The global COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented disruption to schools and education, not only in New York City but around the world. Join the AIANY Architecture for Education Committee for a roundtable discussion featuring school leaders and architects as they discuss the impact of the pandemic on education. We will discuss lessons learned, the impacts of hybrid learning on education, and architectural responses to support these new learning models and pedagogical developments.
Josh Beauregard, Head of School & Cofounder, Unity Prep Charter School
Jamie Bowen, Chief Administrative Officer, Convent of the Sacred Heart
Mitch Flax, Executive Director and Head of School, Valence College Prep
Michael Hwang, Assistant Head of School for Operations and Chief Financial Officer, Dalton School
Yoni Samuel-Siegel, Chief Operating Operator, Prospect Schools
Briar Sauro, Assistant Director, Lower School, Berkeley Carroll School
Katherine Taketomo, Assistant Director, Middle School, Berkeley Carroll School
David Briggs, AIA, LEED AP, CPHD, Principal and Founding Partner, Loci Architecture
Gwen Connors AIA, Principal, 1100 Architect
Michael Nieminen, FAIA, Principal, Kliment Halsband Architects: a Perkins Eastman Studio
About the Speakers:
Josh Beauregard is an educator, school leader, and educational entrepreneur. He is the Head of School and Co-founder of the Unity Preparatory Charter School of Brooklyn. Unity is a tuition-free, open-enrollment, independent charter school with campuses in Bedford Stuyvesant and Williamsburg. The school, which is now in its tenth year, offers a progressive education in the liberal arts and sciences to over 550 students in grades 6 to 12. Beauregard holds a BA in Economics from Vassar College, an MA in Secondary Mathematics Education from City College of New York, and an MA and Ed.D degrees in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Jamie Bowen is the Chief Administrative Officer at Convent of the Sacred Heart. She serves as the COO and the CFO, managing most of the non-academic areas of the school, including Plant and Operations, Health Services, the Business Office, Technology and Security. Before joining Sacred Heart about 11 years ago, she had a career as a foreign debt trader in New York and London. Currently, Bowen also serves as a Commissioner with the New York Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS), a 20-member commission that supports member schools through the accreditation process and reviews and recommends member schools for accreditation in New York State. In addition, she is a member of the Regis High School Board of Trustees, where she serves on the Finance, Audit and Operations Committee and the Nominating and Governance Committee. In the past she served as a member of the Berkeley Carroll Board of Trustees, where she chaired several committees during her nine years of service on the Board. Bowen is also a consultant to her family-owned real estate management firm, which owns and manages mixed-use real estate in Brooklyn, NY. She resides in Brooklyn with her husband of 30 years and has four adult children.
David Briggs is the Principal and Founding Partner of Loci Architecture. In the last decade, Loci has completed over 20 projects for charter schools in low-income communities, including master plans, feasibility studies, and building renovations. Currently, the firm is working on three new charter school projects: a 45,000-square-foot middle school in the Bronx, a ground-up 60,000-square-foot charter school in Queens, and a 43,000-square-foot elementary school in Brooklyn. He is the co-chair of the Land Use/Landmarks Committee for Brooklyn Community Board 6 and Executive Director of Gowanus by Design, a non-profit researching sustainable urban planning strategies around the canal Superfund site in Brooklyn. He plays soccer and spends as much of his precious spare time as possible in his painting studio.
Mitch Flax is Executive Director and Head of School at Valence College Prep, proudly educating 5th to 8th graders from Corona, Elmhurst, Jackson Heights, and Rego Park, Queens. Flax was a member of the 2017 BES Fellowship, a rigorous and selective training program for charter school leaders, and has led the school since its inception. Prior to founding Valence, Flax held a range of teaching and school leadership roles in the Bay Area and New York City, as well as a position in People Analytics at Google, where he produced modeling and advised on organizational growth, team dynamics, hiring, and organizational culture. He holds a BA in Economics-Mathematics from Columbia University and resides in Queens with his wife and daughter, who is slated to graduate from Valence in 2034.
Michael Hwang is the current Assistant Head of School for Operations and Chief Financial Officer for Dalton School, which he joined in 2015. Prior to Dalton, his experiences include positions as CFO at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School and Director of Financial Reporting & Analysis at MTV Networks. He holds a B.S. degree from Boston College and an M.B.A. from Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management. He serves on the board of several non-profit organizations.
Michael A. Nieminen is a partner at Kliment Halsband Architects: a Perkins Eastman Studio in NYC with over 35 years of experience with higher education clients including the University of Chicago, University of Massachusetts Amherst, the Rockefeller University, Yale University, Columbia University, and Princeton University. He is a recognized leader in process-driven approaches to the transformation of historic academic buildings. He frequently shares his techniques and strategies with audiences, including talks at international and North Atlantic Regional SCUP conferences, AIA conferences, and A4LE and EDspaces conferences. Nieminen was the 2021 Chair of the AIA Committee on Architecture for Education (CAE) and remains a member of the leadership group for 2022.
Yoni Samuel-Siegel has more than two decades of diverse experience in the field of education as a classroom teacher, non-profit leader, and a charter school network operations leader. Samuel-Siegel is currently the Chief Operating Officer for Prospect Schools, a charter school network with six schools operating in Brooklyn. As COO, Samuel-Siegel leads all school and network operations functions, including the management and maintenance of facilities and learning spaces. He joined Prospect Schools in January 2022 and is excited to lead operations for the network into its next phase of growth. Samuel-Siegel previously spent four years as Associate Chief Operating Officer with Uncommon Schools, where he led all operations for Camden Prep, Uncommon Schools’ newest region.
Briar Sauro is the Assistant Director of the Lower School at the Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn, NY. She has been an independent school educator in New York City for 23 years and was selected for the New York State Association of Independent Schools’ Emerging Leaders Institute in 2017. She spent 20 years as a school librarian focused on helping students become efficient and ethical information users. A lover of all things logistical, she stepped into a divisional leadership role in April of 2020 when schools were scrambling to figure out how to reimagine operations amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic. She enjoys creating the conditions for teachers to do their work, which includes dreaming about optimal use of space and time. She loves curriculum integration, educational technology, and talking to young children about their days.
Katherine Taketomo is the Assistant Director of the Middle School at the Berkeley Carroll School in Brooklyn, NY. Since joining the Berkeley Carroll community in 2014, she has taught middle school humanities, served as the 7th-grade dean, co-facilitated the Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED) group across all divisions, and served as the Middle School Dean of Innovation and Learning. In her current role, Taketomo focuses on intentional programming, faculty development, and division-wide, long-term planning. Fostering an environment that is committed to the advancement of student agency and working to build and maintain a passionate, collaborative faculty culture are central to this role. Most recently, she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education’s School Leadership MSEd Program. Her research at Penn explored the multiracial experience in predominantly white independent schools—how students negotiate their sense of belonging while navigating multiple identities. Beyond exploring the power of relationship building and deep listening as avenues to belonging, as the daughter of an architect, she has a deep respect for the power of spatial sensitivity in creating a sense of belonging. Most importantly, Taketomo loved her middle school experience and chose to never leave!
This event is offered in person COVID-19 vaccinations and face masks are strongly encouraged for all visitors. Read our full Health and Safety Protocol here.
AIANY Architecture for Education Committee