NAIOPWA Celebrates First Recipients of DEI Scholarship

Scholarship Blog

NAIOP Washington State has partnered with University of Washington (UW) to create the NAIOPWA Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI) Scholarship to support women and underrepresented minorities seeking ways to strengthen their place in the CRE industry. This scholarship provides financial aid to students enrolled in UW's Commercial Real Estate Certification Program, an eight-month course that prepares students for a career in CRE by providing insight into best practices and trends and helping them build industry connections. 

Thanks to the support of our 2023 DEI sponsors, NAIOPWA was able to award scholarships to two students, covering 84% of their tuition costs for the 2023-2024 CRE Certificate Program. We’d like to take a moment to recognize our first scholarship recipients: Iok-ian Li and Nicole Li.

Iok-ian LiIok-ian Li is an architect with Olson Kundig working on a variety of projects ranging from single family homes to large villa developments and tech campus masterplans. He is passionate about construction methods and authored a research piece on mass timber. Through the CRE Program, Iok-ian hopes to deepen his understanding of CRE and “open a new path for [his] career.”

 “Our industry is far more complex than designing,” Iok-ian wrote in his scholarship application. “My main goal for attending this program is to gain sophistication in real estate development. With understanding the objectives and metrics, I aim to provide designs that align with client’s interests.”

Born in Taiwan, Iok-ian speaks three languages in addition to English and finds that “being multi-lingual not only broaden horizons, but also taught me how to be open-minded and empathetic toward people with different upbringings.” He is a member of Olson Kundig’s DEI Committee and LGBT group and believes that DEI principals should be ingrained into the design process: “We as an industry are most impactful through the work we do. And that is, the space we develop, design, and build.”

Nicole Li is an architect experienced in commercial development design, most recently for Microsoft’s global corporate space. She is particularly interested in optimizing small spaces, and her research proposal "How People Live Together" was a finalist for AIA's 2020 travel scholarship. 

Nicole Li

Currently with Gensler, she incorporates sustainability and inclusivity goals into her projects. Through the CRE Program, Nicole hopes to not only build her knowledge of the industry, but also develop a network of diverse CRE colleagues and mentors: “I look forward to working with and learning from other commercial real estate professionals and contributing my unique experience to the classroom. I believe the relationships I develop will help me succeed in the Pacific Northwest market.”

Nicole is passionate about working with organizations and committees that drive change, serve the community, and help her grow professionally. She currently serves on Gensler’s DEI Committee, the DEI Board for CREW, AIA Seattle’s Board of Directors, and Downtown Seattle’s Design Review Board. “My motivation for serving on various DEI committees is to increase representation and drive change, so that my daughter will have the opportunities that were never open to my generation of Asian women,” Nicole wrote.

Please join us in congratulating Iok-ian and Nicole and wishing them luck as they complete their certifications!

This scholarship is possible because of the support of our DEI sponsors. Click here for more information on how to become a DEI Sponsor and help fund our 2024 scholarship program.

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