectors, Weaver believes strongly in the power of collaborative initiatives that incorporate both business and community interests.
Craig is the current president of the Southern California Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architects. At Arcadis IBI Group for more than 3 decades he is a Director | Senior Principal Architect with more than 3 decades of experience in the design and construction of public projects. He is currently the California Public Practice lead in charge of the public practice work with offices in Los Angeles, Irvine, San Diego, San Jose, and San Luis Obispo. In addition he is the executive sponsor of the firms JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion) Task Force employee resource group force that is developed recommendations to improve the culture of the firm in these areas and to make sure IBI follows through with the statements made in our response to the tragic and unjustifiable killing of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Regis Korchinski-Paquet, “Working Together to Respond to Systemic and Institutional Anti-Black Racism” ( https://www.ibigroup.com/2020/06/05/working-together-to-respond-to-systemic-and-institutional-anti-black-racism/ ). He is also working closely with the Arcadis on the integration of the DEI initiatives started with IBI Group with the global Arcadis Diversity, Belong and Human rights initiatives. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. During his time at Cal Poly, he studied architecture for a full year in Copenhagen Denmark. He became a California Registered Architect in 1994. His career started with BFGC Architects in 1990 where he became a firm Principal. In 2009 BFGC was acquired by IBI and in 2013 Craig accepted an opportunity to be part of the leadership in the Los Angeles Office. He has been involved with all aspects of complex public project business development, project management, planning, design, quality control and project delivery for public clients throughout California. He is most proud of his ability to build project consensus and become part of the fabric of a client’s organization. His resume includes educational and civic sector projects ranging from programming to new construction to tenant improvements for K-12 schools, Community Colleges, University, and Civic Sector Projects including Libraries, Transit and Public Safety Projects. He has also been a part of several boards, commissions, and community groups including a supporter of the SoCal NOMA Chapter. Most recently he led the effort to provide a virtual exhibit space using the IBI Group Digital Foyer to display the work of the participants of the SoCal NOMA Summer Camp – NOMA XXPO 2020 (Click on the link: https://www.ibiviz.com/california/NOMA/ ).
Siobhán Burke is a licensed architect with leadership and organizational experience in complex vision plans, sustainable building practices, transportation planning, and community engagement. She has worked on numerous inclusivity projects in LA County over the past 20 years, connecting communities through networks of healthy waterways, streetscapes, parks, and plazas; and she is passionate about creating resilient destination infrastructure leading up to and beyond the LA28 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Rhianna C. Rogers is director of the Center to Advance Racial Equity Policy and a policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. Before RAND, she held administrative/teaching appointments in higher education and tribal government (2002–2021). Rogers is an expert on cultural and ethnic studies, intercultural competencies and diversity education, cultural mediation, and virtual exchange programming. She has successfully built and implemented Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programming for over a decade in higher education, private/public corporations, and NGOs. She created and ran the Buffalo Project, a longitudinal participatory action research project focused on using cultural data as the baseline for programmatic development and implementation. With numerous awards, Rogers grew the program, forming state and international partnerships, which led Rogers to be recognized as an international expert on equity-centered, community-based participatory action research by the United Nations – Geneva Forum in 2020, 2021, and 2022. Rogers has supported DEI in a variety of capacities, including leading for Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS)/German NATO DEU Air Command DEI training (2022), participating in the White House – Year of Evidence in Action Forums (2022), and sitting on the New York State Digital Equity Summits advisory group (2021); the Lumen Circles/Gates Foundation DEI consulting group (2021), and the Kettering Foundation Deliberative Dialogue consulting team (2020–2021). Before RAND, Rogers was a professor of interdisciplinary studies (history and anthropology) at the State University of New York (SUNY), Empire State College. At SUNY, Rogers held systems appointments as the Ernest Boyer Presidential Fellow at the Rockefeller Institute of Government (2019–2020) and SUNY Center for Online Teaching Excellence Fellow (2014–2021). She holds a Ph.D. in comparative area studies, an M.A. in history, and a B.A. in social and behavioral sciences from Florida Atlantic University.
Carmen Suero is a Principal at Good Project Company (GPCO), where she focuses on developing projects that are not only clever and conceptually clear but also highly specific to the opportunities of each project. Through her work, Carmen delights in finding efficient and unexpected ways to improve daily life. Together with developing built projects, Carmen believes that education is a lifelong journey and is committed to continuously expanding her knowledge and expertise in her field. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Education degree at Southern California University. Her research focuses on architecture practice and the relationship between career development learning and representation in the industry. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, Carmen has worked with various award-winning architecture firms, local and national construction firms, and interior design offices. Her expertise spans different sectors, including rail, aviation, civic, education, and residential. Carmen has been involved in many notable projects throughout her career, including MTA's Gold, Expo, and Crenshaw transit lines, LAWA's Landside Modernization Program, the City of Long Beach Civic Center, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She has contributed significantly to these projects, bringing her innovative design ideas and creative problem-solving skills.
Martin Muoto is the CEO and Founder of SoLa Impact, a family of real-estate funds with a double bottom line strategy focused on developing high-quality affordable and workforce housing exclusively in Black and brown communities. SoLa’s proven track record combines providing access to housing, access to education, access to opportunity, and access to ownership to positively impact both community and investor returns. In 2022, SoLa raised its forth fund, the Black Impact Fund, which will deploy over $1 billion in Los Angeles and across Southern California. SoLa Impact was ranked as the 7th fastest-growing minority-led private company on Inc. Magazine’s Inc500 list and was recognized as the leading Opportunity Zone fund in the country. SoLa Impact’s funds have attracted a number of leading investors seeking yield while also committed to Diversity & Inclusion and delivering impact through ESG initiatives. Martin’s early vision – and his leadership among social impact real-estate funds – has led to Martin being featured in Forbes, Black Enterprise, the WSJ, the NYTimes, Bloomberg, BusinessWeek, and other leading publications. Martin was previously an operating executive at several technology companies and a venture capital partner at Accretive Partners and General Atlantic Partners in New York. He graduated with Honors from the Wharton School of Business and the University of Pennsylvania.
Tamika L. Butler (she/her or they/them) is a doctoral student in Urban Planning at UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs. Her research employs a critical race, historical, legal, and policy-based approach to examine how transportation policy and infrastructure have been used to segregate, isolate, and prevent the mobility of Black and other historically oppressed groups of people. Prior to pursuing her PhD, Tamika consulted, wrote, and spoke as a national expert on issues related to public policy, the built environment, equity, anti-racism, diversity and inclusion, organizational behavior, and change management. She transitioned to policy work after litigating for three years as an employment lawyer at Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center. Tamika has a diverse background in law, community organizing and nonprofit leadership. Tamika received her J.D. from Stanford Law School, and received her B.A. in Psychology and B.S. in Sociology in her hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. She lives in Los Angeles with her wife and kids.
Winston Thorne is President, of Winston Thorne Architect, an architecture and planning firm based in Pasadena serving the growing California and Arizona markets. Works include private and multi-family residential, restaurant, laboratory, historic structures, and commercial-type developments. Also the owner of Thorne Construction, LLC, a licensed general contracting business in Arizona. His accolades include awards from AIA Central Arizona Architecture Foundation, Resolution Awards with the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee to RED Awards, and design competition accomplishments. Growing up, he excelled in athletics, leadership, and music. Attended Toronto Metropolitan University’s School of Architecture, where his design interests in the built environment were founded in architecture. Following his curiosity about American architecture led him to Phoenix, Arizona where he spent seventeen years working on notable historic preservation, and luxury condominium project types to the tallest hotel in Arizona. Actively participated with the design community, and associations, and volunteered with charitable organizations. He is currently serving and facilitates a number of local organizations and coalitions, such as being the Director-At-Large / Past President for The American Institute of Architects Pasadena and Foothill Chapter; Vice Chair of the Mayor’s Central Library Technical Oversight Committee, NCARB Subject Matter Expert, and at the state level, is the First Vice-President / President-Elect for The American Institute of Architects California.
Amber Meshack is the Director of the Business, Jobs, & Social Responsibility (BJSR) Division at Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA). LAWA is the City of Los Angeles public agency that owns and operates Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), a top-five busiest airport in the world, as well as Van Nuys General Aviation Airport (VNY). As Director of the BJSR Division, Ms. Meshack is responsible for workforce and business opportunity programs including: supporting delivery of inclusivity commitments for the $30B LAWA capital program, overseeing LAWA’S First Source Hiring Program, managing the small contractor development and bonding assistance program, and developing policy and strategic partnerships for business and workforce development. Under her leadership, BJSR established LAWA’s first small contractor training program, the BuildLAX Academy; launched the Contract Finance Assistance Program to support access to financing for small construction contractors; established the first team dedicated to overseeing business and workforce commitments on capital projects; led the development of LAWA’s policy to require Inclusivity commitments as a competitively scored category in all major procurements; and directed the first study at LAWA to examine gaps in contracting equity correlated to race and gender. Prior to taking on the role of BJSR Director, Ms. Meshack worked on the LAX Landside Access Modernization Program (LAMP), managing executive operations and procurements, including for the City’s largest ever public-private-partnership (P3) project, the $4.9B Automated People Mover, also the largest contract ever entered into by the City of Los Angeles. As part of that effort, Ms. Meshack was responsible for developing the local hire, workforce, and small, local, and disadvantaged business contracting requirements, the first such performance requirements included in the US P3 market.
With over 20 years of experience in real estate and inclusive economic development, Judith pairs technical economic expertise with a deep understanding of community values to lead public and private clients in envisioning and implementing transformational, yet achievable, change. Balancing market feasibility and the delivery of innovative community benefits, Judith supported the negotiation of community benefits at Google’s Downtown West project, and closer to home worked with Metro on visioning and economic strategies for the K Line and proposed West Santa Ana Branch transit corridor. Judith has led several anti-displacement and gentrification mitigation strategies across the country, most recently building a toolkit for the community of Wilkinsburg, PA and is currently partnered with a CBO to guide a community-led action plan for a historically disinvested corridor in North Sacramento.
Drake Dillard, is a registered American architect with more than 34 years of experience in the management of design and construction of medical facilities, educational, commercial and housing projects. Mr. Dillard has managed more than $3 Billion dollars in construction totaling more than 800,000 square feet of medical facilities. His expertise includes working on large programs involving multi-disciplinary project teams. Drake’s duties have encompassed program development, budget estimates, schedule development, schematic design, design development, construction documentation and overall program management. His success in managing projects is founded in assembling good teams that will work hard but with respect for each other. He has worked on projects in Los Angeles, Chicago, New Orleans, San Diego, Iran, Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Africa. Drake has worked for large international firms such as: Parsons, URS and Perkins & Will. While serving as President of SoCal NOMA, Drake worked with Gruen Associates. He presented at 2016 NOMA national conference in Los Angeles a Map of African American Architects. This document serves to highlight featured buildings located in and around Los Angeles where African American Architects were significant contributors. Drake also presented NOMAs first African American architecture walking tour in Compton California. This tour highlighted several architects as well Drake’s design of the Charles Drew Cobb Building. Drake considers himself to be a citizen’s architect, one who works to better society through culture. He has dedicated his career to giving a voice to those who find it difficult to advocate for themselves. “Everyone deserves good design. Everyone.” he says.