Women’s History Month: Highlights from Gensler’s SE Women’s Leadership Forum

Guests (L-R, T-B): Kate Kirkpatrick, Gail Malone, Mina Noorbakhsh, Carolyn Sponza, Selin Ozertugrul, Sarah Vanderhoof, Katie Mesia, Erica Farhat, Autumn Brasher, Tory Winn | © Gensler

International Women’s Day this year called upon people everywhere to “Choose to Challenge” issues of equity in the workplace, in our social interactions, and in our everyday lives to create positive change toward a better world. At Gensler, we believe in stepping up to this challenge every day, through our mission to create a better world through the power of design — and importantly, through an empowered and innovative workforce across the globe.

Amid the newfound challenges the pandemic brought, many of us found ourselves isolated, at times frustrated, and even devastated. But slowly we found new ways to come together even while apart to share our stories, share our homes, commiserate, and even share unique moments of unabashed joy and support for one another.

Today’s podcast episode is hosted by Tory Winn, a Principal and Co-Managing Director of the Gensler Atlanta office — and a co-founder of the firm’s Southeast Region Women’s Leadership Forum, alongside Carrie Hutton, a Talent Development Manager in Gensler’s Southeast Region. As you may have heard on the previous episode this month, the Women’s Leadership Forum got its start after the success of Winn’s conversation with industry colleague Meredith Leapley, CEO & founder of Leapley Construction, in the midst of the pandemic lockdown. The feedback received from that conversation sparked a call at Gensler for more candid conversations like this within our own firm.

Women’s Leadership Forum

Through the chaos of the past year, the Women’s Leadership Forum became an organic, uplifting digital meeting ground for people — both men and women — to share insights on our current world, our professional experiences, and our predictions for what’s to come. Winn and Hutton carefully selected women across experience levels, offices, and personality types at Gensler to share their voices, their challenges, and their successes with us. Though we’ve never opened up these conversations to the public before, today, we’re sharing some of our favorite moments from these enlightening dialogues.

You’ll hear from Kate Kirkpatrick, Design Strategy Leader & Principal, based in Gensler DC; Gail Malone, Technical Director & Principal, based in Gensler Atlanta; and Mina Noorbakhsh, Brand Designer at Gensler DC, on career growth at Gensler — and how it’s akin to scaling a rock-climbing wall.

You’ll also hear from Carolyn Sponza, Design Manager & Principal at Gensler DC; Selin Ozertugrul, Design Director, also based in Gensler DC; and Sarah Vanderhoof, Technical Designer at Gensler Atlanta. Together, they talk about mentorship, network-building, and the benefits of building your own personal “board of directors” as you grow your career.

Finally, you’ll hear from Katie Mesia, Southeast Regional Design Resilience Leader, Studio Director & Senior Associate, based in Gensler DC; Erica Farhat, Technical Designer & Associate at Gensler Baltimore; and Autumn Brasher, Design Strategist & Associate at Gensler Atlanta, on the importance of personal brand-building.

We’re continuing to host these conversations each month with our offices, and as we look to the future, we’re learning and growing from our people to plan not for our “new normal” — but our next normal.

We hope you’ll find inspiration in these insights, as we did, and we hope this episode encourages you or your organization to seek out creative ways to open up a dialogue with your teams.

Subscribe to Gensler Design Exchange on Soundcloud, Apple Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Alexa AnyPod, Google Play, Stitcher, and Libsyn — or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

As always, thanks for tuning in!




The Gensler Design Exchange creates a dialogue between design experts, creative trendsetters & thought leaders to discuss how we can shape the future of cities.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Slogging Through These Apps

Learning a new language, but also new skills, Python, the beginning.

What Slack is Great For and What It’s Not

Technology to Make Project Management Easier

Tech Job Dress Code: 9 Rules for What to Wear in Tech

3 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing Employee Monitoring Software

5 Ways to Improve Your Employer Brand Right Now

Wellness in the workplace starts with the three C’s

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Gensler Design Exchange Podcast

Gensler Design Exchange Podcast

The Gensler Design Exchange creates a dialogue between design experts, creative trendsetters & thought leaders to discuss how we can shape the future of cities.

More from Medium

Working with a brain disorder- Written by Josje Gerrits

Here’s how agencies can better accommodate people with hidden disabilities

Why I stopped working on weaknesses.