A Constellation of Leadership

A Constellation of Leadership

In December 2018, in response to Allison Arieff’s opinion article in the New York Times, and Julia Gamolina’s reply in The Architect’s Newspaper — and my additional comments — I published my own list of women in leadership roles in architecture and design. It wasn’t a complete list, but it was illustrative.

Today, I’m updating the list — a group that includes female friends and colleagues in the world of architecture and design — all of whom I’ve met over the past 30+ years and who I admire for their brilliance and leadership.


Shagufta Anurag
Founder Space Matrix International
Co-Founder Livspace
Founder + CEO Saltmine

I met Shagu in 2014, when I began consulting with Space Matrix International, based in Singapore with offices throughout Asia. She is a remarkable leader and entrepreneur who, within the past 20 years, has built three significant companies within the design industry. She was recently profiled in our feature article, Eyes on the Future: Making Big Moves.

Jill Bergman, AIA, ACHA, LEED AP, EDAC
VP + Healthcare Principal
HDR, San Francisco CA

I met Jill Bergman in 2004, when she joined CannonDesign in San Francisco as a healthcare planner. She was most deservingly recognized as an honoree in the 2008 BD+C 40 Under 40 list. Today, she is a principal with HDR, which she joined in 2015. She is a wonderful person who takes work seriously while enjoying her life, family, and friends.

Annie Chu, FAIA, IIDA
Founding Principal
Chu Gooding, Los Angeles CA

As I recall, about 30 years ago, Annie and her husband, Rick Gooding, were on the “101 New Blood List” of participants selected for an exhibit at the new Architecture and Design Museum in Los Angeles. I reached out to her, and in her inimitable style, Annie was happy to learn more about me and what I was doing. We’ve been friends ever since. Annie has become known for her work as an architect, interior designer, educator, and advocate in the civic and professional realms. In 2014, she received the IIDA Leadership Award of Excellence, and in 2016, she was elevated to Fellowship in the AIA. AIA/LA also recognized her with the distinguished Presidential Honoree Educator Award.

Anne Fletcher, AIA, LEED AP
Managing Principal
HOK, Los Angeles CA

HOK has been one of our clients since 1990. We began working with Anne when she became Managing Principal of their Los Angeles office. Under her leadership, HOK LA was honored by AIA California with their 2019 Firm Award. Today, Anne is featured in an HOK Q+A in which she Challenges Architecture’s ‘Gentlemen’s Profession’ Reputation.

Julia Gamolina
Founder + Editor, Madame Architect
Director of Strategy, Trahan Architects NYC

I met Julia as a result of her 2018 op-ed piece in The Archinect’s Newspaper. She was introduced by the wonderful Brien McDaniel, who worked with her at FXCollaborative. (Since then, Julia has joined Trahan Architects as Director of Strategy.) I “paid it forward” by introducing her to Michelle Wempe (scroll down) who has asked Julia to participate in several academic programs at Kansas State University, where Julia is always enthusiastically received.

Ruth Gless, FAIA
Managing Principal
Lincoln Street Studio, Columbus OH

For more information about Ruth, see An Architect Who Paints.

Principal, Health
Perkins&Will, Los Angeles CA

Ruth Gless introduced me to Jean in 1992. In 1994, Jean was one of the six principals who opened the Perkins & Will office in Los Angeles. Interestingly, three of the six were women — Jean, as well as Amy Yurko and Phyllis Dubinsky. We began working together, creating a stronger leadership framework for that office. Jean is a strong leader and advocate, with an encyclopedic knowledge of healthcare and a wicked sense of humor.


Pamela Babey
Founding Principal
BAMO, San Francisco CA

Pamela and I met at SOM SF, in the beginning our careers. We both had the great good fortune to work with Margo Grant (Walsh) and Charles Pfister, the leaders of the interior design department. She and David Moulton, Michael Booth, and Gerry Jue continued working with Charlie until he died, and in 1992, they  founded BAMO. Last year, Michelle Wempe (scroll down) initiated a new course at KSU on The History of Women in Design, and Pamela was the final presenter — literally, the icing on the cake.

Lisa Bottom
Vice President
AECOM, San Francisco CA

I met Lisa in 1989, but we became good friends in 1995, when I became an advisor to her design firm, Bottom Duvivier. She and John Duvivier joined Gensler SF in 2005, and after 12 years as a principal and practice leader, she joined AECOM to lead the Corporate Market Sector in Building+Places. Whether talking about design or singing Handel’s Messiah, we always have a wonderful time, filled with joy and laughter.

Michelle Wempe, AIA Associate, IDEC, IIDA
Founder zumaooh®, San Francisco CA
Professor of Practice, Kansas State University
Principal, Talentstar, Inc.

Michelle joined us at Talentstar in 1998, introduced by Lisa Bottom. She is an exceptional designer and mentor who has continued to focus on design within her own design practice and as an advocate for design education. In 2018, she became a Professor of Practice at KSU, sharing her love and talent for design, along with her extensive knowledge and true wisdom. She is a wonderful person, and a very dear friend and colleague.

Cat Lindsay
Executive Director, WarnerMedia
Principal, Lindsay Newman, NYC

Cat is a brilliant designer, as well as my most wonderful cousin — actually second cousin once removed. We think we met when she was quite young, but we met formally after her architect husband, John Newman, participated in our Harvard GSD ExecEd course in 1997. After honing her design skills at SOM and Gensler, she spent three years as Head of Workplace and Design at WarnerMedia in NYC. Today, Cat is once more leading the design firm that she and her husband created. She, too, was a guest speaker in the KSU course on The History of Women in Design.

Linda Wallack
The Hello Authority at TOKOcreative
Principal Connector, Talentstar, Inc.

Linda defies description. We met in 1999, at the beginning of the era, when she was President and Owner of CleverSpin — a collective of design thinkers who shaped ideas into space, technology, and graphic experiences. She is an interior designer, a strategic thinker, an expert in marketing communications, and a change agent — a catalyst for creative alliances and opportunities. Today, she is also one of my wonderful partners and a dear friend.


Kirsten Ritchie, PE, LEED AP OM
Director of Sustainable Design
Gensler, San Francisco CA

Almost everything I know about sustainability is due to Kirsten, who has been working in that industry for her entire career. Introduced by mutual friends, we bonded when I moved to Oakland and lived only a few minutes away from her and her family. In 2006, I introduced her to Dan Winey at Gensler, and she has been there ever since, serving as an advocate, advisor, champion, and colleague. She has the sunniest disposition of anyone I know, with a natural curiosity and love of life. She is helping all of us create a better world.

For more information:

Photography Credit:
Kudos to Alan Chimacoff and his photograph, Light Game 7.
© 2021 – Alan Chimacoff, Photography, Princeton NJ. All rights reserved.

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