February 2019 Alumni and Friends Newsletter
This semester, I became part of a mentorship program that fosters the professional growth of women at the University of Idaho through an organization I’ve been a member of for years. Athena – an association of faculty and staff committed to promoting an inclusive and equitable climate for women at U of I – kick-started the program, and now I’m proud to be mentoring an assistant professor in the College of Science. I’m also incredibly proud of all the capable, ambitious women who graduated from our college and are making significant strides in the design professions — while paving the way for Vandal designers to come.
Kylie Castellaw, a 2008 graduate of our Art and Design Program and a current college advisory board member, is a design consultant and lead product manager for ThoughtWorks in San Francisco. Kylie is helping define the strategic direction and design of digital products, like apps and software, while ensuring women and people from underrepresented groups are embodied in the design of technology. In a recent conversation I had with Kylie, she mentioned how designers naturally bake their own experiences and assumptions into their creations — and how it’s important to better represent people from various backgrounds in the design of products.
This month, interior design alums Katy Hoxsey ’06 and Hailie Thomas ’04 finished the design for the state of Idaho’s first-ever pediatric urgent care clinic through the Primary Health Medical Group. Katy and Hailie recently mentioned how as moms, they naturally prioritize quality healthcare for their kids, so the clinic was both personally and professionally fulfilling. They also mentioned how parenthood has inspired them to better ensure the durability of finishes and their associated upkeep and maintenance. As owners of Boise-based firm Design Vim since 2014, they’ve also instituted policies that bolster women, like paid maternity leave and flexible schedules. Having personally taught them both, I’m overjoyed at their successes and advocacy work.
According to Architect Magazine, men and women enroll in architectural school in roughly equal numbers, but women represent only 1 in 5 licensed practitioners. Alexis Townsend, one of our architecture alums from 2005 and a current college advisory board member, is working to debunk that trend. When Alexis became president and shareholder of her firm, Lombard/Conrad Architects in Boise, in 2019 and 2016, respectively, she began addressing issues that would make the profession — or at least her firm — more appealing to women. She and her partners implemented a family leave policy that offers paid maternity and paternity leave for six weeks at full pay and six additional weeks for a portion of the pay — something that Alexis wasn’t afforded with any of her three children. Now, Alexis enjoys having a say in the projects her firm takes on — which lately includes a significant amount of public sector work — as well as its strategic direction. I was so proud to hear Alexis recently talk about architects’ responsibility to create spaces for all people, which isn’t possible if a single demographic is represented in the profession.
Mandi Roberts, an advisory board member for the college who graduated from our Landscape Architecture Program in 1985 and is now pursuing her master’s degree with us in the same field, is vice president and principal at Otak — an integrated firm of architects, engineers and urban planners in Kirkland, Washington. Mandi has always said the benefit of being part of her firm’s leadership is the opportunity to make a difference and be part of the decision making process. She recently urged her firm’s leadership to consider donating to a scholarship that supports diversity and equity in planning and urban design — and they did.
Lastly, I want to congratulate art and design student Abigail Spence, who was homeschooled in Moscow throughout her entire primary and secondary educational career. Abigail created this year’s winning Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival poster (pictured) from a large woodcut print. She was inspired by the impact Lionel Hampton had on the world through music — and how he popularized the vibraphone as a jazz instrument — something Abigail sees as a metaphor for lifting up the forgotten and the downtrodden.
I’m so grateful for the mentors and role models I’ve had in my career that have paved the way at the university — including Wendy McClure, an emeritus professor of architecture and the first woman architecture and interior design department chair at U of I, and Lynn Baird, the first woman dean of U of I’s library.
I’m hopeful that, over time, we’ll see even more balance among women and men in the design professions. Thank you to all who are striving for that day.
Shauna Corry, Ph.D.
College of Art and Architecture