400 Forward: Tiffany Brown on Perseverance, Redesigning a System, and her Seven Pillars of Mentorship

Tiffany Brown
Tiffany Brown, Executive Director at the National Organization of Minority Architects

By Julia Gamolina at Madame Architect

A pioneer for diversity and inclusion in the profession of architecture, Tiffany is a sought-after expert frequently speaking at national events including South by Southwest and the AIA Conference on Architecture, and is also featured in ESSENCE Magazine, AIA+Architect Magazine and Architectural Record.

Tiffany has spearheaded raising awareness on how representation in design makes a significant social impact on firm practice, culture, and education. Her expertise stems from first-hand experiences of addressing environmental injustices and social issues. She has appeared in “Design for All” currently streaming on HULU, and is an expert contributor to the book “Mismatch: How Inclusion Shapes Design.” In her interview, Tiffany describes how her career has evolved, laying out seven pillars of mentorship based on the lessons she herself has learned.

JG: How did your interest in architecture first develop? What did you learn about both the field and about yourself in studying it?

TB: My interest in architecture developed through my love of art. My mom and dad can draw really well. When I was little, I’d watch my mom draw self-portraits shadowed to perfection, and my dad make a cartoon flip book of a man doing a back flip in a book he was reading. He was always doodling. I’ve always loved every aspect of art, creative writing, even my wood shop class, not realizing they would all be the vehicle to a career I never knew about.