Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program

The architecture profession is changing. And we believe you are its next leaders.

The Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program (CKLDP) aims to train the next generation of leaders in architecture through a series of nine half-day sessions.

Thank You for Applying!

Application Deadline:
We are no longer accepting applications for the 2024 Program.

Submission Requirements can be found below.

Become a CKLDP Leader

The program focuses on honing skills like:

• Entrepreneurship and firm management

• Teamwork and collaboration

• Negotiation skills

• Client development

• Community leadership

• Understanding industry trends

Each year, this competitive program accepts 16 emerging professionals to collaborate, learn together and develop as leaders in architecture.

This program is ideal for members who are eager to advance in their career and either have not yet become a licensed architect, or have been licensed for 10 years or less.


Christopher Kelley, AIA, was an active member of the Washington, D.C. architectural community who suddenly passed away in May 2012. He was a respected leader within the Institute, as well as within Gensler’s Washington D.C. office. Through his volunteer efforts, he participated and contributed to initiatives and programs that have had a positive impact on emerging professionals at different stages of their careers. In 2010, Kelley was honored with the AIA Young Architects Award for which the jury stated, “Christopher has proven himself a young leader within and around the AIA, a real example for other young professionals.” This program is intended to continue his legacy of leadership and activism.

Beginning in 2013, the AIA|DC chapter undertook an initiative to develop the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program, which would help train and nurture the next generation of leaders. The first 16 scholars were selected in July 2013, and the program’s many successful years helped broaden its reach to various other AIA Chapters. AIA Silicon Valley is the first of its kind in the West Coast and Bay Area to present this successful program starting in 2024. The year-long program aims to advance the leadership skills of our industry professionals and consists of nine individual half-day sessions attended by a competitively selected group of 16 emerging architects. Prospective participants, who have graduated from an architectural degree program and/or is within 10 years of first licensure, must go through an application process for selection where proven career success, community involvement and the individual’s firm support will be considered.


January | Introduction
(Attendance Required)

  • Introduction to the Course and fellow scholars
  • Review of Program Templates
  • Session Planning Requirements + Brainstorming activities
  • Leadership introduction + Guest Speakers

February | Session #1
Leading Together

  • The basics of leadership
  • Understanding one’s personal leadership skills and how they relate to other
  • Optimizing team dynamics

March | Session #2
Entrepreneurship + Management

  • Office + Firm Management Standards
  • Firm Organizational Structures + Long term succession planning strategies
  • Entrepreneurship Opportunities within the practice
  • Alternative business model

April | Session #3
The Art of Negotiation

  • Ethics + Law: From contracts and codes to professional ethics
  • Overcoming negotiating pitfalls + behavior
  • Advocating for oneself
  • Public Speaking + Professional Communication

May | Session #4
Community Engagement

  • Understanding the needs of the community
  • Tools to interact + collect data from the community
  • Social responsibility of architects as community leaders
  • Becoming More Involved in one’s community through philanthropic work + Board involvement
  • Impact through political advocacy

June | Session #5
Business Development + Marketing

  • Effective Networking
  • Using social media professionally
  • Business Development + Pursuing work
  • Building a personal brand

July | Session #6
Industry Game Changers

  • Sustainability + Resilience in Design
  • The potential of historic reuse, preservation + adaptation
  • New tools to change how we practice (BIM, VR, and so on)
  • Shaping the future of the design + project delivery methods

August | Session #7
Research + Data

  • Thought leadership + Using data effectively
  • creating the case for research in design + beyond
  • Bridging the divide between architectural education + practice

September | Session #8
The Future of Our Culture

  • Architecture’s role in culture today + the future
  • Embracing a diverse, inclusive + equitable world
  • Becoming a mentor
  • Growth through the CKLD experience


Following is the schedule for 2024 sessions:

Boot Camp: January 12, 2024 (mandatory attendance)

Session 1: Leading Together, February 9, 2024

Session 2: Entrepreneurship & Management, March 8, 2024

Session 3: The Art of Negotiation, April 5, 2024

Session 4: Community Engagement, May 3, 2024

Session 5: Business Development + Marketing, June 7, 2024

Session 6: Industry Game Changers, July 12, 2024

Session 7: Research + Data, August 9, 2024

Session 8: The Future of Our Culture, September 6, 2024 (mandatory attendance)

2024 Executive Committee

Madhubala Ayyamperumal, Assoc. AIA

Graphics Adviser:
Sreedevi Krishnan, Assoc. AIA

Submission Requirements

Required Commitment

The year-long program consists of nine individual half-day sessions attended by a competitively selected group of 16 emerging professionals from in and around Silicon Valley. The curriculum focuses on core skills such as entrepreneurship and firm management, the art of negotiation, bringing in new clients, community leadership, industry culture, and developing one’s future within the practice.

The leadership program participants are responsible for planning and participating in each of the individual sessions. Each year, scholars from the previous year are selected to help guide the next year’s class. In this way, the program is continually evolving, allowing the scholars to learn on an ongoing basis about thoughts and ideas relevant to the architectural profession today.

Application Documents

View the Full application requirements here. When you are ready to submit, click the button at the bottom of the page. Failure to complete all sections of the application will result in disqualification.

Letter of Interest: a one-page written letter of interest describing your past experiences and understanding of the program, as well as what you feel you will contribute to the 2024 class.

Letters of Recommendation: a minimum of one and maximum of three, one-page, letter(s) of recommendation. It is in the best interest of the applicant to provide only strong letters of support/ recommendation from people who know the work of the nominee.

Personal Resume: preferred to be no more than two pages and uploaded in PDF format. It is NOT in the best interest of the applicant to simply submit a firm resume with project experience only/mostly. It should resemble a CV.

Agreement Form: Completed, signed, and uploaded in PDF format. Please find the agreement form here for download.

(Optional) Tuition Assistance is available. Please find the form here for download.

Thank You for Applying!

Application Deadline:
We are no longer accepting applications for the 2024 Program.

Frequently asked questions

Do I have to be an AIA member to apply?

Though AIA membership is encouraged for all scholars, it is not mandatory. Preference will be given to AIA Silicon Valley members, though other allied organization members are welcome to submit an application for consideration.

Do I have to have a nomination from my firm to apply?

Individuals may be nominated by their firm or can nominate themselves and will be selected on the basis of a written application, recommendations, and resume.

Review the Full application requirements here.

What is the involvement of my firm, if any?

Other than an optional nomination letter, all participants must sign an Agreement Form. This form will require a signature from one of the participant’s principals of their firm/agency. The agreement certifies that the firm will give the candidate time off for the class sessions once a month.

Does this program provide AIA continuing education credits?

It is intended that this program will have AIA CE credit made available for its participants up to a potential 35 CEUs.

Will I Gain HSW credits for this program?

The percentage that is eligible for HSW is dependent on the curriculum designed by the participants.

Am I required to attend all sessions?

The program’s success is directly related to the attendance by the participants and therefore attendance is mandatory. One excused absence will be permitted. Before you apply, please review session dates against personal and work calendars.

What if I miss more than one session?

If two sessions are missed, a fine of $50 will be sent to the participants’ firm/agency. A further absence will result in an additional $50 fine and expulsion from the program.

Is there a cost to this program?

Tuition for AIA Members is $450 and non-AIA member tuition is $550. This fee goes directly to supporting the sessions with speaker fees, participant travel reimbursement, space rental, food and refreshments.

Are there any scholarships available to help with program fees?

AIA Silicon Valley may choose to offer tuition assistance to AIA members who may be from small firms that would otherwise not be able to participate. The amount and number of tuition assistance will be at the discretion of the Advisory Committee.

An application for this assistance is made available here.