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2023 AIA Queens Holiday Party Recap

2023 AIA Queens Holiday Party Recap

Dive into the recap of the AIA Queens Chapter Annual Holiday Party held on December 7th, 2023. In this blog, we'll explore the memorable moments, awards, meaningful connections, and planning that made this event a success. Join us as we relive the festivities, appreciate the recognitions received, and look forward to the exciting developments within the AIA Queens community.

Overview of the Event

The AIA Queens Chapter Annual Holiday Party promised a fun-filled experience. I recently interviewed the chapter’s president, Jacqueline (Jackie) Velez, who highlighted the excitement among attendees. Each year, attendees look forward to the amazing raffles at the AIA Queens Holiday Party. Aida Zambrano, wife of Willie Zambrano, who is the AIA New York State chapter’s president, puts together the raffles.

Raffle Prizes

AIA Queens Holiday Party raffle prizes. (Photo courtesy of Gil Vaknin Photography)

The party also promised an extravaganza, featuring the beats of DJ ZOG from Power 96.5 Miami station. Jackie highlighted the anticipation among attendees, especially those with a passion for music. The inclusion of DJ ZOG added a vibrant touch to the celebration, making it a standout feature for this year.


DJ ZOG and attendees on the dance floor. (Photo courtesy of Gil Vaknin Photography)


Our Memorable Moments


Awards Ceremony

Our Operations Director, Jesus Bravo expressed that one of his standout moments of the evening was our involvement in the awards ceremony. This is because we presented a citation award on behalf of Existing Conditions, which made the night memorable.

Being part of this ceremony allowed us to not only represent Existing Conditions but also gave us a valuable platform. We were able to share insights about our company, a gesture that was warmly received by the AIA Queens Chapter. The chapter's willingness to provide us with a few minutes to talk about Existing Conditions speaks volumes about their genuine support and appreciation for our contributions.


Chapter Citation Award

Another memorable moment, for both Jesus Bravo and our Operations Associate, Gabriel Lopez was when Jesus won the AIA Queens Chapter Citation Award. This award is a testament to Jesus’s exceptional contributions to the architectural community and appreciation of outstanding professional service, and we couldn't be prouder to have him on our team.

In the words of Jesus, “I am humbled to receive the Chapter Citation Award from the AIA Queens Chapter. I believe in the power of collective efforts, and this award is a testament to the spirit within the chapter. This recognition inspires me to continue my commitment to shaping a vibrant future for our architectural community."

Jesus Bravo giving his speech.

Jesus’s speech to the AIA Queens community after accepting his award. (Photo courtesy of Gil Vaknin Photography)


Our Recognition

One particularly cherished moment for Gabriel during the event was witnessing the recognition that Existing Conditions received. As Jackie took the stage to acknowledge individuals and sponsors, including Jesus and Existing Conditions, the applause and encouragement from the community left a lasting impression.

This was a testament to the growing reputation and positive reception that Existing Conditions has been receiving within the AIA Queens community. Feeling the warmth of recognition and realizing that our faces are becoming more familiar within the community left a lasting impression.


President’s Citation Award

One noteworthy highlight from the event was the presentation of the President's Citation Award to Ruben Ramales. Jesus reflected on this as a particularly memorable moment, considering the history of our involvement with Ruben. 

Ruben's support significantly influences us. Each encounter with him is welcoming, and he is always quick to share information about us with others. As the former Executive Director who welcomed us into the chapter, Ruben's reception of this award added a special touch to the evening. Congratulations, Ruben!

Jesus and Ruben with their awards

Jesus and Ruben pictured with their awards. (Photo courtesy of Gil Vaknin Photography)


Jackie’s Highlight

Jackie mentioned that one of her highlights was the awards ceremony, an initiative aimed at honoring individuals within various categories. To name a few, there are categories like emerging professionals and sponsors, reflecting the commitment to recognizing outstanding contributions. As mentioned previously, Jesus Bravo, received a well-deserved award in the sponsor category, highlighting his significant impact on the architectural community.

Additionally, the chapter extends appreciation by presenting awards to individuals stepping down from the board because it is important to acknowledge their passion and dedication to the chapter. Jackie views this as important to creating a vibrant and engaged community.

Jackie welcoming attendees during the awards ceremony

Jackie pictured greeting all attendees during the awards ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Gil Vaknin Photography)


Meaningful Connections

Gabriel established a meaningful connection with Ozmar Alexander Martinez Suarez, Principal at OAMS Architectural Design, P.L.L.C. Ozmar is highly knowledgeable and not only referred Gabriel to a potential client but also actively supports and discusses Existing Conditions with his colleagues.


The Holiday Party Planning Process

Jackie detailed the meticulous planning process of the holiday party. This was also the first-holiday party under her tenure. Acknowledging the tremendous workload, tasks were delegated among board members, with key contributions from Patrick Hammond, Vice President, Jorge Cherres, Treasurer, and the chapter's marketing professional, Daniela Carusone.

AIA Queens community.

Jesus Bravo, Yury Yagudayev, Ozmar Alexander Martinez Suarez, Bryan Jesia, Ruben Ramales, Jackie Velez, Ximena Garcia, Adedosu Joshua, Frank Quatela, Jorge Cherres, and Patrick Hammond (left to right). (Photo courtesy of Gil Vaknin Photography)

Daniela took charge of designing graphics and creating the social media posts. Jackie set up the schedules and milestones for the email blasts and social media posts. Overall, the team’s teamwork and dedication, combined with the support of interns and staff, were crucial in ensuring the success of the holiday party.


Significance of Fundraising

The AIA Queens Holiday Party holds a special place as the chapter's largest fundraising event of the year. All scholarships are granted by the Queens Foundation for Architecture, the sister organization of AIA Queens. The chapter needed to secure sponsorships, attract attendees, and boost raffle ticket sales. The personal touch, including individual invitations, played an important role in achieving a record attendance of 160 guests, marking a significant step in the event's ongoing success. Jackie, who considers this personal touch her trademark, emphasizes the impact it has on individuals, creating a connection that resonates.

In Jackie’s view, this personal attention is a critical element, especially in planning a successful fundraiser. She believes in going beyond the conventional approach of reaching out to a wide audience and advocates for actively engaging with individuals. For her, the success of a fundraiser lies in making that personal connection, reaching out to people individually, and spreading the word in a way that resonates with each person.


Unity and Community Engagement

Jackie explained that a standout feature of this year's holiday party was the representation of leaders of other chapters, creating an atmosphere of unity among members of the architectural community. Whether from the Bronx, Manhattan, or Brooklyn, Jackie expressed that we are one cohesive chapter united by a shared cause. Witnessing everyone come together, and enjoy the festivities on the dance floor, left a lasting impression on Jackie.

AIA Brooklyn, AIA New York, and AIA Queens

AIA Queens, AIA New York, and the AIA Brooklyn communities coming together. (Photo courtesy of Gil Vaknin Photography)


Gratitude to Existing Conditions

During my conversation with Jackie, she spoke about her appreciation for Existing Conditions, expressing gratitude for our role as a partner and principal sponsor of AIA Queens. In the words of Jackie Velez, "Thank you to Existing Conditions for being our partner and our biggest sponsor. We truly appreciate the sponsorship, support, and your belief in the chapter." 

Jackie went on to acknowledge the meaningful connection with Existing Conditions, stating, "We appreciate your team wanting to be part of our chapter and community, which is very important to us. You have an amazing group, I consider them my friends, and I know I can pick up the phone if I need help or have a question. I am really grateful you guys are part of our community, and it’s appreciated among the board members and the entire community." This heartfelt thanks truly reflects her genuine appreciation for our role in the AIA Queens community.


Save the Date

The AIA Queens Holiday Party went beyond just a celebration – it became a meaningful tribute to architecture, unity, and the lively community of the AIA Queens Chapter. Looking ahead, the AIA Queens community is excited about upcoming events, partnerships, and shared experiences in the years ahead.

Save the date for this year’s AIA Queens Holiday Party, taking place on December 5th, 2024, featuring the return of DJ ZOG. We look forward to attending, and we hope to see you there!

Are you interested in getting involved with AIA Queens? Connect with Jackie at

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