2019-2020 Session #4: Community Engagement

Date: January 10, 2020
Location: Big Brothers Big Sisters, 1003 Washington Ave Houston, TX 77002
Title: Community Engagement
Session Sponsors:
Inkind Sponsor: Dewberry
Venue Sponsor: Big Brothers Big Sisters
Leaders: Scott Dailey & Lara Richard
Documentation: Shelby Fisher & Qeturah Williams

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Scott Dailey and Lara Richard led the fourth Session of the 2019-2020 Christopher Kelly Leadership Program, “Community Engagement”. The session began with Josh Hawes with the Spring Branch Management District and Michael Robinson with SWA Group discussing the various projects they have worked together on within Spring Branch. Josh and Michael reviewed the real-life engagement strategies they have used within the Spring Branch community. Scholars were then assigned a specific demographic and challenged to create and present a community engagement plan to gain support within that demographic for a local park redevelopment project. Next, Big Brothers Big Sisters representative, Carlee Morgan presented on the history and impact in the Houston Community. Afterward, Carlee led the Scholars on a tour of Big Brothers Big Sisters Houston facility. Finally, the Scholars welcomed Kim Hanschen with Open Architecture Collaborative who spoke on the history of Open Architecture Collaborative and the importance of listening, communication and allyship when engaging with the community. Scholars were then assigned a community member role while Kim led a mock public meeting on a pocket park project in the Fifth Ward. After hearing all the community concerns, Scholars were divided into assigned groups and tasked to design the pocket park based feedback of their assigned community member roles.


Presentation: Spring Branch Management District & SWA

Josh Hawes, Deputy Executive Director with Spring Branch Management District began the session by going over how management districts function and talked about the role he has played in the process of the Spring Branch transformation. Josh explained that the Spring Branch transformation started out as a 15 year plan with a focus on creating a hike and bike trail, transforming Long Point Road, and revitalization of Hayden Park. Josh discussed various obstacles he has faced with the mentioned projects and talked about the importance of community engagement in all three. 

Next, Michael Robinson with SWA Group presented on SWA’s history with community engagement and shared his framework for how to engage with the community. Michael worked closely with Josh on the Spring Branch transformation projects and throughout his presentation, he referenced the specific projects and how they utilized various engagement strategies for each one. Michael described his framework for community engagement is balancing rules versus expectations, balancing power versus interest, and balancing scope versus cost. Evaluating these pillars will help inform your community engagement strategy. Michael also focused on the idea of appreciative inquiry. Appreciative inquiry is an approach that focuses on strengths rather than weaknesses. Michael emphasized that discussions with the community should always be led with appreciative inquiry and as facilitators, we should focus on the positive and try to amplify that. Lastly, Michael revealed that his community engagement strategy can be broken down into four steps: educate the community, encourage the community and promote participatory design exercises, listen to input and use all of this to inform the design, and unveiling the design to the community. Overall, Michael stressed that the most important aspect of community engagement is to meet people on their terms and make them feel concluded. 

Activity: Community Engagement Plan

After a brief Q&A with Josh and Michael, Scholars were split into groups challenged to analyze a specific demographic type within Spring Branch. Scholars received information on Hayden Park in Spring Branch and were tasked to develop a community engagement plan that targets their assigned group demographic that is designed to gain support for Hayden Park redevelopment project. The four demographic groups were the existing Korean community, millennials, families, and empty nesters. Each group researched these community groups and utilized the skills previously discussed by Josh and Michael, to present on their specific community engagement plan.


Presentation: Big Brothers Big Sisters

After a short break, Big Brothers Big Sisters representative, Carlee Morgan, presented on the history of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and the impact the organization has had on the Houston Community. She explained all the different ways someone can get involved with Bid Brothers Big Sisters and explained the areas where the program has the largest needs. Carlee then took the Scholars on a tour of the Houston Big Brothers Big Sisters facility.

Presentation: Open Architecture Collaborative

The final speaker for the Session was Kim Hanschen with Open Architecture Collaborative. Kim started her presentation by discussing the history of Architecture for Humanity and how it evolved into Open Architecture Collaborative (OAC). Kim shared some of the local Houston projects OAC has worked on in the Near Northside and Fifth Ward.  She noted some of the challenges and successes of these community based projects. Kim then went on to review the three pillars of OAC: inclusivity, collaboration, and volunteers. The first pillar she discussed was inclusivity. Kim talked about the importance of inclusivity and allyship when engaging with the community. She stressed the importance of self-examination and recognizing your own bias. This type of self-evaluation can aid in creating an inclusive, safe space for the community.  Next, Kim touched on the topic of communication. 

She emphasized the value of listening and advised that when communicating with the community, you should be listening more than you are speaking. The ability to listen is a vital part of effective communication and allows you to build trust within the community. Kim then discussed the volunteers that OAC depends on to run their organization. Lastly, she expressed the idea of being a partner, not an expert when participating in community engagement. Kim accentuated how a diversity of views enriches the solution and as designers, we should always recognize the value the community brings to the table during design. Community members are necessary and they should be empowered. Overall, building a consensus within the community starts with relationship building and gaining the trust of the community members. 

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Activity: Community Meeting and Pocket Park

After Kim completed her presentation, she then handed out community role assignments to each Scholar. Scholars had to represent the views of their community role. Kim then led a mock public community meeting to discuss a new pocket park proposed in the Fifth Ward. Each Scholar had to voice the opinions of their role in the public forum.  After hearing all the various views from the community, Scholars were then assigned to groups to design the pocket park based on the needs of their assigned community member roles. Each group presented their designs addressing common interests across multiple community members, including safety, public performance spaces, community gardens, and dog parks.

2019-2020 Session #3: The Art Of Negotiating

Date: December 6, 2019
Location: 800 Capitol St.
Title: The Art Of Negotiating
Session Sponsors: DLR Group, Skanska
Leaders: Shelby Fischer, Qeturah Williams
Documentation: Kevin Perks, Barak Yaryan
Speakers: Laura Dempsey, David Combs, Tammy Canon



Session 3 focused on the world of contracts and negotiations with an emphasis how to build relationships throughout the process to achieve success for both parties. Prior to the session, scholars were asked to watch a video on Harvard’s “Principles of Negotiation” and review a brief of a character for a role-playing negotiation session. 

Shelby Fischer and Qeturah Williams opened the session with an introduction to common negotiation mistakes featuring Jack Donaghy and how to shape a negotiation based on the goals of the negotiation. The group discussed lessons learned on past negotiations with both successful negotiations and mis-steps.

Sales and Relationship Building

Laura Dempsey of Building Systems Design shared her experience with client negotiations throughout her career. Her central theme was “everybody sells” and that negotiations come up all the time, as seen in scenarios ranging from how much to charge for a service to when the kids will go to bed. Laura gave an overview of the modern history of sales to the scholars with key figures and their well-known books and distilled the essence of each approach. From this, her analysis of sales centered around answering five key questions: 1) who are you? 2) what do you do? 3) why is it important to the client? 4) how much does it cost? 5) how fast is the ROI?

To answer the five key questions, Laura described how understanding the value of relationships is in risk mitigation.  and the importance of understanding the values of the firm, client, team, and yourself. The process for addressing the questions was delivered through the key steps of Discovery, Developing a Relationship Plan, Assembling the team, and Executing the Plan. 

After the presentation Laura led a discussion of real world negotiation challenges and scenarios with the Scholars. The key takeaways were that relationships matter, values are important, boundaries and important, silence is a relationship killer, and finding the Jedi master on your team that can connect with the Jedi Master on your clients’ team is profoundly beneficial for building trust in negotiations.



David Combs of Corgan went into detail with a presentation to the scholars on common Architectural contract negotiation points, and how to mitigate contract risk. David discussed the various owner architect, architect consultant, and owner contractor types of contracts and how these are often modified from the AIA standard contracts in ways that increase the risk for architects. He also described how these contracts interact with each other and the importance of third party obligations which are referenced from the general conditions in the contractor’s agreement.

David described the process of contract negotiation and the difference of Legal versus Business choices in contract negotiation.  Legal items are things that the Architect’s lawyer should review, such as liability, indemnification, insurance, standard of care, dispute resolution, and the specific language of a contract. Business decisions for an architect include fee, hourly rates, scope of services, design schedule, basic service, additional services, and deliverables (the instruments of service).  David discussed the importance of having the architect’s consultants sign the architects contract for legal purposes and that the owner can authorize changes during CA.

David discussed with the scholars how contracts define the initial information from the owner (i.e. the program, site, cost/budget, milestone dates, etc.) and the importance of awareness in when any of these change so that the owner is aware when add services are being asked for. It is important to be clear on add services before proceeding with add services. The scholars engaged in a dialogue with David based on previously encountered contract scenarios and the importance of using contracts. 

The last portion of contract discussion with the scholars discussed what items should be specifically described in contracts for Construction Administrations phase services and in the owner to provide the contractor agreement as well as including the Architect in communications with the General Contractor. Finally, the group discussed the four principals of contract negotiations: 1) separate the person/emotion from the issue 2) negotiate in an interest oriented way 3) develop good criteria that a good solution should fulfill 4) develop several options.


Negotiation Simulation

In the final component of session three, Tammy Canon led the scholars in a negotiation role playing scenario with scholars playing a city planner and developer in a progressive negotiation based on opposing incentives for each character. Scholars utilized their negotiation skills and techniques learned from the pre-session resources and in session training to reach a “win-win” solution. Tammy moderated the negotiation with increasing complexity for each round of negotiation.

Each scholar participated in the series of negotiations based on their assigned character to reach an agreement meeting their weighted outcome requirements. As each set of negotiators went through the simulated negotiation, the audience of scholars observed the effectiveness of various negotiation techniques. The essential lesson from the exercise was that negotiation requires understanding what is important to the negotiating partner, in addition to understanding what is important to yourself for the negotiation. Through the negotiation simulation, with the help of Tammy Cannon as the moderator, the scholars developed a tangible skill in determining what is important to their negotiating partner, which is a skillset that will make each scholar a better architect, a better businessperson, and a better project partner throughout their careers.

2019-2020 Session #2: Entrepreneurship and Business Management

Date: November 1, 2019
Location: Metalab
Title: Entrepreneurship and Business Management
Session Sponsors: Prism Renderings
Leaders: Barak Yaryan & Kevin Parks
Documentation: Sofia Dusek & Kiza Forgie


Prior to CKLDP Session 2 on entrepreneurship and business management the below preparatory reading and informational podcast set the stage for what was to come.

  • Friction Podcast: ‘The Basic Hygiene of Management’
  • Managing the Professional Service Firm, (Seven page summary), David Maister

Hosted at Metalab, the session began with a welcome and presentation by Thomas Perry; AM radio talk show host of ‘Right Path Real Estate’. His presentation focused on entrepreneurship and his amazing story of how his healthcare insurance business went from being a casualty of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 to successfully owning and operating Houston Home Buyers and ultimately selling it to become a Real Estate talk show host.

The session focused on four areas of Entrepreneurship and Business Management:

  1. Entrepreneurship and Business Management through Office and Firm Management
  2. Entrepreneurship and Business Management through Leadership, ownership, and transition
  3. Entrepreneurship and Business Management through Financial and succession planning
  4. Entrepreneurship and Business Management through Business and project management standards

Following the presentation by Thomas Perry, the scholars jumped into an interactive break out session in which the scholars were broken into four groups and challenged to develop a business plan using some of the principles Thomas had discussed during his presentation. Scholars were tasked with quickly developing a pitch for the new business. Elements of the business pitch were required to include: a business name, business focus, location, traction, vision, credibility, and product source. Ultimately scholars were required to present to a panel of judges in which Thomas Perry took part.


In keeping with the topic of education for the day, a round table discussion was held next with a focus on starting a firm, building a culture, and planning for growth. Four business owners ranging from a sole practitioner to a business owner with 150 plus employees were invited to the discussion and moderated by our scholars Barak Yaryan and Kevin Parks. The businesses and owners represented included: Danny Rigg of Rigg Studio, Becky Zimmerman member of Design Workshop, James Harrison co-owner of Harrison Kornburg, and Joe Meppelink co-owner of Metalab.

The session ended with a role playing group session amongst the scholars involving the game ‘Brick by Brick’ by Procore. Scholars were invited to engage in a simulation of a construction project where each scholar played a role as a Project Manager, Superintendent, or Tradesman.


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 9: End of Year Celebration

The AIA Houston Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program hosted it’s End of Year Celebration at CASA Houston.