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

Lyssa Washington

Assoc. AIA | NOMA (President)

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.

Lyssa has also participated in numerous Community Engagement processes throughout her career and as a member of the 4RM+ULA team. She is especially interested in impacting the community in which she grew up. As a project manager, her approach is to listen, with quiet curiosity, while building consensus among disparate groups. Since joining 4RM+ULA, Lyssa has participated in all facets of project progression, from master planning through construction administration. Lyssa’s engagement strategies are designed to reach audiences that are typically underrepresented in community engagement processes. She leverages her community relationships and the skill sets of her team to meet and exceed client goals.

Lyssa is the chapter President for the MSP AoA NOMA and a LEED accredited professional. She also serves on the Hennepin County designer selection committee.



Ulysses is an emerging designer with a strong dedication to the mission of championing equity within and around the design community.

His passion for architecture, the practice of bringing what was once imagined to fruition, paired with his multicultural upbringing, are what fuel his ambitions today. That is why he is constantly striving to facilitate the collaboration of a diverse spectrum of perspectives. He believes in taking ownership of his role as an invested member of the community, and applying hard work, dedication and collaboration to it in order to bring his mutual goals with NOMA MSP to fruition. 

He is a graduate of North Dakota State University, where he founded the school’s first NOMAS chapter and served as the chapter’s first president.



Nicole is a recent graduate from Kansas State University with her Master’s of Architecture. She is currently employed at LSE Architects as a Project Designer and working towards licensure.

Paola Sanchez

Assoc. AIA | NOMA (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
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.

Damaris Hollingsworth

AIA | NOMA (past-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.
Karen Lu


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.

MSP AoA NOMA provides 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. Join us at our next event to learn more about our mission and how you can help us fulfill it.

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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