A few weeks ago, the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) held its one-of-a-kind conference in Nashville, Tennessee, bringing together over 1,200 professionals, students, and allied members in one place for the first time since 2019.
Tiffany Montañez, an Associate based in our Miami office, joined the four-day conference in the city of music for its theme of NOMA Unplugged, an opportunity to reconnect with the community after the ritualistic virtual practice that has emerged from 2020. Here are her four key takeaways:
There is NO Conference Like the NOMA Conference
Described as the homecoming of BIPOC professionals and allies, the NOMA conference is an opportunity to reconnect with peers, collaborate on the growth of the profession, honor our members and students, and ultimately break bread in the most authentic way.
It’s probably the only conference where unfiltered and sometimes difficult conversations about the industry can be had, and immediately afterward be surrounded by this undeniable aura of joy. This conference was the first of its size and being around this many people who are the agents of advocacy, the next generation of architects, and honoring the next leaders of the organization.
J.E.D.I. Metrics and Challenges are Critical for Firms
The events of 2020 had organizations nationwide taking a deeper dive within, establishing a stance within their organization’s views on J.E.D.I. (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) and committing to providing support and safe spaces for their minority team members.
Two local NOMA Chapters, SoCal and Arizona, have established and spearheaded challenges for the AEC community to provide support and data-driven metrics to transform diversity and equitable practice within the building industry. We know that true equity is something that is not achieved in a day, however, taking small steps and commitments is necessary. Please see the links below to the chapter’s challenges:
- SoCal NOMA: DEI Challenge
- NOMA AZ: 10 Action Points for Real Change in the Design and Construction Industry
The Power of Collaboration
From incorporating graphic designers into the storytelling that occurs within construction documents to community pilot programs for larger development projects, participation of all components of a team makes for stronger, more thoughtful, and impactful projects.
Current NOMA National President, Jason Pugh during the member meeting discussing the state of the organization and licensure disparities.
The Data is Concerning, but Hope is Stronger
Consistently, BIPOC and Women make up a significantly smaller percentage of licensed architects. Currently, those numbers break down as:
- Women: 18% of Licensed Architects
- Latino/Hispanic: 3% (Women 1%)
- Black: 2.1% (.04% Women)
- Asian American, Pacific Islander, Native Hawaiian: 4%
- Native American: <1%
NOMA National’s 2030 Diversity Challenge, along with other regional efforts is placing in programs, grants, and scholarships to assist in evolving the landscape of licensed professionals.