Mentors & Topics


Anik Pearson, Founder & Principal of Anik Pearson Architect P.C.

After a childhood spent in Bourgogne and Savoie in France, Anik Pearson began her training in architecture at The Cooper Union in New York City.  She has been in business as a licensed architect, under her own name since 2001, following apprenticeships at established New York City architectural firms.  Anik Pearson Architect, P.C. is a 100% woman-owned architecture firm and has been involved in over a hundred new constructions and renovations, locally as well as nationally; from apartments to single-family residences, from churches, private clubs, offices to country estates.  

 The firm’s projects have been published in Architectural Digest, The World of Interiors, New York Magazine, Elle Decor, House Beautiful, Cote Ouest, Luxury Homes, Southern Living, Celebrity Deco and work has been featured in a number of books, notably Katie Ridder Rooms, Maisons de Bois and Architects Draw.

In addition to being an Architect and business owner, Anik is proficient at freehand drawing, photography, sculpture and martial arts. Anik has also been leading efforts to support Architecture students at the Cooper Union through the creation of an endowed scholarship named in honor of professor emerita Sue Ferguson Gussow A’56.

She is a member of the AIA, a certified LEED AP, a former Certified WBE business owner, and is currently an appointed State Board Member of the New York State Board for Architecture, Office of the Professions.


Starting one’s Own Practice

September 19, 2019

At 28 years of age, Anik took the plunge and started her own firm, with nothing but a license to practice Architecture and $6,000.  For nearly two decades, she has collected an extensive portfolio of high-quality residential and institutional works, including new-builds and historic restorations, both locally and nationally.  She has created an office environment where employees are mentored and elevated, and she has nurtured a loyal clientele while raising a family, practicing and teaching Martial Arts, and setting aside time for her other artistic and extra-curricular interests.  As a woman and a sole-practitioner, she will share her insights about starting a one-woman firm, to rising in the profession:

.             Getting one’s license.

.              Starting one’s practice.

.              Balancing a career and a family.

.              Building a robust portfolio of projects, skills and experiences.

.              Navigating economic highs and lows.

.              Seizing and building on opportunities.

.              Raising one’s visibility as a woman in Architecture.



Joan Krevlin, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C

Throughout her career, Joan Krevlin has approached architecture as a reciprocal expression of the communities it serves. Joan’s collegial and almost journalistic process results in a rich understanding of her clients, which is reflected in her mission-infused designs.

Guided by the philosophy that successful buildings both support an organization’s identity today and adapt for the environmental and societal needs of tomorrow, Joan has worked with a diverse cross section of New York’s civic institutions, from the New York Hall of Science to the Department of Parks & Recreation. Her widely lauded projects include the Queens Botanical Garden Visitor and Administration Center, New York’s first publicly funded LEED Platinum project and winner of an AIA COTE Top Ten Award, and the FDNY’s educational Fire Zone center, winner of an AIA NY Award for Excellence in Interior Design.

Joan’s deep investment in the cultural fabric of the city also extends to other roles, including currently as an adjunct professor at the Spitzer School of Architecture and a trustee of the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Joan holds BA and MArch degrees from Washington University in St. Louis, of which she is a Distinguished Alumnus. In 2010, the American Institute of Architects honored Joan by welcoming her to the esteemed College of Fellows.


Living Life as an Architect

September 19, 2019

For nearly 40 years, Joan has practiced Architecture ­– first, as an Associate in a small design firm for 14 years, and then as a Partner co-leading a 40-person firm. In her first position, she was the only female architect at the firm for many years. At BKSK she was the first female partner, (she is now joined by partner Julia Nelson). Her work includes private residential, multifamily development, and her passion lies in civic and cultural work. Joan taught for many years at the Bernard Spitzer School of Architecture at City College. She was elevated to Fellow of the AIA in 2010.

As a woman working in the field of Architecture for many years, she will share her perspective as an engaged practitioner, a parent, a mentor, and a teacher. How do we do it all? And is it worth it? And most importantly, how do we make decisions that allow us to have both productive (and meaningful) professional and personal lives?

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Lissa So, AIA, Founding Principal of Marvel Architects

Lissa So is a founding Partner of Marvel Architects with over 20 years of experience. She is driven to build innovative architecture that effortlessly accommodates the user and creates uniquely beautiful spaces. Lissa honed her expertise in theatre design renovating St. Ann’s Warehouse, a project that brought multiple awards and prestige to the Marvel office, and has led to additional theatrical and cultural work. She recently completed the Lyric Theatre, the new home of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and is leading the design team for Theater Squared, a new regional theatre in the burgeoning cultural hub of Fayetteville, AR. In addition, Lissa is currently spearheading 1 Clinton, a 36-story residential tower that will also house the new Brooklyn Public Library, and the new Northeast Bronx YMCA. This work in the Bronx has led to a collaboration with Phipps Neighborhoods to provide afterschool programs to underserved communities in efforts to promote women and minorities in architecture. Lissa attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she studied architecture.


Designing your own Path

November 7, 2019

There are many different experiences in the field of architecture—ranging from individual designers to large-scale corporate practices. Lissa has had the opportunity to experience architecture in different capacities within this range. She will share her path from working in a corporate practice, to freelancing, starting a small business, and then as a partner at a 100-person global design firm. Her experiences address how a young professional can create her own path and ensure an experience that achieves her career goals as a practicing architect. 

  • What is the right type of practice for you?

  • How can you ensure you’re getting the right experience?

  • How can you work on projects you’re interested in?

  • How can you have a design voice as a junior architect?

  • How can you create your own opportunities?


Caitlin Martusewicz, Passive House Designer

Caitlin joined Cycle Architecture + Planning in 2014 and became Partner in the small but mighty firm in 2018.  She has since worked on a broad range of the firm’s residential and commercial projects, which as often as possible, focus on the efficient design and construction of thoughtful places.  Previously Caitlin’s passion for sustainable development led her to work on the planning, design and construction of community development works in rural Ghana including an orphanage, solar-powered water/sanitation facilities, and volunteer housing with an Austrian NGO. She also worked as an Architectural Consultant for UNICEF with the Ministry of Education in Laos PDR to develop national standards for the construction of pre-primary schools which was based on personal interviews and architectural surveys of 40 communities across the country. Caitlin is a Cooper Union Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture graduate, an Irma Weiss Fellow, and a certified Passive House designer.


Expectations of architecture & a non-linear path

November 7, 2019

As an undergraduate student at The Cooper Union, Caitlin took her first trip to West Africa to learn about traditional mud building, and to learn about living minimally. Seeking primarily adventure and new experiences, she set out passionately committed to learning and contributing.  Setting out, there was no overarching plan with the foresight of future trips, projects or employment opportunities, but that first trip in 2007 would become the first of several to Ghana, and other countries in West Africa. Caitlin worked every summer during her time as an undergrad in West Africa, helping to design and manage on-site construction logistics for purpose driven NGOs, where she learned to expect architecture to solve real problems in material waste, embodied energy and social impact.

 When she graduated from school and the NGO projects completed, Caitlin had to face reality of how to apply lessons learned in Ghana to a practice in the United States, and seemingly even more daunting, NYC.  She will share her experience of post-college anxieties, and her non-traditional NYC employment path which would eventually lead her to work for international NGOs and ultimately bring her back to the practice of Architecture, with a renewed sense of purpose, personal goals, new interests in evolving technology, shifts in workplace culture and in workplace structure - all of which would help her to become partner at Cycle Architecture 4 years later.



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Nicole Dosso, FAIA - Director at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Nicole Dosso, FAIA is a gifted practitioner of the technical craft of architecture, an expert in the technical challenges of designing tall buildings on complex urban sites, and a mentor to emerging practitioners.

Nicole’s career as an architect has been primarily focused on technical architecture. As Director of SOM’s Technical Department in New York, she leads one of the most important groups of technical specialists in the United States. She served as Lead Technical Coordinator on SOM’s projects at the World Trade Center site – 7 World Trade Center and One World Trade Center – each of which had significant challenges, and whose successful completion heralded the rebirth of a complex urban area that was destroyed by the 9/11 attacks.

In 2012, Nicole was honored in the “40 under Forty” issue of Crain’s New York Business, and received an AIA Presidential Citation for contributions at the World Trade Center site. In January 2016, for recognition of her notable contributions to the advancement of the profession of architecture, Nicole was elevated to The College of Fellows of The American Institute of Architects.


Taking the Long View

January 22, 2020

In 2006, standing in the lobby at the opening of 7WTC, Nicole was 10 years into her career.  She had worked on only three projects. 

Working on large-scale complex projects is a strategic endeavor.    Architecture takes a long time to design and a long time to construct.  You are required to have a long view. 

Milestones are not measured by projects completed but by significant moments in the course.  Keeping the course is challenging.

Today, Nicole’s career spanning more than two decades includes projects such as: 7WTC, WTC T1, Manhattan West, Moynihan Train Hall, Farley Post Office conversion and the reuse of the Landmark Waldorf Astoria.

During the session, we will explore challenges faced, how to create opportunities within the framework of the projects and how to foster relationships in the larger AEC community.  


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Michi Yanagishita & Yen Ha, Founding Partner & Principals of Front Studio Architects

Yen is a founding principal of Front Studio, started in New York, NY in 2001. She completed her undergraduate work at Carnegie Mellon University with honors, followed by post-graduate work in urbanism at L’École d’Architecture in Paris, France. Fluent in French and Vietnamese, Yen is a LEED professional and licensed architect whose work has been featured in Interior Design, Icon Magazine, Wallpaper and the NY Times. She is a member of the Board of Directors for the NewSchool of Architecture + Design in San Diego and a visiting professor at the Sam Fox School at Washington University in St Louis. Yen produces short fictions and small drawings at hh1f.

Michi has been a principal of Front Studio since 2005. Michi is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University and studied at the Glasgow School for Art in Scotland. A native born Japanese speaker, she is a licensed architect. Her work on the Harlem Townhouse was featured in the New York Times Real Estate section. Additional projects under Michi's purview have been published in AIT, Arch+ and AD Magazine.


navigating the job site

January 22, 2020

The design has been approved, the permits are in place, you have a contractor, now what? How do you, as a female architect in a traditionally male dominated industry, navigate the construction phase? With over two decades of successfully built projects in residential and commercial sectors, Michi and Yen will speak about the challenges of often being the only woman on the job site. They will talk about the purely practical - how to introduce yourself, what to wear and how firm your handshake should be. They’ll address how to manage a project team composed mostly of men and how to build lasting relationships with them. Navigating the construction site with confidence is critical to the success of a smoothly run project. We will discuss ways to find and increase your own sense of poise.  



Barbara Spandorf, AIA, Leed AP

Barbara Spandorf, AIA LEEP AP is an Assistant Director with the City University of New York (CUNY) where she is responsible for managing design projects at five campuses. Prior to CUNY Barbara worked at the NYC Department of Design & Construction (DDC) where she headed the units responsible for capital projects for the NYPD and the public library systems.  Before entering the public sector in 2010 Barbara worked in the private sector.  As an Associate with Fisher Dachs Associates (FDA), a theater design and planning firm, she was responsible for design and project management for award winning performance facilities throughout the United States and Asia during her 12 years with the firm.  Earlier Barbara practiced architecture at Beyer Blinder Belle and Prentice & Chan, Ohlhausen.  While at the latter firm Barbara led the renovation of the New School’s Tishman Auditorium which received both National and State AIA awards.

Barbara has been an active member of AIA New York and served on their Board of Directors for 4 years.She was appointed to the AIA NY Oculus Committee in 2012 and chaired the committee from 2014 through 2017. She served as the Co-Chair of the AIA NY Cultural Facilities Committee from 2004 to 2013.Under Barbara’s leadership the committee developed and endowed the annual Arthur Rosenblatt Lecture for Excellence in Museum Design.In 2019 she was appointed to Manhattan Community Board 5 where she is a member of the Landmarks Committee and the Parks & Public Space Committee.She was also a recipient of a LeBrun travel grant from AIA NY in 2000.Barbara received her Bachelor of Arts from Oberlin College and her Masters in Architecture from University of California, Los Angeles.


Following your interests

March 4, 2020

Barbara’s path to success was established early on, when one of her employers asked her a simple question:  what did she want to be doing?  Since answering this simple question, she has stayed on track in her career, she has created her own opportunities, and her work has continued to motivate and inspire her.  Following her own insights and experiences, she will be sharing her thoughts with you about:

  • Being open-minded – being open to alternative paths in the profession of Architecture other than having your own small private Architecture practice.

  • Being communicative – being vocal about what you are interested in and want to do with your career.

  • Being deliberate – having clarity about your preferences, so you can get on the right path early on.

  • Being different – thinking of what you can do to stand out from all of your peers.

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Elizabeth Graziolo, AIA

Elizabeth Graziolo joined Peter Pennoyer Architects in 1998 and has been a partner at the firm since 2005.  At PPA, she has directed a range of projects, both in the United States and abroad, including private houses and residential developments. Elizabeth has been responsible for renovations and reconstructions of townhouses and apartments in New York City, new residences in Maine and Massachusetts, a luxury townhouse development on the Peak in Hong Kong, and a residential development in Dalian, China, for which she led the site master planning and the design and development of thirty-nine townhouses.  She recently led a team through the construction of 151 East 78th Street, a new 17-story condominium on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

Elizabeth’s work at PPA has been widely published in newspapers, books, and periodicals, including The Wall Street Journal, Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, and A Field Guide to American Architecture, which included her project, a Federal style house in Massachusetts, as a paradigm for new classical architecture designed to be contextual with its historic setting.  

Elizabeth received her Bachelor of Architecture from The Cooper Union. She is a registered architect in the State of New York and Michigan. She is NCARB Certified and a member of the American Institute of Architects.

Elizabeth was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and is fluent in French. She is a member of Wu Mei Kung Fu, the Chinese martial arts association and is recognized for her skill in the ancient martial arts.


Overcoming obstacles

March 4, 2020

As women in a male dominated industry, we find ourselves working twice as hard as our male counterparts to be seen as leaders. As a woman of color in the field of architecture, Elizabeth has found there are additional challenges of working with clients and colleagues to conquer their fear of the unknown - a black woman architect. In general, once clients and colleagues meet Elizabeth, and are assured that she excels in her work, all is well. Still, their initial doubt of her competence based solely on gender and race, is an unfortunate representation of societal bias that makes women and minorities have to “prove” themselves in a way that white male peers do not, in spite of decades of experience and overwhelming qualifications.

Elizabeth will share how she has overcome these obstacles to thrive as a Partner in her firm, and be an active member in a number of AEC organizations she is passionate about, while being a devoted parent of two children who are now college-aged and facing their own career paths. 

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Claire Weisz, Founding Partner at WXY Architecture + Urban Design

Claire Weisz is a founding partner of WXY, whose work as an architect and urbanist focuses on innovative approaches to public space, structures, and cities. The firm, globally recognized for its place-based approach to architecture, urban design, and planning, has played a vital role in design thinking around resiliency: combining the infrastructure of public space with working districts for and with communities. Weisz was named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business in 2017, and was most recently awarded the Medal of Honor from AIANY in 2018. She currently holds a seat on the World Monuments Fund Modern Century Advisory Council, as well as the Industry Advisory Group for the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Overseas Operations. She served on design juries, both nationally and internationally, including the 2018 Mies Crown Hall Americas Prize, Azure Design Awards; Big Ideas for Small Lots NYC Housing Design Competition and Metals in Construction Design Challenge in 2019. She has taught and lectured widely, including Yale University, MIT and most recently, The City College of New York Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture.


architects are the biggest sponsors of architecture

May 7, 2020

A career path is not always something that is laid out before you by other people, but one that you define for yourself.   In Claire’s experience, many of the best projects are those that came from solving a problem and finding an opportunity in resolving that problem. Her advice for young architects is to stay as open as possible to ideas, people and opportunity. 


Nancy Kleppel, Principal at Nancy Kleppel Consulting

For over 25 years Nancy has consistently delivered real, measurable results for design and construction services firms. Her success stems from persuasively articulating the objective value her clients provide to their own clientele.  Nancy began her career as a practicing architectural designer and shifted her focus to firm management and success in 1997 as Director of Business Development for SOM NY.  Most recently, she served as the Director of Business Development for North America and a member of the 4-person regional management team for Turner & Townsend, a global program, project, and cost management firm.  As a consultant for over 13 years, she has provided integrated strategic marketing, business development and communications services to a diverse mix of clients including Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, BKSK Architects, Herreros Arquitectos, Schirmer Engineering and many others.

Nancy is a native New Yorker and holds a B. A. from Brown and a M. Arch from Harvard.  She has also studied textile design at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Fashion Institute of Technology.  She is an active member of the Society for Marketing Professional Services and the AIA New York chapter.  Nancy has taken a leadership role in delivering professional development seminars for both organizations and has written and co-written professional practice articles published in the Zweig Letter, ArchNewsNow, and ArcCa, The Journal of The AIA California Council.


making your own luck while advocating for yourself & others

May 7, 2020

Great design is only part of the story. Whether just starting out or well established as a seasoned professional, there is an art to knowing how to get clients (and collaborators) to seek you out and sign on the dotted line. From the earliest days of her career Nancy has been aware of the importance of communication to success in the profession. Architects need to make themselves understood in plain language that clients can relate to while simultaneously subtly distinguishing themselves from their peers and competitors, rising above the noise. Further still, as professionals engaged in delivering services to clients we need to listen very carefully, allowing our clients to reveal what it is they truly need. Sometimes they know. Sometimes they don’t. At all times we can navigate these interactions, furthering a productive dialogue.

Nancy will speak about how to develop a finely tuned awareness of what your clients are looking for and how to best offer and provide it.