Architect Cynthia Phifer Kracauer announced today that she will retire from her role as executive director of the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation (BWAF). Kracauer has been BWAF’s executive director since 2016. She served on the BWAF Board of Trustees for years prior to serving as executive director.
“Leading the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation is one of the most rewarding opportunities a woman can have, challenging the historically male-dominated construction world and the culture of the architectural profession, while elevating brilliant minds and serious talents represented by women around the world,” Kracauer shared in a statement. “As BWAF’s influence has grown, we’ve been inspired as more organizations nationally have increased their dedication to equity, diversity, and inclusiveness of their firms,” Kracauer added.
The Beverly Willis Architect Foundation was founded in 2002 by its namesake, architect Beverly Willis. As reported by AN, Willis died in October 2023. BWAF’s purpose is elevating women in architecture, engineering, construction, real estate, and allied fields.
Prior to serving as executive director at BWAF, Kracauer practiced as an architect for a number of years before taking on a role as managing director of the AIA New York chapter. There, she is credited with conceiving and developing New York’s Archtober design and architecture festival, now in its twelfth year.
Michele O’Connor, chair of BWAF’s Board of Trustees, commended Kracauer for her years of service starting in 2016. “Cynthia has not only been a visionary leader but also a mentor to many within our organization and beyond. Her legacy of mentorship and creative institutional leadership will be deeply missed, but her impact will continue to resonate. We wish Cynthia all the best in her well-deserved retirement.”
During her tenure as executive director, Kracauer helped secure a permanent headquarters for BWAF in Manhattan, dubbed “The Bev.” She secured major federal and private grants for BWAF including support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Graham Foundation. She helped start New Angle: Voice, a podcast series focusing on social justice and women in architecture, starting in 2021. She also helped establish Pioneering Women of American Architecture, an online compendium.
The Board at BWAF is now leading an executive search to identify a replacement. “Our search for a new executive director offers a significant opportunity for someone who wishes to make a difference,” Kracauer offered.