We have been doing this work throughout our individual careers for sometimes decades, but collectively as Women+ in Design PGH since November 2018, when a few of us at Perkins Eastman put out a call to our female friends in other architecture firms to understand who was having similar conversations about women's leadership, empowerment, and equity. Since I sent out the invite, I could see it being forwarded again and again to folks across the city. Nearly 60 people showed up to that first "happy hour", and we have been going strong ever since.
Over the years we have cultivated a collective leadership model. The work of organizing, maintaining, and communicating the strength of Women+ in Design PGH cannot be accomplished by one, two, or a handful of people. We all get busy or need to focus our energies elsewhere at times. The collective leadership of W+iD allows us to morph and change as needs arise without feeling guilty or neglectful. (At least, we try. The guilt is often an unshakeable undercurrent.)
Here is your leadership team as of August 2021 and their respective roles:
Amy Maceyko – Working Moms Collective
Brenna Shaffer – Working Moms Collective
Emily Pierson-Brown – Communication
Jo Berchielli – Culture Club and Instagram
Julia Wattick – Communication
Katie Walsh – Culture Club
Lindsay Quinter – Anti-Discrimination Advocacy
Melanie Como Harris – Happy Hours and Facebook
Monica Blasko – Culture Club and Anti-Discrimination Advocacy
Rebecca Griffith – Anti-Discrimination Advocacy
Shayna Bodi – Happy Hours
Our activities have manifested in two streams: programmed Happy Hours and small group gatherings we call "Collectives". For our happy hours, pre-pandemic we were gathering bi-monthly at a different design firm in the city to build relationships and engage in unique programming developed and executed by the volunteers from the host firm. In this way, no one person or group has been responsible for carrying that load. Each event garnered at least 75 attendees, with our March 2019 event still holding the record for 135 participants (thank you Strada!).
The clear response we have received is that these are “networking” events like no other, with a healthy dose of purpose and intention that helps to guide the event without becoming overbearing. I think all of us have had enough of high-stress networking events where only people who know one another talk to one another and you end up standing awkwardly against the wall checking your phone. No, thank you. We are here to make a meaningful difference in one another’s lives and to build community. You should feel comfortable talking to anyone in these gatherings, and we strive to build an environment of inclusivity and warmth.
Our collectives are an ever-changing constellation of small groups led by one or more of our leadership team. Working Moms, Culture Club, and Anti-Discrimination Advocacy have taken many forms as the inspiration strikes. Please check out our blog posts for summaries of past conversations. And feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in getting more involved.
All are welcome to the events publicized in our newsletters and on our events page. These gatherings are a great opportunity to meet folks in a small group setting and to discuss topics that are close to our hearts and constantly on our minds. Please join us wherever feels most interesting and inspiring to you. We look forward to building this community together!