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Session 7B
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diversity and design: What comes Next?

Four years ago, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) inaugurated the Diversity Summit, an initiative focused on bringing together Hispanic and African American emerging professionals to establish strategies for addressing diversity in landscape architecture. Landscape Architecture has seen significant attrition of specific minority groups with African Americans and Latinos accounting for less than 10 percent of graduating landscape architects in 2015.  These demographics fail to reflect those of the wider U.S. population which according to U.S. Census data it is projected that minorities will constitute 57 percent by 2060. To remain relevant as a profession and to the country’s increasingly diverse communities, landscape architecture must respond to the need for a more culturally and ethnically diverse profession.

Each panelist will provide their personal perspectives on the topic and address what comes next with diversity and design.  A panelist question and answer session will follow the presentations.


Melissa Henao-Robledo

Melissa Henao-Robledo is the Landscape Forms Business Development Representative for Austin and San Antonio, Texas and she holds a Master of Landscape Architecture from North Carolina State University. She currently serves on the City of Austin Design Commission which provides advisory recommendations to the City Council to assist in developing public policy and to promote excellence in the design and development of the urban environment Melissa practiced landscape architecture for eight years in Austin, Texas before joining Landscape Forms, an industry leader in design and manufacture of site furniture, outdoor LED lighting and custom site elements.  Melissa’s passion for landscape architecture inspired her to teach in the Landscape Design and Horticulture Continuing Education Program at Austin Community College for several years.  


Diana is a practitioner in landscape architecture at Sasaki Associates. Diana’s work ranges from public parks and plazas to institutional landscapes, including recent work at the Port of Los Angeles and Carnegie Mellon University. She is passionate about creative placing making, community engagement, social equity and sustainable urban design. Diana received a bachelor’s degree from Temple University, and served as a guest critic and lecturer for Pennsylvania State University and Temple University. Diana's work received numerous ASLA awards, including a national award of excellence in communications, and an honor award in analysis and planning.



As Founding Principal of Asakura Robinson Company, Keiji Asakura holds over 37 years’ experience in urban design, landscape architecture, and community planning throughout the US and internationally. In his highly regarded practice, he has master planned and designed beautiful and functional spaces in a variety of settings, from park and recreation destinations to streetscapes, educational facilities, and affordable housing. Keiji provides a holistic and context-sensitive approach that considers both the aesthetics and function of a plan or design, which allows for opportunities of enhanced mobility, connectivity, community health, and social interaction, while respecting the historic and cultural heritage of a site. Keiji is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Council of Fellows and is the recipient of numerous high honors including the 2011 ASLA Distinguished Member Award, the 2009 President’s Call for Service Award, and the 2005 City of Houston Mayor’s Proud Partner Award for Distinguished Service.



As a Principal with over 24 years of experience, Kona Gray has been involved in many planning, landscape architectural and urban design projects, ranging from large-scale master planning to detail site design with emphasis on community planning, hospitality, urban waterfronts, parks, healthcare and campus planning since he joined EDSA in 1997. Blending sensitivity and context with a passion for creative design solutions is paramount to his approach. Kona has a keen ability to translate a client’s vision to create places with purpose, priorities and physical presence. He consistently takes into consideration such factors as site heritage, history, community interface, implementation strategies and each properties unique cultural, physical and environmental characteristic.