Two AIA New Jersey women architects selected for leadership program


Libertad McLellan Harris is the former Section Director of the Emerging Professionals Community at AIA West Jersey and recently received the AIA New Jersey Associate of the Year award in 2019, as well as a Young Architect Conference Award in 2021. Photo courtesy of AIA New Jersey

The American Institute of Architects in New Jersey (AIANJ) selected two women architects for its inaugural “Next to Lead” program, designed to support the community leadership of women of diverse ethnicities aspiring to lead AIA.

The AIA chose 17 members, including two female architects from AIA New Jersey. Libertad McLellan Harris, also known as Lauren, has already established herself as a leader and influencer within the IAANJ. She is currently the 2020-2022 Regional Associate Director representing New Jersey’s Emerging Professionals on the National Associates Committee, Chair of the AIA-NJ Women in Architecture Committee and AIA-NJ Environmental Committee and Trustee. from New Jersey Architects. political action committee.

Harris is the former Section Director of the Emerging Professionals Community at AIA West Jersey and recently received the 2019 AIA New Jersey Associate of the Year award, as well as a Young Architects Conference in 2021. She was also the creator and moderator of the 2020 AIA NJ webinar series on the equity experience of African-American architects.

Levitta Lawrence-Gathers, AIA Associate, graduated in Architecture from the New Jersey Institute of Technology. While completing her studies, she won a Habitat for Humanity design competition to design an affordable, sustainable and innovative single-family home. Thanks to this honor, she was featured in the “Star Ledger” and received a paid internship with Architecture and Engineering Inglese.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Lawrence-Gathers also contributed to the design studio Precast Concrete Industry (PCI) which inspired the publication of the book, Design for resilience, which documents students’ ideas towards more efficient construction techniques for coastal cities. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in architecture and is working with NK Studio to explore her passion for developing educational facilities.

“Next to Lead” is a two-phase program launched on October 15th. Its first phase includes an online program and monthly virtual sessions focused on associative leadership, starting in 2022. In the second phase, participants will then work on a collaborative project developed with a local or state component or a knowledge group in within the AIA.

“Next to Lead” is the first program of its kind to support the leadership of associations for women of diverse ethnicities who aspire to become AIA leaders. Candidates were selected by jurors from AIA’s Committee on Fairness and the Future of Architecture (EQFA) who blindly reviewed the applications and letters of reference.


Kevin E. Boling

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.