Bringing Color into the World of Architecture: CAPLA’s Women in Architecture Society in Conversation with NOMA Arizona President Carlos Murrieta

Sept. 25, 2020

An Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Roundtable

Carlos Murrieta, NOMA-AZ President, and WIAS Students and Alumni, Including Malaika Dennis '24 B.Arch, Ana Astiazarán ’22 B.Arch and Bianca Bryant ’20 B.Arch
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Roundtable
September 11, 2020
WIAS Leadership

Leadership team of the University of Arizona's Women in Architecture Society: Rhiannon Mitchell, Serena Gray, Michelle Munguia, Anisa Hermosillo, Joann Thacker, Lydia Roberts and Loren Liebermann

By Michelle Munguia ‘24 B.Arch

Carlos Murrieta

Carlos Murrieta, Principal, Merge Architectural Group, President, NOMA-Arizona

On September 11, 2020, the University of Arizona chapter of Women in Architecture Society (WIAS) teamed up with National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) Arizona President Carlos Murrieta to discuss equity, diversity and inclusion in a virtual roundtable event sponsored by the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture’s Committee on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and the American Institute of Architects Southern Arizona. As architecture students, we are excited to know that we can come together with faculty and professionals to discuss equity, diversity and inclusion with the goal of determining tangible actions.

Conversation was driven by panelists Murrieta, Malaika Dennis ’24 B.Arch, Ana Astiazarán ’22 B.Arch and Bianca Bryant ’20 B.Arch, who come from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Murrieta chooses to identify himself within the context of his family as a father and a grandfather of three. Dennis strives to leave a legacy and does what she can to change the world, beginning with her involvement in CAPLA’s EDI Committee. Astiazarán is from Mexico and desires to combine her interests in art with the more technical side of architecture. Bryant, ’20 is a recent graduate from the Bachelor of Architecture program and hopes to pursue her dreams in the realm of architecture through graduate school.

Murrieta started the conversation by discussing NOMA’s 10 action points for real change in the design and construction industry. He highlighted how change starts with the acknowledgement of racism and gender inequality in the United States and continues through the implementation of the “Golden Rule” in our everyday lives.

Bryant touched on the importance of education in helping students learn from and grow beyond the injustices of the past. “It is very important to take it upon ourselves to be educated,” she said. Through education and youth mentorship, acceptance of people from all different backgrounds can happen.

Astiazarán noted that “change doesn't happen overnight; we need to have patience, and it will happen over time.” Change can be encouraged by participating in the “Privilege Walk”—a group activity that points out the many privileges as well as disadvantages that people can face in their lifetimes—and by creating tangible inclusion and anti-bias goals to work on in our daily lives.

The WIAS executive board concluded the roundtable with the reminder that we are each different in our religion, ethnicity, gender, age and sexual orientation. However, if we come together to fight racial and gender injustice, we all can be a part of something incredibly beautiful. “Put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and have empathy,” said Murietta. It only takes one of us to choose to love others and look past the noticeable differences in order to make our world more inclusive, diverse and equitable.

View NOMA AZ’s Ten Action Points for real change in the design and construction industry and learn more about the organization at And follow WIAS and their journey to “Celebrating Diversity: Bring Color into CAPLA” and learn more about the student organization at


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