About BWAF

Our Mission

After 35 years of architectural practice leading her own firm, Beverly Willis, FAIA, was astounded and dismayed to discover that women were not represented in the architecture history books. In 2000, believing that the future is based on the past, she contacted architectural historians Diane Favro, Ph.D. and Lian Mann, Ph.D. who shared her concern. Joined by Heidi Gifford, together they provided the research that led to the formation in 2002 of the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation (BWAF), a nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization—with the mission of advancing the knowledge and recognition of women’s contributions to architecture. Initially organized as a grant giving non-profit, the BWAF supported research that would expand knowledge about women’s contributions to twentieth-century American architecture by uncovering their lost histories and restoring them to the historical record. It now also embraces issues specific to women currently working within the building industry. To this end, BWAF both commissions and curates research that pertains to women working at all levels within all fields of practice —including architecture, engineering, construction, design, landscape, preservation, and planning.

Our History

2002

Founded

February 21st with support from Beverly Willis.
2005

Grant program begins

Projects funded from 2005 to 2013 include USA: Modern Architectures in History,A Girl Is A Fellow Here, and Charles & Ray Eames.
2006

National Building Museum and BWAF begin collaboration

The Women of Architecture program began at the nation's premium institution for building excellence, in observance of Women's History Month (March).
2007

Concept for Dynamic National Archive begins

Trustee Diane Favro creates the first version of the wiki-style collection of women of 20th century American architecture that eventually becomes the DNA.
2009

BWAF redefines mission

Accepting a broader understanding of design that embraces all aspects of the built environment, BWAF re-structures its programs to reflect the expanded mission.
2010

Industry Leaders Roundtable program begins

The first Industry Leaders Roundtable is held in October in Tarrytown, NY. This program has happened in October every year since.

Internship Program Begins

The BWAF begins offering summer internships to expose rising professionals to the world of arts management.
2012

Received grant from National Endowment for the Arts

The $35,000 matching grant allowed for the beginning of the Pioneering Women of American Architecture project, which highlights 50 revolutionaries within the DNA.
2014

Launched Built By Women (BxW)

Our flagship educational and social initiative to raise awareness of women's contributions to the built environment, support current professionals and students, and inspire young women to pursue STE(A)M careers, launches in New York City.
2015

BWAF Leadership Awards Begin

The BWAF recognizes individuals and organizations who have contributed to growing equity in the building professions in February at the Prince George Ballroom, with over 200 professionals in attendance.

Built By Women Continues

Washington D.C. became the second region to host a Built By Women competition.
 

Board of Trustees

   

OFFICERS

   

Beverly Willis, FAIA

Beverly Willis, FAIA

Founder & Founding Chair

Beverly Willis, FAIAis an artist, architect, author and philanthropist. After 50 years of practice, she founded the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation in 2002. She served as President of the California Council of American Institute of Architects. Beverly was a founding trustee of the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., a position she still holds.

Patricia Harris, JD, LEED, AP

Patricia Harris, JD, LEED, AP

Chair
As Managing Partner of Zetlin & De Chiara LLP, Patricia A. Harris oversees the business operations of the firm, including financial, business development, information technology and staff. She is also interested in sustainable design and earned an LEED AP designation in May 2009. Patti frequently lectures on topics of law office management and business planning as well as building issues, and is a featured speaker during the New York State AIA/ACEC Firm Management Committee meetings.
Kristi Ambrosetti

Kristi Ambrosetti

Treasurer
Kristi is Global Real Estate Advisor and Associate Broker at Sotheby's International Realty. Previously a longtime touring Broadway performer, Kristi has traveled the world — from the U.S. and Canada to Russia, Japan and China. This experience supplied the foundation for her creative marketing of properties, instinctive people skills and tenacity in a comparably competitive industry. It instilled in her a distinct appreciation for not only international living, but also the notion of home, a compelling concept she always returns to when conferring with her clients. Entering the real estate industry in 2011, Kristi has to date participated in more than $100 million of closed sales and $300,000 of closed rental transactions, deals that benefited from her fresh perspective and professionalism, adaptability and dependability. She was named one of the “Pioneering Women in Real Estate 2015” and NRT’s Top 2% in sales out of 44,000 agents nationwide for the second quarter of 2015.
Julia Murphy, AIA, LEED AP

Julia Murphy, AIA, LEED AP

First Vice Chair

Julia Murphy is an Associate Director at Skidmore Owings and Merrill LLP managing several multiple large-scale commercial and mixed-use projects including Manhattan West and Citigroup Corporate Headquarters and a residential tower for Avalon Bay Communities. Julia is the leader of SOM’s New York Practice Group and the chairperson of the SOM Women’s Initiative, a group devoted to the professional development of women within the firm.  Julia is an active member of WX, New York Women Executives in Real Estate and is the President Elect of the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation. Julia is a third generation architect and a graduate of Colgate University and the University of Pennsylvania where she received her Master of Architecture degree in 2003. Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Julia lives in Brooklyn, NY with her daughter and husband.

Suzanne Pennasilico, SPHR

Suzanne Pennasilico, SPHR

Secretary
As Chief Human Resources Officer of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) Suzanne brings more than 25 years of experience in the delivery of integrated Human Resources solutions for a diverse group of multi-national employees.  Prior to SOM, Suzanne was employed by Barneys New York; her last position was Director of Human Resources and Labor Relations.  She began her career in the telecommunications industry in Organization Development and Training and held several HR Generalist positions in the retail and fashion industry.
Joan Blumenfeld, FAIA, IIDA, LEED ID+C

Joan Blumenfeld, FAIA, IIDA, LEED ID+C

Immediate Past Chair
Joan Blumenfeld is a principal and the Interior Design Director at Perkins+Will. Her work has won awards from the AIA, the Society of American Architects, Contract Magazine, Interior Design Magazine, the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), and IFMA, and has been published in many magazines and industry journals. She is a board member for the New York City Building Congress Foundation and a member of the Executive Committee of the Harvard GSD Alumni Council.

 

BOARD

Renee M. Charles, NCIDQ

Renee M. Charles, NCIDQ

Renee is a strategic and dynamic executive with a 15+ year track record in protecting value in real estate investments, as well as a high-performing leader with an outstanding ability to effectively translate opportunities into tactical innovative business solutions. She has combined multi-disciplinary experience from both the Landlord and Tenant sides in real estate transactions, design, construction management, finance and process transformation and the ability to achieve positive bottom-line impact.
Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, DPACSA

Lance Jay Brown, FAIA, DPACSA

Trustee
Lance Jay Brown is the principal of Lance Jay Brown Architecture + Urban Design in New York City, Fellow of the Institute for Urban Design, ACSA Distinguished Professor at the Spitzer School of Architecture, CCNY, and 2014 President of the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter. He is the Founding Co-Chair, Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee; a Founding Board Member, Consortium for Sustainable Urbanization; Inaugural Chancellor, ACSA College of Distinguished Professors; and AIA/ACSA 2007 Topaz Medallion Laureate. He has served as director of the School of Architecture at CCNY, director of the City College Architectural Center, and assistant director for programs at the National Endowment for the Arts.
Fiona Cousins, PE

Fiona Cousins, PE

Trustee
Fiona Cousins started working with Arup as a pre-university trainee and has been with the firm ever since. She started her career developing computer software to analyze thermal comfort and energy use. Drawing on this work, she has an area of specialization in thermal comfort and energy efficiency that informed her approach to the practice of mechanical engineering. Fiona leads the sustainability team in the New York office of Arup and currently serves as a member of the Arup Americas Board and USGBC. Fiona recently co-authored a book called Two Degrees: Climate Change and Our Built Environment. College/University Affiliations: University of Cambridge (MA, MSt)
Julia Donoho, AIA, Esq.

Julia Donoho, AIA, Esq.

Trustee
Julia Donoho is an award winning Architect and Attorney with a boutique practice advocating for a more equitable profession, and designing and developing more diverse and inclusive structures.  She has enjoyed an interesting career in architecture, working for world renowned architects, running her own architectural practice, and serving for a decade in public sector capital project management.  From 2013-15, she served on the AIA National Board of Directors and Strategic Council, where she led three successful efforts to change the culture of architecture by changing the Gold Medal list to be more diverse and inclusive.
Richard T. Anderson

Richard T. Anderson

Trustee
Richard T. Anderson is President of RTA Advisory Services LLC, a private firm specializing in government relations and strategic industry planning. He is President Emeritus of the New York Building Congress. For more than twenty years, Mr. Anderson ushered in a period of unprecedented influence and growth for the Building Congress, a public policy organization in its 95th year of promoting the design, construction and real estate community. In his role as an expert in government policy and construction, Mr. Anderson’s views and assistance on a range of issues are sought by private firms, public officials, agency leaders, the news media, good government groups and other organizations inside and outside of the building community.
Suzanne Heidelberger

Suzanne Heidelberger

Trustee
At American Express, Suzanne Heidelberger is charged with managing over 200 properties in over 41 countries, while providing a safe and productive workplace for AmEx employees. Her group leads all facilities management, design and construction, and real estate strategy functions. Prior to joining American Express, Ms. Heidelberger spent several years at Deutsche Bank, where she was Managing Director and Global Lead of Real Estate and Transaction Management. There, she led efforts to optimize Deutsche Bank’s global footprint and worked with all lines of business to achieve superior financial results. She developed a high-performing real estate services team and transformed the organization to increase efficiency and consistency. Committed to the development of real estate professionals, Ms. Heidelberger has served on the Global Board of Directors of CoreNet, a non-profit association headquartered in Atlanta representing almost 10,000 executives in 50 countries with strategic responsibility for the real estate assets of large corporations.
Sabrina Kanner

Sabrina Kanner

Trustee
With Brookfield Properties and its predecessor, Olympia & York, since 1982, Ms. Kanner oversees design and construction in the U.S. Graduated Union College in 1980, she joined the construction division of Olympia & York in 1982 and was appointed to run Olympia and York’s construction company in 1986. She became Vice President, Design and Construction in 1994, Senior Vice President, Design and Construction in 2006 and Executive Vice President, Design and Construction in 2015. In her 34 year tenure with the company, Ms. Kanner has played a key role in the construction, design and development or redevelopment of over 40 million square feet of signature Brookfield projects such as World Financial Center/ Brookfield Place, 300 Madison Avenue, Bay Adelaide Centre, the restoration/renovation of the Winter Garden at World Financial Center after 9/11, and currently Manhattan West. She is a member of WX and sits on the Boards of Directors of New York Building Congress (Vice Chairman), The Salvadori Center, The Opus Group, and The Regional Plan Association and sits on the Board of Trustees of The National Building Museum.
Jill Lerner, FAIA

Jill Lerner, FAIA

Trustee
With over 35 years of design and management experience, Jill Lerner has led the design of numerous award-winning academic and institutional research facilities projects for public and private clients throughout the United States. As a Principal at KPF, she is responsible for all aspects of project management and design, and is the primary client contact during all phases—from initial programming and conceptual design through construction and project close-out. Jill has also led master planning efforts for several academic and research facilities, including the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business, the Walter B. Ford College for Creative Studies, and the Semel Institute and Center for Health Sciences at the University of California-Los Angeles. An active member of the architectural community, Jill was President of the AIA NY Chapter in 2013, and is currently a Board Member of the Urban Green, the New York City arm of the USGBC and is on the External Advisory Board of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future. An active member of her alma mater, Cornell University, Jill was the only architect on the Cornell University Board of Trustees (2004-2009), is past Chair of the University’s College of Architecture, Art and Planning Alumni Advisory Council and is an active member of the President’s Council of Cornell Women. She has also taught Professional Practice to architecture students in Cornell’s New York City program.
Mary McLeod, Ph.D

Mary McLeod, Ph.D

Trustee

Mary McLeod is a professor of architecture at Columbia University, where she teaches architecture history and theory. Her research and publications have focused on the history of the modern movement and on contemporary architecture theory, examining issues concerning the connections between architecture and politics. She has written extensively on Le Corbusier’s architecture and urban planning, and is the editor of and contributor to the book Charlotte Perriand: An Art of Living. She is also the co-editor of Architecture, Criticism, Ideology and Architecture Reproduction, and is currently co-editing a website on pioneering American women architects for Beverly Willis Architectural Foundation.

Victoria Rosner, Ph.D

Victoria Rosner, Ph.D

Trustee
Victoria Rosner is currently Senior Associate Dean of the School of General Studies at Columbia University, where she also teaches classes in the Department of English. She is also the author of Modernism and the Architecture of Private Life as well as co-editor of Design and Feminism: Re-visioning Spaces, Places and Everyday Things. Victoria also writes about literature and popular culture for The Huffington Post. College/University Affiliations: Columbia University (BA, MA, Ph.D., Professor, Associate Dean, and Director of the Post baccalaureate Premedical Program)
Kirsten Sibilia, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP

Kirsten Sibilia, Assoc. AIA, LEED AP

Trustee
A vocal advocate for the value of design and the importance of creating resilient and sustainable urban density, Kirsten Sibilia is a Principal at Dattner Architects. In her work as the one non-architect partner out of eight partners, Kirsten manages the firm’s requirements in marketing (communications, branding and sales), human resources (staffing, professional development and transition planning), and management of the firm’s gallery. She is also on the board of Creative Migration, a nonprofit that uses art and film to advocate for social and environment justice. She serves her local community as an appointed member of the Architectural Review Board in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. She has been recognized as an SMPS NY Principal of the Year (2015), AIA NY Special Citation (2011), SMPS NY Marketing Mentor Award Recipient (2008), and SMPS NY Marketing Achievement Award Recipient (2001). In the past, Kirsten served on the board of the AIA NY as Director of Publications and Chair of the Oculus Committee.
Suman Sorg, FAIA

Suman Sorg, FAIA

Trustee
Suman Sorg is a leading voice for design excellence. For over 20 years, she served as lead designer in her own firm, Sorg Architects. Her body of work is diverse, including civic, mixed-use and multi-family developments, as well as education projects, both domestically and around the globe. Suman’s work has been recognized with numerous honors, including multiple awards from the American Institute of Architects. She has lectured extensively for the AIA, the National Building Museum, the Urban Land Institute, Center for Architecture in New York, the US Department of State, several universities, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She is frequently called upon to serve on design panels and juries.
Suman is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, is a member of the Board of Trustees for the National Building Museum, and is also on the Board of Directors for the DC Building Industry Association. She is a Peer Reviewer for the General Services Administration Design Excellence Program and is also a member of the Lambda Alpha International Honor Society.
Born in India, Suman began her architecture education at the School of Planning and Architecture in New Delhi. She completed her B. Arch. at Howard University in Washington DC and went on to study Historic Preservation at Cornell University. After serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in West Africa, Suman began her career with Harry Weese and Associates in Washington, DC, before founding her her own firm, which was acquired in 2015. Suman is an accomplished oil painter and has a passion for science and discovery.
Despina Stratigakos, Ph.D

Despina Stratigakos, Ph.D

Trustee
Despina Stratigakos is an internationally recognized historian and professor in the Architecture Department at the University at Buffalo. Despina has also published widely on issues of diversity in architecture and in 2007 curated an exhibition on Architect Barbie at the University of Michigan to focus attention on gendered stereotypes within the architectural profession. In 2011, she collaborated with Mattel on the development and launch of the doll in the Barbie I Can Be series. Despina has served as a Director of the Society of Architectural Historians, and an Advisor of the International Archive of Women in Architecture at Virginia Tech.

Staff

Cynthia Phifer Kracauer, AIA

Cynthia Phifer Kracauer, AIA

Executive Director
Cynthia is an architect and currently serves as the Executive Director for the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation (BWAF). She joins the foundation following ten years as the Managing Director of the American Institute of Architects New York Chapter, Center for Architecture. Both an architect and a creative institutional administrator, Cynthia was responsible for the creation of Archtober, the New York City month-long festival of architecture and design. As one of the early pioneers of co-education in the 1970’s, Cynthia graduated from Princeton University receiving both a BA magna cum laude, and Master’s of Architecture. She worked for Phillip Johnson in the 80’s and taught at the University of Virginia, New Jersey Institute of Technology and her alma mater.
Linnea Kniaz

Linnea Kniaz

Communications and Program Coordinator
Linnea serves as the Communications and Program Coordinator for BWAF.

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