SP 2021 Ethics and Leadership Panel

Spring 2021 Ethics and Leadership Panel

We are pleased to announce our discussion on Indigenous Design with guest panelists

Tamarah Begay, Sam Olbekson, and Julia Mollner

Moderated by Jennifer Asselstine

Wednesday, April 14, 2021






Principal / CEO Indigenous Design Studio + Architecture LLC


 Tamarah is the Founder of Indigenous Design Studio + Architecture (IDS+A), a 100% Native American Woman-Owned architectural and planning firm. Ms. Begay is a member of the Navajo Nation, the first Navajo woman registered architect and has over 15 years of experience working in Native American tribes with connecting culture, language and tradition through design. Tamarah is committed to educating clients on the importance of embracing Indigenous values of design and planning. She is also committed in supporting minorities in particular Native Americans in architecture & planning and related fields, through business opportunities and professional development. Ms. Begay is currently the President of the American Indian Council of Architects + Engineers (AICAE).





Sam Olbekson, AIA, NCARB, NOMA

Principal, Director of Native American Design & Planning, Cuningham


Sam has more than 20 years of experience as an interdisciplinary designer, working successfully with Native American clients on dozens of culturally significant planning and design projects throughout Indian Country. Sam is known as a progressive and inventive design thinker and strives to help communities uncover respectful and innovative approaches to honor tribal culture without relying on stereotypical design clichés.

An enrolled member of the White Earth Band of Minnesota Ojibwe, Sam is one of the few Native Americans practicing both tribal master planning and culturally sensitive architectural design. He brings the unique perspective of a tribal member who grew up in Native communities, both on and off the reservation, with a Master of Architecture in Urban Design from the Harvard Graduate School of Design as well as a Bachelor of Architecture from Cornell University. Sam’s extensive experience working from big picture conceptual visioning down to the smallest construction details of individual buildings allows him to offer comprehensive design guidance based on proven strategies for overall project success.

Sam is an active and committed member of the Native American community. He serves a wide range of non-profit and cultural organizations that build the foundations for successful Native urban and reservation communities. He currently serves as president of the board of directors for the Minneapolis American Indian Center (MAIC); board chairman for the Native American Community Development Institute (NACDI); and board vice president for the American Indian Council of Architects and Engineers (AICAE).





 Julia Mollner, CSI, AIA, LEED Green Associate

Associate, Carleton Hart Architecture


Julia is an Architect at Carleton Hart Architecture whose experience includes single and multi-family affordable housing, renovation projects and master planning. She works in all phases of design from programming to construction administration. Julia’s passion lies at the intersection of community, health, and the collaborative design process. She brings her attention to detail, understanding of sustainable strategies and clear communication style to each project. Julia is highly involved with CSI Portland and The Center for Public Interest Design at Portland State University. Julia loves to run (sometimes with her Labra Dane dog), explore new places, and volunteers with a few local non-profits to support the houseless community. She arrived at Carleton Hart because of the firm’s community-based design approach and interactive communal engagement. Julia is proactive and optimistic about the built environment and its uplifting impact on human mental and physical health.




Jennifer Asselstine, AIA, NOMA

Undergraduate Director, School of Architecture


Jennifer Asselstine is the Undergraduate Director of the School of Architecture at the Academy of Art University since 2012 and has 35 years of experience in architecture and design. She earned her Bachelor of Architecture degree from University of Minnesota, where she received an award from the American Institute of Architects.  She studied at London’s Architectural Association and worked in the U.S., London, Kuala Lumpur and Sydney. She has lead award winning teams in the Design Build Studio and teaches Sustainability and Building Systems, as well as First Year Studio. In her tenure as Director, Jennifer Asselstine has promoted the development of a B.Arch and B.A.degree programs that value diversity, empathy, collaboration, and community-driven design.