Jessica O’Donnell, AIA, Named AIA New Jersey Young Architect of the Year

January 15, 2020

Jessica O’Donnell, AIA, Named AIA New Jersey Young Architect of the Year

On January 11, 2020, AIA New Jersey members gathered at The Treasury at Felina in Ridgewood, NJ to celebrate the inauguration and awards presentation at their annual Gala, this year co-hosted with the AIA Architects League of Northern New Jersey.

At the event, Jessica O’Donnell, AIA, Immediate Past President of AIA West Jersey, was presented the award for AIA New Jersey Young Architect of the Year by Service Award Chairman and Past President Kurt Kalafsky, AIA, and 2020 President Steven B. Lazarus, AIA. 

Jessica is a project architect with over nine years of experience in a broad spectrum of residential and mixed-use building design. Since starting at Kitchen and Associates three years ago, she has become an integral part of the studio team as well as an ambassador of their office culture. Jessica is a bright and enthusastic young architect who continues to show rapid growth in skills and knowledge through her pursuit of design excellence. She has devoted a significant amount of time to mastering the advanced capabilities of BIM technology and taking time to assist others with their understanding of this project delivery platform. She has become a database manager and will be part of the inaugural in-house team performing quality checks on databases throughout the office. Jessica approaches each project as a new puzzle to be explored and embraces this robust technology for advanced problem-solving. Jessica’s architectural background and leadership experience also led her to be one of the few employees involved with expert testimony work for the United States Department of Justice.

Jessica’s noteworthy leadership with AIA and NCARB translates to being a great role model for other young professionals. She exemplifies the value of becoming engaged in the profession at large and not just solely focused on the project or firm. These roles reinforce her commitment to the profession as well as to her colleagues in the office and at large. 

After earning a Bachelor of Architecture degree at Oklahoma State University, Jessica returned to New Jersey and joined her local AIA Chapter. As she began to attend AIA events and start studying for the ARE, Jessica immediately became aware of the lack of activities and resources for younger AIA members, so set out to change that. In 2015, AIA New Jersey Emerging Professionals Community (EPiC) was born, and has blossomed under Jessica’s leadership. Today, EPiC continues to thrive and serve as a national inspiration of what an emerging professionals group can become. 

Between 2015 and 2018 Jessica served on the AIA New Jersey executive committee where she continued to advocate for emerging professionals at the local, state, regional and national levels. Her commitment to developing a community of peers to engage younger members and activate a leadership pipeline was a driving force behind her volunteer work. During this time, she also served as the Young Architect Regional Director of New Jersey and collaborated with her counterparts on the national committee to give a voice to architects licensed ten years or less. Jessica’s leadership and contributions to AIA New Jersey have been recognized nationally through invitations to speak at regional conferences, national events, and appointments to participate in forward-looking committees such as the Strategic Planning Committee for AIA. 

 

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Founded in 1857, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) consistently works to create more valuable, healthy, secure, and sustainable buildings, neighborhoods, and communities. Through a dynamic network of more than 250 chapters and more than 95,000 member architects and design professionals, the AIA advocates for public policies that promote economic vitality and public wellbeing. Members adhere to a code of ethics and conduct to ensure the highest professional standards. The AIA provides members with tools and resources to assist them in their careers and business as well as engaging civic and government leaders and the public to find solutions to pressing issues facing our communities, institutions, nation and world. The organization’s local chapter, AIA New Jersey, has served as the voice of the architectural profession in the Garden State since 1900. Based in Trenton, AIA New Jersey has over 2,000 members across six sections. For more information, please visit http://www.aia-nj.org

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