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Jun 24, 2021 By Yasmin Spiro
IIDA Celebrates Pride: Spotlight on Design
To wrap up Pride month, we ask LGBTQIA+ design professionals what Pride means to them, and how we can better empower and support members of the design community.
By Yasmin Spiro Jun 24, 2021
Published in Articles

As an association, IIDA is committed to promoting equity and diversity in our ranks, and in the industry at large. In addition to establishing our first-ever equity council, and hosting engaging conversations that center diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), IIDA is committed to supporting our LGBTQIA+ colleagues and members.

Earlier this month, we gathered a list of impactful organizations that are championing LGBTQIA+ equity and visibility, and this week we are asking design industry professionals: what does pride mean to you, and how can we better support our LGBTQIA+ colleagues?

Todd Heiser, IIDA
Principal and Co-Managing Director, Gensler, Chicago

What are some of the ways you think our industry could further support and empower the LGBTQIA+ community?

The LGBTQIA+ community has come a long way and has seen relatively substantial progress, especially within the design industry. Now, we are at a point where we need to step up for the people who haven’t seen that same progression of equality. Our BIPOC friends need more support from their white counterparts. We need to continue to raise our voices for those who showed support for us and in the communities that haven’t come as far as we have and be the shoulders for which they can stand on.


What does Pride mean to you?

To me, Pride is as simple as its definition: the feeling of satisfaction from achievement. I feel pride for what we have achieved, but still have aspirations for where we want to go, and that applies to the LGBTQIA+ community and our project teams, as well.

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Todd Heiser, IIDA, Principal and Co-Managing Director, Gensler, Chicago
Photo by Image courtesy of Todd Heiser
Todd Heiser, IIDA, Principal and Co-Managing Director, Gensler, Chicago
Photo by Image courtesy of Todd Heiser

D.B. Kim
Vice President of Hospitality Design, Galaxy Design Group

What are some of the ways you think our industry could further support and empower the LGBTQIA+ community?

The awareness is where it all starts: education. Making sure the community knows there is support is crucial. It is important to do whatever you can, wherever you are, to help others.

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The first event of it's kind to create awareness around homophobia in Shanghai.
Photo by Image courtesy of D.B. Kim
The first event of it's kind to create awareness around homophobia in Shanghai.
Photo by Image courtesy of D.B. Kim

Chris Stulpin, IIDA
Chief Creative Officer, Mosaic/ Walker Zanger/ Surfaces

What are some of the ways you think our industry could further support and empower the LGBTQIA+ community?

While much progress has been made in terms of inclusivity, we still have far to go. When we are meeting with clients to discuss space and culture are we asking questions about queerness, the black and Asian experiences within our client’s populations? If we’re not asking the questions… we’re missing opportunities.

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Chris Stulpin, IIDA (R) and partner (L)
Photo by Image courtesy of Chris Stulpin
Chris Stulpin, IIDA (R) and partner (L)
Photo by Image courtesy of Chris Stulpin

Sarah Woynicz-Sianozecki, AIA, WELL AP, LEED AP
Associate Architect, HKS, Atlanta

What are some of the ways you think our industry could further support and empower the LGBTQIA+ community?

I remember the first time I met a queer-identifying architect. It was my first summer internship. For the first time, I saw someone in the profession who I could identify with. A future in this profession became more tangible and visible for me, personally, than ever before. It was not until years later when I realized just how profound visibility is when talking about any profession or future for a young person. The design icons I learned about when studying at university were, almost exclusively, heterosexual white men. I challenge our industry to continue moving the needle and elevating designers and architects with diverse identities and backgrounds – including those in the LGBTQIA+ community. While it is true that art and design have historically been supportive places, I would ask our industry to truly push for not just visibility but workplaces and environments where LGBTQIA+-identifying professionals can be their true, authentic selves.


What does Pride mean to you today?


The word that seems to resonate most for me during Pride month this year is visibility. There is not only so much to learn and share around the history of Pride and those who have advocated and fought for LGBTQIA+ rights, but so much to share, celebrate, and give visibility to today. Pride means celebrating those who have come before me, who have allowed me and so many others the opportunity to speak out, be out, and be proud in our personal and professional lives. It also is an important reminder to continue to advocate and push for change in our communities and industry.


What are some of the organizations that you support that celebrate, dignify and empower the LGBTQIA+ community?


Since my mind is on the workplace, HKS comes to the forefront of my mind as a firm that celebrates and empowers the LGBTQIA+ community and our employees. While I am not located in the Washington, D.C. area, COVID has provided the opportunity to join a number of events hosted by W.I.E.L.D. (Women Inspiring Emerging Leaders in Design). The work that group is doing absolutely celebrates, elevates, and empowers the LGBTQIA+ community and beyond.

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Sarah Woynicz-Sianozecki, AIA, WELL AP, LEED AP, Associate Architect, HKS, Atlanta
Photo by Image courtesy of Sarah Woynicz
Sarah Woynicz-Sianozecki, AIA, WELL AP, LEED AP, Associate Architect, HKS, Atlanta
Photo by Image courtesy of Sarah Woynicz

View our list of impactful organizations that are championing LGBTQIA+ equity and visibility here.

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