The Estopinal College of Architecture and Planning Executive Advisory Board annually recognizes alumni who demonstrate outstanding professional success or achievement in their field of endeavor. We are pleased to announce this year’s winners.

Watch the video presentation of our winners here.



Ron Fisher, Architecture, ‘79
Throughout his 42-year tenure with Schmidt Associates, Ron Fisher has made a significant impact on countless individuals, communities, and the Midwest. As a people leader and strategic executive, Ron has led the architects, engineers, interior designers, construction professionals, and support staff of Schmidt Associates in becoming one of the region’s best-known and most-respected design teams. As an architect and the Principal-in-Charge, Ron provided leadership on numerous projects across Indiana, making significant contributions to the state’s-built environment. Ron and Schmidt Associates have been long-time supporters of Ball State University and the College of Architecture and Planning. He has served on numerous CAP planning and advisory committees and collaborated as a professional resource for design studios, professional practice classes, and systems classes. He helped initiate the Schmidt Associates Scholarship for CAP architectural students and has supported over 130 CAP student interns at the firm. Several of these interns have returned as permanent staff members.

CAP’s impact on your career 
My career in architecture began at the CAP. This is where I was introduced to a “problem solving process”, critical thinking, user based programming, collaborative design, and community based design. All of this, and much more, established the foundation for my career in architecture. The passion and commitment of everyone in the CAP (faculty, classmates, guest lecturers) about the difference that architecture of quality brings to our world continues to inspire my career. I will always be grateful for the fond memories and foundational experiences provided at the CAP.


Brian Kidd, Architecture, ’85
Brian’s early interest in architecture was expressed in designing and building treehouses in the foothills of San Jose, California. This interest led to a career as a draft person and designer at Muncie Urban Design Studio in Muncie, Indiana. He later relocated to San Jose, California serving as an architectural intern at McClellan & Copenhagen before beginning a professional career at K+CZL Associates as an architectural technician on restoration and renovation projects. Later moving to Chicago where he spent the bulk of his career at Pappageorge Haymes Partners, Brian worked his way up to a partner until recently founding his own firm, KiddArchitects, LLC. in 2021. The common thread running throughout his career and life has been a love of drawing and the power of using this tool to communicate and explore ideas, whether in a digital format, pencil or pen. Brian is thankful for his experiences and the education that he received as well as many of life-long friendships that were started at CAP and Ball State.

CAP’s impact on your career 
CAP was exceptional at providing a balance of design and technical knowledge that prepared students for the realities of the Architecture profession. CAP also helped to nurture critical and creative thinking as well as enhanced a student’s curiosity about how to “decode” buildings to figure out how they work and why. CAP challenged its students to look and think about the world (and the built environment) in a different way.  CAP fostered a camaraderie between students and faculty that developed into lifelong relationships.



Brad Beaubien, Urban Planning, ‘00
Brad’s career as an urban planner has had three distinct phases. The first began as a student, where he became heavily involved with the Community Based Projects program. There, Brad developed a keen interest in community engagement, public education, and applied research. Upon graduation, through a series of interim steps, he came to work as the first full-time staff member of the new CAP Indianapolis Center. Brad grew to become the first full-time Director of the Center, where he added the interdisciplinary Master of Urban Design program. Their work with MUD students focused on supporting a growing momentum for reintroducing rapid transit to our city, supporting community groups seeking to understand potential impact of such a system on the places and people they held closest. Brad’s education at Ball State has taken him beyond his wildest dreams, but more importantly, he believes that it has gaven him the tools to unlock the dreams of the people of our world, our society, our community, and even our profession that have been held back for too long.

CAP’s impact on your career 
My career is defined by the DNA of a CAP education: immersive learning, design thinking, and the interdisciplinary first-year program. The real-world community projects in studio gave me the confidence and tools to design and lead projects with significant community engagement. The design thinking process allows me to rapidly prototype, test, and evolve processes and projects to be more efficient, effective, and impactful. And the focus on interdisciplinary work often positions me at the center of projects because I understand the value of different perspectives and how to translate them and assemble them into an effective team.


Matthew De Geeter, Interior Design, ‘07
At Ball State University, Matthew took the course “Introduction to Interior Design” with Janet Fick and found a professional career. In addition to program work, he took on a position as student assistant & learned to volunteer for leadership opportunities beginning with the student chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and eventually ASID Indiana Chapter.  The value of Matthew’s undergraduate education was exponentially amplified through leadership roles and a professional network. Upon graduation, Matthew was able to leverage his network to connect to firms across the country. His professional career began in healthcare interiors at Perkins & Will. With projects scaling from medical campuses to neighborhood clinics, he experienced how design impacted patients, families, care providers, and staff but also had the potential to influence the community. While at Perkins & Will, Matthew continued to volunteer for ASID moving from chapter to national leadership including chair of the first Emerging Professionals Advisory Council followed by Director-at-Large on the Board of Directors and landed as Vice President of Education and Engagement for the ASID headquarters in Washington DC. Throughout his career, Matthew has relied on the design education that he received at Ball State University.

CAP’s impact on your career 
The community at Ball State University encouraged me to push farther in my education and step up to lead which influenced my career path. I was taught to be curious and stay open to opportunities that would push me outside of my comfort zone. Class projects, student leadership positions, and internships provided me the chance to make mistakes, learn in the moment, and build my confidence that gave me the courage to pursue bigger goals. The backbone of this courage is from the experiences at Ball State University and the professional network built through the relationships with faculty and peers.


Jeffrey Johnson, Architecture, ‘92
After working on critically acclaimed projects for leading international offices, such as Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), Asymptote and Michael Sorkin Studio, Jeffrey founded SLAB architecture, PLLC in 2003 in New York City with Jill Leckner, RA, LEED AP.  SLAB won several awards, and has been exhibited and published internationally in professional and academic publications. They have been awarded four American Institute of Architects (AIA) awards, three in New York City and one in Kentucky. Jeffrey received the American Institute of Architects Presidential Citation Award in 2012 for his work on the 9/11 Memorial and Museum while a Senior Associate Architect at Davis, Brody and Bond Architects. SLAB has been invited to compete in a number of prestigious juried international design competitions and were fortunate to have been selected as a prize winner on four occasions. Their practice prides itself in delivering innovative design solutions to a wide range of projects and clients. Jeffrey has also been interviewed and broadcast by multiple media outlets including CNN, NPR, Monocle Radio, and The Economist Magazine.

CAP’s impact on your career 
Like many freshman that enter the architecture program at CAP at Ball State University, I thought I knew what architecture was. My experience at CAP not only broadened my understanding about what architecture is, but importantly, challenged me to imagine what it could be. CAP also provided me with the opportunity to study abroad and experience new cultures, which gave me the confidence to move abroad to work after graduating and later in my career. CAP equipped me with an essential design foundation that enabled me to have a successful practice and academic career.


Adriann Rhoades, Construction Management, ’07
Throughout her career, Adriann has served in a variety of roles, starting at Turner Construction in 2007 as an estimating engineer, superintendent, and project engineer before returning to Ball State in 2013 to serve as a graduate assistant to Dr. James Jones. Returning to the industry, Adriann served as the lead preconstruction manager for FA Wilhelm on a number of large projects. She then took on one preconstruction assignment that led her to her current role as Director of Planning, Design and Construction at Wabash College. Adriann continues to support and accredit Ball State’s Construction Management program for providing her with a strong foundation that challenged her ways of thinking and expanded her ability to listen, defer judgement and guide groups through situations that involved critical thinking and problem-solving skills.


Adam Thies, Urban Planning, ‘00
A city planner, project developer, consulting firm founder and appointed public official, Adam has spent his entire career designing and growing cities, towns, campuses, and villages, working to create places that are beautiful, fun and financially viable. Adam has played a major leadership role, as Director of Metropolitan Development, in many projects for the city of Indianapolis. He has been the planning, development, and architectural review leader for numerous projects at Indiana University. At home in Bloomington, Indiana, Adam and his wife Anne are parents to four children. A sense of humor, a serious commitment to making projects better and a love of thoughtful and beautiful design are all noteworthy aspects of his personal style.

CAP’s impact on your career 
On the surface, we all want to be known for something.  In the case of the built environment, we often individually want to be known for creating, making, designing something that others call great.  But underneath that, and maybe deeper, is our desire to make things together, to laugh, to love, to be silly, to be awed – with others, not alone.  CAP was always a place about the deeper – the people.  And because of that, the things that have been created because of its educational offerings have been great.  I could not be more thankful for the opportunity to spend years at Ball State and especially at CAP – together with others and not alone.


April Westcott, Landscape Architecture, ‘95
April graduated from Ball State University in 1995 with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture. She worked in design build for six years before working with Irrigation Design Source from 2001-2019. She has also worked on the design teams for the Indianapolis Museum of Art and Citizens Bank Park-Phillies Field, Eskinazi Health Campus as well as master-planning for more than a dozen colleges and universities and more than 30 Indiana high schools. April joined Mark M. Holeman in March 2019 and is currently working with MG Landscape and Irrigation as a Senior Project Manager. As Past-President of the Indiana Chapter of ASLA, April currently serves as the National ASLA Member Services Committee Chair. She received the National ASLA Outstanding Service Award for 2019 given only to two members out of 14,000. In 2020, she received the Claire Bennett Legacy Award for her dedication to her service to the Indiana Chapter. April continues to support CAP by serving on the Executive Advisory Board for Ball State University’s College of Architecture and Planning.

CAP’s impact on your career
CAP was a door opener into a completely new framework of thinking for me. My perspective in the world of design was limited. CAP taught me to see design first in black and white with form and function; then challenged my logic. It increased my world vision and allowed me to see spaces through the eyes of others. CAP’s foundation of integrated teaching and camaraderie validated the importance of collaboration. Every experience was a lesson. I learned to speak well and defend my point-of-view. I discovered that my perspective has merit and its ok to have a niche that becomes an expertise in my field.



Maya Bird-Murphy, Architecture, ‘14
Maya Bird-Murphy is an architectural designer, educator, and maker from Oak Park, Illinois. While working full-time and completing her master’s, she founded Chicago Mobile Makers, a nonprofit organization bringing design-focused skill-building workshops to underrepresented communities. Maya believes that architecture should not be a privilege and must expand to accommodate more people through teaching and community engagement. She loves Chicago and hopes to make her mark by making it a more equitable place to live. In her free time, Maya can be found outside enjoying nature with her two dogs.

CAP’s impact on your career 
I look back fondly on my time at CAP. Not only did I learn all of the skills needed to be successful in the design field, but I learned a lot about myself and what was truly important to me. I went on two summer study abroad trips which uncovered my passion for design and architecture that addresses social and environmental issues. Although days at CAP were often long and challenging, I always knew that I chose the right field of study. My life would likely look a lot different today if I hadn’t chosen CAP.


Ellen Forthofer, Urban Planning, ‘16

Ellen Forthofer is the Urban Planning Manager at Downtown Denver Partnership (DDP). A recent addition to the team in September 2021, she focuses on mobility and land use projects that improve downtown Denver and create strong community, such as the 5280 Trail.

Prior to working at DDP, Ellen was a Senior City Planner with the City and County of Denver Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI). On the Transportation and Mobility Planning team, she was project manager for transit- and bike-supportive infrastructure, planning, and design. She also focused on multimodal neighborhood planning efforts and bus stop improvements. Previously, she worked at Indianapolis’ transit agency (IndyGo), where she led community partnerships and programs such as Food in Transit and the Transit Ambassador Program. She has also worked for the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Indianapolis Metropolitan Planning Organization, and a Nashville-based anti-hunger nonprofit called Community Food Advocates.

Ellen held a national leadership position in the American Planning Association for six years (2014 – 2020), serving as a regional representative, chair, and past chair of the Student Representatives Council, as well as an APA Board Director and contributor to several task forces and committees. Under her leadership, the Student Representatives Council launched the first nationwide student design competition and supported the development and launch of two nationwide initiatives to benefit young professionals: the AICP Candidate Program and a new membership pricing structure. She graduated from Ball State University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Urban Planning and Development and in 2016 with a Master of Urban Design.

CAP’s impact on your career
CAP poured fuel on a spark of curiosity and created a flame that burns to this day. At CAP, I found an environment where I could experiment, observe, learn, create, and share. I discovered new ways of thinking about communities and my role in them. I refined many of the skillsets that I still use today in my career: intersectional systems thinking, communications strategy, public speaking, and problem solving, to name a few. There are few aspects of my career that haven’t been impacted by my experience at CAP.


Yasha Ogg, Interior Design, ‘15
In 2017, shortly after passing the WELL accreditation exam, Yasha was scouted to start a new role within an Architecture firm called emersion DESIGN, focused on Sustainability and Health. As the Sustainability and Healthy Building Designer at emersion DESIGN, he supports and leads project teams through a plethora of sustainability focused rating systems. Yasha also works closely with the company’s executive team to redefine the company’s long-term sustainability goals and commitments. Projects that he has worked on include Enriching Spaces, the first WELL Platinum Office Building in the Midwest, and Bethany School, the first Net Zero Energy School in the Midwest. Yasha feels that it was an honor to guide the project teams through the certification processes for these buildings. Since graduating from Ball State in 2015, he has strived to stay a lifelong learner. Since 2015, Yasha has achieved six health and sustainability related credentials, and he plans to pursue more. He is grateful for his start at Ball State University. Yasha truly believe that the foundation of knowledge he was able to grow at Ball State has led him to where he is today.

CAP’s impact on your career 
My experience as an Interior Design and Construction Management major at Ball State gave me the foundation to thrive in my current role. I explored career fields far beyond the traditional scope of Interior Design. I joined campus clubs and attended sustainability conferences. I was encouraged to incorporate my passion for sustainability into my classwork. Education in interior and construction material selections ignited my growing interest in product selections through the lens of occupant health and environmental impact. After graduation, I was inspired to pursue credentials in Healthy Occupant Design which allowed me to achieve the job I have today.


Bithia Ratnasamy, Urban Planning, ‘12
Bithia recently stepped into a new role on January 4, serving as the Atlanta Housing Authority’s first Director of Housing within the Executive Offices. While no longer in the Mayor’s Office, her focus largely remains on the implementation of the One Atlanta: Housing Affordability Action Plan and a greater goal of building a culture of collaboration between the city and its housing agencies. Bithia’s work has also expanded to include providing leadership and technical assistance on special initiatives that the Real Estate Development, Policy, and Governmental Affairs teams are undertaking. As Bithia defines this role, she is committed to being a leader who is centered in empathy, vulnerability, and kindness.


Adrian Russell, Construction Management, ‘11
Currently, Adrian serves as Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion / Procurement for Shiel Sexton. This was the first full – time position of its kind within the Central Indiana construction market, an appointment which he is incredibly honored that he has been afforded the unique opportunity to continue in such important work and spearheading both internal and external progress so critical to the future of the industry. Adrian has accumulated just shy of ten years of experience in construction operations. He has had a diversified professional background, as he has worked for multiple general contractors of various sizes, as well as subcontractor and minority contractor. Adrian is a proud graduate of Ball State University and humbled by his professional achievements.


Melissa Williams, Architecture, ‘11
Ten years have passed since CAP ushered Melissa into the world of architectural practice, but the foundation that Ball State built was a pivotal first step in her own design approach.

Shortly after receiving her master’s degree in Architecture, Melissa’s career focused on an avenue of architecture where community emphasis is abundant: healthcare. Meeting with stakeholders and navigating the design complexities of healthcare projects quickly led her to focus her efforts on maximizing a project’s human impact. Advocating for good design on behalf of patients and caregivers has been a natural extension of Melissa’s architectural education. It is this same drive that was instilled in Melissa during her years at CAP that led her to open her own architectural practice, Incline Architects. At Incline, the values imparted to her – the inherent service in design, the emphasis on the human aspect of architecture, and the importance of a strong design process – are constantly present because of her attendance at the College of Architecture and Planning at Ball State University.

CAP’s impact on your career
From the beginning of the First Year program, professors at CAP emphasized the power of architecture and planning—both to literally shape a space and also to empower the people who use it. CAP ingrained in me the value of a strong and inclusive design process, leveraging it in a way that builds community while building a community. This foundation that CAP established early in my architectural education has since become not just the framework of my career, but also the cornerstone of my firm’s design philosophy.