Walt Humann, Hon AIA
Contributed by:
Nicole Rajchel

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Emerging Leaders Program: The Architect as Leader

Pete DeLisle, PhD, Hon TxA, started the conversation on Leader Effectiveness, at the February session of the 2021 Emerging Leaders Program. We discussed the Model of Leader Effectiveness which is based on three key principles – awareness, ability, and commitment. Pete talked about the different aspects of these principles and how they interact. We were able to continue the conversation and dive deeper in our smaller break-out groups.

Following the small group discussion, Walt Humann, Hon AIA, joined us and presented “The Architect and Community Leadership.” Walt has had two successful careers simultaneously – one in business and one in public service. He has been dedicated for decades to improving the quality of life for residents of Dallas. Walt asserted the importance of community involvement and proved the impact one can have on a community as he talked about many of the community initiatives he has been a part of throughout his career. Walt has been crucial in the development of the DART system, founded and chaired the Dallas Alliance to develop the DISD Desegregation Plan, and founded the Jubilee Project. When speaking about Jubilee Park, Walt emphasized the importance of tackling the entire problem instead of trying to address the problems one by one. Every aspect of the neighborhood they wanted to improve was related to every other issue and to address one at a time would not be sufficient to improve the neighborhood. Instead, the Jubilee Project tackled all the issues at once and was able to make vast improvements in every area by establishing task forces in education, anti-crime, housing, health, physical improvements, employment, and economic development.

Walt’s presentation was followed by a Q&A session where he reiterated the importance of community involvement and community leadership. Walt also echoed many of the same ideas that Pete discussed with us earlier in the day, particularly the importance of trust. With Pete we discussed the importance of maintaining trust with your coworkers, and Walt discussed the importance of gaining the trust of the communities you work with. As we wrapped up the discussion, Walt emphasized the importance of architects as community leaders and reminded us to get involved and stay involved.

The last part of our session focused on presentations for the class project. The class project is a vital part of ELP and allows us to apply the leadership skills we learn and discuss in class to a real project in the community. We were able to hear from our classmates on six different potential projects in the community and voted on our top 3. The top two proposals will be developed further and presented again during our March session.