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Architects Recognized for Public Service to Des Moines Metro Area

Tuesday, April 5, 2016   (0 Comments)

Architects Recognized for Public Service to Des Moines Metro Area

Des Moines, Iowa (April 1, 2016) – Twenty-nine local architects and members of the American Institute of Architects, Iowa Chapter (AIA Iowa) have been recognized for their service to the communities of Des Moines, West Des Moines, Ankeny, Ames and Johnston.  They are participants in the AIA Iowa Citizen Architect Program sponsored by AIA Iowa:

Mindy Aust, AIA, of Substance Architecture in Des Moines was elected to Secretary of the West Des Moines Historical Society. Founded in 1970, the West Des Moines Historical Society (WDMHS) is a volunteer-based organization dedicated to community enrichment through education, preservation, and celebration of the history and the heritage of West Des Moines.  As Secretary, Aust takes minutes for Board meeting and serves on the Buildings and Grounds Committee. As a member of the Buildings and Grounds Committee she helps to overseeing the restoration of the Jordan House and the Bennett School.

Joseph Benesh, AIA, of Shive-Hattery Architects + Engineers in West Des Moines serves as Board Member/Task Force Chair of the Boys and Girls Club of Central Iowa, Variety Club of Iowa, and Downtown Chamber Strategic Partnerships Task Force. Boys and Girls Club of Central Iowa and Variety Club of Iowa both serve disadvantaged or at-risk children, providing educational opportunities and resources for them to succeed and grow.  The Downtown Chamber of Commerce Strategic Partnership Task Force is charged with building relationships with the downtown business community and governmental agencies for the mutual benefit of both and the advocacy of business member and public interests. Benesh assists in strategic planning and strategic and tactical efforts by the BGCCI and Variety Club.  He serves as Task Force Chair of the Strategic Partnerships Task Force.

Natalie Carran, AIA, of Benjamin Design Collaborative, P.C. in Ames was appointed to the City of Ames Public Art Commission, the Ames International Partner City Association, and the Ames Community Preschool Board.  Carran is the Secretary and a Public Relations committee member of the Public Art Commission and she works to acquire and install sculpture in and around downtown and the Ames Community. As the Vice-President of the Ames International Partner City Association, Carran hosts families from Japan and offers tours of Ames, the ISU Campus, Des Moines buildings, and other public places. Carran is also the Secretary and a Building Facilities member of the Ames Community Preschool Board where she helps provide direction to the board about building use and maintenance.


Curtis Ehler, AIA, of Studio MELEE in West Des Moines serves as member of the Editorial Board of the Iowa Architect Magazine. Iowa Architect magazine is the official publication of AIA Iowa. The publication serves as a voice for advocating design excellence, in architecture, arts, literature, innovative products and technologies and serves as a link to society, place, space, and experience. As a member of the Editorial Board, Ehler helps plan out the theme of each issue, selects projects and images that should be used from each series of submissions, selects writers for each article, selects persons to be considered for the "profile" feature, and various other tasks that help support the editor and publisher.

Scotney Fenton, AIA, of RDG Planning & Design in Des Moines serves as Commissioner of the Des Moines Historic Preservation Commission. In this role, Scotney reviews applications for certificates of appropriateness and applies knowledge from his 20 years of experiences as an architect working with historic buildings. Scotney has served on the Commission since 2004. The Commission meets once a month.

Nicholas Forbes, Assoc. AIA, of INVISION in Des Moines serves as a volunteer member of the AIA-Iowa PR Committee. Forbes is responsible for attending once monthly meetings, volunteers for tasks identified by the committee as a priority for the AIA Iowa Chapter, and reaches out to community members on behalf of the AIA Iowa.

Scott Hatfield, AIA, of SVPA Architects Inc. in West Des Moines was appointed Commissioner of the West Des Moines Plan & Zoning Commission. The Commission meets every other week to review projects initiated by the City, by developers, and/or property owners. On matters regarding landuse/zoning, the Commission's recommendation to the City Council can only be changed by a super majority of the City Council per State of Iowa Code. Hatfield has been a member for over 19 years and have participated in several Comprehensive Plans for the City of West Des Moines that resulted in landuse designations and associated zoning for property.

Naura Heiman Godar, AIA, of RDG Planning & Design in Des Moines was appointed to Board Member of the City of Des Moines Urban Design Review Board Council. The Board reviews and comments on projects that either receive tax increment financing (TIF) financing or are located in economic development areas identified in Des Moines. Heiman Godar makes recommendations to the City Council on the design of public projects and private development projects located downtown, in City business parks, and throughout the city that request TIF assistance.

Danielle Hermann, AIA, of OPN Architects in Des Moines serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors of the The I Have a Dream Foundation. The group identifies and adopts groups of low-income elementary school children deemed to be at high risk of becoming school dropouts. They establish a comprehensive program of tutoring, mentoring and enrichment for that group and agree to provide comprehensive long-term program support for every child from elementary school through high school. I Have a Dream’s ultimate goal is for each Dreamer to graduate from high school prepared to pursue a higher education or a fulfilling career. Hermann is responsible for working with the full board and the executive director to oversee all foundation procedures, including staffing and resources, as well as development and oversight of programming and fundraising efforts.

Tonia Householder, AIA, of INVISION in Des Moines serves as volunteer of the Joppa Outreach. Joppa Outreach is a non-profit organization established to help ease and end homelessness.  Householder participates in various weekly outreaches that supply heat, food and supplies to the area’s homeless.   In addition to the weekly outreach opportunities, Householder will be working with a team to create/find land to develop an area that will be used to build transitional housing for the remaining Des Moines area homeless this year.  

Jeanne Huntsman, AIA, of The Weidt Group in Des Moines was elected to the Chair Market Leadership Advisory Board of the USGBC Iowa Chapter. USGBC Iowa seeks to create a positive impact on the region's built environment by accelerating the adoption of green building practices, technologies, policies, and standards. Huntsman serves as the primary local volunteer leadership voice for USGBC, with the following objectives: Market Analysis, Strategy and Annual Work Planning, Member, Volunteer and Partner Engagement, Celebration of Leadership, and Fundraising and Support: Work to support local budget through fundraising and sponsorship in conjunction with local staff. The design profession has a responsibility to create efficient and sustainable buildings. Involvement with USGBC Iowa Chapter provides a platform to promote all the great work being done in the state to the general public.

Paul Mankins, FAIA, of substance in Des Moines serves as Emeritus Board Member of the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation. The Foundation is dedicated to creating and facilitating public/private partnerships to place artwork on publicly owned property. Mankins works to direct policy and develop Public Art Programs. He has been a Board Member since 2005 and served as President from 2011 through 2014.

Carey Nagle, AIA, of BNIM in Des Moines was appointed as a Board Member of the Des Moines Urban Design Review Board. The Des Moines Urban Design Review Board (UDRB) makes recommendations to the City Council on design of public projects and private development projects located downtown, in City business parks, and throughout the city that request tax increment financing assistance. It also serves, with the Historic Preservation Commission, as the Landmark Review Board. Nagle’s work on the Board revolves around providing design feedback regarding site, building exterior, form and resolution - all with a particular focus on promoting sustainable design solutions to deliver lasting impact to the City's residents.

Robert Ormsby, AIA, of SVPA Architects Inc. in West Des Moines was appointed a Planning and Zoning Commission Member of the City of Indianola.  Ormsby became involved in the committee to make the Indianola community more livable by making decisions on zoning issues that both improve the community by delineating proper zoning districts that are appropriate as well as enforcing design standards to uphold quality design through the use of appropriate building materials for certain districts.

Raymond Phillips, AIA, of Phillips Consulting in Des Moines was elected Chair of the Board of Greenfield Township Trustees of Warren County Iowa. The Township Trustees are an elected position to insure the citizens of the township have fire and ambulance service and resolve conflicts for property boundary disputes.  Phillips represents the township on the board of directors of the Northern Warren Fire and Emergency Agency.

Holly Pohlmeier, Associate AIA, of INVISION in Des Moines serves as mentor of the ACE Mentor. Program. The ACE Mentor Program seeks to mentor high school students in the fields related to the building industry, and hopes to inspire students to pursue careers in design and construction. Pohlmeier is responsible for coordinating two hour sessions once a week and helping the students to work between the different discipline groups, while teaching them about different requirements and issues that can come up in a real project. The program promotes quality design through a semester long simulation projects overseen by mentors in the arch, engineering, and construction fields. The program also encourages sustainability both in the design, and of the profession. 

Jason Reis, AIA, of JLRD in West Des Moines serves as Team South Leader of the ACE mentors. ACE is a 16 week after school program that introduces high school students to careers in architecture, construction management, engineering and other disciplines.  Reis leads a team of 10 other professionals who mentor 30 students in the areas of architecture, engineering and construction.  Orchestrate meetings.  He also works with school liaisons and Central Iowa ACE administration.

Tina Rhodes, Assoc. AIA, of GENESIS Architectural Design in West Des Moines was appointed Commissioner and Chairperson of the Warren County Historic Preservation Commission and Committee member and Citizen Chair of the Warren County Judicial Building Committee. As Commissioner and Chairperson of the Historic Preservation Commission, Rhodes helps to conduct meetings and promote conservation of historic properties in rural Warren County. The commission assists property owners with historically significant structures and properties with questions regarding grant applications, contact with appropriate consultants, government agencies and contractors. As a member and Citizen Chair of the Judicial Building Committee, a committee was organized at the request of the Board of Supervisors to come to recommend a design firm to gather information and provide services for the evaluation of Warren County Judicial Facility, Rhodes worked to consider all the information gathered and presented and to give recommendations as to the most cost effective path to proceed.

Josh Ridgely, AIA, of SVPA Architects Inc. in West Des Moines serves as a mentor and a Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for the ACE mentor program. ACE helps Iowa high school students discover the many exciting and rewarding career opportunities available to them in the building design and construction industry.  As a mentor, Ridgely arranges and organizes team meetings and communicates with team members and other mentors. As Vice Chair, Ridgely assists with responsibilities as needed on the Board.

Brian Schwartz, AIA, of Baker Group in Des Moines serves as Project Coach of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute (GDMLI). The Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute is a premier leadership organization, guiding leaders to greater public awareness, commitment and involvement - improving the overall quality of life in our community. As a former class member who graduated in 2010, Schwartz has valuable knowledge and experiences to help other classes move that much further in their leadership development.

Ann Sobiech Munson, AIA, of Substance Architecture in Des Moines was elected to Council Member of the Slater City Council. The City Council is responsible for: fiscal oversight, including development and approval of the annual city budget; orders for public improvements, making or authorizing all contracts; authorizing the number, duties, compensation, and term of employment or appointment for city employees; and setting compensation for elected officials. Sobiech Munson was elected to an at-large council seat for a four-year term January 2014-December 2017. Her involvement stems from a strong belief in the value architects can bring to solving problems facing communities today. 

James Spiller, Assoc. AIA, of Knowles Blunck Architecture in Des Moines was elected President of the Watrous South Neighborhood Association. The purpose of Watrous South Neighborhood Association is to provide an organized framework to promote, preserve, and enhance the quality of life and values in the Watrous South Neighborhood. As President, Spiller runs the quarterly meetings, steers and advises association committees, speaks on behalf of the association at community gatherings, and works closely with Des Moines city council members concerning issues in and around the neighborhood.

Del Stevens, AIA, of VDG in Ankeny serves as Team member of Community Design Program of the Iowa Architectural Foundation (IAF). The IAF promotes the awareness and appreciation of architectural and design in Iowa.   The Community Design Program (CDP) provides an open and public decision-making process that brings organizational representatives, community officials and concerned citizens together with professional designers. The end result is the ability to visualize the suggested possibilities based on community input. As a team member, Stevens works to resolve design issues and present the final proposal to the community.

Rod Stevens, AIA, of Knowledge Consulting in Johnston serves as Chair of the Volunteers In Mission of the Immanuel United Methodist Church.  The church is located in Des Moines, IA and Stevens and his wife have been members for 30+ years.  Stevens is responsible for organizing domestic mission trips.  He is responsible for all aspects of the trip including recruiting, training, transportation, housing, food, work site selection, work site safety, activities, etc.  Stevens is also a founding member of the church's Green Team which advocates and educates about sustainable living.

Steve Stimmel, AIA, of Brooks Borg Skiles Architecture Engineering LLP in Des Moines was appointed to the State National Register Nominations Review Committee of the State (Iowa) Historic Preservation Office. As a committee member, Stimmel reads and evaluates nominations to the National Register of Historic Places and attends meetings to approve, table, or decline the nominations. Members also review yearly nominations for Certified Local Government grants and select grantees and award amounts. Stimmel became involved and continue his commitment to understand and advocate for preservation of Iowa's historic built environment.

David Unick, AIA, of Brooks Borg Skiles Architecture Engineering, LLP in Des Moines serves as member of Board of Directors of the ACE Mentor Program of Central Iowa. The ACE Mentor Program's mission is to engage, excite, and enlighten high school students to pursue careers in Architecture, Construction, and Engineering through mentoring, and to support their continued advancement in the industry through scholarships and grants. As a Board member, Unick promotes ACE to potential mentors, and also networks with school leaders in an effort to make ACE available in more districts across the state of Iowa.  He also assists with scholarship selection and with fundraising efforts to support our scholarship program.

Todd Wehr, AIA, of Shive-Hattery in West Des Moines serves as Vice President of the Ankeny Area Chamber of Commerce.  The Chamber advocates for businesses, provides networking opportunities, educates small businesses, and provides quality of life events.  Wehr leads event committees, supports the president, establishes a budget, nominates board members, is a member of the executive board, and chairs the entertainment garden at the annual SummerFest festival.  Wehr is also involved in the Ankeny Rotary and has led the registration committee for the annual fundraiser.

Eric Wessels, AIA, of Slingshot Architecture in Des Moines serves as Commissioner of the Dallas County Soil and Water Conservation Commission. Conservation Districts in Iowa support soil and water conservation through public education, acknowledgment, policy development and advocacy, on-the-ground conservation, conservation practice promotion, events and more. Wessels represents the district through scholarship presentation, legislative advocacy, agriculture producer outreach, and allocation of taxpayer monies for conservation practices.

Steve Wilke-Shapiro, Assoc. AIA, of Slingshot Architecture in Des Moines serves as Founder and Board Member of the Des Moines Rehabbers Club. Founded in 2007, the Des Moines Rehabbers Club has grown into a strong local non-profit that promotes neighborhood revitalization and restoration of Des Moines’ unique older buildings.  Wilke-Shapiro founded the organization in 2007 and shepherded its growth into a sustainable 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The Des Moines Rehabbers Club was created to advocate for rehabilitation as a tool for revitalization of distressed neighborhoods, promote rehabilitation as a sustainable solution, and educate around proper maintenance/design interventions in historic buildings.

The Citizen Architect Program recognizes AIA Iowa members who represent AIA's values in their community through public service. To find out more about this program please visit

Since 1857, the American Institute of Architects has represented the professional interests of America's architects. AIA Iowa, headquartered in Des Moines, is a statewide affiliate of the national AIA. AIA members express their commitment to excellence in design and are proactive in the design of livable communities. Members adhere to a code of ethics and professional conduct that assures the client, the public, and colleagues of an AIA member architect's dedication to the highest standards in professional practice. For more information, go to or call 515.244.7502.

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For interviews or pictures, please contact Jessica Reinert at AIA Iowa, (515) 244-7502, or e-mail

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