NOMA’s Response to the Pandemic: Staying ALL In

Noma Pandemic Response V2sq

Dear NOMA Family, I pray that this message finds you all well. It’s hard to believe that only one week ago we suggested limiting travel and meetings. Today, we know that is no longer a suggestion. Suspended travel, working from home, on-line learning and/or sheltering in place is a new way of life for most of us during the COVID-19 global pandemic. This very serious virus is having an unprecedented impact on our society. It is important that we learn to quickly adapt to the changes that are emerging on a regular basis. Our profession is adapting along with us as individuals. Most of us are currently getting up to speed on running a practice virtually, maintaining high levels of productivity at home while managing families and children, continuing your education in the virtual context and/or grappling with the feeling of having lost hold of the lifestyle that felt so normal just last week.

I hope that you’ll take solace in the fact that we’re ALL in this together. NOMA is here with you to offer whatever support we can to ensure that you’re well and doing your part to flatten the curve. While there is no roadmap for these uncertain times, please adhere to the guidelines communicated by our federal, state and local authorities. We will get through this. In order to do so in the near term, I urge you to stay ALL in. We need everyone to commit to physical distancing and avoiding groups of ten or more until further notice. I know that this is a challenge that we’ve not encountered in our lifetime, but we are equipped. In an effort to help you navigate the uncharted times ahead, we’d like to share a series of resources that you may consider referencing in the coming weeks.

Embracing Our New Normal 

For most of us, working remotely and in isolation isn’t normal or something we’re used to. We joined NOMA to gather with likeminded professionals and grow professionally. Despite the current challenges that we’re confronting, we don’t want to lose sight of how far we’ve come, what we have now, and what we know is coming – the day when we’ll be able to fully reconnect as a community. With all NOMA and NOMAS chapter in-person events postponed until further notice, we want to offer opportunities for us to stay connected virtually. As such, NOMA’s leadership is developing a strategy to engage with you on-line. We will update you regularly on what we’re doing to connect with and support our members, from students to retirees. We’re even thinking through how to reach K-12 students through virtual NOMA Project Pipeline sessions to give parents more valuable content to share with their kids.

For now, I’d like to share a few tips that you may find valuable as we temporarily transition to a remote-only work and study environment:

1.   Set Real Work Hours

2.   Avoid Work Creep and Set Personal Limits  

3.   Discover Your High Productivity Periods 

4.   Make To-Do Lists 

5.   Use a Planner 

6.   Stick to One Task Management App 

7.   Don’t Start Your Work Day in Your PJs 

8.   Don’t Work in the Living Room (or if this is where your desk is, that’s cool)  

9.   Set a Morning Routine and Stick to It 

10. Exercise & Stretch Regularly (we need to stay healthy)  

(adopted from

Staying ALL In 

We ask that you each continue to support NOMA with our Access, Leadership and Legacy (ALL) programming. Now we’re also asking you to ALL stay in(side) for NOMA, but more broadly for your community. Our work and mission does not stop as a result of this pandemic, but rather we will find new outlets for our creativity and commitment to championing diversity in the built environment fields. Let’s also do what we can to appreciate the brave and hard working folks in the medical profession who are on the front-lines of battling this virus and caring for our communities. Our adherence to “Staying ALL In” will be a huge help to our local hospitals right now.

April Meeting and Summer Updates 

The board at ZGF
The board at ZGF’s Seattle office this past February.

The NOMA National Board meeting that was scheduled in April will now be conducted virtually instead of meeting in Boston, a city that we were very excited about visiting. We’ll have to plan a future board meeting there to make up for this one. Since I took office last year, we’ve been hosting a NOMA Virtual Town Hall on Facebook Live prior to each board meeting and I’m pleased to share that we will continue this tradition on April 24th at 5pm EST. We’ll send a calendar invite with details and we hope that you’ll be able to join us.

$noma Foundation Fellowship Fb

Our inaugural cohort of NOMA Foundation Fellows are currently being notified of their application status. We had the difficult task of narrowing a pool of over 70 applicants for the post-graduation Summer program down to 25. We are working closely with our host firms to determine how internships will work this Summer. We acknowledge that there is significant uncertainly around internships throughout the industry, but we are committed to doing everything that we can to match our talented new graduates with opportunities.

Our first NOMA Project Pipeline camp is scheduled to occur the last week of April. We suspect that this camp will need to be converted to a virtual camp experience, which we are designing right now. As our plans become more firm, we will provide additional information and resources for how we may structure this highly engaging and respected program that inspires so many kids year after year.

We fully support the AIA‘s decision to postpone A’20 in Los Angeles due to COVID-19 concerns. As a result, the NOMA Mixer at A’20 will also be postponed. As new developments arise around upcoming events or organizational polices, we will be sure to keep you informed. In the meantime, if you have any questions, please feel free to reach out via text at: 202.552.0718

I hope and pray for your safety and well-being, now and always. Please take good care of yourselves as well as those around you.

ALL the best,


Kimberly Dowdell
2019-2020 NOMA National President