Year In Review 2015 Newsletter

Hello DC members,
The DC steering committee would like to thank you all for your contribution to projects, events, and committees throughout the year. There has been a lot going on in 2015 and below is our year in review that outlines our new leaders, projects milestones, and Chapter Network updates. We will be looking forward to what 2016 will bring to us!

Have a Happy New Year!

Sarah MeHaffey & Rayya Newman
Chapter Directors


New Directors / Positions

We would like to acknowledge the following individuals for taking on various new leadership roles in our chapter and the global organization. You can view the full leadership via Our Team page.

Rayya Newman
Chapter Co-Director

Allie O’Neill 
Co-Director for the Development/Fundraising Committee

Chau Pham
Director for the Projects Committee

Jeanne Allen 
Director for the Communications Committee

Josef Fuentes 
Chapter Network DC Representative


School Within Schools Teacher Spaces
The project engagement started in October 2014, when our Chapter started working with the teachers of the Goding School located in NE DC to design and renovate three of their teacher spaces to be aligned with their Reggio Emilia approach. This approach is an innovative and inspiring method of early childhood education which values the child as strong, capable and resilient; rich with wonder and knowledge.  The organization of the physical environment is crucial to Reggio Emilia and has been referred to as the child’s “Third Teacher.” Our Team successfully completed the project on May 30th 2015.
For more information about the story of this project, check out the project page here.

Lefiso Community Center
A group of three volunteers traveled to conduct a series of workshops and planning sessions for a community center in Lefiso, South Africa in April 2015. From their successful trip, the team will continue to develop the program and site so that they can get the local Steering committee the information & materials they need to get this project off the ground.
For more information about this project, check out their Facebook page here.

SxSW “A Place to Go” Project Presentation
DC chapter’s very own Mark Palmer presented at the Austin SxSW ECO conference to share with conference participants from around the world how the Jitegemee project is a great example of how good design can make a huge impact. The presentation is part of the Place By Design Showcase in which Mark was presenting with 5-6 other projects within the Resilience category. The Resilience category highlights innovative projects that contribute to a more adaptive, sustainable world.

Jitegemee Education Center
The first phase of construction for the  Jitegemee Education Center has been completed, including a new kitchen building, eco-toilet building by “A Place to Go”, and a new main building featuring new classrooms, a computer room, and a community library. In 2009 AFHdc members organized a community workshop with Jitegemee, an organization which provides street children with access to formal and vocational education, in the small town of Machakos, Kenya. Six years later, the design developed by this initial team has been realized with this new facility that serves Jitegemee as well as the community. Sarah Mehaffey, Mark Palmer, and Rayya Newman presented the project on behalf of AFHdc at the Public Interest Design Institute in DC earlier this year.
For more information about this project, check out the Jitegemee website here.

Resilient x Design
The Resilience by Design team is preparing to host the National Treasures Design Competition. This competition will solicit innovative mitigation ideas for the low-lying tidal basin on the National Mall and will strive to create cross-sector dialogue on Washington DC’s flood risks. Fundraising for the competition is currently underway. Know an organization that would be interested in supporting this effort? Contact us at for more information.

Chapter Network Updates

It has been a roller coaster of a year with the news of Architecture for Humanity closing its doors in January 2015. Since then, the Chapter leaders have been meeting to restructure and reestablish the organization under a new name and similar mission. Rayya Newman and Josef Fuentes have both been involved as Steering Committee, Governance, and Development Committees. In working with members around the globe, what is now currently being called the “Chapter Network”, we’ve been able to accomplish the following things:

  • Secured a generous gift from CurryStone Foundation in support of our work.
  • Hired a Transition Coordinator to organize our efforts and launch 4 Sub Committee working groups.
  • Started a rebrand process using feedback from branding experts and active members of the organization.
  • Presented our organizing efforts and renewed vision at the Austin SxSW ECO conference. Chicago, DC and Dhaka chapters had projects recognized in the Place By Design Showcase.
  • The steering committee, after extensive research and vigorous voting process, created and approved our future governing structure. There will be a Board of Directors and Regional Leaders Council to ensure representation from the local chapters.
  • CurryStone generously donated to support our efforts for another 6 months to hire an Executive Director and work towards reestablishing ourselves as a 501(c3).
  • The Steering Committee officially appointed a Executive Director to keep the ball rolling.
  • Through another rigorous voting process, the new name of the organization has been decided.