The Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program (CKLDP) was founded in 2013 by the Emerging Architects Committee as part of the AIA|DC Chapter. The program is in memory of Christopher Kelley, an employee of Gensler and an active member of the DC architectural community. Christopher was a recipient of the AIA Young Architects Award in 2010 and an exemplary, emerging young leader. Since its founding, the CKLDP has been established in Washington DC, Denver, Detroit, Miami, Georgia and Houston, and strives to carry forward Christopher’s legacy by actively training and nurturing the next generation of leaders within the architectural profession.

The year-long program consists of nine individual half-day sessions attended by a competitively selected group of 16 emerging professionals from Houston.  The curriculum focuses on core skills such as entrepreneurship and firm management, the art of negotiation, bringing in new clients, community leadership, industry culture, and developing one’s future within the practice.

The leadership program participants are responsible for planning and participating in each of the individual sessions. Each year, scholars from the previous year are selected to help guide the next year’s class. In this way, the program is continually evolving, allowing the scholars to learn on an ongoing basis about thoughts and ideas relevant to the architectural profession today.

Allied Programs

CKLDP – AIA DCVisit Site

CKLDP – AIA Colorado – Visit Site

CKLDP – AIA Detroit – Visit Site

CKLDP – AIA Miami – Visit Site

CKLDP – AIA Georgia


The curriculum focuses on core professional skills such as entrepreneurship and firm management, working together and collaboration, the art of negotiation, client development, community leadership, industry trends, and developing your future within the practice. The selected scholars to the leadership program are responsible for planning and participating in each of the individual sessions. The program will be kicked off by a “Boot Camp” session to introduce the participants and to develop the curriculum for the year.

Sessions are typically held on the first Friday of every month, from 12:00pm – 5:00pm, September through May. Year-specific schedules are published under the “Schedule” tab. Applications for the 2020 Class will open Spring of 2019.

Commitment to the Program

The program’s success is directly related to the attendance by the participants and therefore attendance is mandatory. Each participant of the program will be required to sign an Agreement Form that will require a signature from one of the participant’s principals of their firm. Provided due notice to the Executive Committee, with extenuating circumstances, each scholar will be allowed one excused absence. If two sessions are missed, a fine of $50 will be sent to the participants firm. A further absence will result in an additional $50 fine and expulsion from the program.

Attendance is mandatory for all scholars at the first meeting of the group “Bootcamp” as well as the final session and closing reception.

AIA Continuing Education

It is intended that this program will have AIA CE credit made available for its participants.

Honoring Christopher Kelley


Christopher Kelley, AIA was an active member of the DC architectural community and suddenly passed away in May of 2012. He was a respected leader within the Institute as well as within Gensler’s Washington office. Through his volunteer efforts, he participated and contributed to initiatives and programs that have had a positive impact on emerging professionals at different stages of their careers.  In 2010 Christopher was honored with the AIA Young Architects Award for which the jury stated, “Christopher has proven himself a young leader within and around the AIA, a real example for other young professionals.” This program is intended to continue his legacy of leadership and activism.


For more information, please contact the committee.


2018-2019 Session 7: Research, Education, and Practice

Date: April 5, 2019 Location: Glassell School of Art; 5101 Montrose Blvd, Studio 10  Houston, Texas 77006 Led by: Brian Burnett, Matthew Duggan Session In-Kind Sponsors:  Huckabee Venue Sponsor: Glassell School of Art Overview Brian Burnett and Matthew Duggan led the seventh session of the 2018-2019 Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program titled “Research, Education, and …

2018-2019 Session 5: Closing the Deal

Date: February 1, 2019 Location: Workplace Solutions Led by: Rashmi Murthy, Veronica Villanueva Location Sponsor: Workplace Solutions Session Sponsors: Crossville Studios CW Lighting Hallmark Building Supplies, Inc. Walter P Moore   The fifth session of the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program, “Closing the Deal” was organized by Rashmi Murthy and Veronica Villanueva, discussing the topics …


2018-2019 Schedule


Session 0 (September 7, 2018)


  • Introduction to the course and participants
  • Importance of leadership within the profession
  • “How To” set – up future courses in the coming months
  • Breakouts with scholars to develop session content for year ahead
  • Sponsorship now and in your future
  • Review of program templates


Session 1 (October 5, 2018)

Working Together

  • The role of architects relative to other project stakeholders, including public and private owners, developers, contractors, consultants, financial institutions, and other allied professionals
  • Teams, groups, and organizational problem solving, including alternative methodologies (ie. Six Sigma, PMP, ect.)
  • Understanding your own leadership skills and how they relate to the rest of your team


Session 2 (November 2, 2018)

Entrepreneurship and Business Management

  • Office and Firm management
  • Leadership, ownership, and transition
  • Financial and succession planning
  • Business and project management standards


Session 3 (December 7, 2018)

The Art of Negotiating

  • Ethics and law, from contracts and codes to professional ethics and standards of behavior as it pertains to the profession
  • Negotiating a contract
  • Contractual pitfalls
  • Stakeholder relationships


Session 4 (January 11, 2019)

Community Engagement

  • Community involvement the role of crowd sourced solutions in a market – based society
  • Business practice of public interest design
  • Social responsibility of architects as community leaders – (ie. becoming more involved through philanthropic work and board involvement)
  • Understanding how politics and advocacy affect the profession (ie. civic leadership)


Session 5 (February 1, 2019)

Closing the Deal

  • Business and professional communications including public relations, presentations, writing and professional speaking skills
  • Appropriate use of social media
  • Networking, business development , and pursuing work


Session 6 (March 1, 2019)

Trending Now

  • Sustainability efforts as they relate to the environment, economy, social ethics, and resiliency
  • The use of technology within the practice (BIM, VR, data gathering, ect.)
  • Learning by doing through the use of fabrication


Session 7 (April 5, 2019)

Research, Education and Practice

  • Research and standard of care in the profession
  • Alternate business models to a traditional firm (ie. innovative practice models)
  • The future of architecture and the fundamentals of planning, design, documentation and service in a forward -thinking and fast changing profession
  • Industry disruptors (ie. technology, construction, ect.)


Session 8 (May 3, 2019)

Future of Practice and Closing Reception

  • Leader effectiveness and career and personal development (ie. work – life balance; self – assessment)
  • The role of mentorship with recent graduates and recently licensed architects
  • Developing your own career path through reflection on the CKLDP