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Meet the Candidates running for the dual role of AIA 2023 First Vice President/2024 President-Elect


The American Institute of Architects’ new board leadership will be elected during the A’22 (The American Institute of Architects) Conference on Architecture, which will take place from June 22 to 25. Accredited AIA delegates will vote for the Institute’s national leadership from June 10 to 14, with a second round taking place from June 15 to 17 if there is a runoff. These delegates must be AIA members in good standing—Architect, Emeritus, Associate, or International Associate—as chosen by their local chapters.

Each candidate was interviewed for elective office about their qualifications, platform, and perspective on the AEC profession.

Kimberly Nicole Dowdell, AIA, and Evelyn Lee, FAIA, are the two candidates running for the dual position of 2023 first vice president/2024 president-elect.

Kimberly Nicole Dowdell

Title – Principal at HOK

Local AIA component: AIA New York

Leadership Roles – AIA New York Nominating Committee Member (2021); AIA Chicago EVP Search Committee Member (2021); AIA New Urban Agenda Task Force Member (2019-2022); AIA Equity and the Future of Architecture Committee Member (2019-2020); Architects Foundation Board of Directors (2021-Present); Chicago Architecture Biennial Board of Directors (2021-Present).

Why is she the right candidate for the job?

I want to be the AIA National President in 2024 because I believe I am uniquely qualified to build on the momentum established by my predecessors while also opening up new opportunities for the Institute and the entire architecture profession. I’ve been a member of AIA for over 15 years and have made significant contributions both locally and nationally. I’ve also held the position of national president of a peer organization, the National Organization of Minority Architects.

What are the most critical concerns confronting architects today? What can AIA do in response?

I frequently give talks that include the statement “Architects can see the future,” which I believe more people should understand. It may not appear so at first, but when you think about it, this is a very unique skill that few people possess. Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, our value as architects has declined, lowering our earning potential as a profession. Promoting the value that architects bring to the table is one of our best growth opportunities. This will not only help us to increase our earning potential, but it will also help us to attract and retain new talent in a highly competitive job market.

We don’t talk about architect prosperity very often, but I believe we should in order to address our vulnerability as a profession. While income is commonly associated with prosperity, I would like to challenge us to consider how AIA can help our members achieve a greater sense of fulfillment, which could include money, but also a better work-life balance, interesting work, and mission accomplishment.

In addition to being more vocal about the value that architects can add, AIA can do more to connect our work with that of other professionals working to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare.

For example, as silos are broken down, the more collaboration we can foster between our profession and others who are actively working on climate action, the better results we will all have. AIA is in a good position to start discussions with other professional organizations about how to address some of our society’s most pressing issues. As president of the AIA, I would actively seek out strategic conversations that would benefit both the architect and the communities we all serve.

What would you bring to the table?

To achieve the great possibilities that we know are within reach, we must focus on a select set of priorities as we envision the future of AIA. In accordance with the AIA Strategic Plan 2021-2025, I would like to promote a platform that emphasizes advocacy for:

The 21 AIA Knowledge Communities, in my opinion, have a lot of potentials that can be better utilized to help us achieve our collective goals as a profession. As President of AIA, I’d like to learn more about how AIA can assist our Knowledge Communities in their efforts and how we can work together to make progress.

With over 200 chapters in the United States and abroad, I’d like to build meaningful relationships with chapter leaders to help them provide great membership experiences for our 94,000+ AIA members.

Check out what Kimberly Nicole Dowdell has to say

Evelyn Lee

Title – Senior experience designer, Slack Technologies; founder, Practice of Architecture; co-host, Practice Disrupted Podcast

Local AIA component – AIA San Francisco

Leadership Roles – Treasurer, AIA National Board (2020-2021); At-Large Director, AIA National Board (2017-2019); Chair, AIA National Young Architects Forum (2017); Vice-Chair, AIA National Young Architects Forum (2016); AIA CA Representative, AIA National Strategic Council (2015-2016); PR Director, AIA National Young Architects Forum (2014-2015); AIA CA Regional Director, AIA National Board (2014); Vice President of Communication and Public Affairs, AIA CA ExCom (2011-2012); Associate Representative, AIA National ExCom (2008); Associate Representative, AIA National Board (2007); Vice President of the Academy for Emerging Professionals, AIA CA ExCom (2006-2007); Chair, AIA National Associates Committee (2006); Regional Associate Director, AIA CA Board (2005); Associate Director South, AIA CA Board (2004).

Why is she the right candidate for the job?

I have nearly two decades of AIA volunteer leadership experience and a track record of being a change agent. I’m in a unique position to ensure smooth transitions while honoring the organization’s history and legacy and guiding it down a new path that strengthens our members’ collective voice.

What are the most critical concerns confronting architects today? What can AIA do in response?

We’ve had to adapt to constant change over the last few years. How we recover from the pandemic over the next two years will determine the profession’s future success. We are facing a talent shortage and a looming demographic cliff, which will necessitate accelerating change for architects to meet the needs of a changing society.

Now is the time to rethink our practices so that we can become a more agile profession capable of meeting the growing demand for design thinking in the coming years. Architects are needed now more than ever as problem solvers and critical thinkers to meet these new challenges.

What would you bring to the table?

Together, we are stronger. We are the world’s largest design organization, with over 94,000 members, and our collective voice can effect real change at scale. Through technology and programs, AIA can better empower our members to connect across components, allowing us to pool our expertise and be better positioned to solve problems in the global community on a regular basis.

The AIA is well-positioned to build on the foundational work of the AIA Strategic Plan goals of climate action for human and ecological health, as well as advancing equity, which runs from 2021 to 2025.

We can do this by assisting our members in gaining access to the tools and research available, as well as providing additional implementation support for resources like the AIA’s Framework for Design Excellence, Guides for Equitable Practice and its supplementary editions, and the findings from the UC Hastings report, The Elephant in the (Well-Designed) Room, published in 2021.

Finally, by re-engaging individuals who have taken non-traditional paths and reimagining our role as architects, we can continue to expand our influence and help the public recognize our capabilities through design thinking.

Check out what Evelyn Lee has to say

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