First Latina President Of The Boston Society Of Architects Changes Dialogue Of Design Community To Focus On Diversity And Equity

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STUDIO ENÉE
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Boston-based architect and activist, Natasha Espada is the first Latina President of the Boston Society of Architects (BSA), the oldest and second largest chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Espada’s platform for her tenure as BSA President has been focused on her goal to bring diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice to the forefront within the architectural and design community. Minorities and women are notoriously underrepresented within the architectural profession nation-wide; an issue Espada feels is of paramount importance to remedy. “For many reasons, black, Latino, and females make up a very small portion of the demographic within architecture. We need our architects, planners, and designers to be far more representative of the country’s population. Our cities need to be designed by diverse voices that embody and speak for our communities. We are determined to get a pipeline of people into the profession.”

As a Puerto Rican, Espada has undertaken numerous initiatives within the BSA to help further diversity and inclusion within the profession: As Co-Chair of the Equity and Diversity Task Force she has served as a Town Hall Host and Speaker over the last year bringing valuable discussions to the community through the “Race and Architecture Series.” She established two new Knowledge Communities at the BSA: The Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Network, and The LGBTQ Network. Both of these new groups meet to discuss, learn, and share the complex issues facing their communities. Espada also led the creation of the EDI Best Practices Guide based on the Equitable Guides for Practice created by the American Institute of Architects; along with implementing a program whereby local municipalities are educated and encouraged to include minority and female members on their projects, boards, and committees.

When COVID-19 hit in March of 2020, Espada’s focus on equity was not deterred “I had to shift my focus to supporting architects during Covid by creating a Best Practice Guide and finding opportunities to keep architects and students in the profession.”

Espada’s handling of the pandemic and her focus on race and diversity as a pressing issue within the architectural community has garnered her accolades; she was recently named one of the 50 Most Influential Business People of Color in Greater Boston. She has been featured in national and local publications speaking about diversity and was recently appointed to NUARI, Needham Unite Against Racism. Espada plans to continue her role as a leader in equity and diversity at the BSA as Co-Chair of the Equity and Diversity Task Force after her tenure expires later this year.

Natasha Espada, AIA, NOMA, LEED AP, is the founder of STUDIO ENÉE, a Boston-based minority and women-owned architecture firm. The diverse make-up of the firm con