Reflections on 2023

DesignGroup leadership shares their thoughts as the firm’s 51st year draws to an end.


One of the things we love about the Big Ideas articles on our website: It allows our people to show another side of themselves. Writing is never easy and yet, year in and year out, our people share their expertise, their interests, and their heart. These articles often show just how personal the work we do can be.

In that spirit, our final post of 2023 is a little different. Instead of a single writer, we asked several of DesignGroup’s leaders to share their thoughts on anything from the past year, from project work to individual interests. We’re proud of what they have to say—and proud to work with them every day.


“As we wrap up 2023, one shining moment stands out—the launch of DG's Mentorship Program. Imagine a world still spinning in the VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity) environment, with remote work throwing curveballs, and yet there we were, seeking our footing amid uncertainty. In the face of these changes, our innate human craving for connection and community not only persisted but intensified. The Mentorship Program wasn't just a program; it was a lifeline. Acknowledging its pilot status, we knew adjustments would be necessary, and kudos to our leadership for investing time and resources into its success.

"As we delve into survey data bidding adieu to 2023, the triumph isn't merely in the numbers. It's in the vibrant hum of conversations echoing through virtual spaces and hallways, the unexpected connections blossoming between offices, and the sheer joy of generations and cultures converging, creating an environment rich in belonging and learning. The data doesn't just confirm a successful mentorship program; it validates a vibe, a community in the making.

"So let's raise a toast to the Mentorship Program—the unsung hero that transformed the year into an epic tale of connection, inclusivity, and the cultivation of a robust sense of community within our organization. Here's to more in 2024!"

Veneetha Jose, SPHR, PHR
Director of Human Resources


Mentorship Program



“This year I focused on integrating ‘Slow Living’ principles into my work life. As DesignGroup’s Education Market Leader, I travel quite a bit, and this year one trip took me to Bradford, PA. While the work we did with our client there was itself invigorating, the five-hour drives to get there were not always so. However, each trip to Bradford offered the opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the Allegheny Forest region in which Bradford is nestled. I relished these moments and protected the time to slow down and connect to nature in my travels, a practice that exposed me to new places like the Marilla Reservoir and the North Country Trail, and even yielded a close encounter with a giant golden eagle! This act of slowing down not only allowed me to create a deeper connection with myself and with nature, but also yielded a more impactful relationship with my clients.”

Ben Niebauer, RA, LEED AP BD+C
Associate Principal + Education Market Leader


“As I stop for a moment to reflect on 2023, it feels like the year flew by in a blur and I am surprised that it’s almost over, wondering where the time went! When I close my eyes in concentration to shut out the noise, certain moments start to come into focus… and then several more spring to life, bursting like popcorn.

"There are images of my kitties cuddled together or next to me, their little bellies to the sky in total trust and comfort, one paw covering their face. Walks on the beach with my husband or through the woods with my friends and family on weekend getaways. Project openings like the OSUWMC James Outpatient Care and the Directions for Youth and Families Crittenton Community Center filled me with awe and wonder for the impact they’ll have on our community and for the people I worked with throughout the process doing that amazing work. Laughter, joy, loss, and moments of sadness come along with this reflection. Yet what rises to the top as I open my eyes: curiosity and feelings of hope for what 2024 brings. I smile thinking back and looking forward to all that touched my life and heart—and am excited for those encounters and adventures yet to come!"

Alana Haslow, LEED AP ID+C
Principal, Senior Interior Designer


OSUWMC James Outpatient Care
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center James Outpatient Care



“If 2023 were a movie (and because it’s celebrating its 20th anniversary), it was a little like “Love Actually”—a year filled with a plethora of successes and challenges alike. From big project wins to some difficult losses, we saw our people recognized on a regional and national level for their talents and gritty determination. Through each of those situations, we grew and became a stronger team. We used the challenges we faced as learning and growing opportunities to be stronger, to build new relationships and new friends, and find new pathways for success. As the movie says, love is all around us as we rededicate ourselves to our craft and the typology of healthcare for 2024.”

Christopher Haedt, AIA, NCARB, ACHA, LEED AP BD+C
Principal, Columbus Healthcare Practice Group Leader


“What I love most about being an architect is delivering projects that influence lives. Two experiences from 2023 struck this chord in me, filled me with joy, and made me so proud of the thoughtful work of my talented colleagues.

“The new facility for Directions for Youth and Families rooted a place in the hearts of many of my DesignGroup colleagues. Although I was not on the project team, touring the building felt like living the promise of our profession. In particular, the two art installations created under the direction of Alana Haslow are stand-out pieces that bring added life to the spaces in which they reside, evoke feelings of overwhelming positivity, and reflect the love and care that define Alana and the core values of DG.

“The other experience I want to share is watching the James Outpatient Care Center become populated with staff and patients. We don’t often get as close a look of how a building transforms from a construction site to beautiful space as I was afforded. I was witness to the vitally important patient experience, from being greeted in a sun-filled lobby by warm wood tones and smiling faces, to an infusion treatment in a room with a view. The facility reflected the promise of world-class healthcare. It really did work as a place to get and be well."

Jennifer Son, AIA
Associate Principal, Project Architect


Directions for Youth and Families Crittenton Community Center
Directions for Youth and Families Crittenton Community Center



“The highlight for me this year was seeing the Directions for Youth and Families Crittenton Community Center open its doors. The project is so meaningful for the community; it serves and represents a decade of focused hard work by the organization’s amazing leadership. And it was an incredibly rewarding experience to design it. Working on that project also highlighted a broader theme for the year—how nice it is to work every day with smart, passionate people who truly want to do great things for the people and communities we serve. The Crittenton Community Center team exemplified this, but I had the privilege of working with so many great teams around the office, across markets and practice groups, throughout the year.”

Joseph Mayer, AIA, NCARB, WELL AP
Principal, Senior Designer


“When I look back at 2023, I am so proud of the collaboration with our clients, engineering, and construction partners. It has been a pleasure navigating challenges together, learning from each other, and achieving common goals. Clients in all markets have felt the competitive pressures of people and resources in 2023. As architects we play a role in helping our clients make the right strategic investment of their always-limited capital.

“I’m especially proud of the diversity of DG associates that have presented at national conferences, a testament to their leadership, foresight, and passion. In addition, we celebrated the 11th year of hosting a national think tank for healthcare space in our offices to inform and challenge our clients and team. 

“As a fourth-generation leader within such a respected firm, I’ve been reflecting on a special event earlier this year, when DesignGroup’s founding principals visited the job site of what is now the largest project our company has been a part of—the new OSU Wexner Medical Center Inpatient Hospital. We have come full circle to see their foresight continuing to influence us as we evolve with an ever-changing business landscape, while staying true to our core values and aspirations.”

Jennifer Horvath
President + Managing Principal


OSUWMC Inpatient Hospital
The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center Inpatient Hospital



“This is the perfect moment to reflect on my first full calendar year at DG, and there is so much to be thankful for. First, to my PG4 team: I am so proud of the work you’ve all done, stretching yourselves, pushing and supporting each other, exploring new professional territory and roles, and for your guidance to help me understand and reflect DG in the initiatives we accept together. To the DG leadership team, thank you for making such a safe and welcoming space to learn about the firm, gain comfort with our systems and for openly receiving my thoughts and ideas with genuine interest. 

“On a more personal note, it’s been such a powerful and vulnerable journey to pivot my career to DesignGroup after the continuity and momentum of more than 25 years with a global design firm. To decouple my professional brand from the past and reassemble and reestablish a refreshed career with all of you. As you might imagine, it's exciting, rewarding, and energizing, while at the same time, unsettling, challenging, and at times uncertain. What I’ve gained most this year is the deepest respect for each of our staff and a desire to continue the journey together. I look forward to our growth and success in the years to come!”    

Alan Schlossberg, AIA LEED AP
Principal + Regional Practice Leader


“The most gratifying aspect of the year was the opportunity to work with such a talented, committed, and diverse team. From engagement with leadership and staff alike, our team members brought thoughtful insight and a genuine interest to decisions that strengthened our futures together, both personally and professionally.  

“With the guidance of Veneetha Jose, in 2023 we embarked on two critical initiatives in support of firm growth: our Mentorship Program and EDI Committee formalization. These initiatives exemplify the commitment to our firm growth, the support and respect we encourage to each of our fellow team members, and the reliance of all team members to serve as integral components of this growth. It is extremely satisfying that our path forward together has never been as supportive or inclusive for all of our team members.”

Tom Chidlow, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
Managing Principal, Pittsburgh Healthcare Practice Group Leader


“2023 saw a few of our projects through to construction completion, as well as the start of several new planning studies for our institutional partners. There’s a poignancy in the balance of wrapping one thing up while, at the same, envisioning a new future space for another project and partner. This year was also my presidency year for AIA Pittsburgh, providing new professional challenges for me and opening many new doors. This chapter is coming to a close, but there is still more I want to do in this effort of community building. There will be more opportunities to come.”

John Ryan, AIA, LEED AP
Associate Principal, Project Manager


University of Pittsburgh University Club Housing
University of Pittsburgh University Club Housing



“2023 allowed for the continued development of client relationships that have been so important to our Pittsburgh Office. But if I had to single out one thing that allowed for my personal development, it would be the work on the Project Manager Role clarity, specifically the PM Clarity tool Mike Forejt and I have been developing over the course of 2023. This exercise afforded us an opportunity to dig deeper into the Project Manager Role and truly appreciate the depths that our position requires. Work like this isn’t the highest-profile thing we do at DesignGroup, but it’s essential to our client success. And that’s always what’s most important.”

Thomas Stanko, AIA, ACHA
Associate Principal, Project Manager


“Last year was DesignGroup’s 50th Anniversary. This year was my 25th working at DesignGroup. I’ve done a lot of reflecting in the past two years, and my brain and my heart are full of so much gratitude, pride, memories of extraordinary accomplishments, and work yet to be done. For brevity, however, I would summarize all these thoughts this way:  Even better days are in front of us. I am fortunate to work with the most talented professionals in the business and a team of leaders that has the creativity, passion, skill, and ambition to take DG exactly where we want to go. In the spirit of the season, cheers to a future that is merry and bright!”

Sherm Moreland, AIA, ACHA, LEED AP BD+C