Year 50 Conference Wrap Up



he National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) concluded their national annual conference, NOMA HOMECOMING: DETROIT 50, held Oct. 20-23, 2021, celebrating 50 years of design excellence in social, economic, and environmental, national leadership and approaching record-breaking 3,000 professional and student memberships. The online conference and in-person Detroit gala weekend in Detroit allowed NOMA members, architects, allied professionals, emerging professionals, and students to connect and plan for the future in a supportive environment, leaving with a mission to increase focus on the diversification of the architecture profession.

“We knew we had to celebrate our 50th anniversary in Detroit, to honor our founding and gain inspiration for the next 50 years,” said Jason Pugh, NOMA, AIA, AICP,  LEED AP, NOMA President and Gensler Senior Associate Architect and Urban Designer. “The number of licensed minority architects and minority-owned architecture firms is still too low. It was the challenge of our founders and will remain ours until we can say, with complete confidence, that we have fulfilled their initial mission.”

With architecture organizations including ACSA, AIA, AIAS, NAAB and NCARB and more than 100 program sponsors, NOMA plans to continue working with institutions and ally organizations to advance NOMA’s mission.


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Founder’s Wife, Past-Presidents, President and President Elect in front of the Presidents section of the SAY IT LOUD exhibition on opening night.

The conference kicked off with the SAY IT LOUD – NOMA 50th exhibition opening and keynote panel on Oct. 21, 2021, hosted at the Detroit Historical Museum. The panel discussed the importance of legacy in architecture and diversity of firm ownership. The panelists reflected on the legacy of NOMA and discussed their experiences as design leaders in the field. Panelists included: Rod Hemni, FAIA, LEED AP, NOMA HKIT Architects Design Director; Saundra Little, FAIA, LEED AP, Quinn Evans Architects Principal; Maya Madison, Assoc. AIA, NOMA, Moody Nolan Project Manager; and Paola Moya, Assoc. AIA, Moya Design Group CEO and Founder. The panel was moderated by Imani Day, AIA, RVSN Studios, and included a video welcome from Curt Moody, FAIA, NOMAC, Moody Nolan Founder and Board Chair. 

The SAY IT LOUD – NOMA 50th exhibition celebrates the professional achievements of a selection of 80 diverse designers that represent the NOMA membership, including some of the featured panelists. In addition to work, video testimonials and historical timelines, it also features a few artifacts, including a unique wooden walking staff and case handed down to every NOMA president. As an extension of the Graham Foundation collaboration, the exhibition has a virtual component that expands its reach and access to the NOMA membership globally. SAY IT LOUD – NOMA 50th | BEYOND THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT 

The exhibition was curated by NOMA President-Elect Pascale Sablan, FAIA, NOMA, LEED AP, Beyond the Built Environment, LLC, Founder and Executive Director and an associate at Adjaye Associates. It will be on display from Oct, 21, 2021 – Jan. 9, 2022. The exhibition was funded by the Graham Foundation Advanced Studies for the Fine Arts.   


NOMA hosted its annual awards banquet on Oct. 22, 2021, which honors exceptional leadership and award-winning work of NOMA professional and student members. The evening’s mistress and master of ceremonies were NOMA Executive Director Tiffany Brown, Associa. AIA, MBA, and Antoine Bryant, NOMA, Assoc. AIA, APA, City of Detroit Director of the Planning & Development Department respectively. The evening honored the 12 founding members with reflections and remarks from NOMA Council President William J. Stanley, III, FAIA, NOMAC and AIA President Peter Exley, FAIA, NCARB. 

“The NOMA annual award ceremony is always an opportunity to learn something new and different from former NOMA leaders,” said Pugh. “There’s so much history and legacy. We have generations of members — seniors, professionals, young professionals and students — who connect to provide us with our rich legacy. The ceremony allows us to look at our past in the context of present design work, including the awards and new leadership.” 

The ceremony honored NOMA members who achieved architecture licensure in 2021: Ashlee Bird (Texas); Carla Flagg (California); Mike Ford (Wisconsin); Ya Vaughn M. Harlston (Illinois); Ali Horowitz (Boston); Kim Johnson (Illinois); Maya Madison (New York); Morina Peterson (Washington, D.C.), Joel Mieses Ramirez (Virginia); Ramatoulie Sallah-Muhammed (Virginia); Tasheria Shorts (Baltimore); Matthew Trotter (California); Zakiya Wiggins (North Carolina); Ashlen Williams (Illinois); and Mustapha Williams (Illinois).

NOMA also announced new board members including: Bryan C. Lee, Jr., NOMA South Region Vice President; Julian Owens, NOMA, Assoc. AIA Parliamentarian; Julia Witherspoon, NOMA Recording Secretary; and Catherine Chatergoon, NOMAS, Pratt University, Student Representative. 


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The Harlem Maritime Center & Museum – East Facade by HINES ARCHITECTURE+DESIGN, Vision Honor Award in the 2021 Phil Freelon Professional Design Awards

The NOMA Phil Freelon Professional Design Awards were presented to the following NOMA member firms:


  • Honor Award: Hines Architecture+Design, Daimian Hines, NOMA, AIA Principal Design Architect THE HARLEM MARITIME CENTER & MUSEUM Harlem, New York
  • Citation Award: Andre Johnson Architects, Andre Johnson,  NOMA, AIA, NCARB, Architect of Record, Design Architect, Excelsior Jazz Club, Hotel and Museum Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Citation Award: Andre Johnson Architects, Andre Johnson,  NOMA, AIA, NCARB, Architect of Record, Design Architect, Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church, Creedmoor, North Carolina


  • Honor Award: Perkins & Will, Ron Stelmarski, AIA, LEED AP, Architect of Record, Principal Design Architect, Singing Hills Recreation and Senior Center, Dallas, Texas
  • Citation Award: Hamilton Anderson Associates, Rainy Hamilton, Jr, AIA, NOMA, Design Architect, The Residences at 440 Alfred, City Modern Detroit, Michigan

Historic Preservation, Restoration & Renovation

  • Honor Award: Hamilton Anderson Associates, Rainy Hamilton, Jr, NOMA, AIA, Principal Design Architect, The Hamilton Midtown Detroit, Michigan
  • Citation Award: CO ARCHITECTS, Architect of Record, UCLA Pritzker Hall Modernization, Los Angeles, California


  • Honor Award: Perkins & Will, Geeti Silwal, AICP,  LEED AP BD+C, Urban Design Architect, Sacramento Valley Station Area Plan, Sacramento, California
  • Citation Award: Andre Johnson Architects, Andre Johnson,  NOMA, AIA, NCARB, Architect of Record North Carolina A&T Community and Urban Food Processing Facility, Greensboro, North Carolina

Small Projects

  • Honor Award: Evoke Studio Architecture, Edwin Harris, NOMA, AIA, LEED APTeri Canada, NOMA, AIA, LEED AP, Architect of Record, BEYU CAFÉ AT BOXYARD Research Triangle  Park, North Carolina

The professional awards jurors included: Russell Baltimore, AIA, NOMA, Assistant Director Design Review, Planning & Development, City of Detroit; Adaeze Cadet, AIA, NOMA, NCARB, LEED BD+C, Sr. Principal, Design Principal, HOK; Nicole Hollant-Denis, AIA, NOMA, NCARB, President, Aaris Design Architects, PLLC; Dayton Schroeter, AIA, NOMA, SEGD, Principal, Design Director, SmithGroup.

NOMA Council Fellowship and Awards  

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NOMA Council at the dias during the award ceremony

During the awards ceremony, Kim Dowdell, AIA, LEED AP, HOK Principal, and Curt Moody, FAIA, Moody Nolan Founder and Board Chair, were both elevated to the National Organization of Minority Architects Council (NOMAC), the highest level of recognition within NOMA. NOMAC members are elevated to fellows within the council. The following leadership awards were announced: 

  • NOMA Founder’s Award: Michael Rogers, NOMA, AIA, NOMA Illinois 
  • NOMA President’s Award: Lance Collins, AIA, SoCal NOMA 
  • NOMA Member of the Year West: Eletrice Harris SoCal NOMA
  • NOMA Member of the Year South: Zakiya Wiggins NC NOMA
  • NOMA Member of the Year East: Paolo Campos NOMA CT
  • NOMA Member of the Year Midwest: LaBarbara James Wigfall NOMA KC
  • NOMA Chapter of the Year – Large Chapter: NOMA Virginia State 
  • NOMA Chapter of the Year – Small Chapter: NOMA Kansas City, Mo.
  • NOMA Most Improved Chapter: NOMA Dallas-Fort Worth
  • NOMA 2021 Five-Star Chapters: Virginia NOMA, SoCal NOMA  


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Melanie Ray and Andreea Vasile-Hoxa present the NOMAS awards

Every year, NOMA recognizes leadership excellence in their student chapters. Led by NOMA professionals across the country, the liaisons work with the NOMA Board to identify emerging talent in their student chapters. The 2021 National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS) Student Member of the Year was Henry Chu for his work as an undergraduate student at Cal Poly Pomona. 

The NOMAS Chapter of the Year winner is Cal Poly Pomona. 

The 2021 NOMA Barbara G. Laurie Student Design Competition, sponsored by SOM, was focused on a project that envisioned establishing a NOMA Legacy Headquarters and Resource Campus in Detroit. The prompt asked students to design a campus and master plan to serve the organization, its members, and the hometown community. Detroit is a place rich in history and ripe with opportunity; and as America’s first appointed UNESCO City of Design, the creative culture welcomes well-designed space(s) that support the people and their environments. Over 20 NOMAS chapters from colleges and universities entered the competition.

First place: Washington University in St. Louis (Embodying Legacy)

WUSTL Team: Lindsey Compeaux, Yuzhu Wang, Francine Chun, Allen Liang, Anna Zheng, Yuwei Yang, Zheyi Yuan, Yulia Morina, Beichen (Eric) Wang, Christa Hua, Yuanwan Huang, Hanjia Wang

Faculty Sponsor: Melisa Betts Sanders

Second place: Savannah College of Art And Design (Motown Village)

SCAD Captains: Mauro Rodriguez, Kirk Prah

Team: Keeana Heredia, Faith Andrew, Emily Eatmon, Maya Schumpert, Jordyn Pinder, Lauren Peterson

Faculty Adviser: Cristina Gutierrez

Third place: Wentworth Institute of Technology (Healing Detroit)

WIT Team: Andres Jimenez, Haimanot Hailu, Osarhuguemwene Idusogie, Joshua L Ssebuwufu, Emily Quach, Luana ValaKashka Senat

Special recognition: The University Of British Columbia

Team: Alyssa Cheung, Heather Brogan Gealey, Joud Shawwa, Shawn Guan, Soha Heydarian, Miucci Yung

Jurors for the SOM-sponsored student competition included: Austin Harris, SOM Associate Principal; Carlos Talero, SOM Associate Principal; Jamie Witherspoon, Bedrock Vice President of Architecture & Development; and Jessica Sheridan, Mancini Duffy Principal and AIA At-Large Director. 

The competition and jury was organized by NOMA’s Regional University Liaisons:

  • Northeast: Melanie Ray, NOMA, AIA, LEED Green Associate, NCARB
  • Midwest: Andreea Vasile-Hoxa, Assoc. AIA, Assoc. ASLA, NOMA
  • South: Atianna Cordova, NOMA, AIA
  • West: Jamilla Afandi, NOMA Associate AIA

The next NOMA conference is scheduled to take place in Nashville in Oct. 2021. President Pugh invited everyone to save the date and meet in Nashville to continue the work started in Detroit and together in person safely. 
“It’s been great to be able to connect and gather in person,” said Pugh. “We all realized how much we missed being around people in general, but more so being around our extended NOMA family. To be able to do that now while celebrating this historic moment makes it even more special. Once you come to the NOMA conference you are hooked because it truly is a family reunion.”

logo for "NOMA Everywhere" the conference will be available for particpatio virtually