History in the making
Today, only 2.4% of licensed U.S. architects are Black. Long before the moniker DEI, the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) has worked to minimize the effect of racism in architecture. Since 1971 the organization has been working through its local chapters across the country to foster justice and equity in communities of color. Houston NOMA is a very robust chapter, with members at firms of all sizes, plus many others working in academia, government, and at institutional and commercial firms. HNOMA, together with AIA Houston and Architecture Center Houston, formed the Justice, Equity: Diversity and Inclusivity (JE:DI) Collective in 2020.
At the national level, the AIA has actively worked toward key objectives, including diversification. Lakisha Woods was hired as the first Black female CEO of AIA in November 2021. Under her leadership over the past year, a restructured internal team will focus on AIA’s two overarching objectives – architects leading the climate crisis fight, and championing racial, gender, and economic justice and equality through the power of design. Woods created the new role Chief External EDI Officer, filled by Renée Byng Yancey. Yancey’s team will push for equity, diversity, and inclusion in how architects are educated, recruited, and retained. And in June 2022, the AIA membership elected Kimberly Dowdell as the first Black female AIA President. History in the making!