Our alumni and Fellows are making an impact across various sectors and communities. One sector where they are driving change is architecture. According to the American Institute of Architects (AIA), over 70% of registered architects identify as male, making architecture a male-dominated field. At Challenge Detroit, over the last 12 years, most of our applicants with an architecture background have identified as women, and of 26 total architecture Fellows, 22 have been women—that’s over 84%! We are so grateful to be in partnership with our host company employers—especially Quinn Evans, Mosher Dolan and SmithGroup who have hosted multiple architecture Fellows—in playing a part to support women with architecture opportunities to grow in their careers. While some alumna have taken multi-disciplinary career steps utilizing their architecture skill sets, many have continued their careers in prominent and exciting architecture roles.

In honor of Women’s History Month, we are excited to share more about the 22 women who have joined us as Fellows with architecture degrees and/or work experience in the industry.  Meet them below and read what a few have to say including how Challenge Detroit helped prepare, motivate and inspire their work in architecture.

Mosope Ismail
2021-2022 Fellow at SmithGroup, Currently working at SmithGroup
Penn State University

“Architecture is highly subjective to an individual’s perspective. An individual’s perspective is shaped by their respective life experiences and values. Challenge Detroit exposed me to the values, history, and roots of the city of Detroit. In turn I am inspired to design intentionally and purposefully with the essence of the city in mind.”

Rachel Pisano
2018-2019 Fellow at Quinn Evans, Currently working at Quinn Evans
University of Detroit Mercy

“The experiences I had with Challenge Detroit, especially participating in the design thinking process, opened me up to new ways of approaching design. Unlike many of my university projects, Challenge Detroit had a huge emphasis on participation with the end user. Experiencing that process helps me center this approach in the design work I do at my job today as well as in other aspects of my life. I will never start another project again without asking “who does this impact and are they here?”

Claire Antrassian
2018-2019 Fellow at Quinn Evans, Currently working at Quinn Evans
University of Detroit Mercy

“Challenge Detroit helped me develop a more critical view on the ways in which we design. Through my Challenge Detroit experience I learned that good design is not something that is linear but cyclical. I learned that through a design process that includes empathy, communication, inclusive ideation, and iterative problem solving, we can create good design that is sustainable.”

Lauren Strauss
2016-2017 Fellow at Quinn Evans, Currently working at Quinn Evans
University of Minnesota, University of Oregon

“I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Challenge Detroit and grow as a designer. By working on design projects with peers of all different backgrounds and careers, I was able to understand more about the different ways of addressing a project and (how to) come up with thoughtful solutions together.”

Julia Kowalski
2016-2017 Fellow at DCDC, Currently working at DCDC
University of Detroit Mercy

“During my time as a Fellow, it was common to work on design-related projects with other amazing Fellows who oftentimes did not have a design background. This was an opportunity to figure out how to grow together with a difference of expertise. The projects became twofold: how do we design the process + the product so all voices can equitably contribute. Today, I work to coordinate a variety of voices of community stakeholders acting as a translator and vector of ideas through the community engagement process that we engage in at the DCDC.”

Elizabeth Grabowski
2015-2017 Fellow at Mosher Dolan/WaitTime, Currently working at WaitTime
University of Detroit Mercy, Wayne State University

“I was at the right place at the right time with the right skill sets to help build a tech startup called WaitTime that grew from my fellowship host company, Mosher Dolan. Challenge Detroit (CD) allowed me to expand my skill sets beyond a traditional architectural firm in a more entrepreneurial capacity. As Design Strategy and Innovation Director, I have helped grow the business from scratch to provide sophisticated crowd analytics to global brands. CD exposed me to a networking platform that enabled my growth as an entrepreneurial designer plus access to creative projects and people.”

Sami Szeszulski
2013-2014 Fellow at Saroki Architecture, Currently working at Kingscott Associates
Lawrence Technological University, University of Detroit Mercy

“Participating in Challenge Detroit helped me to quickly solidify the type of architectural projects and clients I wanted in my career. I’m passionate about projects and people that have a significant positive impact, that improve lives, and strengthen communities. This was reflected through the opportunity to work with some outstanding and impactful non-profit challenge partners; and now in my position at Kingscott Associates, it’s reflected in the dedication to creating spaces that will be loved and cherished by the community.”

Sumer Hazime
2023-2024 Fellow at Quinn Evans
University of Detroit Mercy

Raquel Santos
2023-2024 Fellow at Mosher Dolan
Univale, University of Buenos Aires

Haley Beverlin
2022-2023 Fellow at SmithGroup
University of Michigan

Diamonique Thomas
2022-2023 Fellow at Quinn Evans
Lawrence Technological University

Serena Brewer
2022-2023 Fellow at Detroit Land Bank Authority
The Ohio State University, University of Michigan

Talia Greenberg
2022-2023 Fellow at Quinn Evans
Cornell University

Kaitlyn Miklovich
2019-2020 Fellow at Mosher Dolan
Currently working at Spicer Group Inc.
University of Detroit Mercy

Carmen Gibes
2019-2020 Fellow at Mosher Dolan
Currently working at WaitTime
Lawrence Technological University

Miranda Day
2016-2017 Fellow at EcoWorks
Currently working at Rocket Mortgage
University of Detroit Mercy

Andrea (Stegeman) Fowler
2016-2017 Fellow at Mosher Dolan
Currently working at FGM Architects
Southern Illinois University, University of Nebraska

Liz Stanfel
2016-2017 Fellow at Rosetti
Currently working at AECOM
Rice University, Northwestern University

Natalie Punzak
2016-2017 Fellow at Hamilton Anderson Associates
Currently studying at University of Michigan Law
Yale University

Nicole Justian
2016-2017 Fellow at Mosher Dolan
Currently working at Heller & Associates
Kendall College of Art & Design, New York University

Ann Phillips
2014-2015 Fellow at Saroki Architecture
Currently working at National Trust for Historic Preservation
University of Oregon

Corissa Leveille
2013-2014 Fellow at Eight Mile Boulevard Association
Currently working at Amy Baker Architect
University of Detroit Mercy


We are currently accepting applications for the 2024-2025 program year through April 2. If you are interested in becoming a Fellow, email us at [email protected] or click here to learn more.

If you are interested in hosting a Fellow, please email Deirdre at [email protected].

This blog feature was originally published March 17, 2023 and was updated March 3, 2024 to include the 2023-2024 Fellows.