November 7, 2022 / Chapter News and Notices

2023 AIA Baltimore and AIA Maryland Board Candidates

Vote now for 2023 AIA Baltimore and AIA Maryland Board Members. 2023 board announcements will be made in the AIA Baltimore newsletter on January 9.

Note that we will not be voting in person. You must vote using this form! Voting ends on December 7.


2023 AIA Baltimore and AIA Maryland candidate bios:


AIA Baltimore Directors

Brian Helfer, Jr., Assoc. AIA (Associate Director)

Brian Helfer, Jr is currently an architectural designer at Hord Coplan Macht, adjunct professor at Morgan State University, and has previously sat on the AIA Baltimore and AIA Maryland boards as student liaison.

Brian was born and raised in Baltimore City, originally from Hampden, earned his undergraduate architecture degree from Morgan State University, and his Masters of architecture degree from Washington University in St Louis.

Brian began his involvement in the architecture community through leadership positions in AIAS and found a passion for community engagement after completing the AIA Baltimore CivicLAB, class of 2019. Brian has been an active member at all levels of AIA including local committee and event planning, and state and national level policy advocacy.

Gabriel Kroiz, AIA (Director) – Returning

As an architect, Kroiz’s experience includes award-winning projects in the US and Asia. As a builder, he has focused on small, detail-intensive projects which allow for a high level of research and experimentation with materials and their application.

In 2008 Kroiz joined the School of Architecture and Planning at Morgan State University as its first Program Director, and then Chair working to achieve the school’s missions of providing access to the design professions for underrepresented minorities and performing research focused on the redevelopment of Baltimore and the surrounding region. He has contributed to research about Morgan in the areas of design pedagogy and was co-recipient of the ACSA Diversity Achievement Award for Morgan’s Beginning Design Pedagogy.

Lori Lessem, AIA, nominated for the Executive Board (2023 Treasurer/2026 President) – Returning

Lori Lessem, AIA, is the founding principal of L2 Design Studio and has over 25 years of experience in award-winning architecture and interiors. Lori has worked on projects from the initial concepts through final move-in, bringing a creative approach and passion to each phase. Her experience includes art galleries, athletic complexes, student centers, college/university and K-12 projects, corporate interiors, and custom residential. Lori is an active AIA Baltimore member and served as co-chair of the AIA Baltimore Equity committee. Lori is committed to supporting the growth of the profession and has served on the NCARB ARE 5.0 committee for the last three years.

Melanie Ray, AIA (Director) – Returning

Melanie is an Associate in the Housing/Mixed-Use studio at Hord Coplan Macht in Downtown Baltimore. A resident of Baltimore City, she is active in the design community and various neighborhoods of the city. Outside of her project-related work at HCM, she is an active member of the Social Responsibility and Student Engagement Committees and volunteers with the Neighborhood Design Center. Melanie received her Bachelor of Architecture Degree from the Pennsylvania State University in 2015 with a minor in Geography, which was followed by the completion of the Urban Design Regional Employment Action for Minorities (UDREAM) Program at Carnegie Mellon University. Her leadership experience spans various organizations and activities, including her current position as the Northeast University Liaison for the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) and a founding member, vice president, and treasurer of its Baltimore chapter (Bmore NOMA). As a member of the Emerging Professionals and Equity Committees, Melanie continues to cultivate her skills as an architect and assist others on the path to licensure.

AIA Baltimore Allied Member Liaison

Gustavo Tovar (Allied Liaison) – Returning

Gustavo E. Tovar, comes from a multi-cultural family, born in 1978.  He is from a Russian father and a Venezuelan mother who, met in Europe in the 60’s.  His education has taken place in several countries including Italy, Russia, Venezuela and Unites States.  He has a degree in International Business and after a few years in the USA, he completed a 3 year Interior Design degree at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Arts).  Overall, Gustavo Tovar has been in the Architectural and Design and Tiling industry for approximately 17 years.  Currently, he is the Architectural and Design Manager for the Mid-Atlantic at Schluter Systems.  

AIA Maryland Directors

Dan Bailey, AIA (Director) – Returning

Dan has played a key role in the successful design and administration of new construction and modernizations for numerous institutional and commercial projects. His decades of experience on city, state, and federal projects of all types and sizes contribute significantly to his excellence in project management. He is particularly skillful in the administration of complex technical issues, having extensive experience in coordinating large multi-faceted projects from design through the construction administration.

Dan is a member of the American Correctional Association where he speaks at their national conferences and seminars and serves on the Facility Committee. He is also a member of the American Institute of Architect’s Academy of Architecture for Justice which supports best practices in corrections design.

Chris Parts, AIA (Director) – Returning

Chris Parts’ professional experience has been focused on the planning and design of interiors, institutional and educational facilities. His long-standing relationships with many clients reflect his understanding of client needs and his ability to create a stimulating environments.

His straightforward project management style, combined with his keen listening skills and creative vision deliver a seasoned balance of high end design and functionality.

AIA Maryland Alternate Director

Wadiah Akbar, AIA (Director)

Wadiah Akbar is a recently licensed architect at Quinn Evans’ Baltimore office, with 4 years of experience in adaptive reuse projects of all kinds, with a particular interest in cultural and civic spaces. Wadiah graduated with a B.Sc in Architecture and an M.Arch from the University of Maryland School of Architecture where she completed her award-winning thesis, “An Architecture of Activism: Grassroots Organizing in the Digital Age”.

Wadiah chairs the AIA Baltimore Emerging Professionals Committee and is a regular guest critic at local architecture schools.



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