The President’s Conference Speech – The Next 50 Year of NOMA

Jason Pugh’s remarks presented October 22nd at the NOMA Awards Banquet and broadcasted live.

So, as most of you know, we traditionally host the Awards Banquet on Saturday night, and it’s always the last main event of the NOMA conference weekend. Which means these closing remarks by the National President of NOMA are usually the last words or remarks shared before we return to our respective cities and homes across the country, and they are typically very reflective and appreciative for the full conference planning team, our sponsors, and of those who’ve attended.

This year is a bit different obviously, considering we still have one more full day left of amazing seminars, speakers, and tours tomorrow, along with the Gala event tomorrow evening at the Garden Theater. But nonetheless, I still wanted to impart my own words of appreciation and inspiration with you all this evening.

This year, as we’ve experienced and seen, has been anything but normal with the ongoing global pandemic, but once again and to no surprise, NOMA’s resiliency holds strong. The national and local conference planning team has had to get pretty creative and flexible in order to support a hybrid experience for the 1,300+ virtual conference attendees across the country, and the 200+ people that are here with us tonight in-person, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of NOMA during our Gala Weekend here in Detroit.

Over the last few days we’ve talked a lot about the legacy of NOMA, and our close connection with the city of Detroit, where twelve Black Architects from different parts of the country came together to form the National Organization of Minority Architects 50 years ago. In honor of this milestone anniversary, we’ve shared ongoing communication and monthly features and spotlights on each of the 12 founders of NOMA, in order to honor the solid foundation they’ve set for all of us to be here and stand strong today. Hosting an in-person Homecoming for our NOMA members this year was very important to all of us… And the full conference planning team has done an amazing job. Can we please give them all one more round of applause for their creativity and resiliency to make this weekend happen for all of us?

Earlier today at the Founders Wives Brunch Drake Dillard stopped by my table as I was eating and asked what I was doing. Before I could finish chewing and swallowing my food he said “this is the NOMA conference… You don’t have time to sit and eat Mr. President.” You know what, he’s right. As a former National President himself, and as any other NOMA President in the room tonight can tell you, the conference is always very stressful, and there are a million things going on behind the scenes… But I must say the team has done an amazing job of keeping us all on track and ensuring I’m where I need to be throughout the course of the day. So once again… Thank you.

I had an interview with a national publication earlier today, and was asked “What does NOMA mean to you?” This is a question that I am often asked by my colleagues and peers, leaders of various allied organizations, and other fellow NOMA members. After careful thought and reflection, I recently realized that both my relationship with NOMA and response to this question has evolved and matured over the years. It has been directly influenced by my own journey and advancement throughout the course of my matriculation and professional career, but has always been one of appreciation, inspiration and love.

As a member of NOMAS at Howard University NOMA provided ACCESS and MENTORSHIP. The organization opened my eyes to the low representation and inequities minorities face across the profession.

As a member of NOMAS at Howard University NOMA provided ACCESS and MENTORSHIP. The organization opened my eyes to the low representation and inequities minorities face across the profession and introduced me to some of the first licensed black architects and professionals I ever met within the industry. NOMA afforded me an opportunity to engage with a broader community of designers beyond Howard’s campus gates and connected me with a long list of inspiring architects and influential leaders that I would soon cherish as mentors and lifelong friends. My classmates and I reactivated the NOMAS chapter back within the school of architecture, and I stepped up to serve as the student chapter President. It was over the course of the first year while rebuilding the dormant NOMAS chapter I realized the true power of attentive mentorship and witnessed firsthand how invested and important my own success and development was to the local NOMA chapter and educators around me.

Years later as a young professional in Chicago, NOMA provided GROWTH and OPPORTUNITY. It served as a springboard for my career, elevated my profile locally across the design industry, and helped to solidify my core values and passion for both mentoring the next generation and developing underserved and marginalized communities. Many doors opened for me once I decided to step up and serve as President of the local Illinois NOMA chapter. My administration focused on strengthening the operational infrastructure and communication lines with our local members and creating tangible value for an I-NOMA membership.

NOMA is now LOVE and FAMILY

Today after serving on the National Executive Board of NOMA for the last 8+ years, NOMA is now LOVE and FAMILY. I have been blessed to forge some amazing friendships and bonds with an impressive list of architects and designers across the country while serving in a wide variety of leadership positions which have included Regional University Liaison (2013-2014), Regional Vice President (2015-2019), President Elect (2020), and now as the current 2021-2022 National President. I now realize that my evolving relationship with NOMA has been tied directly to my own career advancement and success, and in a lot of ways is very similar to the shared relationships with the majority of our membership base. You see when I found NOMA, I found a home. A home that grounded me with deep roots within its mission and struck a chord with my own core values and soul. I never planned or set a goal to serve this organization at the highest level as the National President. I simply remained engaged, volunteered when needed, and said yes to leadership opportunities as others continued to encourage and cheer me on, serving as my advocates and champions. This type of support is one of the best things about NOMA. It continues to serve as a haven for those who are underrepresented within the architecture and design industry and provides an extended network of supporters who want to see you grow and succeed. Our devoted members carry this spirit deep in their hearts and share it freely with our fellow members and outside guests with warm open arms. This love and infectious energy has been a vital anchor grounding us within the profession, and helps to refill our own spirits and energy, giving us strength to charge forward. For those in the audience who’ve joined us in Detroit for the Gala Weekend celebration, they will attest to the power of this energy and spirit here in the room with us this evening.

As we look towards the next 50 years of NOMA, it’s important we honor the legacy of the organization, and remember the main reasons it was formed by our twelve founders in 1971. We must continue to reflect on our rich history and the trailblazing paths set by those who have come before us. We must also recognize the exponential growth of the organization and the diversity across our membership ranks which has informed who we are today, resulted in new strategic partnerships for tomorrow, and decide who we want to be as we define the trajectory of NOMA for the next 50 years ahead.

Our sheer size, growing influence and powerful reach will no longer allow us to sit in silence amidst the injustices and causes other minority groups face, but rather now requires us to speak out and engage in broader conversations that extend beyond our immediate aims and objectives and work together to amplify the voice and needs of a growing list of other marginalized and underrepresented professionals across the industry.

Now by no means can NOMA become or should try to be all things to all people across our increasingly diverse membership base.

Now by no means can NOMA become or should try to be all things to all people across our increasingly diverse membership base. We must be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that we’ve yet to resolve the original challenges and inequities Black architects faced 50+ years ago which fueled the formation of the organization by our twelve Black founders. This unfortunately is still very evident in the low number of successful Black owned firms, and the historically low representation of licensed Black architects in the U.S. which continues to flatline just below 3%% and has not changed for decades. The advancement, recruitment, and retention of Black architects was and remains one of the top priorities for NOMA and will continue to be so until we can say with confidence that the initial charge and mission set by the founders of the organization is complete. You cannot focus on a new target, until you’ve successfully hit the first.

NOMA must continue to welcome members of all genders, colors, and faiths, and provide a home for those who are in complete support of NOMA’s mission.

We’ve set moonshot target goals like the 2030 challenge to double the number of licensed Black architects within the next 9+ years and continue to expand the talent pool of future architects, designers and urban planners by investing more resources in support of our national Project Pipeline initiatives. However, as many former National NOMA Presidents before me have shared, it would be hypocritical for us to replicate the same discriminatory practices and exclusionary policies that have held us back throughout history, especially when it comes to supporting other marginalized groups who are fighting against the same challenges and ingrained systemic racial injustices that continue to plague communities of color across this country. Let us remember that “a rising tide lifts all ships” and recognize there is strength in numbers and measurable progress with true unity. Within this vein and lane NOMA must continue to welcome members of all genders, colors, and faiths, and provide a home for those who are in complete support of NOMA’s mission.

At this moment in time, NOMA’s size, influence and reach is the greatest it has ever been in the history of our organization, and we continue to shepherd impactful discussions and thought leadership throughout the industry centered around Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion. We are now this close to 3,000 members and are perfectly poised for continued growth beyond our 35 professional and 86+ student chapters across the country and have started to set the stage to support an expanded global network of international chapters and foreign members. I am confident we can move the needle in an impactful way towards a more just and equitable design industry for all if we follow our north star and stay true to NOMA’s core values. I am truly excited about what lies ahead for NOMA’s future, and the next generation of growing leaders that will follow and carry the torch even further.


President Pugh Invites You to NOMA’s 50 Anniversary Conference

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Belle Isle, a Detroit gem, another reason to visit Detroit in person!

October 6th, 2021

Greetings to our NOMA family, partners, and friends,

We are exactly two weeks away from the virtual NOMA conference and in-person 50th Anniversary Weekend Gala Celebration taking place in Detroit October 20th-23rd, and I could not be more excited! Excited not only to reconnect virtually and in-person with my extended NOMA family, mentors, and friends, but also the celebration of our milestone 50th Anniversary commemorating the founding of this amazing organization we all hold near and dear to our hearts.

As you all know, 50 years ago twelve African-American architects from different parts of the country met during the AIA National Convention in Detroit in 1971. This was nearly six years after the passing of the U.S. Voting Rights Act of 1965 which enabled all citizens unrestricted voting rights, and exactly three years after Whitney M. Young Jr.’s speech at the 1968 AIA conference which challenged the industry to act and stop turning a blind eye in the form of our reverberant silence to the inequities plaguing communities of color. Young had an important message for a profession he believed had the potential to make a positive difference in the lives of the marginalized and disenfranchised, but only if architects chose to do so. Luckily there were 12 brave trailblazers in the audience that day that were inspired by his words, and they immediately took action and came together to form the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA). Their names were William M. Brown Jr., Leroy M. Campbell, Wendell Campbell, John S. Chase, James C. Dodd, Kenneth B. Groggs, Nelson Harris, Jeh V. Johnson, E.H. McDowell, Robert J. Nash, Harold Williams, and Robert Wilson.

Today NOMA is strong, and the organization has grown to over 2,800+ diverse members in over 120 professional and student chapters in North America. We are established as the national advocate for the advancement of architects of color, and earned a respected spot to serve as one of six anchor institutions and collaterals within the architecture and design industry. The 50th Anniversary of NOMA is an opportunity for us to come together virtually or in Detroit and honor our rich history, relish in our present-day accomplishments, and look towards a brighter future for our profession and our communities as we chart a path forward for the next 50 years.

The NOMA conference team, comprised of national leadership and the local Detroit NOMA chapter, are working hard to plan an amazing conference experience for both our virtual and in-person Gala weekend attendees which includes an inspiring list of keynote speakers and seminar presentations for the virtual conference, along with multiple in-person formal events, banquets, and tours around the city of Detroit for all in-person attendees. Registration for both the virtual NOMA conference and in-person Weekend Gala are still open (you can register here) and I’m encouraging all of NOMA’s valued members, partners, longtime champions and friends to join us in celebration for this milestone and once-in-a-lifetime event.

I truly hope you’ll celebrate with us, and look forward to seeing all of you virtually or in-person in Detroit in two weeks.

Onward and Upwards,

Your NOMA President,

Jason Pugh, AIA, AICP, LEED AP, NOMA President 2021-2022


Updates on the Conference and the Gala

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June 17th, 2021

Dear NOMA Family,

It’s hard to believe what a year brings – one year ago at this time we were reeling from the murder of George Floyd and others, and the uncertainty of the COVID pandemic. While things are more stable, we’re still a long way off from where we want to be and that includes being able to gather in person for our NOMA conference this year.

NOMA 50: 2021 NOMA Virtual Conference: Oct. 20-23, 2021
As we mentioned during the NOMA Town Hall in May, we decided to host the conference online this year. We are working out the registration pricing and will have those available to everyone in early July. The online conference will be held October 20th – 23rd, 2021. and will will include inspiring keynotes, the annual Phil Freelon Professional Design Awards, the annual Barbara G. Laurie student design competition, and a variety of virtual networking platforms to ensure conference attendees are still able to engage, network, and connect with NOMA members all across the globe. Conference registration will be live in July and sponsorships can be purchased at https://www.noma.net/sponsorship-2021/.

NOMA Limited-Attendance Weekend Celebration In Detroit: Oct. 21-23, 2021
In addition to online activities, there will be an in-person weekend-long event in Detroit during Oct. 21st – 23rd, 2021, to celebrate NOMA’s 50th Anniversary and honor NOMA’s 12 founding members . This event takes place during the fully virtual conference. It will be limited to 400 attendees, , due to COVID-related hotel safety restrictions, including the current NOMA board and guest and is first come first served. This was a decision made based on feedback received from our membership, and we look forward to reconvening in person if 2022 allows. The special event weekend packages will be made available to all paid NOMA members, students and professionals, in late July. Packages for the NOMA 50 Weekend Celebration will be sold separately from the virtual conference.

Event Pre-Registration: NOMA members who pre-registered for the NOMA 50 conference, will receive $50 off their online conference event registration (no credits will be provided for the in-person gala weekend). We will credit your account when you complete your conference registration.

I’m also pleased to report we’ve have 2,500 NOMA members for the first time ever. Thank you for supporting NOMA and continuing to help us Educate, Elevate, and Empower students and professionals in architecture and design. See you all in October, virtually and in-person!

Jason Pugh, AIA, AICP, LEED AP, NOMA President 2021-2022

2500 Members

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NOMA Elevates Justice for ALL

George Floyd

April 21st, 2021

Dear NOMA Family,

On May 31, 2020, the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) responded with a tremendously heavy heart in reaction to the murder of George Floyd.  This tragedy was emblematic of a larger system of oppression and injustice in the U.S.  After the release of our B.R.A.V.E. statement, NOMA’s leadership was heartened by the colleagues, friends, and allies that reached out with support and acknowledgment of the long-standing racial divide in the nation and in our industry. 

On April 20, 2021, a jury honored the value of George Floyd’s life with a guilty verdict rendered in the trial of Derek Chauvin – a white man and police officer who senselessly murdered Floyd in Minneapolis. While more discriminate violence at the hands of police continued, the country waited with bated breath and a mix of emotions as the guilty verdict was shared. For most across our communities, our immediate reactions of relief & celebration, quickly turned to reflective sadness & frustration once we realized we were celebrating something that should be so clear and apparent for our legal justice system.

Yesterday’s guilty verdict is NOT JUSTICE.

Yesterday’s guilty verdict is NOT JUSTICE.  Justice comes with the deliverance of quick and fair sentencing, without risk of delays or approved appeals.  Yesterday’s guilty verdict is ACCOUNTABILITY.  Accountability that was long overdue, and required the world’s focus, a national movement, countless protests, and the courage of a select few officers to bravely cross the blue wall of silence against a white police officer who kneeled on a Black man’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds.

Yesterday has the potential to be a turning point – but it’s not a static pivot. The guilty verdict moves us in the direction of equity and the nation’s fight to end white supremacy.  White supremacy’s end simply stands for the start of recognized human dignity for everyone – no matter your race, color, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ability, or economic status. 

Last year was traumatic on many different levels.  At least the outcome of this historic trial begins to relieve the pressure on our collective necks as we gasped for the air of true freedom as equal citizens.  Even though the injustices that ranged from slavery to Emmett Till and Jim Crow to Breonna Taylor remain heavy in our memories, we can begin to point to a precedent of accountability.  This is now the beginning of the healing process.

We – our members, friends, colleagues, families, communities, and nation – have to reflect on the events of the past year, including the continued incidents of violence against people of color, and use this as fuel to move in the right direction, which is towards equal treatment for all.  It is notable that we mark this moment of truth in history during NOMA’s 50th year.  It should not have taken 50 years to have difficult conversations about race in our profession. Now that the conversations have started, we cannot stop until we get it right. 

On behalf of George Floyd, the jury got it right.  As we think about how we can build from the momentum of this historic decision, we challenge everyone to fight all systems of bias, oppression, and prejudice.  As a profession, it’s time to get back to work.

Jason Pugh, AIA, AICP, LEED AP, NOMA President 2021-2022 and
Kimberly Dowdell, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BC + C, NOMA President 2019-2020


STOP ASIAN HATE

Stop Asian Hate Joint Image

March 19th, 2021

Dear NOMA Family,

Recently there have been increasing anti-Asian bias and crime in our Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Community.  Negative and false rhetoric has created a heartbreaking discrimination toward the AAPI population.  The news out of Atlanta, which has caused renewed anger and fear, compels NOMA to speak out. NOMA joins our Asian American Pacific Islander community in condemning these violent acts.  We are working with other professional organizations and our local and regional chapters to bring education, solutions and a united understanding of the impact of hate. 

It was less than a year ago we issued the following statement:  

The air in our nation is thick with a profound sense of grief and despair. Our collective air is so very thick that it’s literally hard to breathe. We struggle to grasp for air as we all navigate a global pandemic coupled with the deadly and pervasive virus called racism that has plagued America for over four centuries. 

As the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), we are calling on our members and our broader professional community to condemn racism and take an active role in eliminating the racial biases that account for a myriad of social, economic, and health disparities, and most importantly, result in the loss of human lives – Black lives. As architects, we are professionally responsible for protecting the health, safety and welfare of the public. The tragic execution of Black Americans at the hands of people infected by racism has plagued our nation for generations. Click here for the full statement. 

This statement stands true for all as does NOMA’s Mission: NOMA’s mission, rooted in a rich legacy of activism, is to empower our local chapters and membership to foster justice and equity in communities of color through outreach, community advocacy, professional development and design excellence. 

We invite those who believe in the ability to foster justice and equity in communities of color through outreach, community advocacy, professional development and design excellence to join us.  

Stay B.R.A.V.E.: Banish racism; Reach out to those who are grieving; Advocate for the disinherited; Vote in every American election; Engage each human as you’d have them engage you. 

Jpugh Signature

Jason Pugh, NOMA, AIA,AICP
2021-2022 NOMA National President
Senior Associate, Gensler

Brave Wide

The End of an Era, Forever in Our Hearts

February 1, 2021

Dear NOMA Family,

It is with great sadness and a heavy heart we announce the recent passing of three important pillars of our organization: NOMA’s last living founder, Mr. Jeh V. Johnson; Mrs. Drucie Chase, (wife of NOMA Founder John Chase); and Mr. Lonnie Hewitt.

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Jeh Johnson
Professor and architect Jeh Vincent Johnson passed away on January 27th, 2021 at Vassar Brothers Hospital at the age of 89. In 1971, Mr. Johnson co-founded the National Organization of Minority Architects, along with eleven other fellow members at an AIA conference in Detroit. Johnson received his A.B. degree from Columbia University in New York in 1953 before being drafted to serve in the Counter Intelligence Corps of the U.S. Army until 1954. He then earned his M.A. degree in architecture in 1958 from Columbia University. He also served as chair of the National Committee on Housing for the American Institute of Architects (AIA). In 1977, he was elected to the AIA’s College of Fellows.

In 1956, Johnson was hired by renowned architect to the stars, Paul R. Williams, as a young designer. After graduate school, he received the William Kinne Fellows Fellowship and traveled throughout Europe studying architecture. He later joined the architectural firm of Adams and Woodbridge Architects in 1958. In 1962, Johnson co-founded Gindele and Johnson, along with William Gindele, where the focus of their work was on single and multi-family housing, community centers, churches, and schools. Two years later, Johnson accepted a faculty position in architecture and design at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. In 1967, he was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to serve on the National Commission on Urban Problems. More on Mr. Johnson’s vast contributions to the profession and NOMA can be found here. In the coming days and weeks ahead more details will be shared by NOMA leadership on plans to honor both Mr. Johnson and the other eleven founders of NOMA with a new Founders Scholarship.

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Drucie Chase
Drucie Raye Rucker Chase departed this life on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 and was reunited with her husband, John Saunders Chase (NOMA Founder), and her eldest son, John Saunders Chase Jr. Drucie was born on August 4, 1931 in Austin, Texas. She was the second oldest child of Beatrice Aldridge Rucker and John Rucker. Drucie attended L.C. Anderson High School and graduated from Huston Tillotson University with a B.A. in English at 19 years old. While attending the wedding of a good friend, fate brought Drucie and John together when John was asked to stand in for a groomsman who could not attend at the last minute. John persistently asked her out on a date several times, but Drucie said she would not go out with him until he first met her father. The two men bonded over baseball and Drucie’ s father quickly gave his overwhelming approval. Soon after, the young couple was married. This happy union lasted for 62 years until John’s death in 2012. Please read more about Mrs. Chase at this link.

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Lonnie Hewitt, Jr.
Lonnie Hewitt, Jr., a native of New Orleans, LA passed away on Monday, January 25, 2021 at the age of 75. Lonnie was an alumnus of L.B. Landry High School (1964) and Southern University and A&M College (1969). He was the President and co-founder of Hewitt-Washington & Associates Architects and Planners (founded in 1978), a member of the AIA (American Institute of Architects), NOMA (National Organization of Minority Architects), and The Collaborative—a group of small business owners who advocated for economic parity and equity for all local, small and disadvantaged businesses in New Orleans. Lonnie’s hobbies included cooking, working on home improvement projects, and watching Saints football. As an expression of sympathy in lieu of sending flowers, donations may be made in his honor to NOMA’s Project Pipeline. Please be sure to indicate in the donor comments section, “In memory of Lonnie Hewitt” at the NOMA Project Pipeline Fund. You can read more about his life and legacy here.

NOMA extends our sincerest condolences, thoughts and prayers to the Johnson, Chase and Hewitt family during these difficult times. Collectively we honor the legacy of all three trailblazers who stood as pillars across the NOMA community, and celebrate their tremendous contributions to the profession of architecture. They will be sorely missed by many, but we shall take solace in the fact that their legacy will live on through all the lives they touched, the students they mentored, and the movement they supported across the field of architecture and beyond.

Sincerely,

The NOMA Executive Board


Welcome Address from President Jason Pugh

January 1, 2021

Happy New Year to all NOMA members, allied partners, and extended family. As we reflect on the past unprecedented year and bravely step into 2021 with optimistic fortitude, there is much to be thankful for. 2020 was undoubtedly one for the record books. Together we’ve contended a global pandemic, the resultant economic recession, divisive political rhetoric, and growing civil unrest following the senseless murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, and countless others. Our lives have been uprooted, our plans cancelled or derailed. Many Americans have lost jobs, while tragically others have lost their lives. The year 2020 was not what we had planned, and for most of us 2021 could not come soon enough. But with the new year comes anticipated change, renewed values, sharpened focus, and new opportunities.

Today marks the first day of 2021, and with it, the start of my two year term as the 34th President of NOMA. I am truly honored to serve our valued members within this leadership role, and humbled by the incredible support, encouragement and mentorship I’ve received over the years leading up to this moment.

President Jason Pugh



NOMA is truly an amazing organization, full of incredible members, inspiring mentors, and endless opportunities for both personal and professional growth. I have been a part of this wonderful family we call NOMA now for well over 16 years, and my journey has blessed me with opportunities to serve the organization in multiple capacities at both the student and professional level. I first accepted the reins of leadership as an undergraduate student at Howard University, where I helped resurrect a dormant NOMAS chapter by serving as President, and years later as a young professional in Chicago as the 2015-2016 President of the local I-NOMA chapter. I have also served on the national executive board for the last 8+ years as the Midwest Regional University Liaison, a Regional VP, and most recently as your President Elect.

My journey and ascension into this position did not happen by my own foresight and accord, but rather through a fortunate series of continued blessings and encouragement by an amazing support network of mentors, family and friends. NOMA is one of those unique professional organizations where if you continue to volunteer, say yes, collaborate with others, and bring fresh ideas to the table, before you know it you’ll look up one day and have countless leadership opportunities at your feet along with a deep cheering section of champions and supporters pushing you to grow and go further.

As such, I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge a few important people within my own journey and NOMA family, starting with two members who are unfortunately no longer with us – Our beloved Barbara G. Laurie and brother Kenneth Casey. Barbara was one of the most influential professors I had while studying at Howard University during undergrad. She was the first black female licensed architect I ever met, and instilled the importance of passing the ARE to become a licensed architect with all of her students. She, along with Edward Dunson and Harry Robinson, had a lot faith and confidence in my potential as a young student before I saw it in myself, and were instrumental in my decision to pursue a graduate degree in Urban Design at Columbia University. Ken Casey and I met later in life, once I moved to Chicago and rejoined NOMA as a young professional. He was a steadfast mentor to all, served on the national executive NOMA board across a long list of leadership positions, and strongly encouraged me to step up and serve the organization, both as President of the local chapter, and on the National Executive Board. I truly hope both Barbara and Ken are looking down on me with pride, and I promise to do my absolute best within this role to honor their cherished memory and legacy.

I must also thank my deep support network of former presidents and leadership across the country who have guided me along the way and served as invaluable counsel for all things NOMA related and beyond. Kevin Holland, Steven Lewis, Bill Stanley, Carlton Smith, Drake Dillard, Kathryne Prigmore, Kathy Dixon, Michael Rogers, Anzilla Gilmore, and Rod Henmi, just to name a few – Along with the former Immediate Past President, Bryan Hudson, who single handedly pulled me onto the national executive board, and encouraged me to ascend within the leadership ranks of this amazing organization.

As I take this next step forward to serve as your next NOMA President, I’d like to first acknowledge the incredible work and accomplishments of our Immediate Past President, Kimberly Dowdell. I believe everyone both internal and external to NOMA would agree that Kimberly has done an amazing job “flying the plane” as she often called it, and leading this great organization during one of the most difficult and unprecedented moments in the history of our country. I’m looking forward to building on the strong operational foundation she has constructed during her tremendously impactful administration, and expanding NOMA’s list of sponsors, resources, programming and allied partners in the years to come.

The last two years Kimberly and I have worked together in lockstep to ensure the new programs and initiatives created will be carried forward and expanded in creative ways to meet the growing needs of our devoted members and reinforce the value in being a part of NOMA. In support of that tradition, I plan to maneuver in a similar fashion and partner with my all-star successor, Pascale Sablan, and collaborate with the new incoming NOMA executive board to collectively expand impactful programming by our student and professional chapters at the local level, and ensure it dovetails with our new expanded national platform to EDUCATE, ELEVATE, and EMPOWER our membership base and chapters across the country.
I strongly believe there needs to be just as much concentration on our retention efforts as there has been on recruiting new NOMA members. Over the course of the next few months NOMA leadership will roll out high quality programming focused on expanding our introductory K-12 initiatives, higher education development, ARE preparatory training, membership spotlights, and economic growth opportunities for our members, all with an overarching focus aimed to reinforce tangible value in your NOMA membership. The national executive board and I look forward to working closely with both our student and professional NOMA chapters across the country to develop these initiatives effectively during my administration.

Onward and Upward:

Jpugh Signature





Jason Pugh, NOMA, AIA,AICP
2021-2022 NOMA National President
Senior Associate,Gensler


Farewell Message from President Kimberly Dowdell

December 31, 2020

My 731 days as NOMA President will draw to a close today. What an adventure this has been! It is bittersweet to write to you one last time in my capacity as the leader of this incredible organization. As we embark upon NOMA’s 50 year anniversary in 2021, I am proud that we are collectively characterized by our resilience, creativity, and perseverance toward a more inclusive profession. While my presidential administration represents just a small window of time that builds up to this rich five decade legacy, I trust that our work together over the past two years would have made our founders proud.

As I began my term in January 2019, I acknowledged that I stand on the shoulders of giants. Inspired by past presidents, founders, fellow board members and chapter leaders, I have been propelled forward by the fortitude and strength of those who have come before me. My accomplishments as NOMA’s 2019-2020 National President were chronicled in ARCHITECT Magazine recently, however, what you may not know is why I embarked on this journey in the first place. In short, I was asked.

Past President Bryan Hudson asked me to consider taking on a position that I questioned my readiness for at the time. He assured me that it was my time. I didn’t respond right away. I thought about it, prayed about it and finally determined that I would need to get ready. I could not have imagined all that came about during my term as NOMA’s 33rd President. From building organizational infrastructure and raising the organization’s profile in 2019 to all that embodied 2020, I don’t know that anyone would really be prepared for that on day 1. Here I am on day 731, and the primary word that comes to mind is: grateful. I’m grateful to our members and supporters. I’m grateful to my family, friends and firm. Of highest importance, I’m grateful to God. My faith has strengthened over these two years in ways I could not have imagined. A mantra that I began summoning this year in particular is, “breathe in faith and breathe out fear”. It has really helped me lead with a steady hand, even in the most turbulent times.

Kimcollage1

When I am required to rise to the occasion and speak on behalf of NOMA, even when I’m personally at a loss for words, I am very grateful to be able to dig deep into a reservoir of God-given ability to find the words to uplift and empower. From the NOMA B.R.A.V.E. public statement after the murder of George Floyd, to the New York Times ad in support of Black livelihood, to the Moonshot article in ARCHITECT Magazine, asking our profession to join us in our efforts to diversify our field, I am grateful for the inspiration that has helped open new doors for our organization and our members. It has truly been a privilege to give voice to the diverse perspectives represented in our industry. I would also like to thank my many co-authors, collaborators, editors and advisors for supporting these important endeavors.

The work continues, even on day 732, which is day 1 for Jason Pugh as NOMA’s 34th President. I am delighted to support Jason’s administration in my new capacity as Past President on the NOMA Board. I’ll be especially excited to welcome you all to my hometown and the birthplace of NOMA at next year’s homecoming conference in Detroit. Save the date: October 20-23, 2021!

Kimcollage2

In closing, please know that it has been my great honor to serve and I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart for your support and encouragement. Thank you so very much for being #ALLinforNOMA!

Happy New Year,
Kim

Kimberly Dowdell, NOMAC, AIA, SEED, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C
2019-2020 NOMA National President
Principal, HOK


Black Spectacles Partnership and More – A Message from President Dowdell

December 18, 2020

Dear NOMA Family,

NOMA is proud to announce that we’ve teamed up with Black Spectacles to offer deeply discounted ARE study resources for our members on the path to licensure. This exciting news means that we have taken a major step toward supporting our commitment to the 2030 Diversity Challenge (in partnership with the AIA Large Firm Roundtable) to double the number of Black architects in the United States by 2030. Our goal is to reach 5,000 Black architects in the Directory of African American Architects by 2030.

Because we are ALL in for NOMA, these study resources are available to ALL of NOMA’s paid members, regardless of racial/ethnic background. Please be mindful of the fact that we are ALL in this together and need to support one another through the licensure process. We encourage our licensure candidates to form study groups and help one another while tapping into the resources that NOMA has to offer, both formally and informally via mentorship.

50x50challenge Wide

As NOMA celebrates our 50th Year Anniversary in Detroit next year, we would like to see 50 newly licensed NOMA architects get pinned at our licensure pinning ceremony in October 2021. We’re calling this our 50 x 50 Challenge. So, what are you waiting for? Get in there and finish those exams! We’re ALL rooting for you!

More details about the program will be shared with paid members in the New Year. Please join or renew today! We are aiming for a February 1st launch date, so get ready. We hope this is just the kind of motivation you need to get licensed and take your career to the next level! Contact executive@NOMA.net for details on these initiatives.

In Solidarity,
Kim

Build Back Better – A Message from President Dowdell

November 7, 2020

Dear NOMA Family,

Today, I greet you with thoughts of well-being and peace. November has not only brought us a very close U.S. Presidential race, it is also bringing COVID-19 back to many of our communities in full force. Please follow all of the safety protocols that were communicated when we experienced our first wave earlier this year. Your health is of utmost importance, so please take good care of yourself and your loved ones. We want to be able to see you in Detroit next year at NOMA 50, October 20-23, 2021.

Between now and then, I would also like to see NOMA continue to grow and flourish as an organization, advancing our mission. While my presidency will be coming to a close at the end of next month, I’ll remain on the board as Immediate Past President to support Jason Pugh in his duties to lead us into an even stronger future for the next two years. Since I’ve been in this leadership role on behalf of NOMA, I have learned a lot about what it means to represent a group of people who have many things in common, while also having different and sometimes competing interests. Regardless of these differences, what ties us together as NOMA members is so much stronger than anything else.

This same notion applies to American citizens. We have seen how divided our nation is on certain issues, but it has become less clear how our interests and passions align. There has been a lot of focus on counting red votes and blue votes lately for obvious reasons. We need to exercise democracy and this is how it works. However, now that the counting of votes has yielded a result, it is vital that what we count on now is each other. Let me be clear in saying that NOMA is a professional organization and is non-partisan. We have members who voted blue and red. I have family members who voted blue and red. Now that the tallies have totaled in favor of blue, we must put aside our partisan differences and unite around our commons ties. We must communicate with one another, support one another and build bridges to a more peaceful and prosperous future, united.

We must unite as a community to support healing our nation and building a better future. As NOMA has been encouraging throughout the year, we appreciate all of you who voted in this election. You can clearly see why that was important. Every single vote made a difference this year. Please always remember this and vote in every election with the same level of vigor and determination. Nearly half of the U.S. voted for someone who you didn’t vote for. This means that you don’t always know another person’s opinion or perspective, but you must always treat everyone with dignity and respect. When your opinions vary, find the common ground first. There is always common ground and that is where peace can prevail over turmoil.

Brave Wide

2020 has magnified so much about our nation, from disaster response readiness to racial relations and our stark political differences. While so many things remain troubling for communities of color in this nation, it is now time to Build Back Better. Rebuild your relationships with people who don’t always think like you, rebuild your companies and organizations to be more resilient, and let’s rebuild our country so that we can all live in a more perfect union. The key word here is union, which will require the intentional work of reuniting. If any group of people can lead this charge, it is architects. We have the privilege of working for people from every walk of life. Believe it or not, we are all public servants and we are called upon to protect everyone’s health, safety and welfare. This is our moment, NOMA. We must lead, serve, design, protect and unite our communities and our great nation.

Thank you in advance for all that you will do to create a better reality for those who you serve in your work. Many thanks to each and every one of you who have taken up the charge that I put out to be BRAVE on May 31, 2020. Thank you for actively working to Banish racism. Thank you for Reaching out to those who are grieving. Thank you for Advocating for the disinherited. Thank you for VOTING in every American election. Finally, and most importantly, thank you for Engaging each human you meet as you would want to be engaged. I believe that being BRAVE is the foundation for that better future we all hope for. Standing united on this foundation will make NOMA a beacon in our industry. Thank you for leading by example as the work of rebuilding ensues.

In Solidarity,
Kim


NOMA Acceptance Speech – Jason Pugh, NOMA, AIA, APA

October 17, 2020

Introduction

Thank you… I am truly honored to be elected and serve as your next NOMA President, and humbled by the support, encouragement and mentorship I’ve received over the years leading up to this moment. 

I’ll try to keep my remarks brief this morning as I step into this new role as the 34th President of NOMA, but given both the amazing increase of our NOMA membership base, coupled with the record breaking attendance at this year’s virtual conference, I would imagine that there are still a few people in the virtual audience watching this morning who don’t know much about me. 

Jason Staff

For those whom I haven’t had the pleasure to meet, my name is Jason Pugh, I’m a licensed architect, certified urban planner and Associate at Gensler’s Chicago office.  I was born and raised in Denver CO., matriculated on through Architecture school, first at Howard University in Washington DC, followed by Columbia University in New York City, and I have been practicing now in Chicago, my second home, for over 13+ years.  I have been a part of this amazing family we call NOMA now for well over 16 years, and my journey has blessed me with opportunities to serve the organization in multiple capacities at both the student and professional level.  I first accepted the reins of leadership as an undergraduate student at Howard, where I helped resurrect a dormant NOMAS chapter by serving as President, and years later as a professional here in Chicago as the 2015-2016 President of the local I-NOMA chapter, which has grown to become one of the largest and most successful NOMA chapters in the country.  I have also served on the National Executive Board for the last 8+ years as the Midwest Regional University Liaison, a Regional VP, and this past year under Kimberly’s strong administration as her second in command, President Elect. 

Thank Yous

My journey and ascension into this position did not happen by my own foresight and accord, but rather through a fortunate series of continued blessings and encouragement by an amazing support network of mentors, family and friends.  I’d be remise if I didn’t take a quick moment to acknowledge a few of these important people and NOMA family.  

I’ll start with two members of my core NOMA family, who unfortunately are no longer with us… Our beloved Barbara Laurie, of which the student design competition was renamed in her honor, and our brother Kenneth Casey.  Barbara was one of my most influential professors at Howard University, she was the first black female licensed architect I ever met, and she was truly instrumental with drilling in the importance of getting licensed with all of her students.  Ken and I met later in life once I moved to Chicago.  He was an amazing steadfast mentor to countless young architects, served with me on the National board in a laundry list of positions, and was one of the main Chicago leaders who encouraged me to step up and serve, both as president of the local board, and on the National Board.  I truly hope both Barbara and Ken are looking down on me with pride, and I promise to do my absolute best within this role to honor their memory and legacy. 

The next group of mentors I’d like to acknowledge are active mentors and leaders within the organization.  Kevin Holland, Steven Lewis, Carlton Smith, Drake Dillard, Kathryn Prigmore, and Rod Henmi just to name a few… But I’d particularly like to thank our former National NOMA President Kathy Dixon, a fellow HU alumni, and one of the first professional NOMA members I met in DC who helped me revive the Howard Student NOMA chapter.  

Edward Dunson and Harry Robinson, two more amazingly influential professors at Howard who had faith and confidence in my potential, and were instrumental in my decision to pursue a graduate degree in Urban Design at Columbia University. 

Henry Hardnett for serving as one of my first professional mentors, and taking a strong interest in me as a young professional attending my very first NOMA conference, and proceeded to check in on me every year like clockwork to see if I had kept my word and completed my ARE exams. 

My firm, Gensler and both the FW and Chicago office leadership, who’s unwavering support over the years has allowed me to dedicate my time and energy to NOMA, but during and after 9-5 work hours. 

And last but not least, another former national NOMA President, Bryan Hudson, who single handedly pulled me onto the national Executive Board, and provided countless opportunities for me ascend within this amazing organization, which I’ve come to love and adore… Once again THANK YOU, to everyone I’ve mentioned, and a list of countless others, family and friends who’ve supported me in a million and one ways. 

Transition of Leadership

As I take this next step forward to serve as your next NOMA President, I’d like to first acknowledge the incredible work and accomplishments of my predecessor.  I think everyone within NOMA would agree that our current NOMA President Kimberly Dowdell has done an amazing job steering the ship and leading this great organization during one of the most difficult and unprecedented moments in the history of our country, and I acknowledge that despite her small stature, I have some tremendously large shoes to fill.  I’m looking forward to building on the strong foundation she has solidified during her administration, and expanding NOMA’s list of sponsors, resources, programming and allied partners to create more value in being a part of this organization. 

ALL in for NOMA

By now everyone should know the current 2019-2020 NOMA platform ALL in for NOMA. ALL is an acronym for ACCESS, LEADERSHIP AND LEGACY, and it was created by Kim and our current administration to promote more diversity and accessibility, cultivate new leaders amongst our ranks, and reinforce NOMA’s rich history.  The acronym ALL is also used as a sign of inclusivity, a signal to ALL, that we’re stronger together than divided, and we need help from ALL people in the industry to make an impact and move the needle forward during this pivotal moment. 

One of my main goals for the next two years as the next NOMA President is to build upon these very same ideologies, and the great work and progress Kimberly and the current National Board and staff have accomplished during her tremendously impactful administration. 

STILL ALL in for NOMA

Over the last few months, everyone has anxiously asked me what my presidential platform will be, and where do I plan to steer this organization.  My response has been consistent and I’ve reassured inquiries that we most certainly are STILL ALL IN, and we’ll carry forward the initiatives and programs created by Kim over the last two years. 

Over the last year Kim and I have worked in lockstep to ensure the new programs created during her administration will continue on and be expanded in creative ways to meet the needs of our valued members and reinforce the value in being a part of NOMA.  We want to find ways to bolster the programs and initiatives launched by both the National Executive board and our local NOMA chapters to date, and ensure it dovetails with our expanded platform to Educate, Elevate, and Empower our membership base and chapters across the country: 

EDUCATION 
  • Expand & Rebrand PROJECT PIPELINE 

An overarching expansion and restructuring of NOMA’s PROJECT PIPELINE initiative to include all K-12, higher education and young professional programming to produce more licensed minority architects. 

  • Create an HBCU Advisory Committee 

Increase the support network and resources for our valued HBCU Architecture programs with oversight by a new HBCU Advisory Committee composed of faculty, alumni, and students equally from every school 

  • Track Metrics Towards Licensure 

Establish a formal system to track and measure our recruitment and retention strategies to ensure we’re marking quantifiable advancement towards increasing the number of minority architects. 

 
ELEVATION 
  • Increase the number of Licensed Minority Architects 

As a professional based organization, NOMA’s top priority will continue to focus on increasing the number of licensed minority architects and representation across firm leadership and ownership. 

  • Strengthen NOMA Chapters at the Local Level 

Increase the VALUE of our NOMA membership by strengthening the programming, engagements, and resources of professional and student chapters at the local level. 

  • Celebrate and Promote our NOMA Members 

Broader marketing and national spotlights to promote the accomplishments of our valued members and chapters while celebrating our rich history and stories. 

EMPOWERMENT 
  • Create more Economic Opportunities 

Provide focused resources and growth opportunities for both NOMA’s legacy firms and young entrepreneurs and expand the number of MBE and WBE firms within the organization. 

  • Foster Strategic Partnerships 

Create more local and national partnerships with allied organization across the industry that align with NOMA’s mission, core values, and strategic plan. 

  • Advocate for a Just and Equitable Profession 

Create a formal advocacy committee at the local and national level to fight against racism and discriminatory practices and policies restricting the advancement of minority architects within the building and design industry. 

graphic slogans: ALL in for NOMA, Be Visible, Be B.R.A.V.E.

NOMA’s Public Statement Regarding Racial Injustice

May 31, 2020

The air in our nation is thick with a profound sense of grief and despair. Our collective air is so very thick that it’s literally hard to breathe. We struggle to grasp for air as we all navigate a global pandemic coupled with the deadly and pervasive virus called racism that has plagued America for over four centuries.

As the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), we are calling on our members and our broader professional community to condemn racism and take an active role in eliminating the racial biases that account for a myriad of social, economic, and health disparities, and most importantly, result in the loss of human lives – Black lives. As architects, we are professionally responsible for protecting the health, safety and welfare of the public. The tragic execution of Black Americans at the hands of people infected by racism has plagued our nation for generations.

On this day 99 years ago, the racially motivated burning of Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma claimed the lives of over 300 Black residents who were thriving independently in their own community. Just this week, our nation is grappling with the senseless murder of George Floyd, and all of the countless names of Black men and women who have recently lost their lives as a result of hatred, sparked by the color of their skin.

Image of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and allies marching for civil rights

As architects, how can we protect the health, safety and welfare of the public if our country is not properly including Black Americans as full members of our society? Black Americans and other people of color have been subjected to injustice and inequality for far too long. NOMA was founded in Detroit by twelve Black architects in 1971 on the heels of one of the most racially challenging eras in American history. Born out of the Civil Rights Movement, NOMA was formed for the purpose of minimizing the effect of racism on our profession. Today, NOMA must call for more. As an organization, we must BE more.

Over NOMA’s five decades of existence, we have borne witness to the seemingly endless tragedies perpetrated against Black Americans and people representing other communities of color. After careful consideration, NOMA has determined that this moment is ripe for us to take a far stronger stance. We have been advocating for justice throughout our history and now is the time to clearly articulate what matters to us the most.

Mission

Our existing mission is to champion diversity within the design professions by promoting the excellence, community engagement, and professional development of our members. While these issues remain important to us, we acknowledge that those words feel hollow in times such as this. Unfortunately, these trying times of racial unrest occur too frequently. While the recalibration of our mission has been in the works for quite some time, our national board has voted to enact NOMA’s new mission statement, effective immediately:

NOMA’s mission, rooted in a rich legacy of activism, is to empower our local chapters and membership to foster justice and equity in communities of color through outreach, community advocacy, professional development and design excellence.

To be clear, there is power in words and we did not simply rush to react to the current state of affairs. We have been in the process of adopting a new strategic plan for the past several months. In the near future, we will engage our local chapters to establish a revised set of aims and objectives to support our updated mission. NOMA’s mission had not changed in over a decade, and we are doing so today in order to better equip our members to be the change that we seek to design for our society. We are taking a stand, and we hope that you will stand with us.

With just over half a year left of my two year term as NOMA’s president, I am asking everyone to dig deep and help us battle the circumstances that not only result in racially motivated violence against people of color, but also prevent people of color from entering into and thriving in the profession of architecture. As a professional organization, our primary focus should be on supporting and serving our members. Right now, our members are hurting. This is traumatic. NOMA is here to address this pain in the best ways we know how. Before we can confidently advocate for greater economic opportunities for architects of color, we need to ensure that those very people are first able to breathe.

It so happens that my NOMA presidential platform for 2019-2020 is ALL in for NOMA. ALL is an acronym to promote diverse Access, Leadership and Legacy in the context of the profession of architecture. The other reason for using the word ALL is to signal that this is an effort that we need ALL people to join in. Broadly speaking, we should ALL be struggling to make sense of how our fellow humans are being mistreated. I encourage our White members and allies to take the lead in dismantling racism whenever you see it emerge.

B.R.A.V.E.

We must all leverage our positions of privilege to help our most vulnerable citizens, neighbors and colleagues strive for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I urge you to consider what’s happening right now as an American problem that we must all face together. Can we collectively be ALL in for NOMA? More importantly, can we all be BRAVE, as in committing ourselves to the list of items below for which BRAVE is an acronym?

B.R.A.V.E - banish, reach, advocate, vote & engage

If we can promote these basic ideas in our firms, our organizations and in our communities, our nation will be better for it. Perhaps then, we can all breathe a little bit easier. Only then, can we target our energy and creativity towards designing a better world for all.

In Solidarity,
Kim

Kimberly Dowdell
2019-2020 NOMA National President

Bevisible2020 Allin Sm2