Jenna Knudsen

Managing Principal, CO Architects

Jennifer Knudsen, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, is a champion for equity and a pioneer in architectural practice, where she has empowered an inclusive style of collaborative and innovative team leadership that combines design, technology and project delivery to create sustainable and beautiful architecture. In 22 years of practice, 14 of them as a licensed architect, Jenna has focused on transforming the architectural design and construction environment traditionally dominated by gender-inequity, division and risk-aversion to one that is collaborative, inclusive and trusting. She does this by leading teams of design and building professionals who are unified by a common design vision and buoyed by a diversity of voices and skills.

Jenna champions this style of leadership and the benefits of a more equitable firm both in practice on complex projects and through speaking nationally at conferences and symposia. Furthermore, as CO Architects’ first female managing principal and former hiring manager, she advocates for a diverse workforce within the firm, which enriches the practice of architecture on many levels. She also supports programs to mentor and provide career guidance to professionals at all stages of their careers—both inside the firm and for the profession at large. Passionate about the value diversity and equity bring to the profession of architecture, Jenna served a three-year chair position with the American Institute of Architects/| Los Angeles Women in Architecture Committee, including planning the highly successful annual Powerful Conference on Equity, which doubled in size during Jenna’s tenure, reaching more organizations and elevating the conversation around equity. Jenna truly believes that by sharing her experience and stories broadly, the profession is strengthened in recognizing the value of diverse voices and experiences and the pipeline to a more diverse architecture is fortified. As managing principal with CO Architects, Jenna is also an active participant in the Global Design Alliance, an international network of design and construction firms, through which Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) best practices are shared with member firms across North America. Jenna believes in resiliency, elasticity and disruption, and that all staff should help identify problems and solutions. She advocates that showing emotion can be a strength, not a weakness, and that great leaders have empathy. She adopts a mindset of growth and continual improvement, which she carries on and shares in her leadership role at CO Architects.