2019-2020 Session #1: Working Together

Date: October 4, 2019
Location: Houston Escape Room – 100 Jackson St Suite 120
Title: Working Together
Session Sponsors: Comex, Brooks & Sparks, Westbelt Surveying
Leaders: Sofia Dusek & Kiza Forgie
Documentation: Caitlin Scott & Andrew Tyler



Organized by Sofia Dusek & Kiza Forgie, the opening session of the 2019-2020 Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program focused on how good leadership facilitates Working Together. Scholars took the DISC personality assessment and read chapters 5-19 of Art Gensler’s book, ‘Art’s Principles’ in preparation for the session. Principal of AMB Architects and DISC assessment specialist, Alyse Makarewicz, AIA, began the session with an analysis of the scholars results along with an explanation of the DISC assessment method and the 2-axis graph associated with it. Afterwards, Alyse joined the scholars as they broke into two teams and solved their way out of their separate Escape Rooms. After their respective Escapes, the scholars rejoined each other and participated in a panel discussion focused on working together in CA as architects with owners and contractors. The discussion was lead by representatives from the CA team of a recent Gensler project for a new Church in The Woodlands, including the architectural team, the general contractor, and the client representative.  

Presentation: DISC Personality Assessment

Alyse Makarewicz, AIA, began Session 01 by first sharing some of her own experience and what brought her into contact with the DISC assessment.  After experiencing conflict created by a lack of control and ability to manage projects the way she wanted, Alyse started her own firm AMB Architects.  She found however, that she needed help deciphering and understanding the various personality types in her office if she was going to build a successful team.  From there she found the DISC personality assessment tool which has helped her understand how to best interact with her employees, clients, consultants, and has even been a tool that’s brought more cohesion to her family life.

Alyse found the DISC system easier to understand compared to other personality assessments with its Four Temperament Model of Human Behavior. The four types are shown graphically as quarters of a circle, the top half of the circle (D & i) represents personalities that are more outgoing, while the bottom half (C & S) includes those who are more introverted. The left side of the circle (D & C) is for the task-oriented personality, and the right side of the circle (i & S) is for those who are more focused on interpersonal connection. The 4 quadrants represent the 4 temperament types:

  • D (Outgoing-Task Oriented): 10% of population
  • i (Outgoing-People Oriented): 25% – 30% of population
  • S (Reserved-People Oriented): 30% – 35% of population
  • C (Reserved-Task Oriented): 20% – 25% of population

Outgoing people are more decisive and interactive. Reserved people are steadier and more careful. Task-oriented types are more directing and correcting while people-oriented types interact and share.

Alyse then explained the 3 charts which were provided in each DISC assessment reportGraph I, Environment Style, is how an individual’s personality presents socially. Graph II, Basic Style, is how their personality presents when they are alone or very comfortable. Finally, the DISC Circle Graph is an at-a-glance view of where one’s Basic Style maps out on the 2-axis DISC graph. The greater the difference between your Environment Style and your Basic Style can create stress. Architects are typically Task-oriented, and the results of the assessments for the scholars revealed this to be true as the majority of the scholars were Reserved-Task Oriented types. Additionally, Alyse stated that 90% of conflict is created between Task-Oriented tendencies against People-Oriented tendencies. The Key to working successfully with others is understanding the different needs and ways of working of the differing personality types and accommodating everyone fairly. Sometimes that can mean letting go of control and putting someone else in charge, or offering a different kind of reward depending on what suits their personality best. Alyse made the point that understanding our differences can help take us out of a “right and wrong” mentality, and give us the flexibility to see each other’s strengths for what they are. 




Activity: Escape Room

The scholars then broke up into two groups with the goal being to work as a team to solve various puzzles contained within an Escape Room. Alyse spent time with both teams to help point out how each different personality type interacted with one another and to point out how best to use our individual strengths to “Escape,” which both groups did. Afterwards, the scholars reconvened to discuss their observations.


Panel Discussion: Owner, Architect, Contractor

The final topic for the session was a question and answer session with key members of Gensler’s project for Woodlands United Methodist Church. Angela Branch, Executive Director for Woodlands UMC, acted as the client representative during the project and spoke as their representative.  From Gensler, the scholars heard the perspectives of Project Architect Allison Marshall & her CA team member Emily Massaro. Lastly, Project Manager Scott Taylor spoke on behalf of Brookstone and his project superintendent.

Angela started off by describing the project, called the Church at Woodforest, the Woodlands UMC’s 2nd campus. In response to the question of “How do you build trust?”, Miss Branch spoke about the church’s pre-existing relationship with Brookstone and also developing a new relationship with Gensler.  Part of what established trust between UMC and Gensler was seeing their proven history of “big picture thinking”on other projects, and, more importantly, establishing that Gensler’s team listened and understood UMC’s needs and desires. 

The panelists were asked about any times there had been tension during the project and were able to describe several instances. The first was light-heartedly referred to as the “Scupper Debacle” where a mistake in shop drawing review caused weeks of working through options to find a solution. Additionally, an unfamiliar cladding material to both GC and Architect, caused a delay in construction and wasn’t installed in time for opening. Finally, a disagreement between the Pastor and the Superintendent came to a head because both had a high level of ownership in the project. In the end, the Tensions were eased via transparency with the owner & ongoing communication and responsiveness. Additionally, the whole team high-lighted the importance of addressing conflicts head-on but with consideration and empathy at the forefront. 

Angela also explained that it was important that Gensler took the time to facilitate the client’s involvement in the project, particularly because this was her first time ever participating in the construction of a new building.

This team had been able to build consensus among its stakeholders by having regular meetings, streamlining the decision making, and starting each meeting by recapping previous meeting minutes, which helped maintain a consistent conversation.  

2019-2020 Session #0: Bootcamp

Date: Friday, September 6th, 2019
Location: BoyarMiller

In the CKLDP Bootcamp session, this year’s new class of scholars met for the first time to explore the upcoming curriculum topics of the year at the offices of BoyarMiller. The 16 scholars were able to brainstorm on topics from Community Engagement to the Art of Negotiating, considering opportunities for these sessions that each scholar will organize themselves over the course of the program.

Guest speakers included keynote Bob Harvey, President and CEO, Greater Houston Partnership, and closing remarks from AIA Houston President-Elect Chris Royster.

Benefactor Sponsor: Corgan

The Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program, Houston (CKLDP-Hou) is pleased to announce the ongoing support of our Founding Benefactor Sponsor for the 2019-2020 Class, Corgan! Thank you for supporting Houston emerging professionals!

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Benefactor Sponsor: Perkins + Will

The Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program, Houston (CKLDP-Hou) is pleased to announce the ongoing support of our Founding Benefactor Sponsor for the 2019-2020 Class, Perkins + Will! Thank you for supporting Houston emerging professionals!


Benefactor Sponsor: Ms. Barbara J. Amelio

The Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program, Houston (CKLDP-Hou) is pleased to announce the return of Founding Benefactor Sponsor for the 2019-2020 Class, Barbara J. Amelio! Ms. Amelio also serves on the Board of Directors for The Rice Design Alliance and the Houston American Institute of Architects.

Thank you for supporting Houston emerging professionals!


2018-2019 Session 1: Working Together


Date: October 5, 2018

Location: Kirksey Architecture

Led by: Altair Galgana-Wood, Sam McGlone

Session Sponsors: Pinnacle Structural Engineers

Location Sponsor: Kirksey Architecture



Organized by Altair Galgana-Wood and Sam McGlone, this opening session of the Christopher Kelley program addressed the most fundamental part of leadership: “working together” with those you lead. This session featured two speakers and one practical activity, allowing participants to both learn and apply lessons directly. Beginning the week before with each participant taking a DISC personality assessment, Alyse Makarewicz shared the class’ results mapped on the 2-axis DISC graph in relation to each other. Following, participants broke into teams of four for a “Write It, Do It” communication activity using text, voice, and sketch instructions to rebuild a Tinkertoy object accurately without direct observation. Finally, leader and entrepreneur David Steitz explored the value and use of 360 Degree Assessments in soliciting and understanding feedback and opportunities for personal growth.  

Presentation 1: Alyse Makarewicz

Beginning the session, guest presenter Alyse Makarewicz identified the strengths of each individual participant in the session based on their recent DISC assessment prior to the class. Alyse, the president of her own small firm, shared how her knowledge of the DISC profiles and personalities helps her identify best fits for new hiring, facilitates better communicate with her team and with her business partner, as well as promotes effective information for clients.


Each quadrant in the DISC personality assessment corresponds to one of four letters: D, I, S, and C – which coincide to a list of traits and strengths. The assessment organizes traits by two main axes: “People-Oriented / Task-Oriented” and “Reserved / Outgoing”. The general terms associated with these four quadrants are Dominance (D), Influence (I), Supportive (S), and Compliance (C ). An individual, while often having representation in all four or a combination of these quadrants, generally has one dominant trait which helps identify their preferred approach to behavior, teamwork, and communication.


Two versions of assessment results provided an “environmental style” and a “basic style” for each individual. The “environmental style”  indicates the behavioral style in which work and life circumstances asks or requires the subject to perform. The “basic style” reveals the subjects preference for communication and behavior in their natural state, as well as innate strengths.


Participants were given colored stickers for their name tags and arranged in the four corners of the room based on their dominant trait. These results led to discussion on the best work environment for each personality type, effective ways to communicate expectations and identify strengths, and the best way to leverage strengths from teammates as well as in current positions.


Activity: Write It, Do It

As a communication exercise, participants divide into teams of four, with two of each team taken to another room. One pair of team members were given a completed model made of tinker toys and the other pair of team member were given individual tinker toy parts. The two participants with the complete model direct their remote teammates solely through either texts, verbal descriptions through phone calls, hand sketches sent by couriers, or digital sketches using Bluebeam on a computer screen in an attempt to replicate the model from individual parts. After each team felt satisfied with their construction, the pre-assembled toy and the toy produced from remote instructions were brought together and compared. The CKLDP group analyzed the end-result for accuracy, as well as identify the success and failure of each method of communication.


Teams found that many unexpected issues arose, including non-matching parts and miscommunication; creating a common vocabulary for toy parts that resembled real-world things, such as “spatula” or “quarter cheese wheel”; and specifying model or connection orientation such as “perpendicular” or “align”. One key observation was the success of strategizing before diving in, rather than solely relying on situational communication and leadership ability to resolve issues.  

Session 2: Dave Steitz

The afternoon wrapped up with an engaging discussion about 360 Degree Assessments, including typical uses and best practices; and differing perceptions and responses to representative questions within the CKLDP group. Dave Steitz, coming from a business and entrepreneurship background, offered plenty of perspective as a business leadership consultant. He highlighted the importance of Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, as a factor that could be developed and learned, while IQ (cognitive intelligence) is fixed. Developing Emotional intelligence involves a continuous, connected process of Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Self-awareness, and Relationship Management.

Dave promotes structure to think about leadership and professional development, insisting that change requires measurable goals which allow analysis. The 360 Assessments accumulates information on an individual by asking interval scale questions of that individual, their manager, their peers, and direct reports. The review process includes several questions in each of nine broad categories:


  • Ensuring long-term results
  • Leading others
  • Building strong teams
  • Managing outcomes
  • Delegating to others
  • Developing others
  • Making decisions
  • Dealing with conflicting ideas
  • Personal and professional growth.


Dave went through a number of the questions with the group, asking the participants how they would rate themselves at certain tasks, demeanor or opinions relating to the categories above. For example, on a rating of 1 to 5, with 5 being always and 1 being never, do you “Establish timelines and measurable outcomes for initiatives”? We went around the group and rated ourselves. Then Dave asked participants to consider the viewpoint of a manager or direct report. By comparing outside perspectives, these assessments provide a more complete picture of the individual’s strengths and weaknesses.

Answering these assessment questions as a group allowed CKLDP participants to become more aware of their own perceptions, possibly mis-perceptions, and emotional triggers, as well as differing perspectives. Some responses had a wide spread, particularly on a self-assessment of communication and delegation ability. The most intense discussion came in response to the sample question “Monitors progress regularly” and particularly the term “monitor”, signalling a discomfort with the connotation of mistrust, while others criticized the general apathy of mentors to properly oversee and communicate expectations to junior staff in an industry where on-the-job-training is a requirement for licensure, but can often be poorly managed. Other issues that were discussed include healthy and unhealthy conflict; recognizing vague or non-measurable feedback as ineffective; and encouraging the use of positive feedback.


The assessment and leaderships strategies covered in this first session are fundamental in “Working Together” and an insightful start to the CKLDP curriculum. This information enables leaders to better understand one another, learn particular strengths, and discuss experiences of fellow classmates. Additionally, the assessment and communication tools gained over the course of the session provides a base from which to launch a more thorough self-development and farther reaching career plan, hopefully benefiting each individual and the profession as a whole.

2018-2019 Session 0: Bootcamp


Date: September 7, 2018

Location: Bell & McCoy Companies

Led by: Amaya Labrador, Rebekah Gandy, Nicholas Banks, Kevin Barden, Michelle Huertas

Location Sponsors: Bell & McCoy Companies



The Inaugural AIA Houston CKLDP Class of 2019 kicked off with a Bootcamp Session, hosted in the Bell & McCoy offices. Amaya Labrador, current chair and past DC scholar, and Rebekah Gandy, vice chair, welcomed the incoming class. Ricardo Rodriguez, liaison to CKLDP DC and past chair, was also present to help guide the session.


Opening comments were delivered by AIA Houston Executive Director, Rusty Bienvenue and AIA Houston President, Derek Webb. The Bootcamp featured keynote speaker Annise Parker, former Mayor of Houston and Fellow at the Doerr Institute for New Leaders. Mayor Parker shared her personal leadership path, and highlighted her development as a politician – that also happens to be an introvert.


Scholars participated then in a Pecha Kucha exercise, speaking to their leadership styles, and in a brainstorming session to develop the year’s content. Closing comments were delivered by John T. Clegg, AIA Houston President-Elect.


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.

Applications for the 2020 Class will open Spring of 2019; sponsorship opportunities are available by emailing the committee.

CKLDP Class of 2019

The AIA Houston Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program welcomes it’s Class of 2019 Scholars:

Mark Behm; AIA, CMIT, LEED AP; Manhattan Construction Company

Courtney Brinegar, AIA, LEED AP BD+C; Burditt Consultants

Brian Burnett, AIA; Kendall/Heaton Associates

Matt Duggan, AIA, LEED AP BD+C; BRW Architects

Natasha Dunn, AIA; BRAVE / Architecture

Clayton Fry; ROGERS PARTNERS Architects + Urban Designers

Altair Galgana-Wood, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP; Kirksey Architecture

Krystyn Haecker, AIA, LEED AP BD+C; Mirador Group

Sarah Killingsworth, Assoc. AIA; Stantec


Sam McGlone, AIA; GSMA

Peter Muessig; Metalab Studio

Rashmi Murthy, AIA, NCARB, LEED AP BD+C; HarrisonKornberg Architects

Danny Rigg, AIA; RIGG Studio

Veronica Villanueva, AIA, CDT, LEED AP BD+C; Perkins+Will

Mark Willingham, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB; DivisionOne Construction


Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program, 2019 Committee

Amaya C. Labrador, AIA, EDAC; Committee Chair, 2019

Rebekah R. Gandy, AIA, LEED AP, CDT; Committee Vice Chair, 2019

Kevin Barden, AIA; Committee 2019

Nicholas Banks, AIA; Committee 2019

Michelle D. Huertas, AIA; Committee 2019

Session Sponsor: HOK

The Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program, Houston (CKLDP-Hou) is pleased to announce our new Session Sponsor for the 2018-2019 Class, HOK! Thank you for supporting Houston emerging professionals!

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