Team Member Spotlight: Laura Acevedo-Diaz Whitney

Derivi Castellanos Architects (DCA) is proud to recognize Laura Acevedo-Diaz Whitney for her excellent work and dedication.  Laura was recently promoted to Project Manager and provides leadership for various projects and clients.  

Laura has been in the field of construction and architecture for 33 years, balancing client needs and project demands with charisma. Her combined work experience includes 10 years in Argentina and 23 years in the U.S. For 13 years of her career, Laura owned her own business, working as a consultant, which allowed her the freedom to take on various projects and the flexibility to work from home while raising her children. Laura enjoys being able to provide clients excellent service, resulting in well-designed and well-executed projects. As Project Manager, Laura is in charge of design, production, and construction administration. Currently, she is working on several school modernization projects at Monta Vista High School, Fremont High School, Legette Elementary School, Williams High School, and Mount Eden High School. 

With one side of her family having experience in architecture and the other side with art, becoming an architect was a natural fit for Argentinian Laura. Her initial interest in studying psychology transitioned into architecture, driven by her passion for communication and problem-solving. Laura’s determined work ethic and optimistic learning mentality prove fruitful time and time again. Laura tells me, “I was born brave. I was never afraid of going through the learning process. Knowing I have limitations while knowing I am capable of improvement each day is my ongoing motivation to remain dedicated to the learning process.  It is work I do every single day.” She has found that this is apparent in the way one presents themselves in the world and workforce. Work ethic is evident in self-presentation and respect follows suit, Laura shares. 

Laura studied Latin American Architecture and Urbanism in Argentina and received her Master’s of Architecture, in History and Preservation at the University of Illinois. She described how challenging it was to have a basic understanding of English years ago when studying in Illinois. Laura rapidly grew her understanding of professional terminology in English, rather than common language terms that are helpful when grocery shopping, such as potato, we laugh. Her Master’s thesis project proved that her work holds immense professional merit and shows no sign of language difficulties. 

On being a professional and being a mom, “I was determined to be the one to provide my children with their morals and principles. It is not easy, but it is completely possible to be a professional and do everything needed to be a mother. Having two babies waking up throughout the night, I had a hard time physically, since I’d only sleep a few hours a day.” She recounts memories of having her infant over one shoulder as she furiously answered emails in the middle of the night, and other memories of the kids playing fort under her desk, putting them to bed around 7 pm and then working long into the night. Laura envisions the design of an all-glass home studio office where professional moms like herself can work and engage with children more readily and enjoyably. Working in the field of architecture and construction is a fantastic career for women. Laura elaborates on her work, “It is challenging, creative, rational, and flexible in many different ways. In this field, one is an active listener and empathetic interpreter, translating and manifesting the needs of your clients into quality customer service.”  

Laura tells me how imperative it is to have a sense of belonging at the company where you work, saying that her coworkers and company dynamic at DCA feel like a second home. “Do not ever work somewhere you do not feel comfortable. Work somewhere where you enjoy what you are doing. Where you work makes your life, it can make it happy or sad, and it is important to feel appreciated,” Laura advises. 

Laura Acevedo-Diaz Whitney inspirational quotes:  “I really love what I do,” and “Women make things happen!”

Article by Marisol Alexandria Sanchez, Ocean Sun Media, 19 April 2021.