Since its inception in September 2020, the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee has been dedicated to creating a more equitable architecture profession throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia. Our efforts acknowledge the grave disparities that marginalized identities face and aims to provide opportunities for education, programming, and advocacy. This work serves everyone. To date the committee has 4 main areas of focus:

Education: Education and training serve as the foundational for the work happening in firms and architectural schools across the country. It is important to have a shared language and a common understanding of the history and systems at play in American society. That being said, the committee will provide opportunities to learn about the value of diversity, the obstacles facing historically underrepresented populations, and ways to combat the many forms of bias, bigotry and exclusion in the discipline. Moreover, it is our hope that architecture firms take that knowledge and begin implementing equitable practices that respond to the systemic barriers to entry and retention in the profession.

Acknowledgment: Already underway, the committee has proposed ways to honor firms and individuals that champion equity through their exemplary civic engagement and/or their proven record of policies and procedures that expand inclusion and reallocate resources to underrepresented people.

Advocating: Inherent in the work of any committee focused on equity is a duty to advocate. Our planned advocacy can take place in many forms. It can manifest as a public statement of support for climate action and environmental justice or as a conversation with elected officials in support of specific legislation. As we continue to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public, it is important for us to give voice to those who have not always had a seat at the table and this is where programming comes in.

Programming: In this initial year, the committee aims to create opportunities for dialogue between disparate groups with the hope of gaining more understanding and developing some shared values. In addition to original content, the committee plans to promote and circulate webinars, programs, and services offered by other components, organizations, and agencies.

As I said before, this work serves everyone. It extends far beyond the reach of the committee and the architecture discipline at large. In the words of the late John Lewis, I hope that you will join us in our efforts to get into some “good trouble” this year.

Kendall A. Nicholson, EdD, Assoc. AIA, NOMA
member of the AIA Virginia J.E.D.I. Committee