Getting to Know the 2% – Melina Aluwi

Seeking Equity & Diversity in Our Built Environment

In partnership with SDNOMA, we are proud to present, Overcoming the 2%: Seeking Equity and Diversity in our Built Environment. As it is approaching quickly, we created a video capturing our panelist’s views on the most significant challenges people of color currently face in entering the profession. Did you know that only 2% of licensed architects are Black and African American? 

Join us on May 13th at 5:00 pm, where we will hear from Melina Aluwi, Philicia Harris, Jamie Intervalo, Mathew Picardal, and Joseph Ignacio Ruiz about why this disparity exists and what we need to do to change it.

Have a watch, and sign up for the webinar to discuss how we as an industry can overcome these challenges.

 Melina Aluwi

Hi, Melina, what profession are you in?

I am in Architecture; I am an Associate Principal and Higher Education Sector Leader for HED.

What was the biggest challenge for you in entering the profession as a person of color?

I made a career shift from a career as a public auditor/CPA to architecture. I studied architecture in undergrad but being a minority and a woman, [I found] there were fewer women and minorities in architecture – much less leadership roles. I had words of discouragement early on simply because of these facts but chose to persevere. I was and have been fortunate to have met spectacular mentors and champions in my journey. I imagine seeing more (and having more access to) women and people of color in our field – it would make a world of difference for the next generation.

How should the challenges for people of color in your profession (or the built environment in general) be addressed?

Someone I admire always used to say, “I am a forever student of architecture.” I believe that we are teachers and students of the field and that architecture is infinite. It is also a field about designing for our community. We learn and grow through sharing ideas, experiences, and ultimately that is how our work thrives. If you’re a more seasoned architect, make yourself accessible; if you’re new to the field, reach out and ask questions. 

What one piece of advice would you pass on to the next generation of professionals of color in your industry?

Be the change. Anything is possible. Architecture is about passion. Don’t let what you don’t see stop you from realizing your passion.


Connect with Melina!

Instagram @sdnoma

LinkedIn @Melina Aluwi


Click here to see a video of our panel discussing some of these issues. 

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