About us

our vision

The vision of MSP 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 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 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

Aaron Regla Breton

ASSOC. AIA | NOMA (President)

Architecture is the universal language of life. Aarón's passion from design arose from an understanding of what once was, through his Art History degree, to what could be, with his graduate studies in architecture. This desire to understand and create connections beyond our shared languages is the basis to his approach to the complexities of the built environment.

As a native of Mexico, Aarón’s drive is to help build a future where cultures from all backgrounds can have a place and inspire future generations. As a valued architectural designer at Cuningham Group, his work currently resides in Cultural Centers, and concentrates on design components that successfully incorporate an approach that will best serve the community. Additionally, Aarón has been leading efforts within his firm for equity, diversity, and inclusion and has previously served as board chair for a local charter school.

Wale Falade

AIA | NOMA (Vice President)

Wale is an avid bass player who also dabbles in sound mixing. He is a graduate of the MArch program at the College of Design, University of Minnesota, and has over 14 years of experience working in the industry, with numerous projects in 40 US states and Canadian provinces. He is the founder of FIHÀN Design + Architecture in St Paul, and an Adjunct Instructor at Dunwoody College of Technology, where he has taught for 7 years.

Wale believes in democratizing design access and the value of architecture to enhance the lives of people. His work emphasizes a rigorous, iterative, and collaborative design process, utilizing mixed modes of design representation to foster engagements with clients, based on the tenets that the process is as critical as the product.



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.

Amy Artates Carroll

AIA | NOMA (Treasurer)

Amy brings a unique perspective on the importance of community to her design practice and to the profession.

Prior to pursuing a career in architecture, she earned a Master in Arts degree from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago with a concentration in Community Planning, Organizing, and Development. While in Chicago, she worked to facilitate community engagement in diverse and underserved communities and helped individuals, families and stakeholder groups communicate with city and county authorities to ensure their voices were heard.

She received a Master in Architecture degree from the College of Design at the University of Minnesota and is a Project Architect at Pope Architects. She has over 10 years of architectural experience including new construction, renovations, adaptive reuse and studies for transportation and educational facilities. A natural advocate, she has promoted initiatives for greater equity, diversity, and inclusion at each firm where she has practiced. She is also a founding board member of the modern architecture preservation organization Docomomo US/MN.

Chee Thao

NOMA (Student Liaison)

Chee Thao is an architectural student at Dunwoody College of Technology, where he is currently working on his 5th-year capstone project: The Hmong Museum. Chee serves as the NOMAS acting president, advocating for the BIPOC students. Chee also holds an associate in Architectural Drafting & Construction Technology from Waukesha County Technical College in Waukesha, WI, in 2008.

He moved to Saint Paul from Milwaukee with his wife in 2016 to pursue his dream of becoming an architect. His aspiration comes from his Hmong heritage and his interest in drawing comics at a very young age. He is utilizing architecture as a medium to express his creativity.  As an artist, Chee has painted murals for the Milwaukee Zoo and Saint Francis High School. He displayed his artwork on a billboard and completed his first art show in 2018 with RAWArtist’s. He is interning at Collage Architect as a Project Designer working on multi-family homes and pursuing licensure upon graduation.

Lyssa Washington

Assoc. AIA | NOMA (Past 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.

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 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.

Get in touch

For general inquiries or more information about MSP NOMA please email us info@mspnoma.org or president@mspnoma.org with the subject line GENERAL INQUIRY.


Donate Today

If you would like to donate, please email us at treasurer@mspnoma.org with the subject line DONATION.