March 29, 2019
I did not initially go to school for architecture. My professional journey began with work in the fields of finance and advertising to make use of my education in English and Economics from Rutgers University. After a brief stint on ‘Wall Street,’ I felt that, for me, there must be something more meaningful than endless stock and bond transactions. I was drawn to the field of architecture for its unique melding of creative problem solving, art, design and practical hands-on construction. Motivated by this timeless ideal, I enrolled at Pratt Institute and received my BArch in early 1992 and also married later that year.
Entering the field of architecture during that time of downsizing and layoffs was quite stressful. Very few positions were being posted in the papers for architects, and many were leaving the field. Luckily, I found a position at Brooklyn Union Gas, which, at the time, was in the new MetroTech district near Brooklyn Heights, NY. While there, I was able to use my new found technical skills to assist in the effort of creating smart maps out of the original city street maps.
The next opportunity came with an internship in Jersey City for the architectural firm of LWDM. This position transitioned into part-time work as I became a full-time mom with the birth of my first child. While at LWDM, I worked on a project that provided housing for families affected by the AIDS epidemic. This led to an interest and desire to know how affordable housing was being created throughout New Jersey. This desire led me, in 1996, to work for the New Jersey Housing and Finance Agency, to be a field representative in their Division of Technical Services within the Agency. The field representatives monitor the construction of affordable housing projects financed by the Agency. The Division of Technical Services is made up of architects and engineers who follow the projects from initial site inspection, through the preparation of drawings and specifications, onto the closing of the financing, and then hand the project over to the field team. While serving as a field rep, knowing about my degree, a colleague suggested that I review and sit for the architectural licensing exam. While working my full-time position and raising two children, I used my nights and weekends to study for the exam and I received my license in 2001.
This July marks 23 years that I have been part of the Technical Services Division. During my time here, I have been a field representative, staff architect, Green Technical Advisor, and now, Assistant Director of the Division. I owe a lot to the architects and engineers in this division who have supported me and taught me over the years. It continues to be a rewarding experience, knowing that we help to provide safe and decent affordable housing to the people of New Jersey. I feel very lucky to be a part of this organization.
Over the years, I have been involved with improving the Agency’s energy efficiency standards for affordable housing, I have spoken and been a moderator at the Governor’s Housing Conference, held yearly in Atlantic City. I am responsible for the oversite of the Agency’s Solar Loan Program, for technical review and coordination with our Low Income Tax Credit Division, and for oversite and review of Multifamily and Special Needs housing projects throughout the state.
By Stacey Ruhle Kliesch, AIA, AIA NJ Advocacy Consultant | Posted in Women in Architecture | Tagged: #AffordableHousing, #deiversity, #equity, #Inclusion, #NJHMFA, #PamelaDeLosSantosAIA, #WIA, #womeninarchitecture, #WomensHistoryMonth | Comments (0)
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