New York — The Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation (BWAF) will host its first ever Leadership Awards Gala honoring the legacy of Beverly Willis on Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015 at the Prince George Ballroom, 15 East 27th Street in New York City.

Contributors, supporters and friends of the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation will gather for a specially curated experience in celebration of Beverly Willis and her lifelong dedication to supporting women in architecture. The 2015 Leadership Awards in the following categories will be presented at the gala.

Foundation Award — Awarded to a transformational firm for expanding opportunities for and influencing the careers of women in the building industry: HOK

Within the last decade, HOK, an architecture, engineering and planning firm, has increasingly recognized the value in promoting women into leadership positions. Five years ago, HOK initiated metrics.  Since that time, HOK’s percentage of professional female staff has surged from less than 38 percent to 45 percent. In the same time period, HOK has promoted more women professionals than ever before into vice-president and senior vice-president positions.  In fact, 30 percent of HOK’s offices are now led by women, and women comprise 30 percent of the firm’s board of directors. This year, Rebecca Nolan, IIDA, was elected to one of the highest leadership positions within the firm as part of HOK’s executive committee.  Global firm-wide leadership positions have also been filled with senior women who will be able to effect continued positive change as directors of engineering, directors of human resources, directors of public relations and as general counsel. HOK New York’s leadership has supported an internal women’s group (HOKW) to help mentor and advance women in their office. HOKW has led the way in collecting data that is essential to making informed policy decisions that expand opportunities for women.  HOK’s Diversity Advisory Council, comprised of nine women and five men, is building on this effort to expand HOK’s data-driven approach to fairness and opportunity across the firm and the industry.

Keystone Award — Bestowed to an executive leader (firm) for increasing women’s impact, representation, and effectiveness at the top management levels in the building industry: Gregory Hodkinson, Chairman, Arup Group and Mahadev Raman, Chairman, Americas Region, Arup Group

Arup Group has long understood that improved gender diversity in the workplace is not just about fairness, but that it actually results in better outcomes on projects.  They believe that teams that have a good gender balance are generally more effective and make better decisions. Under their leadership, Arup has worked proactively to level the playing field for women by tackling unconscious bias, promoting flexible work schedules and ensuring that promotion decisions are fair.  In an industry that has historically been male dominated, Arup is above average in terms of the proportion of women in its annual graduate recruitment, both throughout the body of the firm and in senior business and executive roles.  However, Gregory Hodkinson and Mahadev Raman recognize that there is still a long way to go and that Arup cannot afford to be complacent.

Pillar Award — Presented to a woman who has shown leadership and mentorship in the building profession, and who works to increase recognition of women’s work and opportunities for women: Aine Brazil, Thornton Tomasetti

As vice chairman of Thornton Tomasetti and structural design leader for major projects, Aine has been an inspiring role model for many women.  In the 32 years since Aine joined the firm, Thornton Tomasetti has grown from about 50 staff to over 800, with a significant increase in the number and percentage of women in roles of responsibility.  Aine has been a member of the Thornton Tomasetti board of directors for over 15 years.  She identified the need to take a more proactive role in supporting women within the firm, which led to the founding of W@TT (Women at TT) to provide support and mentoring for the female staff. The group’s mission is to help Thornton Tomasetti women navigate a career path in the firm and our industry, to provide a support network of women for women and to promote the advancement of Thornton Tomasetti women internally and encourage their professional recognition in the industry.

In addition to her work promoting women internally, Aine has been both a mentor and board member for the ACE mentor program, as well as a board member of NEW (Non-traditional Employment for Women) and has served on the scholarship committee for WX New York Women Executives in Real Estate. In her 1977 graduating class in engineering, women comprised 5 percent of the class. As the only woman on the Thornton Tomasetti board of directors, she now represents 10 percent of the board. 

Oculus Award — Awarded to an individual who has demonstrated significant leadership in teaching and research, enhancing and furthering understanding of gender issues in architecture and related fields: Jennifer Wolch, Dean, College of Environmental Design, UC Berkeley

As Dean of the College of Environmental Design, Jennifer Wolch led a collaborative effort to establish the Berkeley-Rupp Professorship and Prize Program, funded by a bequest from the late alumna Sigrid Rupp.  The program awards $100,000 to architects who have made major contributions to gender equity in the field of architecture, and whose work embodies the values of sustainability and community.  Wolch has also worked to recruit, mentor, and promote women faculty as well as students at UC Berkeley.

Tribune Award — Given to a young individual who demonstrates significant leadership and active participation in increasing recognition of and improving gender inequities faced in the building industry: Arielle Assouline-Lichten, Principal & Co-Founder, Slash Products, and Caroline James, Associate, Maryann Thompson Architects Members, Women in Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design

Arielle Assouline-Lichten and Caroline James authored and advocated a petition that gathered over 20,000 signatures to support the recognition of Denise Scott Brown by the Pritzker Prize. The petition, launched as a part of a Harvard Graduate School of Design student group, Women in Design, has sparked an international discussion on recognition, inclusion, and collaboration within the field.