AIA Executive Vice President Pays a Visit to the School of Architecture and Design


AIA Executive Vice President Pays a Visit to the School of Architecture and Design

May 2, 2023

Pictured: Lakisha Ann Woods, fourth from left, talks to panelists during her visit to New York Tech.

In April, New York Tech welcomed American Institute of Architecture (AIA) Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Lakisha Ann Woods. Her visit included meetings with School of Architecture and Design leadership, a tour of the New York City campus facilities, presentations by various student-led groups, and a talk by Woods, followed by an open dialogue between students, faculty, and alumni.

The event was organized and moderated by Associate Professor Farzana Gandhi in collaboration with Dean Maria Perbellini, Chair of Architecture Giovanni Santamaria, Ph.D.; and Assistant Professor Dong-Sei Kim. National AIA Director for Academic Engagement, Andrea Milo, also was part of the visiting delegation.

The conversation centered around the future and challenges of the architecture profession, opportunities for student involvement within local AIA chapters, and the role that AIA can play in the bridge between academia and practice. “We are particularly proud of our student leaders who highlighted the many ways that New York Tech supports them in engaging the profession—from firm tours, office visits, and guest lectures, to service-learning activities that immerse them in real-world projects and dialogue with underserved communities,” said Gandhi.


During her visit to New York Tech, Lakisha Ann Woods went on a tour of the New York City campus.

During the discussion, students also offered perspectives on common barriers faced by women and minorities. “I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to attend an insightful presentation by Woods. As a member of the architecture and design community and president of New York Tech’s chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS) on the New York City campus, it was inspiring to hear such an influential leader speak and to have a platform to express my thoughts and ideas,” said Sidpasamde Tiendrebeogo, an undergraduate student studying architecture.

Elise Park, an architecture student and president of New York Tech’s American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) Long Island chapter, and Margaret Irene Lactaoen, also an architecture student and vice president of New York Tech’s chapter of the AIAS on the New York City campus, also presented.

AIA’s Woods commended Perbellini and her leadership team for the ways they have prioritized engagement and investment with alumni and local firms on behalf of students. In acknowledging that mentor introductions and field experiences are vital for professional development, she said, “I am hopeful that AIA will be able to help facilitate and encourage regular collaboration between academia and practice.”

“This open dialogue was a great opportunity to explore new ways of strengthening the connection between academia and the professional field,” said Santamaria. “Our students will be prepared not only to embrace the change but to promote it in their classrooms and then in their professional careers.”

“It has been a true honor to have Lakisha A. Woods visit with the School of Architecture and Design community,” said Perbellini. “Her genuine interest in the education of our future generation of architects and designers was evident in her encounters with the various groups of students, faculty, and administrative leadership. We appreciated her prioritizing mentorship and offering resources to facilitate the approach to a successful professional career path for our students.”

Content for this article was contributed by Farzana Gandhi.