The Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program (CKLDP) was founded in 2013 by the Emerging Architects Committee as part of the AIA|DC Chapter. The program is in memory of Christopher Kelley, an employee of Gensler and an active member of the DC architectural community. Christopher was a recipient of the AIA Young Architects Award in 2010 and an exemplary, emerging young leader. Since its founding, the CKLDP has been established in Washington DC, Denver, Detroit, Miami and Houston, and strives to carry forward Christopher’s legacy by actively training and nurturing the next generation of leaders within the architectural profession.

The year-long program consists of nine individual half-day sessions attended by a competitively selected group of 16 emerging professionals from Houston.  The curriculum focuses on core skills such as entrepreneurship and firm management, the art of negotiation, bringing in new clients, community leadership, industry culture, and developing one’s future within the practice.

The leadership program participants are responsible for planning and participating in each of the individual sessions. Each year, scholars from the previous year are selected to help guide the next year’s class. In this way, the program is continually evolving, allowing the scholars to learn on an ongoing basis about thoughts and ideas relevant to the architectural profession today.

Allied Programs

CKLDP – AIA DCVisit Site

CKLDP – AIA Colorado – Visit Site

CKLDP – AIA Detroit – Visit Site

CKLDP – AIA Miami – Visit Site


The curriculum focuses on core professional skills such as entrepreneurship and firm management, working together and collaboration, the art of negotiation, client development, community leadership, industry trends, and developing your future within the practice. The selected scholars to the leadership program are responsible for planning and participating in each of the individual sessions. The program will be kicked off by a “Boot Camp” session to introduce the participants and to develop the curriculum for the year.

Sessions will be held on the first Friday of every month, from 12:00pm – 5:00pm, September through May.

Commitment to the Program

The program’s success is directly related to the attendance by the participants and therefore attendance is mandatory. Each participant of the program will be required to sign an Agreement Form that will require a signature from one of the participant’s principals of their firm. Provided due notice to the Executive Committee, with extenuating circumstances, each scholar will be allowed one excused absence. If two sessions are missed, a fine of $50 will be sent to the participants firm. A further absence will result in an additional $50 fine and expulsion from the program.

Attendance is mandatory for all scholars at the first meeting of the group “Bootcamp” as well as the final session and closing reception.

AIA Continuing Education

It is intended that this program will have AIA CE credit made available for its participants.

Honoring Christopher Kelley

downloadChristopher Kelley, AIA was an active member of the DC architectural community and suddenly passed away in May of 2012. He was a respected leader within the Institute as well as within Gensler’s Washington office. Through his volunteer efforts, he participated and contributed to initiatives and programs that have had a positive impact on emerging professionals at different stages of their careers.  In 2010 Christopher was honored with the AIA Young Architects Award for which the jury stated, “Christopher has proven himself a young leader within and around the AIA, a real example for other young professionals.” This program is intended to continue his legacy of leadership and activism.


For more information, please contact the committee.



Benefactor Sponsor: Perkins + Will

The Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program, Houston (CKLDP-Hou) is pleased to announce our first Benefactor Sponsor for the 2018-2019 Class, Perkins + Will! Thank you for supporting Houston emerging professionals!


Sample Schedule

(Based on 2017-2018 AIA Colorado schedule – subject to change)


Session 0 (September)

Bootcamp and Kickoff Reception

→ Introduction to the course and participants
→ Importance of leadership within the profession
→ “How To” set-up future courses in coming months
→ Breakouts with scholars to develop session content for year ahead
→ Sponsorship now and in your future


Session 1 (October)

Working Together

→ The role of architects relative to other project stakeholders, including public and private owners, developers, contractors, consultants, financial institutions, and allied professionals
→ Teams, groups, and organizational problem solving
→ Understanding your own leadership skills and how they relate to the rest of your team


Session 2 (November)

Entrepreneurship and Business Management

→ Entrepreneurship and Business Management
→ Office and Firm management
→ Leadership, ownership, and transition
→ Financial and succession planning
→ Business and project management standards


Session 3 (December)

The Art of Negotiating

→ Ethics and law, from contracts and codes to professional ethics and standards of behavior
→ Negotiating a contract
→ Contractual pitfalls
→ Stakeholder relationships


Session 4 (January)

Community Engagement

→ Community involvement and the role of volunteerism in a market-based society
→ Business practice of public interest design
→ Professional expectations for social responsibility and public service
→ Becoming more involved in the community through philanthropy and board involvement
→ Understanding how politics and advocacy effect the profession; civic leadership


Session 5 (February)

Closing the Deal

→ Business and professional communications including public relations, presentations, writing and professional speaking skills
→ Use of social media
→ Networking, Business Development and pursuing work


Session 6 (March)

Expanding the Definition of Practice

→ Research and standard of care in the profession
→ Education within the University and the role of mentorship
→ Keeping abreast with new ideas through the academic setting
→ Alternative business models to a traditional firm
→ Providing a diverse, inclusive, and innovative practice


Session 7 (April)

Research, Education and Practice

→ Sustainability efforts as they relate to the environment, economy, and social ethics
→ The use of technology within the practice (BIM, VR, data gathering, etc.)
→ Learning by doing through the use of fabrication
→ Social responsibility of architects as community leaders


Session 8 (May)

Future of Practice and Closing Reception

→ The future of architecture and the fundamentals of planning, design, documentation and service in a forward-thinking and fast changing profession
→ Work/life balance
→ The role of mentorship with recent graduates and recently licensed architects
→ Developing your own career path through reflection on the CKLDP
→ Leader effectiveness and personal development
→ Closing Reception to follow