The American Institute of Architects has elected a Black woman as president for the first time.
The Architect’s Newspaper reports that delegates elected Kimberly Dowdell as the organization’s 100th president at the AIA annual meeting held earlier this month. She will begin her one-year term in 2024 and be the AIA’s First Vice President/2024 President-elect in 2023.
Dowdell studied architecture at Cornell University. She also co-founded the School’s Social Economic Environmental Design (SEED) initiative, which aims to set global standards for economic, social, and environmental justice.
The history-making architect currently works as a marketing principal at HOK Architects in her hometown of Chicago. According to a 2020 report in Archinect, Black women make up only 0.4 percent of licensed architects in the United States.
“As the 295th living Black woman to earn an architectural license in the US, I am keen to help young women and people of color,” Dowdell said in a statement. “I do believe that representation matters, and I would be honored to demonstrate a new set of possibilities for young women and people of color, in particular.”
Dowdell served as National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) president from 2019-2020. According to AIA, her platform will ensure that minority architects are represented at all levels of the organization. In her #AllinforNOMA initiative, she has stated her intention to “create access to opportunities,” “foster greater opportunities for leadership,” and “build on the legacy of long-time members.”
As AIA President, Dowdell will reportedly continue to represent minority architects and devote time to making architecture more accessible while fighting climate change and promoting green energy and technology.