Q&A with Erika Moody, IIDA Mid-America’s Vision Award Winner + 2017 Class of KCBJ Women Who Mean Business
In addition to recently being selected for the Kansas City Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business 2017 class, Helix principal Erika Moody was honored with the Vision Award at Thursday night’s International Interior Design Association (IIDA) Mid America ELEVATE Awards. The Vision Award is the highest award given to an individual who exemplifies notable qualities in leadership, design, and mentorship.
As a principal and owner at Helix, Erika leads the firm’s corporate workplace practice, which includes top Kansas City employers such as Cerner, DEG, Blue KC, McCownGordon Construction, and Olsson Associates. In addition to her role within the workplace practice, she oversees key aspects of practice management, including strategic direction and planning as well as attracting top talent to the firm.
As an active member of Kansas City’s civic and philanthropic community, Erika’s leadership extends beyond the firm. She is a 2009 graduate of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Centurions Leadership Program and served as the president of the Kansas City chapter of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). Having a strong belief in supporting the education of designers and architects, Erika has served on the Board of Interior Design at the University of Arkansas and on the Board of Interior Architecture at Kansas State University, her alma mater. She has also served three consecutive terms of the Board of Directors for Synergy Services, an organization she was introduced to while working on their Synergy House and Youth Resiliency Center.
We asked Erika to share a bit more on her role as a leader in our firm, the design industry and throughout the Kansas City community:
Goal as a firm leader
“I don’t just want Helix to be a great place to work, I want it to be the best place to work. It’s been a priority of mine to create an environment for our team members, both women and men, that offers flexibility for different stages of life. Our industry loses a lot of talent because we haven’t historically made it easy for people to juggle work and family. I want to provide a framework for all of our team members to feel successful, valued and proud of their role at work and at home. At Helix we’ve made it a priority to tailor roles to each team member’s individual needs. We’re lucky that our size and tight-knit management team allows us to do that.
Biggest career accomplishment to date
“Starting Blackbird Design Studio was one of the most challenging but rewarding experiences of my career. I left the security of an established firm where I was a principal to create a successful venture that tripled in size over three years. While growing Blackbird, we completed notable projects, like Corrigan Station, Synergy Services Children’s Center and Olsson Associate’s corporate headquarters. Our quality work helped us draw the admiration and attention of a firm with whom we ultimately merged with, Helix Architecture + Design. Building Blackbird not only shaped the course of my career, but also taught me a lot about how businesses work. Starting a business from the ground-up is no easy feat, but one of which I’m incredibly proud.”
Community organization she’s passionate about
“Approximately eight years ago, I began working with Synergy Services. This incredible non-profit organization helps victims of family violence find the safety, support, strength and skills needed to change their lives. In our first project for Synergy House and the Youth Resiliency Center, we were able to double bed capacity and improve an existing facility, bringing it up to a new standard. I developed such a deep connection with the organization that I joined the board after our first project completed and have remained involved with Synergy ever since. We had the opportunity to work with them again on the newly completed Children’s Center, which included the renovation of a 100-year-old farmhouse and addition of a new building. The project allowed them to expand their programming and double the number of children they can serve.”
“As an owner with Helix, I have been a champion for diversity and am extremely proud that our firm currently has a balance of seventeen women to thirteen men. In an industry where many women leave once they’ve had children we have created an environment that offers flexibility and mentorship to help them create a path that allows them to balance work and family commitments.”
“Also, as president of the International Interior Design Association (IIDA), I helped to bolster our mentorship program, building networks among members. In the past, more experienced professionals phased out of the organization, leaving those who were just beginning their careers to make up the majority of the group. To mitigate this, we created a “principal roundtable” event and developed a new mentorship program. In fact, I am currently mentoring two, female designers from IIDA this year.”
You can read more about Erika’s “advice to her younger self” and the “philosophy she lives” by in this feature article from the Kansas City Business Journal.