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Speaker Series

The AMDG Speaker Series stimulates dialogue about innovation and change, creativity and design, globalization, information and technology.  The following speakers from varied but intersecting disciplines have engaged, inspired and enriched our work.

Anna Geurink, Gwen O'Brien, & Brian Bekins

Speaker series Brian speakingIt was a joy for AMDG to host three talented design professionals – Anna Geurick, Gwen O’Brien, and Brian Bekins - who shared with us their passions for graphic communication through branding, user experience design, typology, and layout.  One of their driving principles is to always design with the end user in mind -  a successful brand campaign creates a feeling and experience for the user. Also, a well-designed brand or graphic design transcends various scales, allowing it to become applied through large and small mediums. It is in these two ways particularly that graphic design and architecture can work seamlessly to support each other. Both design processes can influence the other, building a cohesive experience of place and graphic communication.

Pastor Jim Foster

Speaker series Jim FosterJim Foster, founding pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, shared with AMDG about “The Reciprocity of Design, Furnishings, Art, & Faith.” AMDG served as architectural designer for his church and the project has been complete since the summer of 2009. Jim focused his talk on how the culture that emerges from a facility continues to shape it and how the congregation of Good Shepherd have been affected, and continue to affect, the design of their sacred space.

Jim told anecdotes about how the appearance of the church building, “more homelike than institutional,” welcomed newcomers to step into the building without being intimidated by it. As he related stories of people in need of prayer, Pastor Jim felt strongly that the church design encouraged a woman, who had a hard time stepping out of her car, step foot into the church and a young man to rush into the sanctuary because he “needed to feel the presence of God.”

The congregation of Good Shepherd designed and built their own font, pulpit, altar, and baptismal and they transformed the aesthetic of the sanctuary depending on different seasons of the church. The building is designed to include flexible space, eliminate secret spaces, and foster community. In reciprocation, the congregation makes the design robust with their activity. “[AMDG] gave us a delightful canvas that the congregation paints on with their lives and their worship,” Jim said. 

Rick Beerhorst

Speaker Series - Rick-Beerhorst-return-IMG_8848.jpgRick Beerhorst returned to AMDG on Friday to discuss his project, “City As Muse”, entered for Art Prize and exhibited currently at the Urban Institute of Contemporary Art. The piece showcases two women in the foreground as a symbol of perception through the female mind with the city of Grand Rapids in the back ground. For Rick, Grand Rapids has become his muse; the city in which he creates and which he participates in creating. The large painting is composed of three panels and framed by old wood.

The painting is part of Rick’s movement to get businesses to collaborate with artists to create a stronger culture for the arts. As Rick proclaimed, “Art opens up opportunities for relationships.” For further information on “City As Muse” and Rick Beerhorst view his website at

Tom DeVries

Speaker Series Tom-DeVries-8453.jpgTom Devries came to AMDG on Friday August 8th to share some of the most valuable lessons he has learned during his life that has shaped the way he lives and his business acumen. Through a timeline of stories, he shared lessons learned from experiences and epiphanies that prompted his critique and change of thought. From a story of his first lemonade stand, to how he was almost caught cheating in high school, to how he won in a water boarding contest, Tom shared what these experiences taught him about life. Being original and working to the full potential, not only yields more, but lets you be careful of the person you allow yourself to become.

“Don’t let life act on you, act on it.”

Nicholas Wolterstorff

Speaker Series Nicholas WolterstorffNicholas Wolterstorff spoke to us and our guests about flourishing cities and how to rate their development. His concern is that many “Top 10 Best Cities” polls hold the state of the economy as the top priority.  Nicholas is one of the team members who started the thriving cities project at the University of Virginia, he presented the six areas that affect how cities flourish. Identified as endowments, these six areas are

1) The True: The realm of human knowledge
2) The Good: The realm of social mores and ethics
3) The Beautiful: The realm of aesthetics
4) The Sustainable: The realm of natural environment
5) The Just & Well Ordered: The realm of political and civic life
6) The Prosperous: The realm of economic life

The goal of this project is not to compare cities and say “our city is better than yours”, but instead the focus is on each individual caring for the city they live in.  The evaluation should be used by anyone who is responsible for making decisions that shape the city.  For example, architects, healthcare professionals, teachers, etc. Nicholas joked that if he were to open an Architectural firm, his preferred motto would be ‘Seek the Shalom of the city’. Reason being, “shalom” best translates to “flourishing”. 

John Berry, Design West Michigan

John BerryJohn Berry, Executive Director of Design West Michigan, spent some time at AMDG speaking of design with focus on his earlier days and what he learned from designer George Nelson in hopes that we can benefit from his experiences.

John has over 44 years of experience in design and met George Nelson when he started working at Herman Miller. Along with stressing the importance of always knowing the problem you are trying to solve, John relayed the principals that guide Herman Miller, such as:

1) what you make is important

2) design is an integral part of the business

3) the product must be honest

4) you decide what you will make

5) there is a market for good design

Paul Moore, Start Garden

Paul Moore, a founder of Start Garden, was at AMDG to speak of his work and the professional journey that has led to his current vocation. Paul has been working with Rick DeVos for 10 years.  Together, they launched ArtPrize and Start Garden.  Guided by his philosophy, that centers around changing how people behave and how groups interact with each other, and his principles of working around simple rules and generating new rewards, Paul aims to change culture. Start Garden is setting an example to risk-averse Grand Rapids by attaching itself to risky ideas. Through his experience with Start Garden, Paul defines entrepreneurs as people who get up every day and push the ball forward.  It is important to encourage them to look up at the horizon to see where they are going and what they have learned.

Visit to watch a video that answers the question “What is Start Garden?”

You are invited to attend a free “Update Night” at 5:00pm on June 26, 2014 at Start Garden.  Each project will share a 3 minute presentation about where they are after 3 months of experimentation.

Steve Prince, One Fish Studios

Steve PrinceSteve Prince, founder of One Fish Studios, is an artist who established his studio in 2004.  The studio is inspired by Matthew 4:19 “And he saith unto them, ‘follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’”

Steve chose to study print making because of the ability to make multiple pieces.  This allows him to distribute his work to the community and reach ‘one fish at a time’. And while his art focuses on the problems in society, bringing forth what is often ignored, he encourages people to discuss the elephant in the room so they can move past it and onto joyous peaceful living.  Steve compares this to the dirge, as in the first half of a New Orleans’s funeral procession, and the second Line; the second half of a funeral procession.

Steve’s long term plans include art mentorship, traveling exhibitions, art evangelism and large scale public art commissions.  His focus is on bringing the gallery to communities by having neighborhoods participate in making art.  Steve’s plan is to then display the art in the neighborhood by blocking off part of the road.  If people do not feel welcome in a gallery, then the gallery has to be brought to them.

Dr. David Rosen, Kendall College of Art and Design

Dr. David Rosen, Kendal CADDr. David Rosen, president of Kendall College of Art and Design, spoke about creativity and education. David was born in a small Jewish community and attended Haverford College in Pennsylvania where the Quaker philosophy impacts campus life. 

Throughout his life, David has spent a good deal of time thinking about and discovering what creativity is.  He believes that creativity is about disposition and attitude.  In order to coach and develop creativity, a person needs to naturally have a level of creativeness. 

Creativity is having a goal and figuring out how to get there.  It is important to remember that everyone reaches the goal a different way.  Creativity is a design process that is always changing. David recognizes that when kids are eternally constrained by authority, they cannot be creative.  He believes physical affection, nourishment, and play leads people, and even animals, to intelligence.  Though some schools suggest otherwise, efficiency does not lead to learning.

Rick Beerhorst, Studio Beerhorst

Rick Beerhorst, a local artist, stresses the importance of collaboration speaker series - rick beerhorst crop between artists and the corporate world.  He noted there is a wave of artists who are leaving New York and moving to places like Detroit and Grand Rapids. Rick does not want Grand Rapids to miss this wave of creativity!

There is currently a disconnect between artists and the corporate world. When someone has a big vision but cannot do it alone, it as an opportunity to meet new people and cultivate existing relationships. Artists offer a different perspective to those in the corporate world. The corporate world brings knowledge and leadership experience that artists are looking for. This collaboration is depicted in Rick’s current work for ArtPrize 2014, “City As Muse”.

ArtPrize is supporting the change in Grand Rapids to become more friendly to creatives. Every fall, the river of creativity overflows and leaves cultural soil behind. The soil builds up over time and makes Grand Rapids better for everyone.

“If artists flourish, the city flourishes.”

“Get out of your (comfort) zone; you might have a break through.”

Gideon Sanders, Grand Rapids Public Schools

 Gideon Sanders, GRPS Director of Innovative Partnerships, shared what he learned while attending Clown College and how he applies it today.  In 1994, Gideon enrolled in Clown College and learned that nothing in clowning is ever new, just changed.  This can be applied to any area of life.  It is important to listen to the people around you in order to build on their ideas and experiences.  When working with a partner, you fail, succeed and learn together.  It is essential that we listen to others when we are trying to figure out what we need to accomplish.

DEFINE your opinion. REFINE through discussion. COMBINE your opinion with the elements you agree with from others.

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit” [it’s about who benefits] - Harry Truman

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few." - Shunryo Suzuki

Mark Holzbach, Zebra Imaging

Mark Holzbach, founder of Zebra Imaging, talked to us about “Digital Holograms: What They Are and How Anyone Can Make One”.  In 2011, Zebra Imaging was in Time Magazine as one of the “Best 50 Innovations”.  One application for holograms is military use.  The military uses holograms to preserve situational awareness and plan operations.  Holograms provide a literal representation of geography; they show things that are hard to explain in words.

A few applications for Architecture and Engineering include:

            -Accurate 3D representations

            -Assistance with problem solving by improving understanding

            -displaying up to four design options in one print

To make your own hologram, visit Zebra Imaging

Gary Smith, Herman Miller

Gary Smith, Vice President of Product Design & Exploration at Herman Miller, spoke with us about "A Deferential Spirit to Design Provocation".  He recounted five stories that reminded us as designers to have empathy for the human experience and remain true to clients and one another. Gary believes it is important to step back and answer the question, “Why do you love to do what you do?”

“Do something meaningful with the time you have to craft for human experience.”

“Advance the art of living”

Jordan O’Neil and Jonathan Williams, Failure-Lab

Jordan O’Neil and Jonathan Williams, founders of Failure-Lab, discussed failure, the therapeutic effects of sharing failure and the lessons we can learn.  A Failure-Lab event consists of 6 speakers who tell their story of failure.  The main idea is that the storyteller cannot share a lesson, blame someone or something else, or share where they are now.  The reason being that when we hear stories of failure we all react differently.  Rather than limiting the lesson to two or three points, each listener is encouraged to glean their own lesson from the storyteller.  Listeners share their reactions on Twitter or by writing responses on the program.  This allows others to be free to respond and comment.

“Failure-Lab makes me feel human.”

“The people who fail first, innovate first.”

“Fail and quit versus fail and get up.”

NEXT EVENT: Detroit on November 21st, 2013.  Tickets will be on sale through Ticketmaster.

Check out for videos and more information!

Jennifer Boezwinkle, Rockford Construction

Jennifer Boezwinkle, Vice President of Business Development at Rockford Construction and LEED AP registered architect, spoke with us about her work experience and imparted her knowledge on construction trends for k12 and higher education.  Jennifer presented likely trends predicting new schools to be built and older ones to be renovated in relation to Michigan population decrease and increase as well as unemployment rate.

“Financial struggles, flat enrollment, the government, and the recession pushed everyone into a mode of change.”

Faye Richardson-Green, Steelcase Inc.

Faye Richardson-Green, Director of Global Learning & Development at Steelcase Inc. and 2013 recipient of Diversity Visionary Award from Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, came in to talk to us about innovation and highlight the best qualities of a leader.  When failure is not an option, innovation is stifled.  A strong innovative culture leads to successful collaboration.  Faye believes that the most valued skill of a leader is that of listening.

“To build a culture of innovation, build a culture of collaboration.  You have to allow risk and failure.”

"Individuals are afraid to share their failure because they view it as a weakness, when in reality, others view it as courageous."

“A good leader vests in people development, has the ability to listen well, and works to assure that others do not feel marginalized.”

Dean Ferris, Grotenhuis

 Dean Ferris, C.E.O. of  Grotenhuis , visited the office to talk about his experiences with Human Resources and answer questions posed by AMDG members regarding changes in mobility, flexibility, performance and multigenerational influence in our world today. Dean Ferris attests to the fact that technological advances have broken the boundaries in these sectors, and though they have made working conditions easier, they have also posed challenges that Dean believes only self-discipline and culture can best handle.

“A key part of a leader’s job is to over communicate and exemplify the company’s values.”

 “Culture has to be stronger than environment.”

Randy Rand and Tom Cummins, Jungle Survival Drivers Training

Randy (a.k.a RaRa JuMaand Tom, trainers from Jungle Survival Drivers Training, came in to talk about the passion they have for teaching teens not only how to drive, but drive with caution in the jungle world of motorists.

"Never say you're good because then you stop improving." 

"I think passion is contagious and is passed on through actions."

"Change happens and it must happen."

Professor Jamie Smith, Calvin College

Jamie Smith, a philosophy professor at Calvin College, spoke to us about Social Architecture and the Built Environment.  He explained that institutions are built based on how we view people.  People can change how they live by changing how they think.

“Architecture design assumes a view of human persons.”

“The real question is how do we form good habits and displace bad ones?  Habits/virtues get into you through practice and routines.  This heightens the appreciation for the materials of the built environment.”

Ginny VanderHart and Jason Zylstra, RDV Foundations

Ginny VanderHart and Jason Zylstra, Executive Director and Senior Program Officer from RDV Foundations, discussed the formation and growth of teams.  Teams become stronger when they grow together; a bond of trust and common language is formed when team members share ideas and experiences.

"The best leaders lead when necessary, but support the team when there is a need."

"Are you getting to use your strengths everyday? Using strengths is what gives people the feeling of fulfillment."

Tim Ellens, Calvin College

Tim Ellens, Director of Communications and Marketing at Calvin College, challenged us to think about how we tell our brand story. Branding is the promise and big idea. It sets expectations. He asked, “What is your story, how do you express it and, most importantly, how do you live it?”

“The discussion of branding raises a thought provoking question. ‘What business are you in…really?’ A question that applies not only to companies, but individuals as well.”

 “It all starts with a clear vision that provides focus. As a result, the team gains focus and energy.”

Richard Frost, Hope College

Dr. Richard Frost, Dean of Students and Vice President at Hope College inspired us with his timely wisdom and meditations about being secure in our identity, being faithful and passionate, living fully, and discriminating about what is really important in life.

"Dr. Frost's challenge to us to ask, 'What is the possibility of it becoming something other?' is a fantastic question to ask that can help our clients and stretch us to stimulate innovation and change.  It opens a world of opportunity to do things differently and to do things of significance."

"This call to action from Dr. Frost gives us a clear lens through which to see our work and make it meaningful.  'You only have the present.  This is my only chance.  Don't live fatalistically, but fully.  Discriminate about what is really important.  Be passionate.  Get emotional about what you do."

John Kennedy, Autocam Corporation

Special thanks to John Kennedy for engaging us in thought and dialogue about developing leadership.  John, Chairman, Chief Executive, Principal Owner and President at Autocam Corporation, encouraged us to build leaders by looking for opportunities to celebrate people in their successes and by directing people to truth.

"John's passion for building leaders by looking for opportunities to celebrate people when they are successful is spot on."

"I was challenged to be a stronger leader by urging and directing people to uncover the truth, to dig deeper by asking more questions, and getting to the root of an issue by boiling it down to it's essence."

Eric Doyle, Catalyst Partners

Eric Doyle, Project Manager at Catalyst Partners shared with us An Introduction to the Living Building Challenge.  Eric, also shared about his interest in acting as an ambassador and advocate for the future of sustainable building.  He encouraged us to explore our passions, to "Find our place in the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there." (poet, Gary Snyder)

"Eric's career pursuit strongly illustrates the notion that aligning passion with what you do and aligning your values with your work makes for a higher joy-purpose coefficient at work"

Bill Holsinger-Robinson, Entrepreneur

Bill Holsinger-Robinson, entrepreneur, strategist, design thinker, technophile and change agent shared his story, his passions and his role as catalyst for stimulating innovation, social enterprise, and positive change in Grand Rapids.

"Bill readily admitted making many mistakes and perhaps even failures on past projects yet picks up the good pieces and moves ahead."

"I agreed with his idea of education as a constant learning process that occurs throughout one's lifetime within any situation, not only in a classroom."

Brian Kelly, Photography and Film

Brian Kelly, master of photography and film, stimulated thought and dialogue about perspective and how context informs design. We appreciated Brian's authenticity in his excellent portfolio of work and his sharing the deep and meaningful stories behind them. Brian encouraged us to observe, absorb and learn about our contextual environment and to follow our natural giftings and passions.

"Brian illustrated authenticity of the story and the person in his photography.  The better we understand the whole story, the more authentic and successful our work can be."

"Brian shared how environmental context informs his portraiture.  Similarly, understanding context is critical in architecture with context as the history of place, and in organizational culture with context as the history of people."

Jeff Reuschel, Haworth

Jeff, Global Design Director at Haworth, stretched us to ponder the mind, the models in which we operate and think, how our minds work, the impact of space and how we work in an engaging conversation in creating thinking.

"One impactful point Jeff shared was the challenge to do both big picture strategic thinking as well as heads down task oriented work.  It's important for workplace design to accomodate both." 

"I found it interesting how much your mind is doing without you even being aware: finding angles of vision or spaces where you can make judgements based on your own frame of reference.  It's helpful to have some understanding of how much your personal bias and your environment can affect how you process information and make decisions." 

David Hammond, Ada Bible Church

David, Creative Director at Ada Bible Church engaged us in dialogue and creative thought about cultural trends that are influencing the current and future state of church and social communities.

"David's insights into cultural trends and their impact on the church have broad applications.  Amid the largeness of size and scale, people desire places of intimacy and closeness.  Immersed with technology and media, people engage more meaningfully when authenticity is preserved, reverence remains, and truth prevails."

Rob Poel, Steelcase

Rob Poel PresentationRob Poel, Director of New Business Innovation at Steelcase delved into the why, how and lessons learned of innovation by design. He emphasized the importance of continual progress and innovative thinking to businesses, whether big or small. In addressing how, he identified 4 steps for innovation - Explore, Research, Prototype, and Pilot, which along with risk taking form the foundation of successful innovation.




Sam Granger

Sam Granger Sam Granger, a classical school teacher and documentary filmmaker, invited us to think deeply about the beauty of God's creation. Beginning from the word "cosmos", derived from the Greek word for beauty, Sam proceeded to dive deeper into art and architecture as ways to create and reflect God's beauty. His examination of an individual piece of art as well as explanation on the morality of beauty were particularly interesting and insightful.

Joseph Becherer, Frederik Meijer Gardens

Joseph BechererIt was an honor to host Joseph Becherer, Chief curator of collections and exhibitions at the Frederick Meijer Gardens as our November speaker. Becherer's presentaiton addressed the history of the gardens from farmland to today's world-renowned art collection. In a time when Grand Rapids was almost invisible to the art world, attempting to start a collection didnt start without its challenges and initial resistance. Yet as Becherer put it, Fred was determined to "build a world-class sculpture collection" and he "was nothing but a man of his word." Throughout the years, it was obvious Becherer developed a deep relationship with Fred and shared a passion that enables him to continue true to tradition whlie also moving forward. In many ways, Becherer's presentation was more than just a historical account, but rather a story of how preseverance, intentional relationships and passion were crucial to the success of the gardens we see and visit today.


Mike Morin, Start Garden

Mike MorinMike Morin, business strategist and investment manager at Start Garden shared with us the ways in which technological advancement is continuously redefining and changing the way businesses work and individuals live and interact on a day to day basis. Drawing from his experience at companies like Seamless and Start Garden he offered us insight into how this relationship evolves, its potential benefits and unwanted drawbacks.

Tom DeVries, Co-founder of Thoughtfull

Tom DeVriesA more well informed future exists at the cross roads of perspectives."

Tom challenged us to think differently, to question our cultural biases and to be open to opposing perspectives when seeking answers. By stepping back and being willing to accept other views, we can reach better answers. More often than not, it is our complacency with current standards or paradigms that lead to stagnation both personally and in the business world. While challenging deeply held views can be challenging, it may very well be the road to innovation, success and personal gain. As Tom put it, cultural paradigms are "'a' way of thinking, not 'the' way of thinking." 


Paul DeBoer, CPA

Paul DeBoer

Amidst the quick pace of the world around us, it is often hard to stop, breathe and take a break from our routine lives. In his presentation, Paul encouraged us to seize every opportunity to engage in other cultures; to travel abroad, speak to a stranger and experience that which makes us uncomfortable. Only by stepping out of our safe zone can we expect to understand differing perspectives and engage in the incredibly diverse world we live in. Along with his fascinating travel stories and experiences living abroad, Paul’s presentation was engaging, invited us to reflect, and of course, made us hungry for travel. 

Ashanti Bryant & Mark Kuiper, Grand Rapids Christian Middle School

"Unfortunately, two individuals in the same space can have drastically different experiences"

Ashanti Bryant, principal at Grand Rapids Christian Middle School, and Mark Kuiper, Chaplain, discussed the history of racism in Grand Rapids and how similar events have played a role in building the tension that we see around the country today. They advocated for working towards reconciliation and union by adopting more inclusive language and being mindful of our actions. Many times, the damage being done is unknown to the person in power and education as well as an open mind is a key towards inclusion and harmony across race, gender, age, and all other groups. Ashanti and Mark also touched on terms like redlining, gerrymandering, white privilege and white guilt while sharing personal stories of their own experiences.

Their knowledge, passion, and work towards reconciliation is inspiring and we are so grateful for their willingness to share. 

Larry Gerbens, Pre-Health Advisor & Liaison to Health Providers

Larry Gerbens

As Alexander Pope once said  "To err is human; to forgive, divine."

Larry Gerbens, a Calvin College Pre-Health Advisor and Liaison to Health Providers joined us to speak on "The Art of Forgiveness." Larry began to develop a passion for art during his undergraduate years at Calvin. Over time, Larry began fixated on the Luke 15 Parable of the Prodigal Son, a biblical story that illustrates the boundless nature of divine grace and forgiveness. Admittedly, Larry became addicted to collecting art, traveling around the country and world commissioning artists to render their interpretation of the parable. His collection, now part of Calvin College's permanent collection, is comprised of over 40 pieces varying in both medium and style that powerfully capture the message of the parable. Speaking on the collecting and commissioning process, the art and the artists, one cannot deny Larry's passion and the radical message of grace and forgiveness that is found in the Parable, especially when understood in its cultural context. 

Trygve Johnson, Hinga-Boersma Dean of Chapel at Hope College

Trygve Presentation

Rev. Dr. Trygve D. Johnson, Hinga-Boersma, Dean of the Chapel at Hope College asked us to question what role imagination plays in our lives and challenged us to view it without suspicion. In a world where reason often overshadows the imagination, he argued that it is an essential component to our human flourishing as it opens up a realm of opportunities unconceivable to traditional thinking and pushes the boundaries of what is possible. Dr. Trygve believes that rather than writing the imagination off as fantasy, we should actively engage it with reason so we as people can continue innovating and thus, flourishing.

Kurt Dykstra, President of Trinity Christian College

Kurt Dykstra"Preparing for the Predictably Unpredictable Pasth: Higher Education and the Vocational Imperative"

The most often cited statistics say that today's workers on average will have 12-15 different employers and 7 different careers during their lives... and that those numbers will only increase in the future. Kurt Dykstra, President of Trinity Christian College in the Chicago metro area, knows a thing or two about this. He has worked in college student developmentt and admissions, law, banking, political office, and now in higher education. He is 46.
How should we think about the workforce of the future - or if we are in the workforce, how do we think about our own careers today and into the future? How are colleges and universities approaching education and curriculum in an environment consistently in flux? By taking a look at what specific skills made liberal arts grads more marketable. Kurt Dykstra offered us his insights into these issues, sharing his experience, what the data and trends suggest, and how colleges in general and Trinity in particular are adapting to educating today's students.

Keith Winn, President Of Catalyst Partners

Keith WinnKeith Winn President of Catalyst Partners joined us to provide a brief historical overview of Biophilia, Phylogenetic design and related developments. Together we explored what science demonstrates regarding human interaction with natural environments and our behavioral response to natural stimuli. Considering our intimate connection with nature, Keith challenged us to think about the effect our built environment can have on us. He suggested that integrating nature into our built environment can lead to improvements in work efficiency and overall happiness.

Professional Growth

AMDG maintains a long-term commitment to the personal and professional growth of all their employees, which is significant in setting AMDG apart from other architectural firms. "Part of our mission is to grow good architects," says Cal Jen founder of AMDG Architects."We want to be mentors to architects as they develop their talents and careers."

And indeed, the process of professional growth at AMDG is important.  Some ways AMDG acts as a catalyst for enriching the talents and strengths of its team include:

Mentor Meetings

Monthly meetings are organized by our aspiring architects.  Meeting content and dialogue is selected and initiated with a mentor by the architectural staff.  Topics range from understanding contracts, codes, and liability, to what it means to lead, guide and serve our clients well.

"Most architecture firms informally mentor their younger employees, but AMDG goes a step further with periodic meetings on specific topics that interns may not know as much about.  Most degree programs don’t have the time to get deep into the business side of architecture or into the nitty gritty of the construction process, so we rely on our first few years of internship to fill in the gaps.  While I learn from hands-on experience, I enjoy the active learning sessions that help fill in these gaps and allow all of us to ask the obvious questions we may not have gotten answers to yet.  From an aside at a team meeting to conversations on the way to a site visit to a “lessons learned” session at staff meetings, AMDG is always trying to help its employees grow." 

Project Coordinator, Megan Wall

Professional Development

Each year, architectural staff are encouraged to pursue professional activities and studies that will build on their interests and strength sets.  AMDG fosters an environment of learning that develops thought leadership and expertise equipping us to continually better serve our clients.

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