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Welcome to the 2017-2018 New Directors and Chairs

AWA+D’s new fiscal year begins October 1st, and with that comes new and returning Board members. Our Board essentially has three tiers:

  1. OFFICERS, which includes the President, Vice President, Parliamentarian, Secretary and CFO.
  2. DIRECTORS, which includes leaders for our major focuses and operations components. These include Programming, Mentorship, Membership, Communications, Systems, Development (sponsorships), Special Projects (which includes our 50:50 x 2020 initiative), and the AWAF Liaison (AWAF, or AWA’s Foundation, is our sister organization whose mission is to raise funds and extend financial support to women students and professionals).
  3. CHAIRS, individuals who support Directors and Officers in the development and production of all that AWA+D does.

We’re looking forward to an exciting year of programming that supports our mission to advance and support women in the allied fields of architecture and design! Whether a current or potential member, we hope you will get to know the organization through our events as well as our Board members. Additionally, follow us on Instagram as we introduce these new Board members over the next few months.

Claire Burke – Secretary

Hi, my name is Claire Burke and I am the Secretary for AWA+D for the 2017-2018 year. I worked previously in the entertainment & technology fields for 6 years before making the leap to return to school to fulfill my passion for interior design and architecture. While I am still a student in the UCLA Interior Design program I am excited to be involved in the design and architecture community in Los Angeles. I look forward to bringing my professional background in combination with my love for design to make an impact on AWA+D.

Phyllis Dubinsky – Development Director

Phyllis Dubinsky is a Managing Principal for PDK Market Strategies. A major part of her practice is serving the capacity of Vice President, Business and Market Strategies for Vantage Technology Consulting Group. She also consults to Professional Service firms, with an emphasis on market research and strategic planning. During her 25-year career, she has served as Principal for regional architectural practices, as well as for multi-national architectural firms leading practice in Institutional Planning. She is the recipient of the Leonardo Award, from SMPS, recognizing her as a Renaissance marketer.  Phyllis has been part of the faculty of SCI-Arc, Woodbury, UCLA and the School of Visual Arts. She also has served on several client and professional boards. In 2010 she became a full time student for a semester while competing on the Santa Monica College Tennis team, which won its division title for the first time in 30 years. She is an avid swimmer and sometime musician.

Adena Nik – Systems Director

Adena Nik is a Project Engineer at John A. Martin & Associates and the new Systems Director at AWA+D. She graduated from UCLA in 2013 with a BS and from UC Berkeley in 2015 with her MS in Civil Engineering. She is a licensed professional engineer with over 3 years of experience. She enjoys volunteering and getting involved in different committees such as AWA+D and SEAOSC (Structural Engineering Association of Southern California). Adena is also the engineering team lead for the ACE mentorship program at John Marshall high school in Los Angeles where high school students learn about Architecture, Construction and Engineering. Some of her hobbies include outdoor adventures, playing sports, hiking, traveling and reading.

Marisa Kurtzman – Advocacy co-chair

Marisa Kurtzman, Architect, LEED AP is an Associate at Frederick Fisher and Partners, where she specializes in programming, planning, and concept design for schools and universities, museums, and civic entities. Marisa has over 14 years of experience helping clients identify and develop visions for their upcoming building projects. A “people person” by nature, she loves finding out what makes organizations tick, and then translating those values into design strategies that are beautiful, functional, and expressive of unique institutional identities and goals. Marisa received her BA from Wesleyan University, and her Master of Architecture from Yale.  Outside of work, Marisa enjoys seeking out interesting cultural activities around town with friends, reading, listening to public radio, and travel.

Taryn Bone – Advocacy co-chair

Taryn is the Principal and Owner of Bone Collective Studio, a boutique design practice based in Los Angeles. Her background experiences in both hospitality interiors and custom residential and commercial architecture shine through in her practice where her main focus is working on tenant improvements and residential projects across the LA Metro area. Taryn joined AWA+D in August 2016 and has been an active member of the monthly Salons.

Macelle Skivington - Symposium co-chair and Social Media chair

Macelle provides interior design services for commercial and residential spaces. She’s is a LA native and educated through the UCLA Interior Arch ID  program. Building and design has been in her blood since she was born wearing a yellow hard hat. Daughter of a contractor turned City of LA Housing Director, she has a lifetime of experience with development, construction and design.  After half a lifetime of honing her skills, she brings a wealth of experience from her career in commercial real estate development, project management, brokerage and business productivity technology as principal of her firm, M Design Build Studio.  This experience enables her ability to focus on solutions for her clients taking them from discovery phase to ribbon cutting.  Additionally, she is building philanthropic efforts to giving back to the community in form of affordable housing.

Nancy Peng – Tours chair

Lanqian Nancy Peng is a Chinese-born, Canadian-raised, Los Angeles-based designer. After experiencing a quarter-life crisis post-business school, she moved across the continent to pursue her childhood dream; Architecture and Design. With an unwavering obsession for the built environment, Nancy looks forward to the world of design. With a Bachelor of Business (Concordia University, Montréal) and a Masters of Interior Architecture (UCLA/Cal Poly, Los Angeles), Nancy presently works as a designer at IR Architects. When she’s not spending hours in front of Revit, Nancy loves running marathons, snowboarding and playing with huskies. Her life ethos: be happy, humble and hungry.

Leona Sheffield – Mentorship co-chair

I was born in Japan, but grew up in Los Angeles. I fell in love with traditional, old architecture in Japan and also the new and modern developments in Los Angeles. I went to school at Woodbury University where I studied Interior Architecture. I have spent the last 13 years working in the interior design field, focusing on commercial and entertainment spaces. I would like to expand my career even further by seeking opportunities in the hospitality field as well. I enjoy attending architectural lectures, visiting both historic and iconic architecture and meeting people in the field. In my spare time, my husband and I are meticulously restoring our century old Craftsman home in Los Angeles.

Joanna Karaman – Blog Editor co-chair

Joanna Karaman is currently a Los Angeles-based landscape designer at OLIN. Prior to this, she interned at Balmori Associates in New York and also worked on the PennDesign/OLIN team in HUD’s Rebuild by Design competition. Joanna graduated in 2015 from the dual-degree Master of Landscape Architecture and Master of Architecture program at the University of Pennsylvania. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania and has studied abroad at both the Architectural Association in London and at the University of Hong Kong. Utilizing a variety of media techniques ranging from film to analytical drawings, Joanna is interested in exploring and pushing the representation of landscape as both a design and communication tool. Further, she is interested in using new media and communication techniques to create greater agency for landscape architecture in this time of environmental stresses and climate change.


With welcoming new people to our board of directors, we extend a big thank you to those continuing on our board from the prior year:

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