Small Firms: Roadmap To Success 2023

SMALL FIRMS: ROADMAP TO SUCCESS, as a series of hands-on professional development workshops, will serve as a forum to give architects and designers insight and access to tools and resources. It will help attendees organize and operate a successful architectural & design practice.  This Workshop will be four hours long consisting of 4 one hour long presentations of 30 to 40 minutes with a 20 minute, interactive Q&A.



AIA CES: 3.5 LU Approved



Build it! Navigating the Approval Process from Entitlements through Permitting

Presented by Sara Houghton, AIA and Courtney Brown

Learning Objectives:

You will learn how to set your project up for success from conception to RTI as it moves through various departments within the City of Los Angeles.  We will cover phases spanning pre-development to pre-construction, how to identify potential project hurdles early in the process (planning!) as well as best practices for navigating through and communicating with the City and associated agencies (permitting!) as well as with the broader community (neighbors!).

Courtney Brown, Vice President of Permitting & Development Strategy, Three6ixty

Sara Houghton, AIA – Vice President and Director of Planning and Land Use, Three6ixty



Courtney Brown, Vice President of Permitting and Development Strategy at Three6ixty, leads the permitting team, specializing in complex permitting projects, tenant improvement, and affordable housing. With over 10 years of experience, her career highlights include securing permits for a unique micro-amusement park, retail cannabis businesses, and various affordable housing projects. She combines big-picture strategy with targeted tactics, influenced by her diverse clientele, from General Electric to California Home Builders. A Southern New Hampshire University and University of Texas graduate, Courtney balances her career with her passion for fashion, beach life, supporting the local LGBTQA community, and being  a warrior mom to a 15-year-old boy.

Sara Houghton, AIA – Vice President and Director of Planning and Land Use at Three6ixty, is a licensed architect with over 25 years of expertise spanning commercial, residential, civic, and educational projects. Before joining Three6ixty, she served Rosenheim & Associates as a Planner and maintained her own architectural practice. Sara has collaborated with international firms like NBBJ and Cannon Design and excelled in land-use entitlements, permitting, design review representation, and zoning modifications. A Cornell University graduate who studied in Rome, Sara also actively contributes to the American Institute of Architects, the Association for Women in Architecture, and the Southern California Mediation Association. Her leisure time is spent enjoying local live music and practicing handstands.

Three6ixty (“360”) is a land use consulting firm providing a comprehensive range of Project Management, Planning, Outreach, and Advocacy services to our community. We specialize in complex projects including multi-family residential and mixed-use developments, creative office, food service, and hospitality projects. With offices in Culver City, 360 is committed to providing a new frontier of land use services to the real estate development community, property owners, public agencies, and non-profit organizations.


Getting Started with HR: How to Grow Your Team While Protecting Your Firm

Presented by Joe Cangelosi, Affiliate AIA|LA


Learning Objectives:

This session will help new and growing firms understand the risks, rewards and opportunities as an employer in Southern California, and how to set up the HR function to benefit the firm and its employees. Participants will come away with a high-level understanding of:

  • People Operations vs. HR
  • Recruitment
  • Compliance & risk mitigation     
  • Retention
  • Technology options

Joe Cangelosi, Affiliate AIA|LA – Founder & President, Tee Lex


Joe Cangelosi, Affiliate AIA|LA has spent his life in design. Starting as a lighting designer, he built and sold two successful companies, moving on to agency operations. Fueled by a passion for design and architecture, Joe founded Tee Lex to help creative firms solve real-life challenges and has worked with countless SMB’s to improve their internal functions. He has presented on business management at many major conferences including ‘A22. Joe is on the board of the LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce and lives in Topanga Canyon with his husband and Lexi, a Smooth Fox Terrier.

Tee Lex provides business solutions at the intersection of People, Projects & Finance. A pioneer of Back Office Design, Tee Lex is dedicated to reducing low-value work and administrative burdens in creative service businesses, helping midmarket businesses thrive and small businesses get over the “midmarket wall.”


The Power of Storytelling

Presented by Honora Shea

Learning Objectives:

You will learn a unique approach to architectural PR and business development, and in particular how their focus on storytelling and narrative sets their clients apart, and places their work within the broader cultural discourse.

Honora Shea, Cofounder & Principal, THIS BY THAT


Honora Shea’s lifelong love of architecture is not entirely unrelated to the fact her family is full of architects – and that she grew up in a house that was a perpetual family renovation project in  Pittsburgh. Before This by That, she was immersed in contemporary art and architecture as a writer and creative producer. She has worked with Steven Holl Architects in New York and Beijing’s Vitamin Creative Space gallery, honing her ability to bridge the gap between creativity and commerce through producing and managing projects for artists such as Cao Fei and Sharon Lockhart. Her writing on art and architecture has been published by the likes of Architectural Record, Artforum, Interview, T Magazine, and Wallpaper*.

This by That represents architects who challenge the status quo. The agency matches creative clients looking to build new environments or transform existing spaces with architects who share their ambitious, innovative vision. This by That also offers business development, communications and strategic advice to architecture practices, helping them to secure new clients, projects and media exposure.


Legal Risks in Design: How to Manage Risk in Contract, Payment, and Performance

Presented by Ryan J. Kohler, Affiliate AIA|LA

Learning Objectives:

  • How to understand your contract terms
  • How to identify legal risks during design and construction administration
  • How to minimize the potential for owner-claims when you ask for your fee
  • How the claim process works in reality

Ryan J. Kohler, Affiliate AIA|LA – Attorney At Law, Collins + Collins LLP



Ryan J. Kohler, Affiliate AIA|LA is a trial attorney in the firm’s Pasadena office, focussing on professional liability, employment matters, construction, and business litigation. In the construction field, he has helped clients tackle issues including contract formation, risk management, unpaid fee resolution, and liability defense. He also helps a broad client base with employment and HR issues, including wage claims, discrimination, retaliation, and defense of employment lawsuits in courts / administrative state agencies. Mr. Kohler helps clients respond to employment issues and assists employers in structuring effective and practical personnel policies. He received his law degree from the University of Southern California Law School and is admitted to the California state and federal Bars. He is also a guest lecturer at the USC School of Architecture.

Collins + Collins LLP has fought for and defended architects and engineers in a wide variety of disputes across the state of California. These include construction defect claims often involving nine-figure demands, negligence claims for personal injury, breach of contract and delay claims, and state administrative and compliance disputes.  The firm also handles contract negotiation, assistance as outside general counsel, and assistance with employment compliance and defense of employment claims, among may other matters.  See for more.

Graciously hosted by


May 31st, 2023

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