Courtesy NOMA

The following is a press release from the National Organization of Minority Architects introducing its 2021-2022 leadership and the organization's vision for the coming year, which includes a celebration of its 50th anniversary.

The National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) welcomed in new Jason Pugh, AIA, AICP, NOMA, LEED AP, as the 2021-2022 President, and Pascale Sablan, AIA, NOMA, as president-elect for 2023-2024. Their leadership coincides with NOMA’s 50th anniversary, which will be celebrated all year and culminate at the NOMA Homecoming Annual Conference in Detroit, Oct. 20-23, 2021. Pugh’s vision for NOMA during this milestone year is to continue to educate, elevate, and empower minority architects through new and continued partnerships and programs.

"One of the main goals for the next two years is to build upon the great work and progress NOMA has accomplished during the last impactful administration, led by NOMA past-president Kimberly Dowdell,” said Pugh. “Together Kim and I have worked in lockstep over the last year to ensure the new programs will continue on and be expanded in creative ways to meet the needs of our valued members and reinforce the value in being a part of NOMA. We want to find ways to bolster the programs and initiatives launched by both the National Executive Board and our local NOMA chapters to date, and ensure it dovetails with our expanded platform to educate, elevate, and empower our membership base and chapters across the country.”

Educate: 50 x 50 Challenge
This year, NOMA is offering 50 NOMA members architecture licensure support as part of the 50 x 50 Challenge, to achieve 50 newly licensed architects by the NOMA conference in October. While NCARB’s 2020 demographic report states there has been a 16 percent increase in overall minority licensure over the past 10 years, that number has not increased for Black architects. Only 2 percent of licensed architects are Black and of them, 0.2 percent are Black women. The 500th female Black architect was licensed in November 2020, according to NOMA’s Directory of African American Architects.

NOMA has partnered with Black Spectacles, the only NCARB-approved ARE test prep provider on the market to help more members get licensed and increase the total number of minority architects in the U.S. NOMA members will receive full access to study tools including video lectures, practice exams, study guides, timeline support, and weekly virtual workshops. This exciting news means that NOMA has taken a major step toward supporting the commitment to the 2030 Diversity Challenge (in partnership with the AIA Large Firm Roundtable) to double the number of Black architects in the United States by 2030. NOMA’s goal is to reach 5,000 Black architects in the Directory of African American Architects by 2030.

Aiding in NOMA’s mission is newly hired Executive Director Tiffany Brown, MBA, NOMA, Assoc. AIA, for the membership organization of 2,464 members: over 1,500 professionals and 900 students. NOMA is the largest minority architecture organization focused on the advancement and licensure of African American architects, as well as those from other underrepresented backgrounds.

“We want to work with our profession and NOMA members to increase our licensure numbers as we commemorate our 50th year and imagine the future we need,“ said Brown. “Our partnership with Black Spectacles is part of the work to make it happen. The time is now for us to use our platforms to speak up and end systemic injustices and that voice includes increased numbers of Black architects.”

Elevate: NOMA’s 50th Anniversary
NOMA was founded by 12 Black architects in 1971, after being inspired at an AIA Convention speech by Whitney M. Young, Jr, in Detroit. NOMA pays homage to the founding inspiration by returning to Detroit to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The welcome video, produced in partnership with Detroit developer Bedrock, invites all NOMA members over the years to return to Detroit to celebrate NOMA’s milestones over the years, which includes NOMA-member award-winning work recognized through NOMA’s Phil Freelon Professional Design Awards; breaking 2,000 members; increased student chapters; the NOMA Foundation Fellowship; and corporate membership through the NOMA President’s Circle.

NOMA’s 50th conference sponsors include partners - AIA, NCARB, U.S. Green Building Council, as well as companies including Stantec, HOK, and Gensler.

As part of the celebratory year, NOMA will pay tribute to the 12 founders of NOMA by profiling one a month this year. The founders include: William M. Brown Jr., Leroy M. Campbell, Wendell Campbell, John S. Chase, James C. Dodd, Kenneth B. Groggs, Nelson Harris, Jeh V. Johnson, E.H. McDowell, Robert J. Nash, Harold Williams, and Robert Wilson. To read more, visit Conference registration is open and speaking submissions will open in March.

To empower Black architects in the profession, NOMA is creating a partnership between Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and members of the AIA Large Firm Roundtable in order to provide mentorship and a resource pipeline between firms and students, faculty and administrator needs. There are seven architecture programs in HBCU’s across the country: Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Fl; Hampton University in Hampton, Va.; Howard University in Washington, D.C.; Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md.; University; Prairie View University in Prairie View, TX.; Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Ala.. and University of the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C. More about the program will be announced in the coming weeks under the leadership of NOMA President Pugh.

“The voices of Black and Minority architects were greatly amplified in 2020 as the nation looked inward at years of systemic racism,” said Pugh. “The profession needs to represent the people it serves. My hope for the New Year is that this movement represents a real change in the way we attract, mentor, and support the next generation of minority architects and designers. Real change in the way firms recruit, retain, and elevate their black and brown professionals. Lastly, real change in the way we engage, partner and support our clients to collectively serve marginalized and underserved communities.”


NOMA President Jason Pugh
Jason Pugh, AIA, AICP, NOMA, LEED AP, is the 2021-2022 President of the National Organization of Minority Architects. He is a Senior Associate Architect and Urban Designer at Gensler's Chicago office. He is a licensed architect and certified planner. He manages a variety of projects which engage the extended community and end-users, following projects from schematic community-based master plans through full construction. Pugh has a passion for helping develop underserved communities and the next generation of designers and architects. He previously served as the president of the Illinois NOMA chapter 2015-2016, and also served on Chicago’s Associate Board of the ACE (Architecture, Construction, and Engineering) Mentor Program. Pugh has a Bachelor of Arts from Howard University, one of seven Historically Black Colleges and Universities with an architecture accreditation, and a Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia University.

NOMA Executive Director Tiffany Brown
Tiffany Brown, MBA, NOMA, Assoc. AIA, is the Executive Director of the National Organization of Minority Architects. Brown is co-founder of the Urban Arts Collective, a nonprofit focused on increasing underrepresented groups in careers in science, technology, engineering, art and architecture, and mathematics. Brown is a passionate leader within NOMA and the architecture industry, recognized by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) with the 2020 National Associate Member of the Year Award for outstanding leadership and creative thinking in her communities and the architecture profession. She was awarded the same AIA Detroit and AIA Michigan honors in 2019. Brown has held local and national NOMA board leadership positions and is also a founding member of NOMA Detroit.

Brown created 400 FORWARD, which aims to seek the next 400 women architects with an underlying focus on African American girls through access to education on design through provided programming and scholarships. Her work with the organization was recently featured in a new documentary in partnership with Target, “Design for All.” Previously, she worked at SmithGroup and Hamilton Anderson Associates in Detroit. Brown earned her B.Arch, M.Arch and MBA from Lawrence Technological University.

NOMA Vice President/President Elect Pascale Sablan
Pascale Sablan, FAIA, NOMA, LEED AP, is the President-Elect of the National Organization of Minority Architects. Sablan is an Associate at Adjaye Associates. She is the 315th living African-American, woman registered architect in the U.S. She is an activist architect who works to advance architecture for the betterment of society, bring visibility and voice to the issues concerning women and BIPOC designers. She founded the Beyond the Built Environment organization positioned to uniquely address the inequitable disparities in architecture. She was awarded the 2021 AIA Whitney M. Young. Jr Award for her advocacy efforts and ascended to the AIA College of Fellows, the youngest African American to reach that honor. Sablan has given lectures at Colleges and Universities nationally; cultural institutions such as the United Nations and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.