On October 26, 2017, the Design Leadership Symposium welcomed Kelly Hensler of Potter Lawson. Kelly received her Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Design from our very own School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin- Madison before completing her Master’s Degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After completing her Master’s Degree, Kelly worked for the London based company, Capita Architecture, where she competed in many design competitions. After Capita Architecture, Kelly returned to the Madison area and worked for Flad Architects. From there, Kelly worked at BWBR, before finally settling in at Potter Lawson, where she has worked for the last four years. Potter Lawson is the oldest architecture firm in the Madison area, prides itself in community involvement, and is responsible for many city and campus landmarks, such as The University Club and the Overture Center for the Arts.
Besides speaking on her professional work, Kelly explained that her dedication to her values, determination to succeed, and drive to help those less fortunate have been the guiding forces in her professional career. Kelly talked about studying abroad and her dedication to herself and her worth as she ran through the streets of London handing out her portfolio to major architecture firms. Kelly then opened up to our class about the daily obstacles she faced while she worked abroad in London. London, at the time, was going through a recession, so she was barely making ends meet. Since she was barely making any money, she lived in a flat where there was hardly any hot water. And although Kelly decided to move back to Madison, her experience working abroad inspired our class to push outside of our comfort zone and to dream big. Kelly’s time abroad showed her determination to make a name for herself, to succeed, and to do so on her own terms.
Kelly believes in helping those less fortunate than herself, has done many service learning trips, and is an active member of the Madison community. This inspired Potter Lawson’s involvement in adding an elevator amongst many other renovations to Kelly’s alma mater, Edgewood High School. After Kelly was diagnosed with MS in her senior year of high school, she was unable to attend three months of school due to the lack of an elevator in the building. Kelly describes the experience of equipping Edgewood High School with an elevator as one of her favorite professional projects and considers the design “full circle.”
Kelly Hensler’s career aspirations and personal values have guided her throughout her professional career, which was an inspiration for all of the students in the class regardless of their major. We want to extend our gratitude to Kelly for sharing her experiences and knowledge with our class.
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