The goal of #WaveWorthyChats is for us to empower + engage each other in meaningful discussions online centered around a selected topic!
Name: Tiara Hughes
Role: Senior Urban Designer & Commissioner for Commission on Chicago Landmarks
Years in Industry: 7+
Question: “How did you reach your level of success, given the sector’s gender gap, especially moving up in your career?”
If there is no well to drink from, dig until you create one! - The determination behind this philosophy has led me to the most trying of times including challenges that started pretty early in my life; when I started my freshman year of high school, the housing complex my family and I lived in became too dangerous for us to remain in, so we had to relocate to a county far from my school. Unfortunately, the schools in our new county were not of the same caliber. Access to a great education was and still is really important to me, so I decided to remain at my former school. This meant waking up at 4 am every morning to take two public buses, a train and a school bus to get to school on time. Later when I was studying to become an architect, my masters program required a semester abroad, and though my experience studying architecture in Greece was remarkable, I returned from this idyllic interlude to maxed out student loans. This resulted in a full semester of homelessness. Also, this attitude has influenced me to respond to the misrepresentation of black women in the field. When I finished my masters in 2015 and made the big move from Springfield, Missouri to Chicago, my goal was to connect with Black women architects and to learn the ropes of the industry. Upon arriving, I quickly learned there was no central resource for Black women architects and their accomplishments. When I dug deeper into the industry, I learned that of the 105,000+ licensed architects in the United States, less than 500 of them identified as Black women. Equipped with this information, I founded FIRST 500, a national initiative dedicated to celebrating and increasing awareness of black women architects and their contributions to the built environment.
Lastly, passion is what guides me not only as a devoted activist, educator and advocate for underrepresented communities and voices, but also a skilled designer with a proven track record of executing work that emphasizes greater socioeconomic equity and cultural awareness.
Thanks for sharing Tiara!