Each month, the AIAS highlights the outstanding dedication and accomplishments of one of its members. The Chapter Leader of the Month can be a Chapter President or any member who has shown tremendous leadership.


Dakota McMullen is currently in her second year of graduate studies in the University of Memphis Department of Architecture’s Accelerated Bachelor to Master Degree Program. Her exploration of the world of design and architecture ignited her passion for raising awareness and giving back to the students that peruse architecture. While some may be satisfied with their academic pursuits in the field, Dakota is driven by the love for fostering a successful community, thus, encouraged her to join AIAS in her first year of architecture school. Over time, she recognized the potential to contribute more significantly to the organization, aiming to create opportunities and uplift fellow students through the transformative power of the design community within Memphis. Influenced by mentors in both academia and the professional world, Dakota’s journey with AIAS has been shaped by a desire to play a more prominent role in fostering programs that inspire and connect individuals within the professional realm.
As AIAS Chapter President for the 2023-2024 academic year. Dakota has successfully led a team of 17 board members who share her similar passions on supporting the growth of all architecture students at the University of Memphis and further. The collective efforts of the board have set an unprecedented expectation by allowing members to participate in the decision-making of AIAS programs while also holding a significant role in the execution of events. This was supported by the work of four committees – marketing, development, engagement, and communication – the board’s efforts align with the needs of the members. The committees focus on vital sectors within the organization, demonstrating how the board can truly serve members throughout their architectural journey. Recognizing that community starts at the forefront, the board prioritizes creating an environment that supports academic growth through professional development opportunities provided by and for its members. Communication has proven to play a vital role in fostering inclusivity and collaboration to revive the studio culture. Dakota’s efforts to organize a consistent program throughout the year focused on three principles: mentorship from academic to professional levels; workshops to foster new skills; and lectures by professionals to provide development opportunities and interactions with the professional world. The mentorship series, in particular, offers members a unique change to collaborate with students, faculty, and architects of varying experience levels. For the first in many years, the AiAS Chapter had the opportunity to visit other architecture schools within the immediate area to collaborate with other AIAS Chapters to outreach our efforts along with gaining valuable connections for our members.
The success and numerous opportunities would not have been possible without the support of the longstanding AIAS Faculty Advisor, Michael Hagge. Working alongside Michael has proven crucial to the success of Memphis’s AIAS Chapter over the years. His prominent role in the community has opened doors for collaboration not only within the professional word, but also within Memphis’s AIA Parent Chapter. Collaborative efforts with the AIA Board, such as volunteering and participating in the annual AIA Awards Gala, showcase the active role that AIAS members hold within the parent organization. AIA Memphis uplifts emerging architects in the county’s they represent and has shown many efforts to solidify the AIAS Chapter’s presence to provide ample collaboration opportunities with professionals in the community. Dakota’s impactful role in the AIAS chapter has thrived within the supportive community to provides for. She acknowledges that her efforts wouldn’t be successful without a dedicated team backing her. The aspiration throughout her hear has been to cultivate an organization what will continue to thrive for many years. She looks forward to passing the torch to the incoming president, Katherine Montoya, and is committed to providing support to her endeavors within the organization.