Yiselle Santos Rivera
Yiselle Santos Rivera

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As a female person of color, a Puerto Rican, and a member of the LGBTQ community, Yiselle Santos Rivera, Assoc. AIA, has beaten the odds. Named HKS' inaugural director of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in May, she has landed exactly where she's wanted to be in her career. Her success, she acknowledges, is due in part to the communities and cities in which she has chosen to live. Having an impact on people who don't necessarily share her own values is where one of her next challenges lies.

In this episode, Santos Rivera shares how she is reaching out to individuals and communities not already embedded in the EDI conversation; her efforts at HKS, a firm with more than 1,400 design professionals worldwide; and where designers can find support if their local community is not currently thinking about EDI. She references a Lean In report that highlights the "broken rung," where women in the workplace are not being promoted into management roles, a prerequisite to leadership. She also shares how the AIA San Francisco's Equity by Design committee biennial survey of architectural practice was critical to the genesis of WIELD (Women Inspiring Emerging Leaders in Design), a 2019 AIA Diversity Program Recognition honoree.

Santos Rivera is also the co-founder of LA.IDEA, a collective of Latin American design professionals in the Washington region. Her op-ed ”It’s OK to See Color” appeared in ARCHITECT’s August issue.

Episode 43: Addressing Our Own Bias to Design Better, featuring Yiselle Santos Rivera, is also available on SoundCloud, iTunes, and GooglePlay.

This podcast episode was produced by Wanda Lau and Rob Grauert.