No matter who you are, what you look like, where you're from, or who you love, you were the 'IN' crowd

The first-ever Global Inclusion Reception (EV321) of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) was held during its national convention in Chicago on June 27, 2014 at the Hafele Chicago Showroom. Here are my three takeaways from the event:

  1. It is possible for a diverse group of creative organizations to come together in fellowship.
  2. Humanitarian issues, like the most recent need for rebuilding after category 5 typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), are global operations that require a spirit of communal unity, because no one is exempt from experiencing natural disasters.
  3. "No matter who you are, what you look like", where you're from, or who you love, architecture and design can be a profession where you are part of the 'IN' crowd.

Members of the US Whitehouse delivered enlightening and inspiring messages about diversity and inclusion, from Billy Dec who's a Presidential-Appointee to the Whitehouse Asian-American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), to US Ambassador John Maisto who delivered the keyonote...

US Ambassador John Maisto (ret)

"A really great talk too Billy Dec. Inspirational -Diversity Rocks," shares Immediate Past President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), Angela Brady PPRIBA FRIAI FRIAS FRSA FAIA FRIAC BIID Ph.D, who was in attendance. She further mentions after meeting Ambassador Maisto at the event, "It was a pleasure meeting such an enlightened man on great humanitarian issues."

It was a showcase of diversity in all of its forms where official partners of the AIA Diversity and Inclusion came together for an evening of fellowship. The evening's programmed presentations were woven together by Master of Ceremonies, Kyle Hillman, that started with...

AIA Diversity and Inclusion Council (Co-Chair): Wendy Ornelas, FAIA

NOMA (National President): Kathy Dixon AIA, NOMA, LEED AP, NCARB

Arquitectos (immediate Past-President): Juan Gabriel Moreno, AIA

Other multicultural professional organizations participated in celebration of diversity...

Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)-USA (President): James Karl Fischer RIBA, AIA, PhD

American Society of Interior Designers (CEO): Randy W. Fiser

LA.IDEA | DC (Co-Chair): Jeannette (Gigi) Soto

LA.IDEA | DC: Juan Carlos Alvarez

Tiffany C. Millner, AIA, NOMA from the AIA Diversity and Inclusion Council board shared the 40th Anniversary exhibit of Chicago Women in Architecture in the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

Hafele's Strategic Business Development Manager John O'Meara also announced the global initiatives of the company. Members of the LGBT community as well as another official partner of the AIA Diversity and Inclusion, Out & Equal, transformed the Hafele showroom using multimedia and ambience that made the evening magical.

Multimedia Installations and Motion Graphics by Troy Larsen

...which quickly became a hit and encouraged interaction among guests...

Guests interacting with the installations.

And lastly, the celebration had a humanitarian component. Led by collaborators from the Leapfrog Project, there was a silent auction and raffle to benefit the rebuilding efforts in the Philippines after its central cities were decimated by category 5 typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda).

Leapfrog Project Collaborators Melissa Sterry (Design Scientist) and Enrique Otarola (Orem Foundation) announce the winners of the silent auction and raffle. (Image credit: Chris Vaughn)

Rockit Ranch that owns restaurants like Ay Chiwowa, Bottlefork, Underground, Rockit, and Sunda--where Billy Dec is CEO and Founder, was one of the donors (Sunda) to the Leapfrog Project's silent auction that night.

Some collaborators of the Leapfrog Project with Billy Dec: (L-R: Mitchell Obstfeld, Melissa Sterry, Billy Dec, Lira Luis, Enrique Otarola, Romeo Santos)

Check out the rest of the event photos. (All images and videos courtesy of Lester Scaife, unless otherwise noted.)


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