Laura Kessel Receives LEAP Pipeline Award

Landscape Architect and Planner, Laura Kessel is the recipient of the 2019 LEAP Pipeline Award. The Des Moines Downtown Chamber’s Leadership Advancement Education Pipeline (LEAP) program, recognizes women for their leadership in advancing and empowering women. The Pipeline award specifically recognizes an emerging female professional who demonstrates a clear momentum to initiate change.

As an early member of Iowa Women in Architecture, Laura Kessel led efforts to develop a Best Practices Manual outlining recommendations to support the development and implementation of policies that address work-life balance and career development challenges in order to enhance recruitment, retention and engagement of design firm employees at all career stages. Laura assisted with planning events to study work-life balance and was a leader of the task force that developed action-oriented, research-based recommendations included in the manual. She then accepted the challenge of speaking about the best practices in Iowa and in other states.

In the professional world Laura is a sought-after project manager, facilitator and envelope pusher. She has a keen sense of multiple issues affecting how her generation views the workplace and the community and has presented to the Iowa League of Cities and others on “Building for the Future: Infrastructure for the Next Generation.” This topic provided insights on virtual infrastructure (high speed Internet, community’s online presence, embrace of technology, etc.), physical infrastructure (education, walkability, transportation, land use, housing, etc.) and cultural infrastructure (community uniqueness, social events and places, service opportunities, diversity, etc.) .) Laura remains active in Iowa Women in Architecture and the Iowa chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects and is well recognized for her focus on sustainability issues in design and has developed design standards that have upgraded community aesthetics across Iowa and beyond.

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