Member Voices

SMPS invites members to share their experiences and perspectives to our community’s conversations on racism and its impact on our personal and professional settings.

If you’d like to share your story, we’d love to hear from you. Reach out to SMPS Content Manager, Linda Smolkin, at if you’d like to contribute.

A Different Kind of Pride

  • What I love about Pride Month is that it’s always evolving. Each year it becomes more inclusive and less about one thing, but more holistic and centered around the individual. Even the pride flag has evolved to reflect and represent the diversity of skin tones and gender spectrum. It represents more than the LGBTQ+ community; it represents everyone.

    Article written by Nathan Reyna.

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How Being Filipino Has Kept Me Humble

  • When I was in college, one of my friends told me I was a coconut—brown on the outside but white on the inside. Like me, she was also Filipina and while she meant no harm in this term, she was right. I had grown up in a predominantly white town in Texas so while my parents tried to instill Filipino culture in me, I didn’t really get to see it anywhere else. In fact, in high school a classmate referred to me as, “the Black girl you’re dating” when talking to my white boyfriend. He corrected my classmate, of course, but it showed how very small my town was.

    Article written by Krystle English, CPSM.

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Getting Into Good Trouble

  • Fighting the good fight or getting into good trouble (as the late Senator John Lewis often said) is an inextricable part of my personality and life. Why is that? My background and family history provide the foundation for answering this question.

    Article written by Dr. Paula Stamp, CPSM.

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A Seat at the Table

  • As I look across the ranks, do I see me? It is, unfortunately, a common thought by people of color in the corporate world. That idea has traveled with me as a member of SMPS for the last 20 years. After two decades in the organization, I had to think a couple of years ago if I wanted to become an SMPS Fellow and what it would mean to me personally. I wondered aloud if SMPS was the association I wanted to continue a connection. I questioned this even though I’ve been an active member, a chapter president, served on Society committees, and presented at regional conferences.

    Article written by Kim Thompkins, FSMPS, CPSM.

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From Struggle to Superpower

  • The last couple of months have been challenging for most of us. They certainly have been for me. As I’ve struggled to remain hopeful and optimistic in the face of a global pandemic and economic meltdown unlike the world has ever seen, an endless stream of negative headlines has dominated my news feed. I’ve read countless news clips and articles highlighting all the worst parts of life in Black America.

    Article written by Damion Morris, CPSM.

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We Won’t Overcome Until We Come Together

  • “Mommy, why are they shouting, ‘Black Lives Matter’? What about white people? Won’t that hurt their feelings?”

    That question, from my 7-year-old daughter, was one that I have never had to answer before. It was sparked by the protests that followed the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement. And one that gave me pause because in that moment I knew I had to get it right. I’ve been happy to answer that same question, not only for her, but for others in my neighborhood, in my virtual workplace, and with close friends of different races over the past several months.

    Article was written by Rhonda L. Bolding, CPSM. 

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Stepping Up in the Golden Mountain

  • As a Chinese American daughter of immigrants, I have always struggled with speaking out versus staying behind the scenes. My dad immigrated in the 1930s and my mom in the 1950s to the United States, which is called the Golden Mountain in Toishan, the Chinese dialect we spoke at home. I was fortunate to have received an education in both worlds, the traditional Chinese culture and customs my parents instilled in me and the American culture my older brothers and public schooling shared with me.

    Article written by Joy Woo, FSMPS, CPSM, LEED AP.

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The Privilege of Being Yourself

  • I was raised in a family that always spoke their mind. We were never afraid to say what we wanted or needed to say. Until the age of 20, my environment inside and outside my home was all-inclusive. My experiences and relationships were authentic and raw. This environment was all I knew; it was my culture.

    This article was written by Alicia Mojica Washington.

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Cultural Inheritances Are Powerful

  • I really struggled to write this article. I struggled with it more than anything I’ve written in the last five years. Not everyone is burdened by the pain of others and still some will only care briefly—volunteering for a few months or writing a check that helps feed the machine but doesn’t quite fix it.

    This article was written by Uniqueka Walcott, CPSM. 

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Yes, I’ve Been to London

  • A few years ago, I attended a college fair at a hotel near the San Francisco International Airport. The colleges in the exhibition hall were showcasing performing arts programs. I decided to check out a booth for a school based in London. Looking at the glossy admissions collaterals with photos of Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, I asked the representative where exactly was the school located. They said, “It’s in London.” After a few awkward seconds passed, I asked again about the location.

    Article written by Kim Pipkin. 

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My Family’s Hidden Identity

  • In January 2021, I embarked on one of the hardest challenges I’ve experienced as a parent to date: explaining to my Jewish daughter what the Holocaust is and how it affected my family. Suddenly, the thing that she is most proud of —being Jewish—could be seen as something to hide, or not share. It was my goal to make sure she didn’t feel that she had to hide what made her different and instead share it with the world.

    Article written by Michelle Erste, CPSM. 

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Being the Only Dot of Diversity

  • In the fall of 1967, I was bussed from the projects in Gary, IN, to a better (all-white) school several miles away in the suburbs. I was devastated—and afraid. I’d seen news reports of how we weren’t wanted and what happened to some of those students. Then my mom qualified for low-income housing near the school. When we moved to a home closer to the new school, for-sale signs started going up all around us.

    Article written by Ruth Hunter-Hill. 

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Go Where You’re Wanted

  • My varied, professional career within the A/E/C industries has spanned almost 25 years, yet only recent times have shaped how I view my role within. Upon enrolling in architecture school almost three decades ago, approximately 1% of U.S. architects were Black. Sixteen years later, I transitioned from a design field that remained 2% African American, to join a handful of Black architectural photographers currently practicing—and likely among the several to ever exist.

    Article written by Sterling Stevens, AIAP, LEED AP. 

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In addition to Member Voices, our Unscripted video series offers stories of personal and professional challenges and accomplishments.

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