About us

our vision

The vision of MSP AoA NOMA chapter is to advocate for and support diversity within our profession by promoting inclusivity and representation of design professionals that reflect our society.

Established in 1993

Our History

The Assembly of Architects was established in 1993 as a social organization for a growing minority design professional community.

The MSP AoA NOMA chapter was created having the former Assembly of Architects as its foundation. The Mission of this late organization was to help build and educate communities and to create collaborative and business partnerships that strive to enrich the lives of its members, youth and adults of color and the greater community.

MSP AoA NOMA carriers the AoA’s vision to achieve the stated mission through the development of community events, outreach programs, strategic partnership with alike organizations, youth workshops, members focus groups and more.

Incorporated in 2003 as a non-profit to support career and leadership development through networking opportunities

Social awareness event, “Baraza”, created as a way to introduce professionals and students of color to the community at large

Provided over a dozen scholarships to support college students

Board Members

Damaris Hollingsworth
AIA (President)
Damaris champions the creation of holistic and approachable spaces accessible to all.
A Brazil native, she brings a strong multicultural and global perspective to her work as a U.S.-Registered Architect and LEED-accredited architect. She holds an NCARB certificate and is a graduate of the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Lyssa Washington
Assoc. AIA (President- Elect)
Lyssa is a native of Minneapolis, MN and has worked on a variety of projects throughout the Twin Cities ranging from multi-use planning projects to educational facilities.
She is a graduate of Tulane University in New Orleans, LA with a Master’s degree in Architecture and a Certificate of Preservation Studies. Lyssa has worked in and with firms both small and large in her 14+ years of professional experience; she is a creative problem solver, leader, effective communicator and collaborator. Lyssa is the Vice-President of MSP AoA NOMA, a volunteer with the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota, and a LEED Accredited Professional.
Paola Sanchez
Assoc. AIA (Treasurer)
Paola is a registered Architect in the Dominican Republic with a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning and Municipal Management.
Both these titles obtained from the Pontificia Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) in Santiago. In addition to the experience gained working in service of major business entities across the Dominican Republic (ESGRUMA, TECVASA International, Batista y Asociados S.A., et al), she has also gained a breadth of knowledge in Urban Development working as a consultant on numerous projects with several municipalities in the northern region of the country. Paola is also professor of Urban Planning in the school of Architecture at PUCMM. Currently, she is the secretary of MSP AoA NOMA
Karen Lu
AIA (Secretary)
Karen’s love of architecture is rooted in its complexity–the successful combination of multiple contexts, different points of view and the relationship of the overall goal or idea to its many supporting details.
Her passion for making connections and building relationships inspires her integrative approach to design thinking and her desire to promote the strengths and expand the possibilities of the profession.

Karen’s commitment to design excellence and to positively impacting future generations of architecture professionals and global citizens is evident in her professional work and service to the AIA and her community. She has been recognized both locally and nationally with the AIA Minnesota and National AIA Young Architects Awards. Karen has led and collaborated on projects that have won National AIA Honor Awards, AIA/COTE Top Ten Green Project Awards, AIA Minnesota Honor Awards, and Progressive Architecture Awards. She received a Master in Architecture from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design and has dual undergraduate degrees from The Wharton School and College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania.

Karen currently serves as Co-chair of the AIA MN Committee on Design and Chair of the AIA Minnesota Leadership Forum Advisory Committee. She is also actively involved at Yinghua Academy, a K-8 elementary school and national leader in Chinese immersion education, where she served as Board Chair for three years. Karen is a regular guest critic at the University of Minnesota School of Architecture where she teaches design studio.

Nicholas Hoffmann
Assoc. AIA, NOMA (Student Liason)
Nicholas is an emerging professional who is inspired by the human experience through design.
The desire for cross-disciplinary practice is what inspires him to challenge the status quo, investigating the design process through an integrative scope to optimize the outcome of the built environment.

He is a recent graduate from the University of Minnesota, attaining a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and minor in Landscape Design and Planning. While at the university, Nicholas helped re-establish the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS), where his leadership role elevated him into serving on the MSP AoA NOMA board.

Currently, Nicholas remains active in many committees under the umbrella of AIA Minnesota, including the Emerging Professionals Committee (EPC), Housing Advocacy Committee (HAC), and Committee on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). As the current Student Liason of MSP AoA NOMA, he hopes to knit the relationship between students and professionals, continuing the growth of a multi-faceted community.

The MSP AoA NOMA will be a space for design professionals of color in the Twin Cities to share their collective experiences and knowledge to further enhance their professional growth as leaders and advocates for our communities.

As a professional organization, NOMA adds value to our profession by empowering its members to excel in their craft, to mentor and support minority professionals, to promote community engagement and to champion diversity and inclusion within the design community. The sense of community, the sense of belonging to a group and the support and understand that this organization promotes will help firms in the Twin Cities to overcome the challenges of retaining diversity in the industry.

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