Women in Landscape Architecture (WILA) Annual Meeting Recap

by Alison Kennedy, ASLA

The Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network (WILA PPN) Meeting in Philadelphia / image: EPNAC

The 2018 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO was a landmark meeting for the Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network (WILA PPN). Not only did our PPN host two well-attended events as part of the conference, we were also pleased to see women in our profession more equally represented amongst education session panels. 20 WILA PPN members spoke, moderated sessions, and led field sessions on a wide variety of topics over the course of the meeting.

The PPN’s Women in Leadership Roundtable took place on the PPN Live stage in the EXPO hall on Saturday morning. With more than 90 attendees in the standing-room-only audience, we can safely say that this is one of the best, if not the best, turnouts we have ever had at our PPN Live meeting. Roundtable participants Wendy Miller, FASLA, Vanessa Warren, ASLA, Haley Blakeman, ASLA, and Magdalena Aravena, ASLA, shared their paths to leadership positions  and lessons learned along the way.

From left to right: Magdalena Aravena, Haley Blakeman, Wendy Miller, Vanessa Warren, and WILA PPN Co-Chair Alison Kennedy / image: EPNAC

The panelists agreed on several key items regarding volunteer leadership and the role a mentor or robust support system plays in successful volunteerism:

  • Start small and build up confidence/experience. Volunteer leadership skills can help you professionally gain confidence with daily work tasks, even those as simple as calling clients or consultants and eventually learning to trust your opinion and your voice.
  • Many panelists cited a specific person who saw something unique or a special skill they perhaps didn’t appreciate about themselves, and who then approached them suggesting a leadership position with, “I think you would be good at this and here’s why…”
  • On the other side of the above point, as a mentor, be strategic in empowering and networking with others, as there is strength in creating professional connections and growing strengths in others.
image: EPNAC
  • The word “mentor” can feel too static—after all, you seldom call up someone you respect and ask that person to be your mentor! Think of mentors as your personal stakeholders, people who are invested in you and have a proven record of helping others find success.
  • While the panelists agreed that it is important to take the leap and say “yes” to an opportunity, even if you feel unqualified or unable, they also agreed it is always important to be intentional with saying “yes.” One key take away: when you do say yes, do the job well.
image: EPNAC

Women in Landscape Architecture Walk

The Monday morning WILA Walk began bright and early at 7 am, and we were pleasantly surprised to have an amazing turnout of 85 attendees! The Pennsylvania/Delaware Host Chapter organized and led a wonderful walk down Philadelphia’s iconic Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

image: EPNAC

The group learned about projects including Lenfest Plaza and moved to Logan Square, including Sister Cities Park, Pennypacker Park, Shakespeare Park, Aviator Park, and Logan Circle. The return leg of the loop included stops at Holocaust Memorial Plaza, Love Park, and Dilworth Park. A huge thank you to Karen Skafte, ASLA, and Julie Bush, ASLA, for organizing, and to Ground Reconsidered for designing wonderful maps for the walk.

Lenfest Plaza, designed by David Rubin, FASLA, while a partner at Olin, with curved benches and sculptures by Claes Oldenberg and Jordan Griska / image: EPNAC
Interpretive signage highlighting the Parkway Museums District on Benjamin Franklin Parkway / image: EPNAC
WILA Walk attendees were provided with a map of the walk route and project descriptions for the parks and plazas stopped at along the way. / image: EPNAC
Karen Skafte, ASLA, (left) and Julie Bush, ASLA, (right), Principals at Ground Reconsidered and the 2018 WILA Walk organizers, hold up before-photos of Aviator Park, the first renovated public space along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. / image: EPNAC
The All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors, by sculptor J. Otto Schweizer, in Aviator Park / image: EPNAC
En route to Logan Circle’s Swann Memorial Fountain / image: EPNAC
Logan Circle, revitalized by OLIN, in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), the Pew Charitable Trusts, Center City District and The Fairmount Park Commission / image: EPNAC
Sister Cities Park / image: EPNAC
Logan Square Café, designed by DIGSAU, features a green roof. / image: EPNAC
image: EPNAC
image: EPNAC
John F. Kennedy Plaza / LOVE Park, located in the heart of Center City Philadelphia and featuring Robert Indiana’s iconic LOVE Sculpture, was designed by Hargreaves Associates. / image: EPNAC
LOVE Park / image: EPNAC
Dilworth Park, at the foot of City Hall, was the last stop on the WILA Walk. OLIN developed a universally accessible common plaza through the elimination of stairs and walls, bringing the entire plaza to street level. / image: EPNAC

This has been a huge year for women in landscape architecture. As an ASLA Professional Practice Network dedicated to issues pertaining to women in our profession, the rising tide of women’s empowerment across America and around the world has been an important influence on us as well. We hope to continue to diversify the voices representing women in our profession over the next year and hope that you will help us in that effort. Please reach out to our volunteer leadership team if you have an idea for a written piece for The Field blog, an idea for a webinar, or if you would like to be part of our PPN leadership team.

WILA Walk attendees in LOVE Park / image: EPNAC

Alison Kennedy, ASLA, is co-chair of the ASLA Women in Landscape Architecture Professional Practice Network (WILA PPN) and member of the ASLA Archives & Collections Committee.

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