As 2020 Closes, HKS Celebrates Our People and Teams

As 2020 Closes, HKS Celebrates Our People and Teams


2020 was not the year we expected, yet it was a year in which we learned, we grew, and we adapted. Our firm focused on our core values: relationships, character and purpose. And we emerge from 2020 in a strong position thanks to the persistence, grace and talent of the people who comprise this great firm.

As we conclude the year, I want to recognize and acknowledge a few of the many people who made 2020 remarkable. To celebrate our collaborative all-virtual environment, we honored the following individuals and teams at our Year-End Celebration, which we held on Thursday, December 3.

Individual Awards

The Whole Architect – Karl Gustafson  Chicago

The Whole Architect takes ownership of the entire project to lead all stakeholders to mutual success. A well-rounded thinker, this person owns the project from start-to-finish, collaborates with clients and partners to overcome challenges, lead with knowledge, and deliver results.

Fire in the Belly – Hong Liu – Shanghai; Sarah Woynicz-Sianozecki – Atlanta 

With demonstrated passion and grit, the Fire in the Belly has inner drive to fulfill our strategic pillars. Emotionally invested in projects, there is a fervor and dedication to leading with knowledge, advising with influence, and outcome-driven design.

Unsung Hero – Chris Knell – San Diego

Valuing their purpose, the Unsung Hero makes it happen behind the scenes. The Unsung Hero understands accountability is a non-negotiable and can be counted on to deliver under any circumstance.

Limitless Thinker – Dr. Babak Soleimani – Detroit

More than a project, more than a design, more than a presentation – it’s a way of living. The Limitless Thinker is a lifelong learner who continually unearths new concepts through curiosity and passionately problem solves to influence their world. This person thinks limitlessly and consistently goes above and beyond to serve their clients, partners and colleagues.

The Advocate – Matthew Guinta – Detroit 

The Advocate is HKS’ JEDI award, for an individual who promotes and encourages justice, equity, diversity and inclusion in all they do, moving the needle to a more forward-thinking industry and workplace. This person builds belonging in the firm through empathy, vulnerability, and authenticity to create a psychologically safe space for dialogue.

Team Awards

Selfless Service – MAKE4COVID Los Angeles PPE Team 

  • Christian Behling – LA 
  • Cory Brugger – LA 
  • Kristi Hsiao – LA 
  • Christopher van Leeuwen – LA 
  • Heath May – San Francisco 
  • Manzer Mirkar – LA 
  • Carl Smail – Dallas 
  • Andrew Smith – LA 
  • Diana Tang – LA 
  • James Warton – LA 

A relentless pursuit of influence spurs Selfless Service. Dedicated to a character of integrity and humility, the firm and team’s needs are consistently put above individuals while seamlessly collaborating to get the job done.

Better Together – Dallas Commercial Interiors team 

  • Jayme Schutt 
  • Gracie Andraos 
  • Dannielle Kennedy 
  • Dave Hartman 
  • Jenny Auman 
  • Zach Lynch 
  • Angela Garcia 
  • Michelle Martin 
  • Sheridan Johnston 
  • Minh Nguyen 
  • Zach Weihrich 
  • Kate Davis

Better Together is defined by the team’s investment in meaningful relationships. Whether connecting internally or externally, the team values input and opinions from all angles to define goals that benefit all collaborators or stakeholders.

Light Footprint – Southeast Resiliency Task Force (small), New Shanghai Office LEED Gold + WELL Platinum Project (large)

Southeast Resiliency Task Force 

  • Adam Fox (Orlando) 
  • Marwah Garib (Orlando) 
  • Amanda Rosenfeld (Miami) 
  • Sammy Shams (Atlanta) 
  • Vanessa Vedelago (Orlando) 
  • Amber Wirth (Washington, DC) 

New Shanghai Office LEED Gold + WELL Platinum Project

  • Johnny Chen
  • Haidy Lu
  • White Wang
  • Joyce Shao

The Light Footprint considers the impact of their work on people and the planet. This team embodies our responsible design philosophy, is dedicated to sustainability with a dissatisfaction for the status quo, and shares their knowledge with others, empowering other teams and clients to buy-in to their vision of a healthier project and planet.