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LAAB Welcomes New Board Members

 The Landscape Architectural Accreditation Board (LAAB) welcomed five new board members on January 1. LAAB elected Dale Jaeger, FASLA, as a practitioner member; Daniel Ortega, ASLA, as an educator member; and Derrek Niec-Williams and Patty Reece both as public members in the fall, while Kona Gray, FASLA, was selected as a representative by ASLA. Their three-year terms will run through December 31, 2023. 

Kona Gray, FASLA, PLA, is a Principal at EDSA. With experience in 30+ countries, his global management sense has positively shaped the outcomes of many challenging assignments. He successfully integrates creativity and regional resources into functional environments that invigorate the imagination. Gray is a firm leader that creates welcoming places that promote community and vitality in diverse neighborhoods around the globe. Blending sensitivity with innovative design solutions, he unites a client’s vision with his own vanguard designs to produce environments with purpose and presence. Gray most recently served as ASLA’s Vice President - Professional Practice and is a Past President of the Landscape Architecture Foundation. He is a registered landscape architect in Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, Commonwealth of Virginia and holds a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from the University of Georgia.

Dale Jaeger, FASLA, PLA, AICP, inspired by southern landscapes of her childhood, focuses her work on planning and design projects in this region. After discovering the field of landscape architecture in her 20s, Jaeger received her master’s degree in landscape architecture from the University of Georgia. She began her career as a regional Preservation Planner in northeast Georgia. In 1984, she founded The Jaeger Company (TJC) and for the next 30 years with a group of talented colleagues, completed projects focused on cultural, ecological, and civic landscapes, primarily for public sector clients. In 2014 TJC sold and is now WLA Studio, where Jaeger continues to work. Jaeger has been a member of ROVE (Roster of Visiting Evaluators) with LAAB since 1989 and participated in accreditation visits to 17 programs.

Daniel Ortega, ASLA, is a Professor of Landscape Architecture and the Interim Director of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) School of Architecture, where he also serves as the coordinator of its Bachelor of Landscape Architecture program. Professor Ortega holds a first professional Bachelor of Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and a terminal Master of Landscape Architecture degree from the Rhode Island School of Design. Professor Ortega was recognized by the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture as the 2020 Outstanding Administrator of the Year. His scholarly interests lie in the cultural interpretations of place and the role(s) that those interpretations play in the crafting of contemporary landscapes. Additionally, his research includes issues related to emerging technologies and visual representation as factors that affect landscape architecture pedagogy.

Derrek Niec-Williams, a proud Howard University alumnus, is honored to serve his alma mater as the Executive Director for Campus Planning, Architecture & Development, where he oversees a +256-acre portfolio valued above $1.5B. Niec-Williams has served as designated owner’s representative and program manager responsible for the planning, design and construction of various real estate development project typologies throughout his career. This breadth of experience spans the educational continuum to include public, public charter, and independent k-12 institutions, higher education, private, and municipal clients. His portfolio of experience also reflects a broad range of projects which have traversed the development spectrum from early planning through implementation and occupancy/operations.

Patty Reece is a real estate investor, an experienced community leader, and a philanthropist. An affinity for historical properties is balanced by an equally strong passion for nature and community. Her involvement in the nonprofit sector has been extensive and varied, encompassing many board memberships and numerous projects. Historical preservation, the arts, and conservation issues have been a primary focus, broadened by forays into art editing, curatorial activities, and personal art photography. Philanthropy has extended to conservation, the arts, and urban education. A current endeavor of great personal interest is the restoration and re-purposing of a historic general store in the former railroad town of Volland, population one. Following significant restoration, the historic store reopened as a gallery and community gathering place for contemporary art and compelling programming. The Volland Store is an anchor in this small town, and the landscape and buildings which surround it are now being developed as a residency program for creative practitioners of the arts, sciences, and humanities.

LAAB is the official accrediting organization for first professional programs in landscape architecture. The board’s mission is to evaluate, advocate for, and advance the quality of education in landscape architectural programs.

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