IA Interior Architects Announces Winners of 2023 IAct Awards Program


IA Interior Architects is thrilled to congratulate this year’s winners of the firm’s annual IAct Awards program. In 2023, IAers took the time to nominate almost 400 colleagues for an award program which demonstrates the inclusive culture and passionate community we are so fortunate to have at IA. In addition to celebrating our typical four categories of Leadership, Innovation, Service, and Rising Star, we debuted a new category called the “Spirit of IA” Award. This category honors an individual within the firm that embodies all of IA’s traits and values; an enthusiastic cultural leader who always goes the extra mile to benefit IA’s project work, internal culture, and the larger community.


The 2023 IAct Award for Leadership was presented to Kendi Sparks, a Project Director and Principal based in the firm’s Austin Studio. Kendi, who has been with IA for almost six years, is known as an inspiring and exceptional leader, committed to supporting her team and delivering design excellence. One nominator said that she “always provides a listening ear and is quick to jump in and help lend a hand. No matter the difficult situation, Kendi handles any obstacle with grace and patience and never lets a client see her sweat, making her a leader I can really trust and look up to.” In her numerous nominations, she was continually noted for her grace under fire, agility, and steady head when challenges arise.   

-Stephanie Long, Principal, Managing Director of IA’s Atlanta studio.


The 2023 IAct Award for Service was presented to Jaime Gomez, a Senior Project Architect and Associate based in the firm’s Chicago studio. Jaime has been a valued member of Chicago’s team and the firm at large for almost a decade, providing crucial guidance and support on global projects. He is a trusted advisor that works tirelessly  across the firm with numerous studios to lend a hand and provide critical support, all with a steady hand and calm demeanor. Jaime was noted a committed, well-respected mentor and a humble collaborator every step of the way. One nominator said that he “has the most amazing level of calmness in the face of chaos I have ever experienced in our industry. His level of knowledge, fantastic communication, respect for the client, team, and project, and the way he directs all parties has set the bar very high for my future collaborations.”

“I’m excited that Jaime is being recognized for his dedicated service. He is a joy to work with, always adding value and creativity as well as a high level of professionalism. Jaime always brings enthusiasm, accountability, and dependability. His amazing attention to detail, thoroughness, and tenacity, coupled with his positive approach to challenges, earns him the trust and respect of colleagues and clients alike.”

– Carolyn Tucker, Managing Principal of IA’s Chicago Studio


The 2023 IAct Award for Innovation was presented to Michael (Mike) Villegas, Senior Designer and Associate based in the firm’s Philadelphia Studio. Since joining IA five years ago, Michael’s drive to push the envelope elevates his design work and has significantly influenced both his studio and the firm. In the last year, he has taken a leadership role as part of an internal team that is pioneering how the firm can leverage AI as a design tool. Michael consistently educates himself on the latest trends and technology developments, which he enthusiastically shares with others. He was recently awarded an internal fellowship grant to research generative AI’s impact on art and design, and has spoken at numerous industry conferences about design technology. One nominator said that Michael “leads by example, creating an inclusive and collaborative environment that fosters the acceptance of innovative technologies.”

 “Mike is a rare find in our industry.  He is a big thinker with an acute attention to detail, swiftly moving between the two in his work.  Beyond conceiving innovative ideas, Mike possesses the tenacity to evolve and execute them into reality.  Mike adds value to our firm at so many levels, and IA’s future is brighter with him.”

–  Kelly Funk, Managing Director, Principal of IA’s Philadelphia studio.


The 2023 IAct Rising Star Award was presented to Ashley Chen, a Design Manager based in the firm’s San Francisco Studio. Ashley exemplifies a rising star in every aspect of the term; she consistently goes above and beyond in her project work, always seeking (and finding) the answers to the tough questions. She’s achieved multiple certifications early in her career; she already completed NCIDQ, LEED, and WELL, and is on to her ARE exams. She’s an exceptional collaborator, dedicated to her team, clients, and to the community at large.  Ashley is her studio’s IA Reach representative, leading the charge on philanthropic efforts for IA San Francisco, and she’s active in the local IIDA chapter. One nominator said “every time I’ve had the opportunity to work with Ashley, she has a way of making everyone else’s job feel a lot easier, because she has already gone out of her way to find solutions.”

“We are so grateful to have Ashley as part of the Northern California studio, and to witness her amazing performance and collaborative endeavors. She creates a culture of inclusion, brings soul to innovation and always makes sure to have fun along the way. This is an incredible accomplishment for her and one of many steps in Ashley’s successful design career. Ashley’s dedication, talent and kind sense of humanity is an inspiration to everyone around her.”

–  Richelle Nolan, Managing Director, Principal of IA’s San Franciso studio.


The winner of the first Spirit of IA award was Kristen Streeter, a Project Director and Principal based in IA’s DC studio. Kristen has a notable tenure of almost 14 years with IA, during which she has proven to be a dedicated, committed leader who holistically represents all the IAct category nominations together. She has been lauded as an outstanding mentor and compassionate leader, all while managing complex projects.. One nominator said “Kristen is the type of leader that strengthens, supports and stabilizes everyone and everything that is around her…She is the foundation of our team, as everything we build is supported by her.  But she is also our safety net, and is there for us when we need her.”  

“Kristen exemplifies the culture and values of IA through her passionate engagement and camaraderie with her team and her integrity and enterprising collaboration with her clients. She is an excellent example of an empathetic leader who truly cares about her work and will often go above and beyond expectations, inspiring loyalty and praise. Kristen is a driving force within the DC Studio dedicated to building a strong culture, mentoring the next generation and instilling the “Spirit of IA.”

– Laura Vierling, Managing Director, Principal of IA’s Washington DC studio

“Every year we’re continually impressed by the strength of IA’s talent, community, and culture. It’s inspiring to see so many of you take the time and care enough to nominate your colleagues. We had 375 nominations this year which is incredible. We extend warm congratulations to this year’s winners, who have made such a significant impact on the firm.”

– Tom Powers and David Bourke, IA’s co-CEOs/Presidents

The awards were presented on Wednesday, December 6th during a live-streamed global event.


About IA Interior Architects

The largest architectural firm in the world focused on interiors, IA’s goal has always been to improve the Human Experience through visionary design and innovation. Since 1984, we have been translating client goals, brand, and culture into environments built around people, processes, technologies, and organizational missions. As architects, designers, strategists, technologists, and environmental specialists, we align business strategies and core values with the dynamic use of space. We are employee owned, and our professionals are highly invested in the firm and clients. Through our integrated services, we work alongside our clients to resolve complex issues and design innovative, user-centric environments where people thrive.

For more information, visit www.interiorarchitects.com