As part of our Women’s Month series, highlighting women from each of our offices, Victoria Acevedo is a shining example of a young professional working to improve equity in the architecture industry. Not limiting her efforts to just Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Victoria is helping to reshape inclusion through her work with outside organizations such as the National Organization of Minority Architects. Named as a contender on Pittsburgh Business Times’, 2019 30 under 30 list, Victoria is a leader on the rise. We asked her to share some advice.
You have taken on leadership roles in professional organizations outside of the firm. What larger impact do you hope to make from your participation?
Many design professionals and students rely on the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) and its local and national networks. NOMA provides opportunities, mentorship, and fellowship often missing or inaccessible at their firms and in their local professional and academic environments. As Vice President-Elect of my local NOMA chapter in Pittsburgh, I hope to continue to strengthen and expand our chapter initiatives and its impact of elevating and supporting local minority architects, at local and national levels; to help to ensure success in our member’s careers at majority design firms and their independent endeavors. As our chapter involvement increases and as local organizations tune into our initiatives, the impact of our chapter’s collective efforts magnify, and that is an exciting thing to be part of. I think being a leader is understanding that success is never an individual effort.
How have you sought leadership within the firm and what advice would you give to those seeking leadership opportunities but face barriers?
My deep involvement with NOMA and years of leadership experience at the local and national level have helped support my career at Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. It is through this lens that I believe I have influenced our firm’s leadership and its values. This work also informed my involvement in the equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives our firm is undertaking. Additionally, I have always been an advocate of participation in professional organizations such as NOMA, AIA, and local Women in Design chapters, which all have helped me find ways to develop the soft skills required to be an effective leader. One piece of advice I would give is that often holding a leadership position elsewhere or finding opportunities for training outside your firm can translate positively into your professional career.
What are the most significant equity challenges in the architecture industry right now, and what is one thing each of us can do today to help foster a more equitable workplace?
I believe that one of the biggest equity challenges is breaking the mold on workplace culture in the architectural profession to make the workplace more equitable for everyone. I understand that change is not easy for anyone, but encouraging the difficult conversations, questioning the way things have been done, and having leadership willing to participate and act is imperative to start change. Advocacy for others, focusing on building relationships and trust in your everyday work environments, and being engaged in your work and office culture are some things I think we can do to help foster a more equitable workplace.
In what ways have you been supporting other women in the office?
A fellow female coworker and I have agreed to study together, check-in, and keep each other accountable for the remainder of our ARE exams in an attempt to increase the number of licensed women architects. It is crucial to support each other and having an accountability buddy has been extremely helpful and motivating!
What architectural building achievement are you most proud of and why?
I am very proud of the Earth Ocean Atmospheric Science Building at Florida State University. It was my very first project in my architecture career, and I am very grateful to have been tuned-in at all phases of the project, including Construction Administration. It was such a treat to develop complex drawings, intricate exterior details, and get to see them built. I learned so much during that experience with a supportive and talented team. The lessons learned in this experience has been truly beneficial for my other project work. I am very proud of the hard work and the result.