Volunteer collective teams up to help Ukrainian design professionals
According to the United Nations, over six million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded the country on February 24, an act of war that has drawn international condemnation.
Among the people displaced is a large community of design professionals, many of whom have had their lives uprooted by the conflict. To support these individuals and their families, a team of architects based in Boston have formed Hire Ukrainian Designers.
The aptly named collective of volunteer designers is focused on connecting Ukrainian designers with firms based in the US, at a time when small and large firms in Boston and beyond are eagerly seeking new talent.
“Nearly all design professionals in Ukraine are currently without work,” reads the blurb on the collective’s website. “There are no developers, government agencies, or individuals investing either in new work or completing existing projects. Significant numbers of Ukrainian design professionals have been displaced from their homes and find themselves in uncertain conditions.”
The initiative was started by Alina Nazmeeva and John Wagner, MIT Architecture and Harvard GSD graduates based in Boston, and Angelina Stelmakh, an architect displaced from her hometown of Odessa, Ukraine.
“After the Russian invasion in Ukraine started, we were trying to figure out how we could help Ukrainian people besides making individual donations to aid organizations. We were inspired by reading about immense efforts by European professional organizations, which created support programs for Ukrainian design professionals displaced by war. We also saw how little was being done by their American counterparts,” the team, who prefer to be identified as a group, said.
The team reached out to the BSA and were put in contact with SWA Group, a Houston firm that had developed a framework. From there, they sought to reach out to the community. Stelmakh, who fled to Romania, was instrumental in spreading the word and putting out a call for candidates, whom the team began to personally interview.
Five hires have already been made through the program. Although the team has received widespread encouragement and support from the design community, it is encouraging more firms to participate. Throughout the process, the team is able to help with providing legal advice and answering questions.
“Every aspect of the process has been vetted and works in practices from professional offices around the US,” they said. “With the remote work capabilities these past two years have instituted in our practices, we are, like never before as an AEC community, equipped to aid, support and mutually benefit from the talents and skills of Ukrainian architects and design professionals.”
Interested in finding talent for your firm while meaningfully supporting the Ukrainian AEC community? Learn more.