Jason Pettigrew Memorial ARE Scholarship
Adjunct Professor, University of the District of Columbia
Hampton University (B.Arch)
Georgetown University (MPP)
As a first generation college student, R. Denise Everson, Assoc. AIA, LEED® AP matriculated through Hampton University as a Presidential Scholar under the tutelage of Bradford Grant, AIA, NOMA graduating cum laude with a Bachelor of Architecture degree in 2004. In 2011, Denise was honored as the Young Alumni of the Year by the National Hampton Alumni Association for her dedicated service to her alma mater. Denise earned a Master of Public Policy degree with a concentration in housing and education policy from Georgetown University where she studied under Urban Institute’s Margery Turner and famed activist Pablo Eisenberg.
A native of Decatur, Georgia, Denise resides in Washington, D.C. where she is an adjunct professor at the University of the District of Columbia instructing adult students in Building Information Modeling. In addition, Miss Everson is the Community Engagement Manager with the Thinkbox Group, LLC, a sustainable energy and water services company. In this role, she manages community engagement, education and empowerment programs; donor engagement activities; and client services.
Prior to Denise’s work with Thinkbox, she was a consultant with the Connecticut Green Bank1 working on an innovative Multifamily Energy-Efficiency Demonstration Pilot. Prior to the Green Bank, Denise served in the Office of Capital Programs at the District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA) as the agency’s Sustainability Liaison to both the local and federal governments. In 2014, Next City honored Denise as one of its Vanguards, 40 leaders under 40 promoting innovation in cities. That same year, the Washington D.C. Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. awarded Denise the Eliza P. Shippen Award for distinguished leadership and community service to D.C.
Over 7 years of service to the District government, Denise represented DCHA on the citywide Green Building Advisory Council2, Mayor’s Green Cabinet3, two Sustainable DC4 Task Forces, and numerous local and national committees. Denise’s innovative vision is felt throughout her work in new construction and major renovations including contributions to multiple HOPE VI5 and Choice Neighborhood redevelopment projects. Denise served on the project team for DC’s first LEED Platinum HOPE VI, Sheridan Station, which features sustainable measures such as a rainwater cistern, an accessible green roof and a vast solar array to be incorporated into public housing. Denise managed DCHA’s participation in the Better Building Challenge identifying opportunities to reduce portfolio-wide energy consumption by 20% by 2021. In addition, she worked to develop a Green Operations and Maintenance program for public housing residents and DCHA staff, a first. Among DCHA leadership, Denise is highly regarded for her innovation. Incorporating emerging trends in the green building and affordable housing industries, in 2013 Denise standardized DCHA’s building products into a comprehensive 90-page guide saving the agency tens of thousands. Miss Everson was most excited about her team’s exploration of a net-positive clean energy generating solution at the historic Langston Terrace, the nation’s fourth oldest public housing project and D.C.’s first.
Over the years, Denise has worked her way from a volunteer to Chair of the AIA Housing + Community Development Network (H+CDN), formerly the AIA Housing Knowledge Community, never shying away from exercising effective leadership and promoting innovative thinking. Denise hit the ground running as a volunteer on the H+CDN attending Conventions, Grassroots, meeting with federal housing representatives such as HUD and the National Endowments for the Arts, and reporting back to H+CDN leadership with actionable recommendations. In December 2012, Denise was unanimously elected Secretary of the H+CDN and served in that capacity until December 2014. As Secretary, Denise represented the AIA in China during a 2014 professional exchange where she offered affordable housing strategies to government officials and academicians. During that same year, Denise traveled to the Philippines to represent the AIA at the Leapfrog from Disaster Symposium marking the one-year anniversary of typhoon Haiyan. During this week long innovative symposium, Denise presented affordable housing strategies to attendees which included the National Public Housing Director. In an additional session, Denise presented resiliency strategies highlighting best practices from her earlier trip to China. In December 2015, Denise was unanimously elected Chair. Building upon successful housing and resiliency presentations in the Philippines, Denise accepted an invitation from the Embassy of the Philippines to present alongside Lira Luis, AIA, RIBA during the 2015 AIA | DC Architecture Week Panel Discussion: New Discoveries for Reconstruction in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan. Denise has juried the joint Housing Knowledge Community and Small Project Practitioners Innovation in House Design Grant which brought the ReFab PreFab to the national stage during convention. Denise advocacy for the ReFab PreFab team allowed three emerging professionals an unparalleled opportunity. She has moderated the H+CDN’s Pre-Convention Workshop on multiple occasions adding a unique brand of southern charm and humor. Both of Denise’s 2014 housing sponsored convention sessions were highly rated as she explored fuel cell deployment at a historic public housing site and shed light on design options for practitioners in a session entitled From Baby Boomers to Gen Y: An Examination of Multigenerational Housing Strategies. During the 2015 Atlanta Convention, Denise facilitated the AIA Housing and AIA/HUD Secretary Awards. A native of Atlanta, Denise was instrumental in planning many of the housing related activities during convention including securing the Southface Energy Institute for the awards ceremony.
In addition to serving on the H+CDN, Denise has proudly served on the AIA Design and Health Leadership Group from 2013 to 2016 offering transformative perspectives and a unique brand of leadership. Armed with an extensive knowledge of green building materials, a commitment to excellence, and an unwavering resolve to provide quality design to all through equity and inclusion, Denise strived to intentionally execute key design principles to positively affect health outcomes.
In 2016, Denise was awarded the AIA’s Associate Award at the national convention in Philadelphia honoring her impact as an associate member and emerging professional. In October 2016, Denise along with several other AIA members including AIA President, Russ Davidson, FAIA, represented the AIA in Quito, Ecuador at the Habitat III International Housing Summit. Denise’s work in resilient and sustainable affordable housing was featured in an on- site presentation by Jamie Blosser, AIA.
During 2017, Denise assisted in planning the Black Women in Architecture Brunch in Washington, D.C. alongside the brunch’s founder, Katherine Williams, AIA. The brunch, co-sponsored by the AIA Diversity office, was a huge success and brought together women of various races and ethnicities to network and celebrate architecture.
Denise’s current civic activity and voluntarism includes: Founding Board Secretary of the Delta Housing Corporation II of the District of Columbia, Inc.; active member of the Junior League of Washington; active member of the Washington DC Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.; and active member of the Washington DC Chapter of the Continental Societies, Inc.
Denise’s past civic activity and voluntarism includes: Chair of the AIA Housing + Community Development Network; member of the AIA Design & Health Leadership Group; Board President of Hillcrest Children and Family Center; Board member of the Washington, D.C. Alumnae Foundation, Inc.; member of the U.S.G.B.C. Greenbuild 2015 Legacy Committee; and Board member of the Ionia Whipper Home for Girls.