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Design Awards Recognize Diversity and Rising Leadership

July 5, 2023
The American Society of Interior Designers' Ones to Watch program supports promising professionals from underrepresented communities.

The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) has announced the winners and scholars of its 2023 Ones to Watch program. Honoring interior design professionals from underrepresented populations and minority groups, the program seeks to advance the interior design industry by ensuring that representation is reflected across the profession.

“ASID is dedicated to fostering inclusivity and creating meaningful impact to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in the design community,” said Khoi Vo, chief executive officer, ASID. “We envision the future of design as a place where leaders represent diversity both in practice and in heritage. Members of our organization are bonded by a common love for design, and we believe our community is made better when we celebrate our differences. With this ideal at heart, our Ones to Watch program uplifts practitioners and communities with resources and connections to help advance their careers, shepherding them to be the leaders of tomorrow.”

Established in 2017 and awarded annually, the ASID Ones to Watch Program identifies and recognizes rising leaders in the interior design community who demonstrate exceptional leadership potential and a willingness to push the boundaries of the profession. Emphasis is placed on participants whose backgrounds are currently underrepresented in management roles in the interior design industry, including women, members of racial and ethnic minority groups, LGBTQ+, and persons with disabilities. Up to 20 applicants are selected as award-winners, and from those, eight are chosen as scholars who receive additional opportunities to excel.

ASID offers winners and scholars opportunities to establish connections with peers and industry leaders, gain national recognition, participate in ASID events and conferences, and access leadership opportunities within ASID and the design community. Scholars receive additional benefits from their two-year leadership development training program, including one-on-one and group executive coaching, curated network building experiences, positioning as thought leaders at ASID national programs, and skill development opportunities to aid in their mentorship of the next generation of leaders.

2023 Ones to Watch Scholars

This year’s Ones to Watch scholars are: Alejandra Delgado, Associate ASID; Aliza Goldsmith, Allied ASID, LEED GA; Patricia Hernandez, Associate ASID, IIDA; Hojung Kim, NCARB; Janeallison Ng, ASID, NCIDQ; Annie Portner, ASID; Kaitlyn Wahl; and Abby Zaccaglini, ASID, NCIDQ.

Alejandra Delgado, Associate ASID, Designer / Project Architect, Gensler:

Delgado, with 18 years of experience across multiple firms, states, and practice areas, has been specializing in healthcare environment design for the last six years. Noteworthy clients include Children's National Hospital, Mary's Center, and Shady Grove Fertility. She is a skilled project leader with knowledge in planning, design, and technical leadership. Delgado is passionate about creating and realizing beautiful and functional environments that facilitate healing and well-being. She possesses a diverse skill set, with extensive experience in the corporate, hospitality, and healthcare sectors. Her unique cultural understanding and experiences influence her design aesthetic and leadership style.

Aliza Goldsmith, Allied ASID, LEED GA, Interior Design Professional, HOK:

Goldsmith, an interior design professional at HOK in Los Angeles, California brings a distinct perspective, skillset, and leadership record to the profession, stemming from her background in community organizing and government affairs. Goldsmith currently focuses on healthcare projects, prioritizing the end user's experience. As the inaugural E. Todd Wheeler Healthcare Fellow at Perkins and Will, she conducted research on the burnout crisis affecting healthcare workers, providing valuable insights into the incorporation of academic research within the design process. Goldsmith firmly believes that thoughtful design can foster dignity, alleviate burnout, and offer support to patients and caregivers during vulnerable times. She identifies as a design advocate, acknowledging the privilege of making a meaningful impact on people through her work.

Patricia Hernandez, Associate ASID, IIDA, Senior Interior Designer, Gensler

Hernandez, a Mexican-born DREAMER, relocated to California with her parents at the age of seven, encountering the early challenges and perils of being an undocumented immigrant. Despite her status, she tenaciously pursued her aspiration of becoming an architect, buoyed by her parent's unwavering support. She accomplished her goal by earning a Bachelor of Architecture from the NewSchool of Architecture and Design in San Diego. Hernandez later acquired Dreamer status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. She now serves as a senior designer at Gensler San Jose, a globally renowned interiors and architecture firm. She ardently utilizes her design expertise to champion equity and social justice for all.

Hojung Kim, Educator Partner ASID, NCARB, Assistant Professor, University of Tennessee, Knoxville:

Kim is an assistant professor at the School of Interior Architecture at the University of Tennessee, where he researches the fusion of vernacular and local construction techniques with contemporary design technologies. His aim is to address architectural challenges experienced by marginalized communities. Through an interdisciplinary approach, Kim explores cultural, socio-economic, and environmental concerns that span from urban planning to interior design. Prior to his academic role, Kim garnered practical expertise through diverse design and project management positions at renowned firms located in Los Angeles, New York City, and Seoul. Kim holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and a Master of Architecture from Yale University.

Janeallison Ng, ASID, NCIDQ, Interior Designer III, Associate, Solomon Cordwell Buen:

Ng is a Chicago-based interior designer, artist, and humanitarian. Since joining SCB in 2016, Ng has been an integral part of the first Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Opportunity committee, the inaugural Data Analytics and Visualization group, served as a juror for internal design competitions, and co-chaired the Campus Environments Research and Development group. Ng's professional focus revolves around creating spaces that foster student success and enhance wellness. Ng has worked on campuses nationwide, designing the interiors of academic buildings, office spaces, dining halls, and residence halls. Drawing inspiration from past Peace Corps service, Ng possesses an inherent drive to continue volunteering with involvement in many charitable organizations including Designs for Dignity, The Humanity Share, Habitat for Humanity, and (re)group.

Annie Portner, ASID, Interior Designer, Gensler:

Portner is a licensed interior designer specializing in workplace design and serves as a dynamic leader in client relations and business development at Gensler Philadelphia. Portner actively contributes to Gensler's culture through communities such as Social Media and Community Impact. She maintains a broad industry involvement as a member of IIDA, CCBA, and CoreNet, where she holds the position of Vice Chair of Young Leaders. This comprehensive engagement allows Portner to have a well-rounded understanding of all aspects of the industry.

Kaitlyn Wahl, Associate ASID, Project Manager, Interior Architects (IA):

Wahl holds a bachelor’s degree in interior design from Colorado State University. Her professional journey started with an internship at OfficeScapes in Denver, Colorado, where a fervent passion for furniture design and research was cultivated. Relocating to Indianapolis, Wahl joined CSO Architects as an interior designer, kickstarting a career in workplace strategy while actively contributing to various projects. Wahl later served as a project designer at L2P, gradually transitioning into the role of a project manager. As a project manager at IA, Wahl continues to excel in her strategic responsibilities, discovering a fruitful synergy between her design expertise and management. Throughout her career, Wahl has valued the ongoing development of her management skills and business acumen, fostered through the guidance and mentorship provided by her teams.

Abby Zaccaglini, ASID, NCIDQ, Interior Designer, HGA:

Zaccaglini brings a wealth of experience in designing for clients across diverse market sectors. With a portfolio encompassing workplace, tenant improvement, higher education, government, aviation, and civic projects, Zaccaglini's interdisciplinary approach to interior architecture infuses each endeavor with a unique perspective. A staunch advocate of mentorship, Zaccaglini is committed to creating nurturing spaces that foster learning and growth. This dedication is evident through active participation in community outreach programs such as the ACE Mentor Program and AWA+D, as well as assuming mentorship roles within HGA at local and national levels. Zaccaglini's profound belief in the significance of interior design and its impact on human interactions within the built environment underpins both her work and advocacy efforts.

2023 Ones to Watch Winners

The 2023 Ones to Watch winners are Jennifer Cappella, IIDA, LEED AP; Jodie Crohn; L.A. DeRiggi, ASID, LEED Green Associate; Joanne Duka-Ragadio, Associate IIDA; Laura Guerrero Flores; Cathleen Gruver, Allied ASID; Kelly Knowles, LEED AP ID+C, NEWH; Kelly Nelson, IIDA, WELL AP; Kimberly Morrison Race, ASID, IIDA, NCIDQ, CID, CMKBD; Rachel Rosenberg, ASID, NCIDQ, CID, WELL AP, LEED Green Associate; Nureed Saeed, Associate ASID; and Laura Wall.

Jennifer Cappella, IIDA, LEED AP, Associate, Project Interior Designer, Ballinger:

With a range of experiences in her formative years, from a 12-person architecture firm to product sales, and finally, a 200+ multidisciplinary architecture firm, Cappella has found a place where she can fully immerse herself not only in project work but also in the wider office and design community. Throughout her 15 years of professional experience, Cappella has applied her thoughtful approach to design and interior space planning across various project types, including healthcare, science/research, and commercial workplace. Her passion for well-being drives her to create human-centered spaces that support the physical and mental health of all occupants, employing her empathic spirit. Cappella is a staunch advocate for interior design legislation and takes pleasure in mentoring students and young designers.

Jodie Crohn, Project Designer, HOK:

Crohn received a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Kansas in 2010. Over the course of a 13-year tenure at HOK, Crohn has had the privilege of actively participating in various committees, such as HOK IMPACT, the Design Exchange program, and the internship committee.

L.A. DeRiggi, ASID, LEED Green Associate, Principal, Hudson Park Interior Design:

DeRiggi is the principal at Hudson Park Interior Design, known for his contemporary design style and collaborative work with Italian manufacturers. He pursued studies at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he earned his Master of Interior Architecture. Additionally, DeRiggi holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration (BSBA) with a dual focus on management and marketing. His experiences studying in London, Paris, and Italy have greatly influenced his passion for architecture, interior design, and sustainable practices. With a solid foundation, DeRiggi eagerly embraces the opportunities and challenges that arise when transforming clients' living and working spaces.

Joanne Duka-Ragadio, Associate IIDA, California Interior Design Lead, PBK Architects:

Duke-Ragadio earned her bachelor’s in interior architecture and design from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California. With over 14 years of experience, she has spearheaded the design of transformative interiors for some of California's largest and most influential clients across multiple sectors, including workplace, hospitality, and education. As the California interior design lead at PBK, Duke-Ragadio supports all California offices, demonstrating her people-first leadership approach. Leveraging her thought leadership, industry connections, and best practices, she elevates the firm's design portfolio. She also plays a crucial role in recruiting and mentoring the next generation of talent, aiming to establish a robust network of interior designers across PBK's California offices. As an advocate for making an impact in the industry, Duke-Ragadio serves as the IIDA Fresno City Center Director and volunteers as a mentor for design students.

Laura Guerrero Flores, Design Professional, Education Interiors, HKS:

Flores, a Dominican-Venezuelan interior designer born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, has established herself as a prominent figure in the field. Flores relocated to Tampa, Florida 12 years ago, where she earned her bachelor’s in interior design. With eight years of professional experience, she has successfully translated clients' visions into functional design solutions across various sectors, including hospitality, education, corporate, and healthcare. Flores' diverse cultural background serves as a significant influence and inspiration in her career, infusing her designs with storytelling and evoking emotions to create unique and memorable experiences within spaces. Collaborating with her team, Flores embraces the opportunity to foster community growth through her designs. Creative-thinking, inquisitiveness, synergy, and conscientiousness define her work ethic and design ideology.

Cathleen Gruver, Allied ASID, Lead Interior Designer, Gruver Cooley:

Gruver, an award-winning interior designer, has garnered recognition for her exceptional contributions to the field. In 2016, she received the NKBA's "30 Under 30" award, honoring her outstanding achievements. With a master’s in interior design from Marymount University, Gruver's graduate thesis, "Space for Living," earned the prestigious Best in Show prize for her innovative research and evidence-based design focused on enhancing family interactions at home. Drawing on her expertise, Gruver actively contributes to her family's contracting company, Gruver Cooley, renowned for its high-end custom building and remodeling projects spanning 115 years. Engaging with professional organizations such as ASID, NKBA, National Society of Leadership and Success, Delta Epsilon Sigma Honor Society, and Delta Gamma Fraternity, Gruver remains deeply involved in the industry. As an adjunct professor at Marymount University and with experience in retail design, she brings a wealth of knowledge and skill to each project she undertakes.

Kelly Knowles, LEED AP ID+C, NEWH, Interior Designer II, B+H Advance Strategy:

Knowles, an accomplished professional with 11 years of experience and leadership in hospitality and multifamily design, possesses a unique ability to curate spaces through modeling, exceptional organizational skills, and technical expertise. Operating nationwide, Knowles combines forward-thinking design approaches with meticulous attention to detail, weaving together a cohesive design narrative. Currently, Knowles plays a pivotal role in business development for the Destinations Studio of B+H Seattle offices while simultaneously working on a 282-key hotel project. Emphasizing the importance of community and nurturing future hospitality leaders, Knowles has dedicated nearly a decade of volunteer work to her local chapter of NEWH, a premier hospitality networking connection. Throughout her involvement, she has held various positions, including Director of Marketing and President, currently serving as Past President. Additionally, Knowles has served as a judge for the Green Voice Design Competition scholarship on three occasions.

Kelly Nelson, IIDA, WELL AP, Interior Designer III, CBRE Design Collective:

Nelson, a versatile designer at CBRE's Design practice in Atlanta, Georgia brings over nine years of experience in various sectors such as workplace, healthcare, higher education, sports, and aviation. With a bachelor’s in interior design from Iowa State University, NCIDQ certification, and the WELL AP credential, Nelson's expertise is backed by solid credentials. Actively involved in the industry, Nelson is a professional member of IIDA and has held numerous roles and committee positions within local chapters, including Elevate, Interior Design Excellence Awards, VP of Members, and VP of City Centers, among others. She has successfully worked on a diverse range of projects, from large-scale hospital floors to small office renovations. Nelson's innate problem-solving skills and genuine passion for improving people's lives shine through her work and volunteer experiences.

Kimberly Morrison Race, ASID, IIDA, NCIDQ, CID, CMKBD, Professor of Practice, Interior Design, Morgan State University:

Morrison Race has dedicated her extensive interior design career to achieving design excellence. With a professional license spanning four decades, she has consistently delivered award-winning projects for a diverse range of clients. Morrison Race's commitment to the profession extends to her role as an educator, where she excels in the Washington, D.C. metro region and central Pennsylvania. Her interiors not only aesthetically please but also positively impact the well-being and healing of occupants. Leveraging her professional portfolio, Morrison Race showcases design excellence to her students, demonstrating the greater good that exceptional design can achieve for individuals and communities. She obtained her graduate interior design degree at Marywood University and holds a certification as an interior designer in Maryland. Morrison Race actively engages with professional interior design organizations in the Mid-Atlantic region, including IIDA, NKBA, MDCID, and ASID Washington Metro Chapter, advocating for certification and licensure.

Rachel Rosenberg, ASID, NCIDQ, CID, WELL AP, LEED Green Associate, Associate Principal, Lamar Johnson Collaborative:

Rosenberg, a globally recognized and award-winning designer, possesses extensive experience across multiple design disciplines. Adopting a holistic approach, she views design as a collaborative and iterative process, valuing timeless and human-conscious design that combines purpose with beauty. Rosenberg holds an undergraduate degree in art history from Boston University and pursued further studies in London, focusing on 19th and 20th century decorative arts and design at Sotheby's Institute of Art. Additionally, she studied furniture design at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen during a summer in Scandinavia. Rosenberg earned her Master of Science in interior design from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.

Nureed Saeed, Associate ASID, Owner/Creative Director, Nu Interiors:

Saeed, an award-winning designer and the owner and creative director of Nu Interiors, leads a bi-coastal, full-service interior design and remodeling project management resource specializing in kitchen and bathroom renovations. At the core of Nu Interiors is the belief that well-thought-out and well-designed spaces should be accessible to everyone. Saeed's work has received recognition in reputable publications such as Better Homes & Gardens, Millburn-Short Hills magazine, Design NJ, and Lux Pad's Top 15 Interior Designers in New Jersey. Notably, she was named a 2022 Innovator by Kitchen & Bath Design News for her contributions to inclusion and equity. Saeed holds a Certificate in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion from Cornell University's ILR School and actively advocates for diversity and inclusion within the design industry. Currently serving as the President of the National Kitchen and Bath Association, Northern California Chapter, Saeed is a respected leader driving positive change in the field.

Laura Wall, Senior Interior Designer, Woods Bagot:

Wall is a senior designer with over nine years of experience in workplace interiors, master planning, design strategy, implementation, and delivery. She is a conceptual designer who has an encyclopedic knowledge of furniture and materials, and a strong ethos is collaboration. Wall earned a master’s degree in interior architecture at the Academy of Art University. She believes in the joy of design and its ability to permeate from the process to the physical environment. Through strong relationship building with clients and teammates, Wall works to create the best, most cohesive delivery teams possible.

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