A small and determined contingent in the Hampton Roads area spent less than one month between December and January planning an event for local architects and architecture-adjacent professionals to mix and mingle and gauge interest and momentum, at a local level, for chartering a Virginia NOMA.

NOMA is the National Organization of Minority Architects, an organization with a mission to support and advance the professional development of minorities in the architecture and design professions.

The ‘Interest Mixer’, a term our small local committee created to help give a succinct name for the event, was intended to serve both as a social and a membership interest meeting. All the fun took place on Friday, January 17, 2020, from 6-9 p.m. at Hamilton Perkins Collection, a minority-owned retail outlet in MacArthur Mall in Norfolk. It was well attended, welcoming 55 guests of all walks of life, with students from Hampton University, local artists, architects and designers, and engineers, all from Hampton Roads and as far out as Petersburg and Richmond. We even had two past NOMA national presidents in the house: Kenneth Martin, former North Carolina NOMA president, and Robert Easter, current chairman of architecture at Hampton University. The evening was mostly mixing and mingling, but there was a 15-minute presentation/interest meeting to inform everyone on the history and purpose of NOMA, and of how to become a member. We were fortunate to hear organization insights from Kenneth Martin and program updates from Hampton University NOMAS student leadership. And a huge bonus it was in having our local AIA board members in attendance.

All in all, it was an incredibly serendipitous night spent connecting and networking with other underrepresented professionals and students in the A/E/C industries; certainly, a night to remember.

The greater effort of establishing a Virginia NOMA is being led by a small committee of architects spread across the state. Now that we have momentum snowballing throughout the state, we may soon finally see our very own NOMA. If you would like to see NOMA in Virginia, fill out this very short form on AIA Virginia’s website >>https://www.aiava.org/noma/

A special thanks for this local effort goes out to Zachary Robinson, Ramon Turner, Charles Redmond, Ty Champion, Che Clark, Ian Vaughan, Ashley Montgomery, Tiesha Hopkins, and Joel Mieses; and much gratitude to the Virginia NOMA committee for moving this effort forward.

Jeffrey G Butts, Jr., Assoc. AIA | Hanbury
AIA Regional Associate Director, Virginias Region
AIA Hampton Roads, Membership Co-director
YAF Hampton Roads, Chair