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Marion Clendenen-Acosta

Wisco NOMA
Outgoing President, 2020-2021

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As my 2020-2021 Presidency comes to an end, I reflect on the accomplishments that our young chapter has been able to achieve in the 2 ½ years that we have been in existence. It’s definitely been a journey, that’s for sure! Knowing the ten years it took to even have the numbers to create a board I am proud to have had the opportunity to lead the chapter during this initial stage of growth.  Our Wisco NOMA members have worked diligently to set the foundation for our chapter processes, program initiatives and community engagement all while navigating the realities of COVID and the compounded stresses of racial divisiveness in the nation.  Despite this we forged ahead, finding opportunities to connect and learn about each other, build supportive relationships and work together to make an impact locally, nationally, and internationally.


Our members fostered relationships with NOMAS, the student chapter of NOMA at UW-Milwaukee School of Architecture; providing mentoring and guidance, supporting their Women’s History month panel discussion and elementary school outreach events, and conducting portfolio and presentation workshops to help prepare them for their professional careers post-graduation.

We had great collaborations with Women in Design Milwaukee (WID) where our members brought thought leadership and lived perspective to panel discussions.  We also worked with WID to co-sponsor a Give Back event to support an organization that provides shelter for Milwaukee youth in need.

Our members exhibited activism in various ways including providing design services to support victims of police brutality, collaborating on mural installations in Madison, and challenging legislative bills that could impact the architectural practice.

Outreach is a personal passion of mine, so it was a pleasure to be a part of the team that led various Day in the Life of an Architect presentations for 1st, 2nd and 4th students at Stuart Elementary School in Milwaukee.


As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of NOMA and its legacy, we also had the opportunity to celebrate Alonzo Robinson, a local legacy and the 1st African American male to be licensed in Wisconsin.

Our work didn’t stop at the shore.  Wisco NOMA supported a Pan African Museum Exhibition at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies at the University of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and provided a design proposal for the EABIC Women Freedom Liberation League Empress Headquarters in Jamaica, West Indies.


Finally, one of our cornerstone initiatives has been the Wisconsin DEI challenge, which is a collaboration of Wisco NOMA and AIA Wisconsin to recognize firms for their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. The ten-part challenge prioritizes metrics, accountability, and actionable responses wherein participating firms work toward fostering a professional and built environment that supports racial justice, social responsibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

I would like to acknowledge the trailblazing firms that have joined us in making a difference – Kahler Slater, Kubala Washatko Architects, Zimmerman, and Workshop Architects.  We look forward to engaging with additional firms as we continue to implement the Wisconsin DEI Challenge.

None of these term accomplishments could have been achieved without the collective talents, hours of volunteering and dedicated commitment of our Wisco NOMA Executive Board, Committee Chairs and chapter members.  I thank and appreciate you all!

Special thanks to the outgoing Executive Board - Teonna Cooksey (Secretary), Muhammad Shehata (Treasurer), Kyoute Toure (Parliamentarian) and my right-hand woman, Wekeana Lassiter (Vice President) for your leadership over the past two years as we worked to get our young chapter up and running. 

I am excited for the trajectory of growth and development that I know will happen with the transition to 2022 and our new Wisco NOMA Executive Board leadership over the next two years and beyond.


Marion Clendenen-Acosta

"We must become bigger than we have been; more courageous, greater in spirit, larger in outlook. We  must become members of a new race, overcoming petty prejudice, owing our ultimate allegiance not to  nations but to our fellow men within the human community."
Haile Selassie
1936 Address to the United Nations
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