AIA South Dakota convention 2023: Now and Next

In two weeks, on MONDAY, September 25th and TUESDAY, September 26th, the architects and design professionals of South Dakota will be gathering for the AIA South Dakota annual convention to network, learn, collaborate, celebrate exceptional design and individuals within the industry in our state, commemorate the history of our design community as well as elevate women and people of color through a historic exhibition, SAY IT LOUD: South Dakota. Please join us in this great event focused on design NOW and what is NEXT!


The keynote speakers featured in this year’s convention include the following:

Barry Dunn, President, South Dakota State University — Barry Dunn became the 20th president of South Dakota State University in April 2016. He is the fourth alumnus chosen to lead the institution. Dunn is an enrolled tribal member of the Sicangu Lakota and lived on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota for many years. He is believed to be the first enrolled member of a federally recognized tribe to serve as a president or chancellor of an 1862 land-grant university. Throughout his time as president, Dunn has been instrumental in a number of key initiatives for SDSU to include the strategic plan, Imagine 2023 to embrace our core values, people-centered leadership, creativity, integrity, diversity and excellence, to fulfill our mission to be a premier land-grant university. In accordance with our mission, Dunn also created the Wokini Initiative to increase access to higher education for Native American students in South Dakota. Dunn was nationally recognized for his work with Wokini by receiving the 2022 Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize in Higher Education.

Nesrine Mansour, PhD, Assoc. AIA, Digital Humanities Assistant Professor, Architecture, South Dakota State University — Nesrine Mansour, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Architecture at South Dakota State University with a PhD in Architecture and a Certificate in Digital Humanities from Texas A&M University. During 2020/2021, she was a research fellow at Princeton University’s Center for Theological Inquiry, focusing on Religion and the Virtual Built Environment. Her research centers on the convergence of architecture, digital media, and sacred spaces, bridging disciplines like social sciences, digital humanities, and modern technology such as Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality. She is a national and international published author whose work encompasses various formats, including book chapters, journal articles, conference presentations, magazines, podcasts, invited lectures, and design juror.

Kate Schwennsen, FAIA — Kate Schwennsen is Professor Emeritus and Director Emeritus of the School of Architecture, Clemson University. She joined the Clemson faculty as Professor and Chair in August 2010, and led the school for a decade. Prior to Clemson she was Professor of Architecture and Associate Dean of the College of Design at Iowa State University, appointments that followed a decade of practice. Kate is a recognized leader in bridging architectural education and practice, with expertise in issues of design leadership, diversity, and evolving models of practice and education in architecture. Kate has held many leadership positions, including being the 2-term Co-Chair of the Education Commission of the International Union of Architects (UIA), and is currently the Secretary of the AIA’s College of Fellows. Schwennsen was 2006 President of the American Institute of Architects, the second woman to serve as the elected leader of this then-149-year-old, 80,000-member organization. She is licensed to practice architecture in South Carolina.

Kris Denevan — Kris Denevan, Sanford Health, Executive Director for Facilities and Support Services — Kris Denevan has spent her career supporting and motivating teams and for the last 19 years at Sanford USD Medical Center in the Sioux Falls, SD region. Since 2018, she has served as the Executive Director for Facilities and Support Services, leading the successful addition of over $1.3 million square feet of new construction and renovations including the Surgical Tower, Heart Hospital, Ava’s House, and Imagenetics to name a few. The aggressive growth in the Sioux Falls region has allowed Denevan to fuel her passion for facilitating the construction of patient-centric spaces and support efficient workflows that allow for a positive patient, guest and employee experience.

Bobbie Koch — Bobbie Koch is an architectural designer at 7 Directions Architects & Planners and a citizen of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (Sicangu Lakota). As a Sicangu Lakota architectural designer, her work centers on creating spaces and places for Indigenous peoples at the community, Tribal and urban scale. Her design methodology focuses on sustainable, community-driven, and culturally-responsive architecture. Bobbie has extensive experience in community outreach, master planning, conceptual and schematic design, and project management.

Pascale Sablan, FAIA, NOMA — Pascale Sablan is a visionary architect, activist, and leader who has dedicated her career to making the built environment more equitable and just. With over 15 years of experience in the field, Pascale is a trailblazer who is breaking barriers and inspiring the next generation of architects. As an Associate Principal at Adjaye Associates, Pascale has been a key member of the team for numerous projects around the world. Her work is characterized by a commitment to excellence, innovation, and sustainability, and she has been recognized as one of the most influential architects of her generation. In addition to her work as an architect, Pascale is the founder of Beyond the Built Environment, a non-profit organization that seeks to empower women and people of color in the architecture industry. Through a variety of initiatives, including an annual conference and a mentorship program, the organization provides opportunities for education, mentorship, and professional development. Pascale is also a leader in the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA), serving as the Global President of the organization. In this role, she is working to promote diversity and equity in the architecture profession and to ensure that the voices of underrepresented communities are heard and valued. Pascale’s ultimate goal is to realize a just world, where everyone has access to the benefits of good design. She believes that architecture has the power to shape our lives and that by promoting diversity and equity in the profession, we can create spaces that are more inclusive, accessible, and welcoming for all people. Pascale’s impressive career and advocacy work make her an inspiration to architects and activists around the world. Her commitment to diversity, equity, and justice is a powerful reminder of the potential of design to create a better world for all people.


There are several sessions focused on issues facing our communities now and preparing for what is next including a City Managers Panel moderated by AIA South Dakota Secretary/ Treasurer, Justin Oleson and a session focused on how accessible housing can strengthen South Dakota.

Daniel Ainslie, Former Sturgis City Manager (Current Rapid City Finance Director) — Daniel Ainslie, Sturgis City Manager, is past president of the SD City Manager/Administration Association, Chair of the SD Municipal League’s Taxation Policy Committee, past Board member of the Sturgis Chamber of Commerce and Sturgis Economic Development Corporation. He earned his MBA from the University of the Pacific.

  • Stephanie Ellwein, ICMA-CM, Mitchell City Administrator — Stephanie Ellwein has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Dakota and has served in local government for 22 years in South Dakota.  She was appointed as the City of Mitchell’s first City Administrator in 2014, and continues in that role.  She is currently past president of the SD City Management Association, and serves on state and local committees representing the City of Mitchell.
  • Amanda Mack, EMPA, ICMA-CM, Watertown City Manager — Amanda Macks has extensive professional local government executive experience, a bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science, and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. Prior to her appointment in 2021 as City Manager of Watertown, South Dakota, she served as the Chief Administrative Officer in Spencer, Iowa; Canton, South Dakota and Worthing, South Dakota.
  • Justin Weiland, MPA, ICMA-CM, Dell Rapids City Administrator — Justin Weiland began working for the City of Dell Rapids in October 2010. A native of Madison, South Dakota, Justin’s education includes an BA in Political Science and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of South Dakota. His background includes previous positions as the City Administrator of Waterville, MN and Lennox, SD. The City Administrator position serves the Mayor and City Council and acts as the information center for all questions and concerns of Dell Rapids residents.

Leacey E. Brown, MS — Leacey E. Brown is a gerontologist advocating for broader discussions about aging and older adults in South Dakota. Her educational background in electronic systems, sociology, psychology, and gerontology. Early in her professional training she recognized the important role design plays in outcomes among older adults. She is convinced the key to mitigating challenges older adults face is through the implementation of universal design in products and the built environment. She currently serves as the South Dakota State University Extension Gerontology Field Specialist. Troubleshooting skills gained as a member of the U.S. Air Force enhance her professional capacity, allowing her to break aging issues into more manageable parts to create meaningful understanding. Leacey’s professional interests include aging well, aging in the home and community, family caregiving, fall prevention, ageism, and care and end-of-life planning

  • Gene Fennell, AIA — Gene Fennell is an Architect and the owner of his own Architectural/Project Management/Master Planning Firm. Gene’s professional experience includes Crazy Horse Memorial – Mountain Carver & Museum Builder, site manager of a 200 Home AFB Housing Project, Project Manager & Designer of Dock-side Casino Resorts in Bay St. Louis & Biloxi, MS and various other projects across the United States. He has been a Registered Architect (CO, SD, WY & WI) since 1995 and served as President of AIA SD Chapter. Gene’s Architectural Projects have helped redefine the approach for re-purposing of existing structures, taking collaboration to a new level. Gene formed his own firm in 2006, taking on a variety of projects with a concentration in municipal, county and State projects (City Hall, County Courthouse, County Jail, County Master Facilities Plan and Planning/Budget setting projects). Recent experience with Aging Parents (both lived to 101+) and their desire to remain in their typical farm home to their “end” led Gene to involvement with Aging in Place considerations and Adaptable Home development. In-home care was not an option for Joe & Veronica as their home was not adaptable, with many levels and a very small bathroom; narrow doorways, etc. Offers to remodel for them were met with fierce resistance to disturbing their “set-in-concrete” daily routines. This experience pushed Gene to search for a way to take that sociological and psychological resistance out of the equation; trying to get in front of the non-adaptable housing stock by working toward adaptable housing at the outset.


What is an architectural convention if you can’t see the inner workings of new buildings? The following two tours, hosted by Fiegen Construction, are focused on projects in the Sioux Falls community that hat have a large impact on those the programs will serve.

EmBe Downtown Renovation

Midco Arena Tour at Augustana

Exhibit Hall and Design Awards

Continuing the celebrations, we have a sold-out exhibit hall on Monday, September 25th, with premier vendors and partners to the design industry available to answer questions and provide information for all your building needs!

Monday night, September 25th will be an event to remember with the annual AIA South Dakota Design Awards. This event elevates the great designs of South Dakota through our juried design awards and honors individuals who excel and champion the design profession within their careers.

Join us for this fantastic celebration of design within our communities NOW and discuss what is NEXT for the design profession in our state!

The last two days for the early-bird discount for 2023 AIA SD Annual Convention. Discounted rates available through end of the day Tuesday, September 11th!

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