School of Architecture

Board of Advisors

School of Architecture Board of Advisors

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We are grateful to have a diverse team of experts that support our work and serve on the Woodbury School of Architecture Advisory Board. Each of them are visionaries in their respective fields and inspire us with alternative models of thought and engagement. As advocates, champions and strategic thought partners, Board Members voluntarily support the work of the School. Members provide strategic guidance to the Dean into the effectiveness of its mission, programs, and community engagement, and in raising local, regional, and global prominence for the School.

Principal, June Street Architecture

Sonny Ward (Charles L. Ward III – Licensed California Architect), is originally from Pelahatchie, MS. He founded June Street Architecture in 2009. The team of experienced architects and designers respond to each project with a cohesive solution through innovative design and dynamic spaces. Each project uses existing conditions along with new design elements to develop a new holistic experience. An architecture studio located in West Hollywood, California, JSA is known best for its thorough design process that involves and informs clients every step of the way. Throughout planning and design, JSA works closely with each client to understand their creative vision and goals. Subsequently, JSA provides spaces that are thoughtfully elegant, detailed, sensitive to the surrounding environment, and mindful of the clients’ needs and budgets.

Sonny holds a B.Arch. from Woodbury University and a M.Arch. from UCLA. He currently serves on the National Center on Adoption and Permanency Board of Advisors, Woodbury University School of Architecture Board of Advisors, Woodbury University Architecture of Civic Engagement Advisory Board and the Emeritus Board for the Family Equality Council. He lives in Los Angeles, CA with his husband and two children.

Principal, DA Lighting Studio

Saul (BArch ’06) is a recognized lighting designer with over 15 years of experience in the field of architectural lighting. Prior to establishing DA Lighting Studio he was associate principal at KGM, lead lighting designer at Standard Vision and apprenticed at LehrerArchitects. Saul’s contributions to the built environment can be seen on award-winning, sustainable projects ranging from hotels, corporate interiors, multi-family developments to private residential estates.

Saul has participated as a guest panelist at Woodbury University and IALD Enlighten Americas. He is an active member of Red Global Mexico and the International Association of Lighting Designers.

Born in Chicago, IL Germane Barnes received a Bachelor’s of Science in Architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Architecture from Woodbury University where he was awarded the Thesis Prize for his project Symbiotic Territories: Architectural Investigations of Race, Identity, and Community. Barnes’ research and design practice investigates the connection between architecture and identity. Learning from historical data and perspectives from within architecture as well as cultural and ethnic studies, he examines how the built environment influences the social and cultural experience.

He has previously taught graduate seminars, and workshops at Woodbury University. He is also the designer in residence for the Opa Locka Community Development Corporation where his design and research contributions have been published and exhibited in several international publications and institutions. Most notably, Curbed.com, where he was named a member of the 2015 Class of Young Guns, under-the-radar professionals who are busy challenging the status quo in the design industry.

Owner, Cory Buckner, Architect

Cory Buckner is a practicing architect in the Los Angeles area. She has a degree in Fine Arts from Chouinard Art Institute and an M.Arch from UCLA. She has also studied landscape architecture at UCLA.

The firm, Cory Buckner, Architect, specializes in contemporary residential design and mid-century remodel and restoration projects.

In 1994, she and her late husband, architect Nick Roberts, purchased a home in Crestwood Hills designed in 1949 by architects A. Quincy Jones, Whitney R. Smith and structural engineer Edgardo Contini. After restoring the house, she spearheaded a preservation movement in the neighborhood, which had at one time 150 houses by Jones, Smith, and Contini as part of a housing cooperative called Mutual Housing Association. Through her efforts 15 of the remaining 30 houses have been designated Historic/Cultural Monuments with the City of Los Angeles.

She was awarded the 2002 Los Angeles Preservation Award, “For the inspiring effort to protect and restore the original Mutual Housing Association homes in Crestwood Hills, preserving important examples of Southern California Modernism, and enhancing the sense of community in a unique neighborhood.”

She is the author of A. Quincy Jones, published by Phaidon Press, Crestwood Hills: The Chronicle of a Modern Utopia by Angel City Press, and The Lyman House and the Work of Frederic P. Lyman: Drawing and Building by Crestwood Hills Press.

Executive Director, AIA San Fernando Valley

Desiree Gemigniani has served as the Executive Director of the AIA San Fernando Valley chapter since 2016. Under her leadership, members of the AIA San Fernando Valley chapter have developed a close and unique partnership with Woodbury University’s School of Architecture. Desiree helps manage the AIA SFV Chapter Scholarship Program that funds annual scholarships to Woodbury Architecture and Interior Design students. These scholarships are a component of the $161,000 AIA San Fernando Chapter Endowment Fund, established and stewarded by AIA SFV Chapter members.

As Executive Director, Desiree has worked with AIA SFV chapter members to develop and deliver a number of other creative programs in support of local professionals, Woodbury students and students at local high schools and community colleges. These include:

  • The development of the ARE Exam Prep Saturday seminars that promotes the value of licensure, mentoring and continuing education,
  • The launch of a Women in Architecture sub-committee to address continuing issues of gender inequity in the profession, under the leadership of Serena Winner, AIA and Jesse Santiago, AIA,
  • A series of mentorship events hosted by the AIA SFV Emerging Professionals Committee to introduce emerging professionals to seasoned professionals,
  • Hosting the annual AIA|SFV AXP Design Competition presented as a challenge to associates and emerging professionals on their path to licensure, and gaining hours towards their NCARB certification, originally launched by former Executive Director Leslie Nathan.
  • Attending Woodbury’s ‘Grand Critique’ at which AIA SFV-funded scholarships are awarded.

Partner, Gruen Associates

Debra Gerod, FAIA joined Gruen Associates, a 65-person broad-based planning and architectural firm, in 1988 and became a partner in 2002. During her tenure at Gruen Associates, Ms. Gerod has focused on the collaborative delivery of projects, primarily in the public sector. Her work includes large-scale, significant civic and cultural projects such as courthouses, embassies, performing arts centers, museums, libraries and transportation projects. Since the late 1980’s, she has created and/or led over two dozen collaborative teams on projects valued at more than $3 billion.

Ms. Gerod has been on the forefront of the sustainable design movement throughout her career, starting with her focus on sustainable design at the University of Colorado/Boulder. Ms. Gerod is the Vice President/President Elect for the American Institute of Architect’s Los Angeles Chapter. She is also a member of the Board of the AIA California Council and serves on Dean’s Advisory Council for Woodbury University. Ms. Gerod served on the Board of the ACE Mentor Program/Los Angeles from 2004-2015.

John Leath was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. He is a father of 2 sons and married for 19 years. Prior to attending Woodbury University, John taught and mentored high school students at Westchester High School from 2000-2006. He then founded a housing development business, CLAD Inc that focused on the acquisition of neglected single family residence with the intent to rehabilitate and return it to the market. John continued his studies at Woodbury University in the Interior Architecture program from 2008-2012. He then transitioned as a Housing Navigator for PATH (People Assisting the Homeless) a non-profit who’s mission was to develop housing and services for the homeless population.

Currently, John is the owner of Eyemjonarthur Photography as a personal brand photographer. Clients include those from the music and entertainment industry, entrepreneurs, technology consultants, and business owners. His current work follows the Queen Mother of GaDangme Land as she engages in cultural exchange, highlighting fashion as contemporary queen, and engaging in business development in China.

President, MLA-Studio

Mia Lehrer was raised in El Salvador in a family that engaged in community participation and leadership. Her father founded a land conservation and youth camping program aimed at helping disadvantaged youth. Her mother started a microlending program for women in the 1960s. While in the United States to attend Tufts University, Mia was introduced to landscape architecture through a retrospective of Frederick Law Olmsted’s work. She earned her Master of Landscape Architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, and moved to Los Angeles with her husband, architect Michael Lehrer. She entered the profession with a focus on the design of residential gardens, establishing a methodology for her design practice that she would later apply at larger scales and projects that are more complex.

As Mia’s practice and her family grew, she led community initiatives to improve the local schools and volunteered with her children to help the local environment. One of these volunteer activities was the annual La Gran Limpieza river cleanup, hosted by Friends of the Los Angeles River, where she met cofounder Lewis MacAdams. Mia’s design lens eventually gave vision to MacAdams’s dream of making the river accessible to all. The Los Angeles River work is exemplary of how Mia has shaped her firm to balance private work with that which contributes to the community. She and her team continue to practice with an advocacy ethic at all scales of design and planning.

City Urban Designer for the City of Santa Monica, California

Alan Loomis is an urban designer, planner and educator practicing in the Los Angeles area.

Alan is currently the City Urban Designer for Santa Monica, California, where he works with City divisions and departments, outside agencies, the general public, and local interest and community groups to provide a cohesive and comprehensive approach to urban design. For eleven years, Alan led the urban design program for the City of Glendale, starting in 2005 as the City’s first on-staff urban designer. Alan has over ten years experience in private urban design and architecture firms, where he directed planning projects for Pomona College, the University of California Santa Barbara, North Montclair, Azusa, and various other locations in California, New Mexico and New Jersey.

He taught urban design at Woodbury University in Burbank; co-edited the book “Los Angeles: Building the Polycentric Region” a survey of regional smart growth architecture and urbanism published for CNU13; and he created the DeliriousLA listing of LA area architecture and urban design events hosted by the LA Forum for Architecture and Urban Design. Since late 2014, he also serves as one of the Mayor’s appointees on the Pasadena Design Commission.

Deputy Executive Officer – Transportation Architecture, Metro

Practicing at the intersection of imagination and urban settings, Moshik is a passionate advocate for transit and public work to help in the creation of vibrant communities. With 29 years of experience, he has led the vision of award winning projects that balance functional requirements while reflecting the values and aspirations of the places they serve. His expertise extends to a diverse array of projects including streetcars, campus master plans, bridge design, civic buildings and multimodal hubs.

Moshik draws on his critical understanding of the unique challenges in urban settings to synchronize people with infrastructure into accessible, appealing and active spaces. Combined with a drive for sustainability, his buildings take innovative approaches to energy efficiency and healthy work spaces. Moshik’s work has been recognized by national publications as well as the American Institute of Architects and American Council of Engineering Companies, and is the lead architect at LACMTA (Metro).


Faculty Emeritus, Woodbury University

Jay Nickels, Architect and Faculty Emeritus, has a long and illustrious teaching career. This includes teaching in Woodbury’s Architecture program from 1995 until 2015 when he was awarded Faculty Emeritus status. Prior to this, Jay taught at USC from 1979 until 1993. In addition to teaching, Jay served Woodbury University in multiple capacities, including as Assistant Chair of the Department of Architecture for 9 years, as Acting Chair of our San Diego campus, and as Woodbury University Architecture Development and Alumni Relations Officer.

Jay’s professional portfolio is equally distinguished and includes multiple award winning projects as Principal and Director of Design for his own office, Reibsamen Nickels and Rex. Projects by RNR include the University Foundation Administration Building, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, CA; Jackie Robinson Memorial Baseball Stadium, UCLA; and J. D. Morgan Memorial Athletics Center and Hall of Fame, UCLA. As Associate Partner at Honnold, Reibsamen and Rex, Jay was lead designer for the Linder Plaza Office Building tower in Downtown Los Angeles which has been highlighted by the LA Conservancy.

Owner, IR Architects and AVR

Ignacio Rodriguez is a self-made and visually-driven architect with an impressive slate of luxury real estate successes throughout Southern California. His slate spans high-end luxury homes that range from 5,000 square-foot contemporary new-builds to 70,000 square-foot estates that are among the largest houses on the market in America. Since launching his own architecture firm, IRA (Ignacio Rodriguez Architects), at the age of 28, Rodriguez has quickly become a vigorous force in the highly-competitive world of LA luxury residential architecture. Rodriguez places a strong emphasis on collaborating with clients to bring their vision and his designs to fruition by fusing his client-focused approach with a passion for providing functional, yet visually-appealing designs.

Leading IRA to constant advancement and innovation, Rodriguez recently launched AVR, a virtual reality studio offering virtual property inspections for clients, developers and financial institutions to facilitate the development process.

Being a Southern California-native, his work is informed by his deep appreciation and natural understanding of the demographic, climate and distinct design potential in Los Angeles. Rodriguez attended Woodbury University in Burbank, CA and upon completing several years of professional practice, he launched his own company with the intent to create a firm that leads with a client’s vision. Rodriguez’s architecture aspirations began at a young age, leading him to join an architectural program in high school and intern at an architecture firm at 15 years old.

Rodriguez resides in Granada Hills, CA with his wife and three kids. When he’s not busy building someone’s dream home or being a car-enthusiast, you can find him on the local baseball field.

Design Partner, NBBJ

Jonathan has dramatically advanced building design and the experiences they create, leading to unique and unexpected beauty. His body of work—which includes projects for Samsung, Tencent, Microsoft, Alibaba, Reebok, Wellcome Trust, Telenor and UCLA—challenges client expectations and uses a combination of research and intuition to uncover compelling design solutions.

Jonathan has cultivated a learning-based design process. He views each design project as an opportunity to develop a specific idea or point of view focused on generating a true sense of community and connectivity.

Since 1996, Jonathan has worked within the framework of design practice NBBJ, where he currently serves as global design partner. During his tenure at the firm, Jonathan has evolved the practice into one built on a global network of experts with small creative design workshops that deliver insightful, fresh and innovative buildings and experiences.

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