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Abigail Brown Named New Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI)

The Director of DEI is responsible for championing the values of the firm’s DEI Council and achieving the goals outlined in its official DEI Statement.

Today, Hickok Cole is pleased to announce Senior Associate Abigail Brown, AIA, LEED AP BD+C has been named Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). The position is one of many new initiatives derived from the firm’s DEI Statement, an official policy and firmwide statement to guide major operational and management decisions. As Director of DEI, Abi will lead Hickok Cole’s formal DEI Council and represent its values in firmwide and industry conversations while working towards achieving the goals outlined in the DEI Statement.

Committed to building a better workplace, Hickok Cole invested in an initial six-month Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion workshop last year in partnership with Mariana Strategies. Concurrently, it assembled its first DEI Working Group, a rotation of staff committed to developing everyday tools that would build a more inclusive workplace and increase diversity within the profession. In partnership with Mariana Strategies and based on the advisement of the Working Group, Hickok Cole established its DEI Statement comprised of short and long-term goals required to ensure DEI is addressed in firmwide and industry conversations.

“With these initiatives, we hope to reinforce our welcoming, safe, and supportive culture. We want to ensure our staff, clients, and partners know that we value full participation from people of all backgrounds,” says Mike Hickok, Senior Principal. “The collective sum of knowledge, inventiveness, and self-expression our employees incorporate into their work represents a significant part of our reputation as a firm and contributes to our overall success.”

Under the guidance of the DEI Director, the firm is establishing a DEI Council, a group of rotating DEI ‘Champions’ who represent a cross-section of the firm. Council members will support the Director with several projects, including assisting with research and crafting policies and procedures that fit with the firm’s strategic plan for DEI. Among other duties, the Director is responsible for communicating with firm leaders as Council liaison, administering training programs and maintaining lessons learned from prior workshops, as well as leading open discussions that challenge and shape DEI’s role in professional contexts.

“I’m incredibly proud of the strides Hickok Cole has made over the last year to reinforce our core values, improve our policies, and strengthen our culture of respect and transparency. But we’re just getting started,” says Abi. “The concept of diversity, equity, and inclusion goes far beyond the checking of a box. It’s essential to the health and success of our profession and must be prioritized as such. While I’m deeply honored to assume the Director of DEI position, ensuring these initiatives take root requires firm and industry-wide buy-in. Through regular discourse, education, and oversight, I hope to empower our staff with the optimal set of tools to mobilize as DEI champions in their own rights.”

Since joining Hickok Cole’s multifamily practice in 2012, Abi has worked on a variety of projects from base building to adaptive reuse while consistently taking advantage of career development opportunities. Abi was awarded a micro-grant to study the application of modular construction to multifamily residential projects in Washington, DC through iLab, the firm’s internal research program. Abi is involved with several industry organizations and committees, including her roles as current Chair for AIA National’s Young Architects Forum and Past Chair of the AIA|DC Emerging Architects Committee. She has been recognized with an AIA|DC Emerging Architect Award for Exceptional Leadership and an AIA Young Architects Award which honors emerging leaders who have made significant contributions to the architecture profession early in their careers. Her interest in DEI came through her participation in Hickok Cole’s Staff Operations Committee, where she has spearheaded the firm’s JUST Label application. When the opportunity arose, she applied and was accepted to be a part of the DEI Working Group.

“Abi’s drive, initiative, and passion make her a natural fit for the Director role. Having been a part of the firm’s initial DEI Working Group and as current Chair for AIA National’s Young Architects Forum, she has proven to be a tenacious advocate for her peers,” says Yolanda Cole, Senior Principal. “As a rising designer and formidable voice within the firm, we are confident in her ability to lead us towards a better, more inclusive future.”