Stories of AIA Leadership

I’ve never thought of myself as a leader, especially not when it came to my job. Having just finished school about a year ago, I began my professional career thinking the leaders in a firm were the principals and it stopped there. It would be years and years before I could ever work my way up to that position, if ever. However, working at Kodet has made my opinion on this take a full 180 degree turn. This firm is filled with leaders in all aspects of the architectural profession and beyond. Having this great group of role models around me has pushed me to take on more challenges and be more confident in what I do each day.  Because of this, I now think of myself as a leader as well.


Here at Kodet, we really value involvement in AIA. This gives us the opportunity to be involved in decision making regarding the future of the profession, get involved with students of all ages, and work to improve the public understanding and appreciation of architecture. Getting involved with AIA has given me a voice within the profession, allowed me to make connections with many great architects in the area, and provided numerous opportunities for me to serve the community. I am an associate director on the AIA Minneapolis Board, I have gotten involved with the AIA Minnesota Women in Architecture, and I have had the opportunity to speak to multiple high school classes about architecture.

My story wouldn’t be possible without the great young leaders at Kodet. Here are a couple of the leadership stories from Kodet team members who have inspired and encouraged me:

Katie Kangas, AIA
Through AIA, Katie advocates for young people and women within the profession. Katie currently holds the position of AIA Minnesota Emerging Professionals Committee Co-Chair, as well as being an active member in the AIA-MN Women in Architecture Committee. Through these committees, Katie has set up firm tours for students and emerging professionals across the Twin Cities. She recently attended the 2017 AIA Women’s Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. At the WLS, she joined the national conversation on challenges in our profession, and brought back valuable knowledge to share with Kodet. Katie and I have joined the planning committee for the 2019 WLS to be hosted here in Minneapolis.

Being involved in AIA has also been a huge learning opportunity for Katie. She has developed and practiced many leadership skills that boost both her esteem and her career. AIA has allowed Katie to network with many seasoned professionals, which has given her the opportunity to practice and improve her communication skills. As a committee leader, she has the opportunity to try out new and exciting ideas for creating new connections within the profession and the community. 


Kelly Martinez, AIA
Kelly currently serves as the AIA Minneapolis Board Secretary and the AIA Minnesota Architecture in the Schools Committee Co-Chair. Through each of these leadership roles, Kelly has been able to give back to the community and the profession while also growing and learning more about herself in the process. Being able to make connections with colleagues and mentors, learn more about the profession, and give back to the community are all reasons Kelly finds AIA involvement worthwhile and beneficial. Being on the Minneapolis Board has given Kelly the opportunity to have a voice and make a difference in the city as well as represent other young architects.

Because she is passionate about students of all ages and the profession of architecture, being a part of the Architecture in the Schools Committee has been a huge part of Kelly’s AIA involvement. The goals of the committee are to engage and inspire students in design and architecture. Kelly dedicates hours of her time each summer to helping prepare an AIA MN exhibit as part of STEM Day at the MN State Fair. At the event, students build models of iconic state fair building and structures. Seeing the joy on children’s faces as they finish up their very own models is worth the efforts. This event sparks architectural interest in hundreds of students and the community at large.


Kyle Palzer, Associate AIA

Kyle, although only a couple years out of graduate school, has been a huge advocate for positive change in the profession. Having served at the state level for the AIA Minnesota Board, the Architect Licensing Committee, and the Strategic Resource Team, Kyle currently holds a position on the AIA National Associates Committee as the North Central States Associate Director. Through this position Kyle is able to voice his opinions on firm culture, licensure, and the future of the profession – the topics he is most passionate about. He attends conferences all over the country, participating in conversations about these issues with other leaders in the profession.

Through being involved in AIA, Kyle has learned to focus his efforts on the areas of the profession he feels most strongly about. He believes this is the best way to make a difference. Starting at a local level and working his way up to representing the region, Kyle has had the opportunity to advocate for positive change in the architecture community and profession in his city, state, and the country.