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!

Corgan Logo_CKLDP

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.


2018-2019 Session 8: Future of the Practice

Date: May 3, 2019

Location: Workplace Solutions

2800 Kirby Drive, Suite B200

Houston, Texas 77098

Led by: Krystyn Haecker, Mark Willingham

Session In-Kind Sponsors:  None

Session Sponsor: DLR Group

Venue Sponsor: Workplace Solutions


Krystyn Haecker and Mark Willingham led the eighth session of the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program titled “Future of Practice”. The scholars met at a familiar location, Workplace Solutions, which previously held the fifth session titled “Closing the Deal”.

A series of keynote speakers were scheduled for the afternoon to discuss topics on leadership effectiveness, career and personal development and the role of mentorship.

In preparation for the session, the scholars were asked to reflect on mentorship and diversity. Krystyn Haecker and Mark Willingham kicked off the session by explaining the intent of the personal reflection as it related to the session content. Catherine Callaway, a Senior Associate at Kirksey Architecture, presented to the scholars on why and how to be a leader by telling anecdotes about her career path. Darren C. Heine, President at BBA Architects, then went on to highlight innovative practice models in architecture and what creates innovative projects. Donna Kacmar, Interim Associate Dean and Professor at University of Houston College of Architecture & Design, helped the scholars identify strategies to adjust tendencies towards biases in the workpalce by talking about her work in the AIA EQFA Committee and the AIA Equitable Practice Guides. Her along with Catherin Callaway, also explained the importance of mentorship. The last keynote was a presentation and discussion with Mia Scharphie, Founder of Build Yourself. Mia answered questions the scholars had about their own career and personal development and then went on to present how one can be a creative agent for change.

The Closing Reception concluded the Program at CASA Houston where the scholars, committee, sponsors, mentees, and mentors continued conversations about the program during happy hour.

Session Overview

Session 8 - 3Krystyn Haecker, Mark Willingham

Krystyn Haecker and Mark Willingham began the session by explaining the intent of the personal reflection as it related to the session content. They then went on to introduce the scholars to the four speakers curated for the eighth session and emphasized the ability the group of scholars has to improve and change the future of architecture.


Keynote 01: Be a Leader

Catherine Callaway, AIA, LEED AP | Senior Associate, Kirksey | Architecture

Catherine Callaway, Senior Associate at Kirksey Architecture, presented to the scholars on why and how to be a leader utilizing anecdotes to describe four key points for each.

“You live here, we live here,” she said and then began to tell us about her experience leading AIA’s Walking Tours and how she was able to give back to the city and have a positive impact on the community. She urged the scholars to think about why they are in Houston, why they are in their profession and why they are in the program. Catherine then explained how through volunteering and leadership outside of the office she has grown her career and expanded her perspective. Being a leader means learning new skills and learning from mistakes; she reflected on her time as President of the AIA Houston Chapter when Hurricane Harvey came through. Lastly, she urged the scholars to assess together, where is CKLDP taking the group. The key point she was getting across was growing your network and how making these connections makes the community stronger.

Catherine highlighted on people in her life (Kirksey colleagues, WIA committee, family, AIA board and staff) who are very important to her because they allow her and help her be where she is today. She advised the scholars about the importance of saying no through her own words and quotes of others. Continuing on her time as the President, she noted that you need to be prepared to show up – fake it ‘til you make it. To conclude her presentation, she expressed the importance of staying true to yourself. She observed other leaders and identified what made them successful leaders but ultimately, she knew she would only succeed if she was authentically true to herself. She acknowledged that since it is hard to identify your own qualities, it is best to ask for feedback from people who know you best, asses who you are, where you are going and look at things that are important to you. Most importantly, hold each other accountable.

Keynote 02: Innovative Practice Models in Architecture

Darren C. Heine, AIA | President, BBA Architects, LP

The next keynote speaker was Darren C. Heine, President at BBA Architects. Darren currently serves as one of three Texas regional representatives to the AIA National Strategic Council, the “think tank” of the Institute and member of the Public Outreach, Innovative Business Models, and Transforming Architectural Education working groups. He began describing the makeup of the AIA National Strategic Council which has 18 regions plus international and how each region has multiple representatives. The purpose is to act as a think tank and bring things to the board that is of high priority. Through generative thinking, representatives create organic engagement with members of the AIA, forecast knowledge and the next big thing and bring public awareness of the AIA, Architects, and Architecture.

Darren then went on to highlight innovative practice models in architecture and what creates innovative projects. He started with the importance of knowing your client types and getting them involved as soon as possible. A client whose first time to work with an Architect is considered a Level 1 client versus a Level 3 client who is experienced and more included to use traditional processes and more interactive in all aspects. Daren identified the Business Traditional Model and pointed out disrupting forces which have morphed the business model. Some of which his firm implements such as working remotely and technological advances (BIM technology, Research, Artificial Intelligence, and Virtual Reality). Lastly, Daren identified key resources to help guide innovative practice – The Architect’s Voice: Advocating for Our Profession, The AIA Trust, Architect Innovation Lab and Center for Practice.

Keynote 03: The Work of the AIA EQFA Committee and the AIA Equitable Practice Guides

Donna Kacmar, FIAI | Interim Associate Dean and Professor, University of Houston College of Architecture & Design

Donna Kacmar, Interim Associate Dean and Professor at University of Houston College of Architecture & Design, helped the scholars identify strategies to adjust tendencies towards biases in the workplace by talking about her work in the AIA EQFA Committee and the AIA Equitable Practice Guides. Her along with Catherin Callaway also explained the importance of mentorship.

Donna began telling the scholars that someone reached out to Natalye Appel to be featured in a book titled A House for My Mother and Natalye referred her to the author because she too had designed a home for her mother. Donna took the scholars through her time at Texas A&M to starting her firm. She showed how her career was not planned but rather guided by people, like Natalye, who helped her; she was at the right place at the right time. Natalye was Donna’s mentor and helped her get on the AIA Houston board; she put her places and gave her opportunity. Donna shared how she followed in Natalye’s footsteps and did the same for Catherine Callaway. Donna explained how she did not have a 5-year plan or 10-year plan but how her volunteer efforts, through WIA, led her to her leadership in equity. She read articles, current reports, the law and learned from people who were talking about equity (not only in our profession) which helped her develop the equity guide with the University of Minnesota. She walked the scholars through the equity guide, describing its’ importance and showed examples of how different entities are leading the way. The first thing is transparency, one must understand the bands of compensation to be able to access opportunity. She encouraged the scholars to understand and know their worth by keeping track of their performance, keep an updated resume and take negotiation training. Donna also strongly encouraged mentorship and how it is important to not over mentor and explained the difference between giving advice and advocating. She ended her discussion by pointing out how diverse Houston is and how the scholars should take advantage of it and share our knowledge.

Keynote 04: How to Be a Creative Agent for Change

Mia Scharphie | Founder, Build Yourself

IMG_9682 (1)

The last keynote was a presentation and discussion with Mia Scharphie, Founder of Build Yourself. Mia started the discussion by asking and answering questions the scholars had about their career and personal development and then went on to present how one can be a creative agent for change.

The real question, she stated, is not can you change the world through design but HOW can you change the world through design. Mia used herself as an example and described how she sees herself as a social worker in designer’s clothing. She grew up with the value set of doing social work and now works full time for herself as a design consultant.

Session 8 - 9

Mia’s advise on “how to be a creative agent of change” was to be systems-curious. She explained how the profession tends to focus too much on physical systems. She urged the scholars to find gaps in the market, get creative about revenue, understand where bias might be showing up in your organization and recognize tradeoffs. She also asked scholars to be obsessively human and organize a Design for Equity event. This event is one that uses a cookbook and three-course meal as training and conversation surrounding equity. Lastly, she described the importance of claiming your agency; propose ideas and don’t wait for permission; let your creativity go big. Overall, the idea behind being a creative agent of change is making small commitments, putting stakes in the ground, building upon personal capacity and taking risks because each risk builds to the next risk.


The eighth session of the 2018-2019 Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program allowed the scholars to reflect on their career path and learn how to be an effective leader. The keynote speakers were excellently chosen to reflect the “Future of Practice” and was a perfect means to end the program. It left the scholars with a true sense of the past and the future and with the tools they need to make the next steps in not only their careers but the careers of others. It also provided them with the knowledge to improve and change the architectural profession.

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
0a Bldg Exterior


Brian Burnett and Matthew Duggan led the seventh session of the 2018-2019 Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program titled “Research, Education, and Practice.” The scholars met in one of the second-floor studios at the new Glassell School of Art for a series of interactive presentations focused on research in architectural practice. Kerri Ranney showed the scholars how Huckabee Architects uses LEx Labs as an active tool for collaboration and research in the design of classrooms and learning environments. Peter Boudreaux shared how his firm, Curry Boudreaux Architects, used research methods to design and create an accessible “camp for all” that continues to inform the firm’s other projects. The scholars were also led on a tour of the new Glassell School of Art by Brian Burnett, after which Brian and co-presenter Matthew Duggan led an interactive presentation on various research initiatives across the profession. Angela Wrigglesworth, a 3rd-grade teacher with HISD, concluded the session with powerful stories about teaching, motivating, and empowering people through access and inclusion.  The scholars continued the conversation during happy hour at Under the Volcano.

Keynote 1: Research in Practice: Interior Environments Maximized for Learning

Kerri Ranney, LEx Labs – Huckabee

1b Kerri

Kerri Ranney introduced the scholars to the research initiatives of Huckabee Architects through  LEx – Learning Experience Laboratories – which collaborates with other research entities at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Their efforts focus on education, professional development for designers and educators, and facility design. Research at LEx is geared towards the elementary school level, and they measure student engagement (which is considered authentic learning) rather than test scores or grades. They want to move away from standardized testing and towards alternate paths of success since not all successful people need higher education or a college degree. Kerri explained what is involved in “real” research – not just a buzzword used by many firms. R1 is a research category that is publishable, verifiable, based on statistics, and eligible for federal funds. Huckabee’s research evolved through three rounds of development, including an experimental spatial lab, setting up labs at schools, and pilot programs with controlled vs. intervention rooms at schools. They also utilize online collaboration tools and virtual tours of their research spaces for those unable to visit Waco in person. Their research center is used to educate clients about the built environment and impact it can have on teaching and learning. Exploring outside references such as nursing stations and museums has influenced their school and classroom design, and each design solution is hyper-local for each community – there is no prototype ideal learning environment to be used in multiple locations. Kerri concluded her presentation by sharing that Huckabee plans to publish the first draft of their research in May 2019.

Keynote 2: Research focused Practices: Refining the Built Environment

Brian Burnett, Kendall/Heaton & Matthew Duggan, BRW Architects

4a Brian Matt

Brian and Matthew began their keynote with an overview of the article “3 Myths and 1 Model” by Jeremy Till, which is an overview of architectural research in today’s practice.  Scholars shared their thoughts and lamented how few people outside the profession of architecture understand how architects work and what they do. Research in practice seeks to establish a feedback loop with post-occupancy evaluations to measure the built environment and determine areas for improvement. The scholars discussed how many firms are leading the charge with various research initiatives – KieranTimberlake, Sasaki Foundation, Payette, Perkins + Will, Texas A&M, among many others. However, much of the leading research in design and technology is kept within the individual architectural practices and rarely shared with the design community. Architects are recognizing that building code represents the bare minimum and they are taking a more aggressive approach to meet energy targets through efforts like the AIA 2030 DDx (Design Data exchange).

Keynote 3: Research through Practice: Optimizing Accessibility – Universal Design

Peter Boudreaux, Curry Boudreaux Architects

2b Peter

To further accentuate the topic of architectural research in today’s practice, Peter Boudreaux of Curry Boudreaux Architects shared his career-long experience of researching, practicing, and optimizing universal-design in the built environment.  He began his presentation with the story of how his firm started as a 600sf office space with no projects but a bunch of contacts. Peter and his partner began reaching out to all their contacts to see who would be open to an initial conversation.  One of those contacts happened to be Dr. Paul Gerson with a dream to create a “camp for all” that accommodated children with disabilities who could enjoy a fun place that was also a healing environment. Over the course of two decades, Curry Boudreaux Architects designed several facilities for Camp For All that initially accommodated 16 different disabilities but now serves 60+ disabilities.  The successful range of accommodations originated from the design team’s intention to design to principles instead of minimum code requirements (ADA/TAS), initiating direct conversations with future user groups in the programming stage, studying comparable projects and visiting them in person, and following up after construction with a post-occupancy study by a third party.

Break / Glassell School of Art Tour

3a Tour

Brian Burnett guided the scholars on an active tour through the Glassell School of Art spaces including the lobby, rooftop, and auditorium while sharing his experience of the project as part of the Kendall Heaton team working with Steven Holl Architects. Brian made sure to note that each window and precast concrete panel is unique, which required much coordination. The scholars noted that the rooftop event space and roof garden could benefit from some shaded areas. The corner door system in the auditorium was one of the tour highlights.

Keynote 4: Education in Practice: Teaching and Motivating – Empowering People

Angela Wrigglesworth, 3rd-grade teacher with HISD

5a Angela

The final speaker of the day was Angela Wrigglesworth who provided personal stories involving unexpected accessibility/mobility encounters while utilizing a motorized wheelchair.  Angela began her segment with a positive objective of “always be willing to offer help… you never know when you could accomplish something you didn’t expect.” She told the ironic, heroic tale of being able to help a stranded motorist by using her powered wheelchair to push a non-mobile vehicle to a gas station.  Angela also gave an account of being physically blocked out of a restaurant she highly anticipated visiting while traveling abroad… all because of one step at the building’s entrance instead of a ramp. Luckily the owners of the restaurant made an extra effort to accommodate her situation. In this scenario, people were able to step in to make up for a building’s inaccessibility but on a more routine basis, encountering an inaccessible building can tamper the freedom and confidence of someone with mobility issues and it communicates a subliminal message of exclusion… something for architects to consider especially if they’re passionate about the social impact on the community.   


The seventh session of the 2018-2019 Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program excellently captured “Research, Education, and Practice” in the architecture profession with insights from experts that extensively researched their material, implemented and experimented with it in built environments, and worked to improve their practice based upon the results they received.  The middle of the session was broken up with a walking tour of the newly constructed Glassell School of Art and a broad-reaching presentation of “what’s out there” from Brian and Matt who paired it with a prior reading assignment given to the scholars. The energetic and emotional storytelling from Angela created a notable appeal to remember the importance of inclusion for all in society.