Forbes Focuses on President Dowdell

Kim At Mic
President Dowdell addressing the attendees of the conference award banquet.

Elizabeth Fazzare introduces Forbes readership to NOMA’s president.

By heart, Kimberly Dowdell knows that she’s the 295th Black woman to become a licensed architect in the United States. In fact, many of her fellow female peers have their own numbers memorized. If Dowdell’s place on the list seems low for a 36-year-old, it is. Black architects make up only 2% of all licensed architects in the United States, and of those, she explains, most are men. “There are still fewer than 500 Black women who are licensed to practice architecture” in the nation, says the architect who is also NCARB and LEED AP BD+C certified. “It’s such a small number that we all sort of know each other.” Last year, with that data and sense of community in mind, she became the 2019-2020 president of the National Organization of Minority Architects, the second youngest in its nearly 50-year history.

When Dowdell began her presidency, her new platform for the organization, “ALL In for NOMA” where the acronym “ALL” stands for access, leadership and legacy, represented forward-thinking goals to advance her fellow architects (and burgeoning architects) of color. She revamped NOMA’s Project Pipeline, a mentorship program and camp that introduces children in middle and high school to the profession of architecture; introduced a Foundation Fellowship that places 25 students in internships at 25 firms and began the President’s Circle program to allow corporate memberships, which come with firmwide diversity, equity and inclusion training, for the first time.