Leadership Insights from Rhea Vaflor
When I first entered the workforce, you very much had to be in the office. You had to be seen at your desk. You were considered valuable if
Achieving Mission Through Design
Even before starting Moya Design Partners, I wanted to ensure that my designs and projects reflected my personal mission, supporting those most in need. My graduate school thesis, Urban Plan for Internally Displaced People (IDP), was a plan to develop public private partnership to create job opportunities and affordable housing for people in Cartagena, Colombia who were displaced by national unrest and redevelopment. My thesis won an award from the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) and it was also selected and showcased as a possible solution for internal displacement at the United Nations sponsored World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul in 2016.
When I started Moya Design Partners, I was determined to work on projects that had a social purpose, was part of the solution to an intractable issue, and provided an opportunity to tap into the diversity of the National Capitol Region. Moya’s projects include the 7,000 square foot day services center for people experiencing homeless in DC. The Center “employs a housing-first model, which has been proven successful and is supported by Washington DC’s plan to end homelessness. The Center offers daily necessities, health services, legal and employment support, behavioral health resources, transportation and housing assistance, and access to kitchens, showers, laundry, computers, books and more.
Diane’s house, an apartment building for victims of domestic violence and their families is another representation of mission driven design. The mission at Diane’s House is to provide housing, counseling, and life skills to a population of women who are veterans, recovering addicts, victims of domestic violence, and returning citizens.
Moya’s mission driven work extended to the design of a new auditorium for the Elizabeth Seton High School, a school that provides excellent education to girls from diverse economic backgrounds. The new auditorium helped Seton meet the school’s goal of becoming a more inclusive community. Seton’s new, accessible, state-of-the-art performance space promotes inclusiveness in education while expanding arts access in Prince George’s County.
The civil awakening that resulted from the killing of George Floyd and other black men and women at the hands of police led to the renaming of two blocks of 16th street NW by DC Mayor Muriel Bowers as Black Lives Matter Plaza (BLM). The Downtown BID commissioned Moya to design banners to be prominently displayed along the two-block plaza. The banners display silhouettes of men and women from the African diaspora and the names of scores of black men and women who died at the hands of police violence. These banners hang proudly in BLM plaza today.
As part of our mission, our leaders and rest of the team are encouraged to dedicated time and company resources to pro-bono work. Moya’s pro-bono portfolio is equally impressive and includes, launching Art After Dark, an event that showcases the work of black and brown artists, where the proceeds go to the artist and a nonprofit organization serving the homeless. Another pro-bono project we are proud to be involved in is the design of the office of the District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH), an organization that supports survivors of domestic violence. Other beneficiaries of MOYA’s pro-bono support include the Eleanor Crook Foundation, a global nutrition philanthropy fighting to end malnutrition, and the Downtown Day Services Center for people experiencing homelessness.
At MOYA we believe staying true to mission includes having diversity, equity, and inclusion integrated into the fabric of our company. The Moya team is comprised of 35 professionals form all corners of the globe, of all ethnicities, and sexual orientation. We strive for a collaborative work environment where feedback is both encouraged and acted on, and the leadership of the company reflects its values.
CEO and Founder, Moya Design Partners
Member, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group
In ULI Washington’s new Leadership Insights column, ULI Washington will regularly feature member leader’s thoughts and insights as we adjust personally and professional to a “new normal.”