For DIGroup Architecture (DIG) Senior Project Manager LoriAnne Jones, AIA, NOMA, representing the architectural profession to high school-aged students is a personal mission. This commitment, which is channeled through involvement in the ACE Mentor Program of New Jersey (ACE-NJ), has captured the attention of more than just her students – it has earned Jones the honor of being named one of five national 2024 ACE Outstanding Mentor Award recipients.

Simultaneously, it also has brought those she mentors to a new level of exposure in the form of the Annual Construction Industry Roundtable (CIRT) National Design & Construction Competition, where the ACE-NJ Middlesex team was named a finalist in the Shoreline Category. The “Hawkitects Team,” as they are known, produced “Duo,” a project that explores best practices and innovative strategies for planning, design and construction of resilient and sustainable developments in waterfront areas, including rivers, lakes and seashores. 

“I’m extremely proud of my students whose hard work resulted in a unique prototype – it is a true reflection of what it takes to be successful in today’s ACE careers – creativity, collaboration and perseverance,” said Jones. “Their final product was the culmination of intense research, analysis, long-term planning and the development of strategies for densely populated shoreline communities. In the end, the students achieved a ‘personal best’ for our local team and our ACE affiliate, with a third-place finish among 64 entries nationally.”

Prior to this year’s highest-yet finish for an ACE-NJ team, the Middlesex team had achieved an Honorable Mention Placement in 2018 for their “ideal school” submission. Additionally, Jones’ team has at least one or more high-achieving students earn an ACE NJ Scholarship each year. One standout was even awarded a $20,000 national ACE scholarship (2020).

As a third-generation professional within the ACE industry, Jones strives to advance her craft while delivering meaningful architecture to clients. Putting this into context: Jones is one of only 500 licensed African-American female architects nationwide, accounting for just 0.4% of all licensed architects.

“Being nominated by ACE NJ, where I’ve been involved at the state and local level for 16 years, was an honor. The national recognition gives me an opportunity to shine an even brighter spotlight on the endless possibilities for young women and people of color in the ACE professions,” said Jones. “It was wonderful sharing this special moment with my students, who were taking in and feeding off the energy of all the great design and construction minds who gathered for the national presentations in DC.”  

The 2024 ACE Outstanding Mentor Award also includes $2,500 in scholarship dollars to be awarded to a student in Jones’s name. “ACE scholarships can be empowering and validating for student recipients. I am grateful for our scholarship donors, whose dollars fuel the continued advancement of ACE students as they move beyond high school into their studies and ultimately into a professional career,” said Jones, who helps students pursue scholarships that will help them realize an ACE-related college education.

Examples of Jones’s outreach include coordinating high school externship opportunities for the ACE Summer Experience through DIG; forging enduring relationships with former students in college, those who are established industry professionals and/or mentoring for ACE; and supporting mentors by sharing her successes and helping them advance to team leader positions.

In addition to mentoring hundreds of high school students through ACE NJ, which is marking its 25th anniversary year, Jones also serves as a board member and team leader. In this capacity, she helps cast a wider net on behalf of the program locally, regionally, and nationally. 

An experienced project manager, Jones is skilled in design, planning and feasibility studies as well as documentation in Revit and AutoCAD. A registered architect and LEED AP with an MBA focused in Business Strategy & Leadership, and Entrepreneurship, she joined DIG in 2017.