Meet the ASLA Women in Landscape Architecture PPN Leadership Team!
The Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network (WILA PPN) leadership team meets monthly, focusing on the experience and contributions of women in the profession, creating resources for women in the profession, providing mentorship opportunities, encouraging discussion of work/life balance concerns within our profession, and establishing a virtual home for members. We consider ways for our membership to become more active advocates for landscape architecture and women practitioners, including writing post for The Field, coordinating the Women in Landscape Architecture Walk at the ASLA Annual Meeting, and currently conducting a survey to get a more in-depth understanding of the demographics of caretaking and leave issues for landscape architects.
In addition to a chair or co-chairs, many PPNs also have larger leadership teams that include past chairs and PPN officers focusing on various PPN activities. In this post, we’d like to introduce our co-chairs and officers through their answers to the following questions:
- Why are you active in ASLA?
- Why are you a part of the Women in Landscape Architecture PPN?
- What is your favorite landscape?
Tanya Olson, ASLA, PLA
Partner-owner at Tallgrass Landscape Architecture in Custer, South Dakota
Why are you active in ASLA? During my so-called “off-ramp” time, I was volunteering more than ever to promote our profession in my community, in schools, and with local and regional business people—but there was not a good way for me to stay professionally active and connected, for cultural, geographical, and financial reasons. My experience is common and we continue to lose women because of it—both in ASLA membership and as practitioners. I’d like to see ASLA tapping into this lost resource and actively addressing the retention of women (and anyone who takes time “away” from the profession). The only way to tackle these issues is to bring the conversation to the table. I’m encouraged by ASLA putting focus and effort into overall diversity in landscape architecture and hope to continue to be a part of that conversation.
Why are you a part of the Women in Landscape Architecture PPN? I joined the PPN to connect with my peers and work toward reversing the trend of losing women in our profession and found so much more. The experience has been amazing—I’ve connected with women landscape architects of all ages from all over the country.
What is your favorite landscape? How could anyone ever choose? Northern forests, western mountains and grasslands, southwestern canyon lands and mesas, Pacific coasts—they all inspire and inform my practice and sustain my spirit.
Kate Douglas Kestyn, Associate ASLA
Associate with BrightView Design Group (the landscape architecture division of BrightView, formerly ValleyCrest)
Why are you active in ASLA? I am not a “just show up” kind of person. I think it’s important to volunteer for any organization you are involved with, whether it’s your child’s school, or professionally with ASLA—it’s how you know what’s going on and how you can make the organization better.
Why are you a part of the Women in Landscape Architecture PPN? In a profession dominated by men, I want to be a voice for women, an advocate, a mentor. WILA is a great way to do that.
What is your favorite landscape? I am fortunate to live in Colorado, so I get to experience the beauty of the mountains and plains. But I love rocky coastlines. Perhaps it’s a “grass is always greener” thing.
Emily O’Mahoney, ASLA, PLA, LEED AP
Partner in the firm of 2GHO (Gentile Glas Holloway O’Mahoney & Assoc.) in South Florida (Jupiter), a small firm doing a variety of projects with an expertise in planning and processing.
A mom of three and now a grandma of two (to date).
Why are you active in ASLA? ASLA is my professional society and I love this profession. I enjoy working with and socializing with other landscape architects because we all love our profession. I have been active in my chapter for decades. More recently I was the President and then the Trustee.
Why are you a part of the Women in Landscape Architecture PPN? I wanted a connection with other women for mentoring and support.
What is your favorite landscape? I have so many but the most notable are those that are primarily natural, giving an awesome and special sense of place. At our family lake in New Jersey there was a Hemlock Forest where we would camp out on the soft needles. The forest is lost but the special memories remain.
Christa Schaefer, PLA, ASLA, LEED AP BD+C
I’m one of two landscape architects in the state working for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, mother of two beautiful girls, daughter of two wonderful aging parents, and fellow celiac. With these many titles my life is pretty busy and always interesting.
Why are you active in ASLA? My father taught me you only get out of life what you put in. I’ve been an active member for approximately 15 years and find I enjoy and use my membership more if I stay engaged. I’ve met many awesome people along the way and have honed my leadership skills while being active.
Why are you a part of the Women in Landscape Architecture PPN? First got engaged to meet other women or care givers going through similar challenges. Now I use WILA as a way to find mentors and have progressed to being the mentor.
What is your favorite landscape? Growing up in WI and living here now I would have to say it is the north woods. There’s something about being inside the tree canopy that brings a calming to the soul.
Kristina Snyder, ASLA, PLA
Why are you active in ASLA? ASLA provides a way for landscape architects to work together to make stronger design decisions across the country. I want to contribute to and learn from that large, talented knowledge pool.
Why are you a part of the Women in Landscape Architecture PPN? There was an opening for officers and I had moved to a new area where I was forced to “off-ramp” my landscape architecture career and I thought WILA could be a good opportunity to learn what others had done and build tools to help in similar situations. Being active in the local and national ASLA groups is a great way for me to keep up with landscape architecture professionally.
What is your favorite landscape? The Rocky Mountains & Yellowstone National Park. Near a stream. In the “heat” of a summer’s day.
Whitney Tidd, Associate ASLA
Landscape Designer at Dix.Hite + Partners in Longwood, FL
Why are you active in ASLA? I previously worked in Communication/Marketing for cable television, so when I made the transition to landscape architecture I didn’t know anyone! Being active in my local chapter of ASLA helped me meet people, get to know the firms in my area, and start building business (and social!) relationships. I remain active because I know how important it is to make and maintain those relationships and because I feel the need to give back to the people who have helped me along the way.
Why are you a part of the Women in Landscape Architecture PPN? WILA tries to create a dialogue that helps women navigate through their professional and personal lives in ways that they feel proud of. In the past I’ve reacted in ways that I don’t necessarily feel proud of, but I learned from it and want to help pass those lessons on.
What is your favorite landscape? Bustling urban plazas and mountain streams surrounded by mossy boulders.
For more information, check out the WILA PPN Interview Series, published on The Field 2015-2016:
by the Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network (WILA PPN) Leadership Team