NOMA Celebrates ‘Building Bridges Towards Just and Joyful Futures’ at Annual Conference

2023 NOMA Conference

Portland, OR – The National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) held its national conference, Building Bridges Towards Just and Joyful Futures, in Portland on Oct. 11-15.

More than 1,550 NOMA members, allies and students registered for the sold-out conference, making this year’s conference the largest yet, with representation from 38 states, one U.S. territory and four countries, including NOMA’s newest chapter in the United Kingdom. Industry voices including Toshiko Mori, FAIA; Nina Cooke John, AIA, NOMA, NCARB; and Olalekan Jeyifous led attendees in discussions, addressing the need for a more inclusive and diverse architecture industry that advocates for justice and a profession that mirrors the diversity of today’s society.

NOMA leadership with those recognized for gaining licensure at this year’s conference.

“Our gathering in Portland symbolizes a powerful opportunity to come together, exchange ideas, and foster meaningful connections,” said Pascale Sablan, FAIA, NOMA, LEED AP, 2023-2024 NOMA president and associate principal at Adjaye Associates. “It’s a time for engaging lectures, transformative workshops, and a chance to celebrate the outstanding contributions of our members. Together, we have built a rich legacy, overcome formidable barriers, and created bridges over various forms of oppression. Each one of you brings unique perspectives and experiences, and collectively, we form a dynamic, shared space that fuels our collective learning. The impact of this conference reaches far beyond these few days, resonating in our local communities and echoing through the halls of history.”

Held at the Hilton Portland Downtown and organized by NOMA national staff, volunteers and the NOMA Portland (PDX) chapter, the five-day conference offered more than 50 educational sessions; eight tours throughout Portland, including the Portland Japanese Garden, Nike Worldwide Headquarters, Meyer Memorial Trust Headquarters, and PAE Living Building; and networking events to connect, inspire and motivate participants.

The Legacy Project at Black Futures Farm kicked off the conference.

“Portland was a wonderful host, and we cannot thank our local chapter, NOMA PDX, enough for their warm welcome and commitment to creating a memorable and inspiring conference,” said Tiffany Brown, MBA, NOMA, Assoc. AIA, NOMA executive director. “It was historical and important to bring a NOMA Conference to the location where civil rights activist Whitney M. Young Jr. delivered the 1968 AIA Convention keynote that challenged architects to address issues of diversity and social responsibility in the profession. It inspired NOMA’s founding, and this week, provided us the inspiration we need to continue our work.”

Conference highlights included the announcement of the first NOMA international chapter in the U.K.; an unprecedented number of NOMA members, 29, receiving their licensure; and the representation of 38 National Organization of Minority Architecture Student chapters in the Barbara G. Lurie Student Design Competition, the most participants ever. Additionally, on Oct. 13, exceptional leadership and award-winning work of NOMA professional and student members was recognized at the NOMA annual awards gala.

Sablan left NOMA Conference attendees with a message of encouragement to continue the fight and engage within their local communities. “As we stride forward, let us remember our journey is far from its conclusion,” she said. “We will stand shoulder to shoulder, advocating for justice, and creating a profession that mirrors the breathtaking diversity of our society. We remain revolutionaries, never wavering in our pursuit of a more inclusive architecture industry, where every voice is not only valued but cherished, and every talent is celebrated with passion.”

To view the full conference wrap-up, visit https://www.noma.net/conference-2023-wrap-up/.