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 scholars to learn on an ongoing basis about thoughts and ideas relevant to the architectural profession today.


Special thanks to the 2023 Benefactor Sponsors who make this program possible:


Background & Program

Allied Programs

CKLDP – AIA DCVisit Site

CKLDP – AIA Denver – Visit Site

CKLDP – AIA Detroit – Visit Site

CKLDP – AIA Miami – Visit Site

CKLDP – AIA Georgia – Visit Site

CKLDP – AIA Indiana – Visit Site

CKLDP – New Mexico / Albuquerque – Visit Site


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 2024 Class will open the Summer of 2023.

Application Materials

Refer to the AIA Houston website for the latest application materials. You may preview the materials here.

Commitment to the Program

The program’s success is directly related to 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.


2022-2023 Session #5: Community Engagement and DEI

Hosted by Yuliana Hernandez and Mitzi Jimenez at the Alief Neighborhood Center, Session 5:  Community Engagement and DEI, the speakers were from a diverse group which included City Council, educational institutions and resource centers. They focused on challenges faced by underserved communities, understanding the needs of the users and how designers and architects can play …

2022-2023 Session #4: The Art of Negotiation

Hosted by Giovanni Peña and Anthony Olalde at the CASA Houston Showroom, Session 4: The Art of Negotiation and Closing the Deal highlighted the challenges, tips, tricks, and actionable skills, of negotiating and closing deals professionally and personally. Various firm leaders and professionals with a wide range of expertise and years in practice shared their …

2022-2023 Session #3: Entrepreneurship and Business Management

Hosted by Bahar Moghan and Kaushik Anantharam at the Knoll Inc. Showroom, Session 3: Entrepreneurship and Business Management focused on the challenges of leading an architectural practice. The scholars learned from different firm leaders and entrepreneurs who highlighted the importance of understanding client needs, fostering employees’ personal goals, developing a viable business strategy, and evolving …


2022-2023 Schedule

Session 0 (September 9, 2022) attendance required

  • 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 the year ahead
  • Sponsorship now and in your future
  • Review of program templates

Session 1 (October 7, 2022)
Leadership Fundamentals

Session 2 (November 4, 2022)
Working Together

Session 3 (December 2, 2022)
Entrepreneurship and Business Management

Session 4 (January 6, 2023)
The Art of Negotiation + Closing the Deal

Session 5 (February 3, 2023)
Community Engagement + Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Session 6 (March 3, 2023)
Trending Now

Session 7 (April 7, 2023)
Expanding the Definition of Practice

Session 8 (May 5, 2023) attendance required
Future of You