Riding the Vortex XVI, Richmond VA


vortex-xvi-archexeast_groupSince 2007, Riding the Vortex has been presented as panel of Black women in architecture, talking about their experience in the industry and offering a place for other people to share their stories. We presented twice in the Fall of 2016.

I moderated the Riding the Vortex XVI panel at Arch Exchange East in Richmond, Virginia
which included the following participants, pictured left to right:
Mia Gilliam, Assoc AIA, Wiley Wilson Architects
Nea Maloo, AIA LEED AP, Principal, Showcase Architects
Kathy Dixon, NOMA, AIA, Principal, K. Dixon Architecture, PLLC
Kathryn Prigmore, FAIA, NCARB, NOMA, LEED AP

I asked Mia, the newest to the panel member, and coincidentally, a childhood friend, to write about her experience.

vortex-xvi-archexeast_miaRiding the Vortex – Examining Your Place in the Profession
by Mia Gilliam

I had the privilege recently to speak on a panel with four other amazing ladies at the Architecture Exchange conference. I honestly had no idea what I was getting in to. I did a little research on the other speakers before the conference. I was amazed each woman’s accomplishments over their careers. I was not quite sure what I had to offer.

I am an unlicensed African American female architect; I’ve been working in the field for over 12 years. I really like what I do. I have struggled through the licensure process due to health issues that I’m overcoming now. I would truly encourage anyone seeking their architectural license to get it as soon as you can. You have no control how life will hit you, and it will hit you.

These women are all overcomers in their own right. Out of all the licensed architects, only .4% are African American women, and that has doubled in the last 10 years. I am grateful to these ladies for paving the way for me in this industry. Even though I had to deal with a little discrimination very early in my career, it is not to the degree that they had to rise through. I have learned how blessed I am to work at a company that gives me opportunities to grow and not place me in a pigeon hole. (It has happened to me before, I am great at designing toilet rooms.)

Yes, my experience is different; I have not accomplished as much as I would have liked to accomplish, yet. Thanks to these women, it no longer defines me. I can still reach my goals.

One Response to “Riding the Vortex XVI, Richmond VA”

  1. Great! THANKS

    I went to the writers and editors conference last week at the COnvention Center and learned how REALLY IMPORTANT it is to stay in people’s faces on social media. I am pledged to doing better.