AIA’S 2024 Ppresident-elect Kimberly Dowdell. Image Courtesy of Kimberly N. Dowdell

Kimberly Dowdell was chosen as the first Black woman President of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in December 2020. She assumed the position on January 1, 2021, and will serve a one-year term.

Dowdell is an architect, urban designer, and real estate developer who has worked on a variety of projects across the United States. She is a partner at the Chicago-based architecture firm HOK and has been involved in the design of several major projects, including the new Obama Presidential Center in Chicago.

As President of the AIA, Dowdell is focused on advancing the organization’s commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion within the architecture profession. She has emphasized the importance of addressing systemic racism and inequality in the industry and has called for greater diversity among architects and in the leadership of architectural firms.

Dowdell’s election as the first Black woman President of the AIA is a historic milestone and reflects a growing recognition of the need for greater diversity and representation in the architecture profession.


I do believe that representation matters, and I would be honored to demonstrate a new set of possibilities for young women and people of color in particular. – Kimberly Dowdell

Dowdell’s leadership has also focused on addressing issues related to sustainability and climate change in the architecture profession. She has called for architects to play a greater role in addressing these issues and has emphasized the need to design buildings and cities that are both environmentally sustainable and socially equitable.

In addition to her work at HOK and as President of the AIA, Dowdell is also an adjunct professor at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. She has received numerous awards and honors for her work, including the 2020 American Society of Interior Designers National Design Honors Award.

Overall, Dowdell’s election as the first Black woman President of the AIA represents an important step forward in the architecture profession’s efforts to address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Her leadership is likely to inspire other architects and designers to pursue similar goals and to push for greater change within the industry.

My journey from very humble beginnings to a dynamic career in architecture is highly improbable, but that’s what’s so special about being an architect. We have the ability to not only see the future, but to design a better one. We make things possible. – Kimberly Dowdell

News via AIA.