Updates from ASLA

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Diversity SuperSummit Works to Set Action Plan and Future Summit Agendas

A lively, and positive, discussion of the future

Landscape architecture is currently facing a crisis of diversity. African Americans and Latinx together account for less than 10 percent of graduating landscape architecture students. These demographics fail to reflect those of the wider U.S. population. Census data project that minorities, now 37 percent of the population, will constitute 57 percent by 2060. To remain relevant and useful to the country’s increasingly diverse communities, landscape architecture must become a more ethnically and culturally diverse profession.

Five years ago, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) inaugurated the annual Diversity Summit to better understand and address the profession’s lack of minority members. The focus has been primarily on African American and Latinx landscape architecture professionals with three to five years’ experience, and each diversity summit has built upon the progress of previous years.

Diversity Summit2017 Diversity SuperSummit Participants on the ASLA Green Roof

This year, ASLA hosted the Diversity SuperSummit at the ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture in Washington, D.C. All past summit participants were invited back along with six new emerging professionals. Discussions focused on creating action items for ASLA’s work plan set for Career Discovery and Diversity Manager Shawn Balon, ASLA, including K-12 chapter toolkits, summer camp and after school programs, university recruitment, and diversity initiatives on Participants also focused on creating a vision for future Diversity Summits and benchmarks to focus initiatives leading up to those summits.

Participants created an action plan including specific milestones for the next six, nine, and 12 months including a five-year outlook. In the coming weeks, participants will prioritize these items to give ASLA direction on which items will be developed and considered over the next 12 months; including the development and planning of next year’s Diversity Summit. To wrap up the summit, participants wrote down ways they would commit to becoming a mentor or activist in their communities and ways ASLA can support their efforts.

Discussion and action items from the weekend’s breakout sessions are being compiled into a report and will be made available widely in the coming weeks, including in a future LAND story.

Diversity SummitAn introductory exercise where attendees collaborated on a drawing to share their career paths
Diversity SummitFrom left to right: Roberto Rovira, ASLA, Erica Mackenzie, ASLA, and Ailyn Mendoza, ASLA, work together to create a visual for their career paths

The three-day summit was facilitated by Juanita Shearer-Swink, FASLA, and Shawn Balon, ASLA, Career Discovery and Diversity manager.

The returning participants were:
Jose Alvarez, Associate ASLA
Paula Barreto, Associate ASLA
Monique Bassey, Associate ASLA
Wesley Brown, ASLA
Carolina Carvajal, ASLA
Courtney H. Cason, ASLA
Domini Cunningham, ASLA
Diana Fernandez, ASLA
Kelly Fleming, ASLA
Luis Gonzalez, ASLA
Melissa Henao-Robledo, ASLA
Luis Hidalgo, ASLA
Janelle Johnson, ASLA
Paul McGehee, Associate ASLA
Ailyn Mendoza, ASLA
Kene Okigbo, Associate ASLA
Bianca Paz, Associate ASLA
Angelica Rockquemore, Associate ASLA
Roberto Rovira, ASLA
Aaron Ruffin, ASLA
Chris Sanders, ASLA
Lindsey D. Smith, ASLA
Mercedes Ward, ASLA

New participants were:

Camille Applewhite, Associate ASLA
Maggie Aravena, Associate ASLA
Ujijji Davis, Associate ASLA
Meredith Leigh, Associate ASLA
Erica Mackenzie, ASLA
Darneka Waters, Associate ASLA

Richard Alomar, ASLA, Assistant Professor, Rutgers University
David Cutter, ASLA, ASLA Vice President for Education, Landscape Architect at Cornell University
Kona Gray, Principal, EDSA, Past President, Landscape Architecture Foundation

Juanita Shearer-Swink, FASLA, Senior Project Manager, GoTriangle

ASLA Support Staff:
Susan Apollonio, Director of Education Programs
Terry Poltrack, Director of Public Relations and Communications
Shawn Balon, ASLA, Career Discovery and Diversity Manager
Kris Pritchard, LAAB Accreditation Manager
Carolyn Mitchell, Honors and Awards Coordinator
Dana Davidsen, Summer Communications Intern
Nathania Martinez, Summer LAAB Intern


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