The American Institute of Architects (AIA) has chosen Kimberly Dowdell as the organization’s President for 2024. She is the first Black woman to be elected to the position in the AIA’s 165-year history and will also become the first millennial President of the organization. She will first serve as vice-president in 2023 before her mandate for President begins in 2024.
As a Black woman in an industry that continues to reckon with racial and gender inequality, her achievement is historic. During her campaign, Ms. Dowdell expressed her desire to use her tenure to foster greater opportunities for minority architects — in particular women and people of color — at every level of the AIA.
“The AIA can improve upon making a wider array of architects and emerging professionals feel more welcome and engaged. This goes beyond marketing materials and aspirational statements. I strongly believe that representation matters, because it signals that someone like me or someone like you can be valued here and can belong,” Ms. Dowdell said in an AIA campaign speech.
Her platform for president also advocated for supporting the business of design, increasing the accessibility of architecture to all, taking greater action on climate change and navigating the future of architecture in light of rapid technological advances.
Ms. Dowdell graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University in 2006 and a completed a Master of Public Administration at Harvard University in 2015. As the current principal at HOK in Chicago, Ms. Dowdell has been a member of the AIA since 2007 and has regularly volunteered with the organization, participating in the Equity and the Future of Architecture Committee from 2019-2020, the New Urban Agenda Task Force from 2019-2020 and the AIA New York Nominating Committee in 2021. She was a recipient of the Young Architects Award in 2020.