Do you want to strengthen your ability to lead successful equity, diversity, and inclusion efforts in your firm? Are you motivated to engage in sustained action to address systemic racism in the profession of architecture and in the built environment? Are you interested in more effectively engaging with clients and end users who are demographically or ideologically different from you?

If so, we invite you to consider participating in this nine-session, intensive leadership development program developed and implemented by AIA Minnesota.

Purpose & Content

The purpose of the National Intercultural Leadership Program (NILP) is to grow the capacity of leaders in the architecture community to lead inclusively. 

A recent Harvard Business Review article by Juliet Bourke and Andrew Espedido noted that in a typical organization, what leaders say, do and model makes a 70% difference in whether an individual reports feeling included. “Inclusive leadership is emerging as a unique and critical capability helping organizations adapt to diverse customers, markets, ideas and talent.”

By expanding the ability of leaders in architecture to recognize and adapt to “differences that make a difference”—differences of race, gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, religion, physical ability, political affiliation, etc.—we can create leaders who understand the value and business advantages of attracting and retaining a more diverse workforce, and who more effectively engage with our clients, within our design teams, and with the general public. This ability to recognize and adapt to difference is called “intercultural competence.”

The content of the program focuses on understanding identity, power and conflict styles, and recognizing differences that make a difference–particularly differences related to gender and race/ethnicity–as applied to the culture of architecture firms and to the built environment. Participants will receive individual assessments of intercultural competence and preferred conflict style to inform their engagement and applied learning.

The nine sessions of virtual learning will involve workshops (lecture mixed with exercises and small group engagement) and assigned work such as journaling and readings.

This program was originally developed by AIA Minnesota, in partnership with Team Dynamics facilitators, beta tested in cooperation with the University of Minnesota, and piloted in Minneapolis and Seattle (with the AIA Seattle chapter). This work informed the Intercultural Development chapter of the AIA National Guides for Equitable Practice. The Minneapolis-St. Paul region is known nationally and internationally for its community of consultants, foundations, and organizations who have developed unique expertise in applying the Intercultural Development Continuum to create change, including the successful constitutional amendment campaign for marriage equality in Minnesota and the transformation of the McKnight Foundation’s approach to grant giving.

As stated in the Guides for Equitable Practice:

“While many professions struggle with bias and effective communication across difference, in the architectural profession there are some particular challenges— white male–dominated structures, the trope of the hero-architect, and the exercise of extreme criticism, among others—often at odds with today’s collaborative practices, desire for work-life balance, and increasingly diverse backgrounds of practitioners…How do we build an inclusive environment where differences have a positive impact? Developing intercultural competence—an individual’s or group’s ability to function effectively across cultures—is one way to address this need. Intercultural competence is the capacity to shift perspective and behavior so as to bridge cultural differences in order to reach identified goals. Intercultural competence is not an innate ability or a strength of certain personality types or group makeup, it is a developmental capacity. Just like learning a language, it is a skill that is developed over time with practice, by anyone who chooses to make the effort.”

This program is designed to jump-start your intercultural skill development and position you to begin a life-long practice of identifying and adapting toward difference.

Program Schedule

All sessions are delivered via live video conference. Sessions are two hours in length and occur approximately once per week. 

Who Should Participate

The goal of NILP is culture change within the industry. Therefore, we encourage participation from individuals who are:

  1. Firm Leaders: those who lead firms, lead practice groups, lead teams, are direct supervisors, and make key decisions – with the intent of facilitating broader impact within their firms and industry
  2. Change-makers: those who manage projects, collaborate on teams, and interact with clients and firm leaders with the intent of creating change
  3. EDI Leaders: those who lead organizational efforts to create diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces and projects that further equity and inclusion in the built environment.

See Registration Criteria below for more information on eligibility and requirements. Space is limited.

Continuing Education

AIA Minnesota has applied for 18 AIA Learning Units (LUs) for this nine-session program. Additionally, we believe this program will meet the two hours of ethics required by the AELSLAGID licensing board.

Learning objectives

  1. Industry level: Develop systems-level analysis to identify and disrupt barriers to increasing the representation and leadership of people of color, women, nonbinary people in architecture and related industries, resulting in AEC teams that are inclusive and equitable.
  2. Firm or Company level: Explore strategies for leading, collaborating and managing across differences that make a difference like race, gender and more to create inclusive work environments and equitable solutions.
  3. Interpersonal level: Develop capacity to receive and believe client, colleague and user experiences across differences that make a difference like race, gender and more, resulting in design that serves users more equitably and a design process that is inclusive of all stakeholders and their unique needs and perspectives.
  4. Individual Level: Increase participants’ self-awareness of their own experiences of cultural patterns of behavior and experiences of identity with particular emphasis on race and gender, and develop ongoing practices of rigorous self-awareness to achieve equity, diversity, inclusion goals.
    Ethics-related learning objective
    Examine the ways in which employing a more inclusive leadership style contributes to a more ethical practice as referenced in the AIA Code of Ethics related to human rights, designing for human dignity, exercising unprejudiced and unbiased judgment, and providing a fair and equitable work environment.


$690 per person for members of AIA and members of NOMA
$840 per person for non-members

Cost includes: a nine-session skill-building program with the cohort, delivered virtually; the online Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) Assessment; one-on-one IDI profile debrief; and administration of the Intercultural Conflict Styles (ICS) diagnostic tool.

Registration will open soon. Please check back.