#MentorMonday: Jermaine Ruffin

Welcome to #MentorMonday! Mondays are dedicated to celebrating Black LICENSED Architects, Designers, and individuals in the profession of Architecture!

The questions asked to these individuals are to allow us into their lives and to be used as an inspiration. I hope you all enjoy this series.

Name: Jermaine Ruffin

Hometown: Canton, Ohio

What/who sparked your interest in Architecture and Planning and when?

My initial interest in Urban Planning came from trying to better understand why the conditions I grew up in were so pervasive. So I started reading and investigating how I could make a difference. Urban Planning had all of the tools I felt I needed to be able to change things in my city or cities that looked like mine.

What does it mean to be a black planner to you? Do you feel that you have more responsibility?

It means I have a responsibility to ensure I am a walking/talking representation of never forgetting where I come from and being intentional about opening doors and spaces up to people who traditionally don’t have access.


What are some obstacles you’ve experienced or currently experiencing as a black planner/designer?

I think the biggest obstacle is often being looked at as being THE voice of Black people when it comes to Urban Planning questions in professional spaces. I am conscious to the fact that I am only a voice and that my responsibility is to be clear to that and facilitate ways for other voices of color to be present in conversation about space.

Should we ignore race in this profession?

No we should not. Society as a whole consists of races/cultures that have different and valuable perspectives to contribute. If we are not being intentional in our efforts to include those voices, then we are being intentional in silencing those voices. Which is the absolute wrong thing to do as an Urban Planner.

If you could give advice to a black student in Architecture /Urban Planning school right now, what would it be?

I would encourage black students to make sure they seek out mentorship and to choose courses that sharpen skills you may have gained through lived experience.

Describe a moment you were at your lowest on your pursuit to licensure and how did you overcome it?

How important is representation?

Representation is extremely important. Clients and future urban planners and architects need to see folks that look like them in position to lead real and effective change.

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