NOMA 2023 PDX Conference Wrap Up

The National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) concluded its national conference, Building Bridges Towards Just and Joyful Futures, in Portland, Oregon, October 11-15, 2023, with attendees engaging in thought-provoking seminar sessions, connecting with industry experts and celebrating member achievements. More than 1,550 NOMA members, allies and students registered for the sold-out conference, making this year’s conference the largest yet, with representation from 38 states, one U.S. territory and four countries, including NOMA’s newest chapter in the United Kingdom. Industry voices including Toshiko Mori, FAIA; Nina Cooke John, AIA, NOMA, NCARB; and Olalekan Jeyifous inspired attendees through discussions, addressing the need for a more inclusive and diverse architecture industry that advocates for justice and a profession that mirrors the diversity of our society. 

“Our gathering in Portland symbolizes a powerful opportunity to come together, exchange ideas, and foster meaningful connections,” says Pascale Sablan, FAIA, NOMA, LEED AP, 2023-2024 NOMA President and Associate Principal at Adjaye Associates. “It’s a time for engaging lectures, transformative workshops, and a chance to celebrate the outstanding contributions of our members. Together, we have built a rich legacy, overcome formidable barriers, and created bridges over various forms of oppression. Each one of you brings unique perspectives and experiences, and collectively, we form a dynamic, shared space that fuels our collective learning. The impact of this conference reaches far beyond these few days, resonating in our local communities and echoing through the halls of history.”

Held at the Hilton Portland Downtown and organized by NOMA national staff, volunteers and the NOMA Portland (PDX) chapter, the five-day conference offered more than 50 educational sessions, eight tours throughout Portland, including the Portland Japanese Garden, Nike Worldwide Headquarters, Meyer Memorial Trust Headquarters, PAE Living Building, and networking events to connect, inspire and motivate participants.

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The Legacy Project at Black Futures Farm kicked off the conference.

“Portland was a wonderful host, and we cannot thank our local chapter, NOMA PDX, enough for their warm welcome and commitment to creating a memorable and inspiring conference,” says Tiffany Brown, MBA, NOMA, Assoc. AIA, NOMA Executive Director. “It was historical and important to bring a NOMA Conference to the location where civil rights activist Whitney M. Young Jr. delivered the 1968 AIA Convention keynote that challenged architects to address issues of diversity and social responsibility in the profession. It inspired NOMA’s founding, and this week, provided us the inspiration we need to continue our work.”

Conference highlights included the announcement of the first NOMA international chapter in the United Kingdom, an unprecedented number of NOMA members, 29, receiving their licensure, and the representation of 38 National Organization of Minority Architecture Student chapters in the Barbara G. Laurie Student Design Competition, the most participants ever.

“NOMA Conference is a moment in time to reflect and recharge on our choices of why we were called to become architects,” says Pascale Sablan, FAIA, NOMA, LEED AP, 2023-2024 NOMA President and Associate Principal at Adjaye Associates. “As architects, we’re often seen as the creators of spaces and designers of buildings, but we are also the architects of change. We are the builders of hope and the creators of opportunities. Our role extends far beyond blueprints and structures; it encompasses the responsibility to shape the environments where people live, learn, work, and dream.”

Sablan left NOMA Conference attendees with a message of encouragement to continue the fight and engage within their local communities. 

“As we stride forward, let us remember our journey is far from its conclusion,” says Sablan.  “We will stand shoulder to shoulder, advocating for justice, and creating a profession that mirrors the breathtaking diversity of our society. We remain revolutionaries, never wavering in our pursuit of a more inclusive architecture industry, where every voice is not only valued but cherished, and every talent is celebrated with passion.”


A conference highlight is the NOMA annual awards gala. Held Oct. 13, 2023, it honored exceptional leadership and award-winning work of NOMA professional and student members. The evening’s mistress and master of ceremonies were Danei Cesario, NOMA, AIA, and Antoine Bryant, NOMA, Assoc. AIA, APA, respectively. Awards given included the NOMA Phil Freelon Professional Design Awards and NOMA Barbara G. Laurie Student Design Competition, as well as individual and chapter honors and recognition of the 2023 licensed architects.

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NOMA Leadership and those recognized for gaining licensure at this years conference.

Pinning Ceremony – Recently Licensed Architects

Conference attendees who have recently passed their ARE exams were recognized at a pinning ceremony for their accomplishment.  The following NOMA members recently received their architectural licenses, including: Mel Loyola Agosto (Puerto Rico); Bangesh Akuchu (Georgia); Adriana Alban (Texas); Dulce Arumbula (Arizona); Faith Broussard (Washington, D.C.); Tyrone Bunyon (Tennessee); Deep Chaniara (Minnesota); Deena Darby (New York); Bryan Delaney (New York); Taiesha Edwards (Washington DC); Morgan Embt (Michigan); Yvonne D. Flagg (Delaware); Richie Hands (Illinois); Nikki Hernandez (Arizona); Pamela Iriate (New York); Whitney T. Johnson (Tennessee); Malik Johnson-Williams (Washington, D.C.); Malcolm A. Jones (Florida); Patricia Joseph (Colorado); Jinnie Lee (Utah); Raphael Lopez (Utah); Julius Mitchell (Colorado); Edgar Mozo (South Carolina); Julian Owens (Washington D.C.); Amy Tetrault-Nelson (Utah); Ryan Daniel Trejo (Virginia); Ai-Lien Vuong (Georgia); Kirk Welch (Michigan); and Tony Young, Jr. (Texas).

NOMA Professional Awards

The 2023 NOMA Phil Freelon Professional Design Awards (images available here) were presented to the following NOMA member firms:


  • Honor Award: YNL Architecture, Yu-Ngok Lo, NOMA, FAIA, Principal Design Architect, Freeway on Ramp Reclamation, Los Angeles, California
  • Citation Award: DLR Group, Principal Design Architect, Semillas Y Raices (Seeds & Roots):  The Future of Farming Communities, Visalia, California


  • Honor Award: Perkins&Will, Jared Serwer, NOMA, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Architect of Record, Morrow High School, Ellenwood, Georgia
  • Citation Award: S9 Architecture, Sital Patel, NOMA, Principal Design Architect, Cleveland Foundation Headquarters, Cleveland, Ohio

Historic Preservation, Restoration & Renovation

  • Honor Award: Moody Nolan, Architect of Record, Friend Health Family Health and Wellness Center New Headquarters, Chicago, Illinois
  • Citation Award: Storyn Studio of Architecture, Everald Colas, NOMA, AIA, Architect of Record, Elm Street, Dallas, Texas


  • Honor Award: Hines Architecture + Design, Daimian Hines, NOMA, AIA, Principal Design Architect, African American Memorial at Bates M. Allen Park, Kendleton, Texas
  • Citation Award: NBBJ, Architect of Record, Montage Health Ohana Center, Monterey, California

Small Projects

  • Honor Award: Storyn Studio of Architecture, Everald Colas, NOMA, AIA, Architect of Record, The Salty Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Citation Award: Studio Cooke John Architecture and Design, Nina Cooke John, NOMA, Principal Design Architect, Shadow of a Face – The Harriet Tubman Monument, Newark, New Jersey

The professional awards jurors included: Deep Chaniara, NOMA, AIA, NCARB, Associate at Pickard Chilton; Dayton Schroeter, NOMA, AIA, SEGD, Vice President and Design Director at SmithGroup; Eman Siddiqui, NOMA, AIA, NCARB, Architect at GSBS Architects; B. Karina Ruiz, NOMA, AIA, LEED AP, Principal at Bric Architecture, Inc.; and Jonathan Navarro, NOMA, AIA, Architect and Senior Associate at LS3P.


The following leadership awards were announced: 

  • NOMA President’s Award: Tyrone Marshall, NOMA Atlanta
  • NOMA 2023 Member of the Year: Ralph Raymond, NOMA Atlanta 
  • NOMA 2023 Chapter of the Year – Large Chapter: SoFloNOMA
  • NOMA 2023 Chapter of the Year – Small Chapter: NOMA of Central Texas

New NOMA leadership was elected and announced, including:

  • Brien Graham, South Region Vice President
  • Julia Weatherspoon, Recording Secretary
  • Ameera Ashraf-O’Neil, Parliamentarian
  • Joshua Cato, Student Representative

The following members were inducted into the National Organization of Minority Architects Council (NOMAC):

  • Carla Flagg, SoCal NOMA
  • Rod Hemni, SFNOMA
  • Prescott Reavis (posthumously), SFNOMA
  • Heather O’Neal, NYCOBA/NOMA
  • Dr. Betty Williams, wife of NOMA founder Harold WIlliams
  • Mrs. June Campbell, wife of NOMA founder Wendell Campbell


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 2023 National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS) Student Member of the Year was Dana Austin Bass from University of Washington. The NOMAS Chapter of the Year winner was University of Detroit Mercy. 

The 2023 NOMA Barbara G. Laurie Student Design Competition, sponsored by SOM, Stantec and HDR, brings together students from diverse backgrounds to collaborate, innovate, and reimagine the built environment with a live jury experience providing real-time engagement. Named after Barbara G. Laurie, an accomplished architect and a dedicated advocate for diversity and equity in the profession, this year also commemorates the 10th anniversary of her passing and naming the competition in her honor to celebrate her legacy.

Thirty-eight NOMAS chapters participated, the largest number of university participants in its history. Student chapters were asked to design a concept for the Williams & Russell Project, a restorative justice project that addresses systemic injustices against Portland’s Black community on land condemned by Prosper Portland and the City of Portland in the early 1970s for an expansion for Emanuel Hospital (now Legacy Health). The development needed to honor Portland’s Black community, create wealth, and carry on Legacy’s good health mission for the community all while creating a cohesive site encompassing mixed-income housing, commercial/retail tenants, and community spaces. 

First place went to Cornell University (Reclaiming Albina’s Legacy: Carving as a Catalyst for Healing); second place went to Auburn University (Nexus); and third place went to University of Southern California (Growing Forward: Planting Generational Roots). 

Jurors for the student competition included: Kimberly Dowdell, 2024 AIA National President and HOK; Aeron Hodges, Santec; Adede Amenyah, SOM; Olin McKenize, SOM;  Brian Kowalchuk, HDR; Justice Rajee, Williams & Russell CDC and Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center; and Regina Batiste, PLACE Landscape Architecture.

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

  • Melanie Ray, NOMA, AIA, 
  • Andreea Vasile-Hoxa, NOMA, Assoc. ASLA
  • Atianna Cordova, NOMA, Assoc. AIA
  • Jamilla Afandi, NOMA, Assoc. AIA, APA
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Sunday’s “Student v. Professionals” basketball game was a fun way to end the festivities.