CEO Mel Price Interviewed for Authority Magazine

WPA co-founder and CEO Mel Price was recently interviewed for Authority Magazine’s series on “successful rulebreakers.” The in-depth conversation covers the experiences and ideas that helped shape WPA at its founding, some of the challenges she and cofounder Thom White have faced in the 14 years since, and the principles that guide the firm as it works to build more resilient communities.

Mel also shared these five strategies that helped the firm succeed while doing things differently: 

  1. Know Your Mission and Core Values — The mission and core values that we set for the company in our business plan still hold true today. The vision is something that we are constantly refining with our whole team as we grow together. Without taking the time to set a clear mission and core values, we would not have had a framework for making so many key decisions about what work to take on, who our clients would be, and who would be a great fit for our team.
  2. Be Transparent — The more we share what we know and what we don’t know with others, the more that honesty and transparency pays off. Be clear about what you know, what you have a hunch about but are just testing out in search of an answer, and what you don’t know and need help with. It’s incredible how many people and experts will come to your aid when you are open about needing a little advice.
  3. Listen — Every time I’m faced with a person who is behaving in a way that is challenging, I try to put myself in their shoes and imagine things from their perspective. If I don’t have the lived experience to do this, I ask them to have a conversation with me and I try to focus on asking questions and listening. Once someone can see that you care, there are few problems you can’t solve together.
  4. Trust Yourself — In the early days of my career (and sometime still today), I was often told that I was “too nice” and that people doubted my ability to get things done because of this. After receiving this backhanded compliment a number of times, I looked back and realized that I had prevailed in nearly every situation and I did so without breaking people and organizations. My method admittedly takes more time, but it brings people along with me, and I believe there’s power in that. I trust myself to get things done my way, and I thankfully had the confidence to keep working in a way that was successful for me. I now work hard to help my team develop their self-confidence and a way of working that is authentic to them. There are many ways to accomplish great things.
  5. Follow Through — If you say you are going to do something, do it. I’ve seen more trust built and broken on follow-through and implementation. Trust takes a long time to earn, and a short time to break. Once lost, it takes even longer to earn again. If you dream about being a leader, start by writing down what you commit to, and checking it off your list. You will be recognized by your peers and by leadership in no time.

Read the full interview with Chad Silverstein here.

Work Program Architects Names Two New Principals, Updates Staff Titles for Future Growth

Norfolk, Virginia, May 3, 2024 — The principals of Work Program Architects are excited to announce a number of changes to staff titles and roles that position the firm for future growth, including naming architects Erin Agdinaoay and Sam Bowling as associate principals. Agdinaoay and Bowling will join co-founders Mel Price and Thom White in leading the firm. 

In addition to Agdinaoay and Bowling, three other long-time team members have received new titles and responsibilities. 

Stacey Crawshaw has been named marketing director and will collaborate closely with WPA’s urban designers, architects, interior designers and graphic designers while continuing to play a pivotal role in brand development, graphics and print design. Sharon Manana has been named director of community engagement and will facilitate productive discussions with diverse groups and individuals impacted by WPA projects. John Stephens has been named director of operations and will oversee the firm’s daily operations, monitoring project progress and managing staff workloads to ensure timely completion. 

We have been growing as a firm and our staff has been making the adjustments and sacrifices to deliver success for our clients” says CEO Price. “These new titles are both a recognition of the work that this amazing team is already doing and a necessary step to assure that WPA will continue its work to build more resilient communities well into the future.

Since its founding in 2010, WPA has contributed to numerous projects that address social,  economic, and coastal resilience in Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, along with other communities in Virginia and North Carolina. Its current projects include the Ryan Resilience Lab for the Elizabeth River Project, the Perry Glass Studio at the Chrysler Museum of Art and the new Science Building for Norfolk State University.

WPA CEO and Co-founder Mel Price Receives Prestigious AIA Fellowship

NORFOLK, Virginia (April 5, 2024) — Mel Price, co-founder and principal at Work Program Architects, has been named to the College of Fellows by the American Institute of Architects. 

The fellowship is the highest membership honor for the organization and is bestowed on those who have demonstrated “exceptional work and contributions to architecture and society.” 

“It is a great honor to be recognized by the AIA,” Price said, “but this fellowship is also a great responsibility. I will use this opportunity to share what I have learned with my peers, to learn from them and, most importantly, to ensure that the profession grows and adapts with the next generation of architects so that we may continue to positively impact society.”

The AIA identifies mentorship as a core aspect of the fellowship program, along with providing service to society and advancing the profession.

Price is one of 96 architects in this year’s class. Only 3% of AIA members become fellows.

Visit the AIA website to read more about this year’s class.

The Ryan Resilience Lab is nearing completion

The Ryan Resilience Lab is nearing completion in the North Colley area of Norfolk. The new lab is located on Knitting Mill Creek and slated for a spring grand opening. There are a number of “preview events” during the month of November, go to for more information. WTKR recently toured the new Resilience Lab. Click here to see the segment.

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