The Builders and the Doers: The School of Architecture and Planning Celebrates Staff during its Women’s History Month

Edited by Samina Raja

Published March 31, 2021


This Women’s History Month the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo celebrates the professionalism, drive, hard work, and contributions of its professional staff. Staff execute a complex breadth of activities in higher education that is not always visible to the outside world. Indeed, staff are reluctant to draw attention to their own work, working behind the scenes and ensuring that students and faculty can do what they do best.  We invite you to learn about a few of our outstanding staff, and what inspires and motivates them. Kudos to all the builders and the doers.

Barbara Carlson, Research Administrator

Barbara Carlson.

Meet Barbara Carlson: Barbara Carlson finds it difficult to talk about herself because she views herself as someone ‘behind-the-scenes. She describes herself as the webbed feet of a swan. “The people with whom I work are the graceful-moving swan above the water, while I am pushing and paddling beneath the surface to keep them moving smoothly forward. This behind-the-scenes effort is what I do best.” Barbara has held varied staff roles in the school, most recently as the Research Administrator for the school. In this role, she provides pre- and post-award support to faculty working on sponsored projects. She also executes capacity building and training programs to ensure that the school community has the tools and information it needs to execute its research activities. 

Barbara shares who inspires her: “Several women come to mind who have given me inspiration over my professional career. At the top of the list, however, would be Dr. Samina Raja. She is always very gracious in the way in which she deals with people, her passion for improving the quality of life for everyone, and her mentoring abilities to students, faculty, and staff in the school.”

Christy Krawczyk, Academic Advisor

Christy Krawczyk.

Meet Christy Krawczyk: An undergraduate advisor in the School of Architecture and Planning, Christy Krawczyk is a true Buffalonian. Born and raised in Western New York, she absolutely loves it here! Many of the values that she cherishes are embedded into the culture of Western New York, specifically the community support! Friends and family are of the utmost importance to her, and she has a tight and supportive network of loved ones. She has always enjoyed service work and has been involved with different non-profit organizations over the years. Her favorite experience was being a “big sister” to a ten year old boy who lived on the East side of Buffalo. She also greatly enjoyed being in the Americorps NCCC because of which she lived, traveled, and completed service projects in three different states in the southwestern United States.  She views finishing the Americorps NCCC program and graduating from the Higher Education Administration Master’s Program at UB as her greatest accomplishments. She notes that both “experiences tested [her] limits to the highest degree and the satisfaction of pushing through and not giving up”. She brings her spirit of perseverance to her work in the school, encouraging our students to do their very best.

Christy shares who inspires her: “Two women that I look up to are Carrie Fisher and Demi Lovato for their work in the de-stigmatization of mental health issues.  Carrie, most commonly known for her role in Star Wars, was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in her mid-twenties and spoke publicly about her battle throughout her entire lifetime including an “Ask Carrie” column in a public newspaper. Demi Lovato uses her status as a famous pop singer to address mental health and addiction issues which she also struggles with. She is the leader of the “Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health'' initiative which aims to demystify mental illness and end its stigma. Mental illness is such a prevalent issue in the world today and I think it is one of most important problems we need to tackle. Speaking out and normalizing these struggles are crucial steps in removing the stigma and I commend Carrie and Demi for using their elevated platforms to do so.”  

Rose Orcutt, Architecture and Planning Librarian

Rose Orcutt.

Meet Rose Orcutt: Rose Orcutt's history and upbringing shapes the person and the outstanding professional she is today. A much sought librarian with the School of Architecture and Planning, Rose is the daughter of WWII refugees who immigrated to the United States. Although her parents were born in Germany, they have always identified as being Polish. Her Polish grandparents were forced into work camps in Germany during WWII. This experience was for both sides of her family -- both her paternal and maternal grandparents were transplanted to Germany to work in farm camps.  Her parents migrated to the US when they were young but did not meet until they were older. She grew up speaking Polish in her household and her grandparents carried with them the traditions they were raised with in Poland. They grew a lot of their own food and raised animals to consume. She became a vegetarian at an early age and then recently became vegan. Having a different home life and background from others made her aware of the differences in what life presents - the nuances of families and cultures. She views herself as being fortunate in that she was raised and  surrounded by strong women throughout her academic career and even now in this phase of her life. She was the first in her family to attend college and has never stopped wanting to learn and grow which is why she enjoys being a librarian. She notes that one of the perks of being an architecture librarian is the ability to attend lectures presented by the School. She thoroughly enjoys attending the presentations and lectures which empower her to understand the built environment and role it plays in society. Indeed, she shares what she learns with those around her -- faculty and students value her outstanding, consistent and cheerful support in their path to discovery.

Rose shares who inspires her: “When I took over as the Architecture & Planning Librarian from Dorothy Tao, I felt a little out of my comfort zone. I was new to being a liaison librarian because previously I worked part time in the Libraries Communications Office. I joined the ARLIS/NA Upstate New York chapter because I knew I needed to connect with other architecture Librarians. That is when I met Barbara Opar. The meeting was at Syracuse University, where she had been a librarian for over three decades and it was evident from that first meeting that she knew her collection and faculty extremely well. I knew then that she was someone I wanted to have mentor me. Barbara is very dedicated to the librarian profession. Not only is she active in all of the conferences but she participates in presentations and is on committees - despite the fact that she no longer needs to because she has already reached a permanent appointment. Over the years, I have learned a great deal from her as an architecture librarian and consider her a close friend. She has guided and helped me through many decisions in my professional life. A highlight of my career was when someone of Barbara’s esteemed character nominated me to be vice president/ president elect of the ARLIS/NY Upstate chapter and vice president/president elect of the national architecture librarians’ chapter, Association of Architecture School Librarians (AASL). Both positions helped me to become a better architecture librarian and created a deeper relationship with other architecture librarians.”

Lindsay Romano, Fabrication Director

Lindsay Romano.

Meet Lindsay Romano: An architect by training, Lindsay Romano began work in the school as a student assistant while still in her undergraduate program. As a UB student she worked in a myriad positions supporting faculty and staff in printing, workshop, technology, and related projects. Not one to be fazed by challenges, Lindsay assisted on any work that was thrown her way. She recalls her experience as a student assistant with gusto: “I liked all of it! It was easier to gain perspective because I was doing everything -- I saw everything as a student and saw other people’s projects and prints.” She brings her perspective as an alum in helping current students gain the tools they need to realize their imagination. The shop is where students' imagination comes to life -- and Lindsay makes sure that they are supported in their creative journey of self-discovery. 

Lindsay’s presence in the shop sometimes surprises visitors to UB -- some are not accustomed to a woman directing the enterprise that is the Fab Lab. From her vantage, she doesn’t dwell on her gender --  working with her hands and tools has been a lifelong joy, an outlet she says for her brain to be creative and express herself. And, we know she models this joy for students as they experiment with bringing their ideas into form. 

Lindsay shares who inspires her: “I'm inspired by people who don’t stop; people who see a goal and set themselves on a path to get them there.”  She rattles off a list of women who inspire her. Oprah Winfrey, who talked about “equality before it was a hot topic;” Mckenzie Scott, a creative writer who few people know, helped Amazon become what it did; she helped the founder of Amazon (her partner) broker deals and build the company, and is using her wealth for good (not losing sight for what was important to them). Within the school, Lindsay points to strong and successful women role models, including Professors Lynda Schneekloth and Beth Tauke, who also created a supportive environment for her (and other women). 

Rachel Teaman, Assistant Dean for Communications

Rachel Teaman.

Meet Rachel Teaman: Rachel Teaman is the storyteller for the School of Architecture and Planning. She observes carefully and listens deeply as faculty, staff, and students go about their daily work. She curates ideas and lifts them up for the broader world. Not surprisingly, few know her. The School’s Assistant Dean of Communications, Rachel trained in journalism and covered architecture and real estate for a business newspaper in Baltimore, MD., before returning to Buffalo to join UB in 2002. As fortune would have it, she would continue her exploration of urban planning, development and design through storytelling as head of communications for the UB Regional Institute, a research center focusing on public scholarship and policy for regional planning and development. Her role expanded in 2012 when she took a leadership role shepherding the communications for the entire School of Architecture and Planning. Rachel finds inspiration daily from the passion and dedication the School’s faculty, staff and students bring to their work every day. She enjoys exploring Buffalo off the beaten path and getting “lost” in her own city and region. Her children, Frances and Benjamin, bring magic to her world every day.  

Rachel shares who inspires her: "I am inspired by women who assert themselves and find strength in their femininity, not victimhood," says Rachel. She notes one such woman is Rupi Kaur, a poet who at age 21 self-published her first collection of poems after countless professors told her she was too young and that her work would not be accepted. Instead, she found a way to be heard. Her collections have sold over 8 million copies and have been translated into over 42 languages. "Rupi bares her soul in her writing, with raw verse that touches upon the themes of love, loss, trauma, healing and femininity," Rachel says. "In revealing her journey through loss and pain, she gives me the courage to fight through my struggle with depression and to see power in femininity in a world that can oppress and stifle it. Rupi sends a message to all women to open yourself without fear. Show up, stand up, speak up."