Conflicting reports are sometimes described as a matter of “he said, she said.” For a keynote, part of NeoCon’s 50th celebration, it was a case instead of “she said, she said.” Brought together by Interior Design editor in chief Cindy Allen, who moderated the discussion on Monday, June 11, 2018, a packed auditorium heard from female powerhouses Robin Klehr Avia, managing principal, Gensler, Gisue Hariri, principal, Hariri & Hariri Architecture, and Lauren Rottet, principal, Rottet Studio. The panel, with personal anecdotes and insights, shined a light on the struggle of entering the boys’ club of architecture and design.
“We want to empower each other with positive messages,” Allen told the crowd at the start. Diving into professional and personal lives, Allen and each of the women stressed the value of diversity and personal voice. From growing up as girls to leading teams as women, they focused on support and unity. Toward the end of a riveting discussion, Hariri had a message for the audience. “If you want to change the world, you have to go to events like these,” Hariri said. Agreed.