Employee Spotlight: 2024 Design Champion, Filo Canseco

June 18, 2024
Putting a Piece of Himself in His Work

Recently honored as Ankrom Moisan’s first-ever Design Champion through the new AM Rewards & Recognition program, Filo Canseco goes above and beyond, pushing the boundaries of graphic design by putting part of himself into his work.

 

 

Filo’s Design Champion Banner.

 

Filo became interested in design at an early age. Coming from a creative family, he was naturally attracted to anything related to art and design, often taking up the modes of expression shared with him by his relatives. “My uncle Aaron, who is an illustrator, introduced me to graphite and chalk early on in my childhood. Similarly, my aunts embroidered, so I learned embroidery,” Filo shared. It wasn’t until later that he realized why his family were passing on their creative abilities. “They knew that because of our family’s immigrations status at the time, having recently become naturalized citizens, they had missed their opportunity to pursue the arts. I was the only one who had a chance of pursuing design in college and as a career.”

 

Interested in animation and the process of making illustrations come to life, Filo applied to The Art Institute of Portland after high school. He wasn’t accepted at the time, which was “devastating,” but something he’s glad about now. Despite not immediately applying to a college design program again, Filo pursued his passion for design wherever he could. “I created business cards and websites for friends’ small businesses, designed posters for friends in bands, and later picked up photography and videography,” he said. Though he was immersed in creating unique one-of-a-kind designs for friends, he felt that his lack of technical knowledge meant he didn’t qualify as a true graphic designer. “I designed my entire brand identity in Photoshop without knowing much about Adobe’s software. It wasn’t until a friend suggested I start charging for my design services that I considered this as a potential career.”

 

Filo saw his opportunity to follow his dream and practice design and took it. When he returned to higher education nine years later, it was confirmation that a career in graphic design was indeed meant for him. Even though he already had some experience under his belt, learning the ins and outs of design in an academic setting changed his perspective on his process. “I was captivated by the fundamentals of graphic design, graphic design history, hand-lettering, pottery, digital graphic design, and all its multifaceted realms,” Filo said. “We learned design, we learned what the great classical artists were thinking and feeling, then we broke down their designs to be put back together with a little piece of ourselves in there. That was huge for me. I didn’t understand it at the time, but now I feel that change in approach is what keeps me producing innovative work.

 

 

 

Filo at his desk in the Portland office.

 

When Filo first started at Ankrom Moisan after graduating from Portland State University in 2022, it was during the pandemic, before AM’s offices instated a two day per week in-person requirement. Because of this, Filo only met a handful of people after starting. “I might have seen Juan Conci or Fernando Abba, our Visualization Managers, once or twice,” he recalled. “It was very lonely. There was nobody in the office. Everything was through Teams meetings.”

 

Looking back, Filo believes that this slow introduction to the world of Ankrom Moisan worked in his favor. “I was fresh and brand new not only to an architecture firm, but also to having a graphic design job. Pandemic distancing and remote work gradually got me into Ankrom Moisan’s firm culture and what my role was.” He feels lucky to have been able to meet people one at a time, as it gave him a better chance to form connections with new coworkers and assimilate to a new industry than if he had met everyone all at once.

 

Being able to integrate into AM’s work culture at his own pace deeply influenced how Filo takes a project’s design direction and turns it into an effective deliverable that resonates with the company’s culture and wins new projects.

 

 

Filo’s design work for the ‘Women Rising’ DEIB campaign

 

Over the past two years, Filo and his eye for design have grown considerably. He’s grown accustomed to taking the lead on design campaigns, and the responsibility that comes with it, thanks in part to Ankrom Moisan’s unique structure and system of support. “I don’t think I would have grown as fast as I did if Ankrom Moisan’s work culture wasn’t so well established. If I had my first job at a popular downtown design firm, I would have had to go through a lot more hierarchy to get where I am today,” he remarked. “I would have been forced into the box of ‘junior graphic designer,’ and wouldn’t have had the opportunity to grow and realize that I have a lot more capabilities than that.”

 

Growing into his new capabilities, Filo realized that one of his favorite parts of doing graphic design at Ankrom Moisan is the glowing feedback he often receives after completing a deliverable. “It feels so rewarding to do so much with such a small team,” Filo expressed. “People will come to us and ask what external team we hired, and it’s just like ‘no, we’re just a group of three people taking Ankrom Moisan’s supportive culture and producing this collateral.'” For this reason, the DEIB people-centered campaigns have been a favorite of Filo’s. “These campaigns have really projected me into a space where I can be a graphic designer as well as a creative lead.”

 

 

 

Filo with Emily Lamunyan and Dani Murphy behind the scenes of the AMasterclass DEIB campaign.

 

When he found out about his recognition as Design Champion, Filo didn’t know how to react. “I didn’t know our president, Dave, would make a video response. I was completely blown away and had to take a moment to really let it sink in,” he said. It was a bit of a surprise. “I found out in a Teams meeting. It was a little awkward finding out and then making my own poster,” he joked. “I guess it had to happen though, since I’m the one doing graphics; there was no way of having somebody else make it.”

 

 

Filo’s Design Champion nomination video.

 

Recognized in his nomination video by President Dave Heater, Vice President Alissa Brandt, Director of Marketing Emily Lamunyan, and Visualization Manager Juan Conci for his willingness to step outside of his comfort zone as well as for his game-changing design work that gives Ankrom Moisan a competitive advantage, Filo shared just how and why his graphic design efforts have had such a big impact on the firm. “Feeling like I can reach out to anyone on the marketing team at any point to get feedback is just golden. I haven’t experienced that with any other job.” Aside from his team’s support, Filo can produce such stellar graphics, putting part of himself into his designs, because of his working process. “My process is about staying curious to ensure the final design is innovative and cutting-edge, not formulaic,” he explained. “I’ve been fortunate to have an innately curious personality. I didn’t realize it until recently, but it’s what helps me out of my comfort zone, allowing me to integrate my lived experience into my designs.”

 

 

Filo’s promotional work for the Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebration DEIB campaign.

 

As one of the first Ankrom Moisan employees to be celebrated through the new Rewards & Recognition program, Filo has high hopes for the future of the program. “I hope and envision that the rewards and recognition program transcends Ankrom Moisan. It’s a great way to show how important and strong our culture is here,” Filo said. “I also hope future champions see the acknowledgement as a milestone and an opportunity to reflect on their career. Being recognized made me step away from work and life and realize how I’ve changed as a professional.

 

Reflecting on advice for emerging young professionals in the field of graphic design, Filo had this to offer. “You’ve done the hard work when it comes to learning and educating yourself. Now that you’ve graduated, take it slow. Have fun. I know it sounds cheesy since it’s one of our HOWs, but having fun with what we do is super important to creating balance.” He also emphasized that “making mistakes, as well as connections, is ultimately what helps you get to know your team and everyone else at the firm.”

 

Taking his Design Champion recognition as a chance to look back at his career, Filo reflected on how everything he learned from his family, high school, gap years, and time at PSU has led him to this moment. “Being a graphic designer has always been my goal, but I now see new opportunities to become much more,” he revealed. “I see myself in a role where I can share my experiences – perhaps as a mentor, a supervisor, or a director. Who knows!” Right now, Filo’s focus is on just enjoying his moment. It’s more than deserved.

 

Employee Spotlight: Dani Murphy

November 28, 2023
Curating an Inclusive, People-Forward Culture

When it comes to fostering inclusivity and community, Dani Murphy knows the significance of a welcoming culture firsthand. Though she is still fairly new to Ankrom Moisan (she just celebrated her one-year work anniversary in November), Dani has quickly become a cornerstone for the firm’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) and culture efforts, making significant strides to ensure that everyone in the firm feels welcomed, accepted, and appreciated.

 

Dani Murphy PDX Office Rooftop Portrait

 

Dani on the roof of Ankrom Moisan’s Portland office.

 

She wasn’t always involved with DEIB initiatives, though. Born and raised in Irvine, California, Dani graduated from Cal Poly Pomona with a degree in Political Science. Now, she’s an HR Data and Systems Analyst. “I came into this field a couple of jobs back, purely from an analytical standpoint. I was asked to partner with the newly established DEIB team, and they asked me to do some analytics for them to report back to leadership,” Dani explained. “That’s kind of how I got interested in this field. I’ve slowly pivoted to DEIB programming since then.”

 

It’s been a great match so far, as DEIB programming is relatively new, according to Dani. “It isn’t something that’s been around forever, but it’s very, very important when creating an effective organizational culture.”

 

Since these programs are people-focused, it’s no surprise that Dani encourages planning and organizing them by starting with the people that make up Ankrom Moisan’s team members. “It all comes together mainly by communicating with people around the office, hearing from them and discovering something they want to learn more about,” Dani said. She stressed the significance of listening to coworkers, stating that “there’s no one-size-fits-all for programming. It’s all pretty specific to the people who make up the company. Figuring out what works and what doesn’t is half of the [struggle]. When it all comes together and works, I feel extremely accomplished.”

 

DEIB Council Group Photo

 

Dani and the rest of the DEIB Council on the roof of Ankrom Moisan’s Portland office.

 

Through her many conversations with her Ankrom Moisan coworkers, Dani came to realize that people are “far more dynamic than who they are in the workplace.” She credited Principal-in-Charge Laurie Linville-Gregston and Senior HR Business Partner Charlene Brown as being the inspiration for that epiphany, explaining how she discovered that Laurie is a beekeeper who jars her own honey, and that Charlene rides a motorcycle. “I was like, oh wow, those are cool facts. I want to know more!” she said.

 

Dani organized an event for Ankrom Moisan employees to show off their hidden talents and be their authentic selves, remarking that “there’s a lot of amazing people here, but I haven’t even met like a third of them. Who knows what other secrets and hidden talents lay out there?”

 

The Women’s Walk event started off as a way to highlight the unique achievements and hidden talents of the women at Ankrom Moisan by walking around the office and speaking with them about their work and passions.

 

2023 Women's Walk Event

 

2023 Women’s Walk event.

 

The first AM Women’s Walk event was a major success. “There are some amazing things that were brought in. We work in a very creative industry, so it’s no surprise that there are a lot of great artists working alongside us,” Dani remarked. “Who knows if that’s what the event will be like in the future. It might be the same, it might be different, but the act of getting people together and showcasing a little bit more about who they are, I think that’s really something special to continue.” Alongside planning the Women’s Walk, Dani also contributed to the success of Ankrom Moisan’s Women’s Month programming, organizing the Women Rising Panel that featured five incredible female leaders from across the architecture, engineering, and construction industry.

 

Guest speakers at the 2023 Women Rising Panel

 

Guest speakers at the 2023 Women Rising Panel.

 

The Women Rising Panel aimed to provide perspective about the lived experience of being a woman in a leadership role in a male-dominated industry, and gave Ankrom Moisan Employees a chance to as these women questions, as it’s not very often we can hear from voices like these in a non-work environment. To make the event even more impactful, Dani did hours of research beforehand to formulate the most thought-provoking questions for the women on the panel. The composition of the panel was thought out and unique – Dani wanted to make sure that the women we heard from were not limited to being CEOs, presidents, or executives. In Dani’s eyes, it was integral to include all levels of leadership, because being a leader manifests in many ways, whether it’s for an entire company or a single team. Overall, the event was a huge success. The women who participated as members of the panel left celebrating the inclusive sense of camaraderie that they felt with one another.

 

Dani emphasized the immense importance of inclusivity in this sense, declaring that “when people feel comfortable and valued and heard, they’re able to be their authentic selves. Getting to know someone’s authentic self is very rewarding.” Furthermore, when people feel they can be themselves, they are more likely to share their true thoughts and opinions, leading to a greater sense of belonging within the company. As Dani puts it, “we need to understand each other and what we all value in order to create something that is worthwhile for all of us.”

 

“From a company standpoint, it makes so much sense to support initiatives [and programming like the Women’s Walk],” Dani continued. “When people feel that sense of community and inclusion at work especially, it has been shown to lead to higher levels of performance improvement, of retention, and it attracts candidates when prospective employees see that a company is dedicated to getting diverse groups of people together and making them feel included and supported; it just naturally builds community.”

 

To further bolster the supportive company culture of inclusion, community, and diversity, Dani sat down with Ankrom Moisan President Dave Heater during Pride Month to candidly discuss how his identity as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community has influenced and impacted his career in architecture. “It’s valuable to hear the wisdom of someone who is part of the LGBTQIA+ community and successful in this industry,” Dani explained. “It’s very similar to the Women in Leadership panel. It’s not easy to be vulnerable about the issues that affect marginalized communities in this field.”

 

 

This effort connects to Ankrom’s HOWs in the sense that by supporting and encouraging people to be their authentic selves and share their thoughts and opinions openly, Ankrom Moisan Employees are empowered to explore beyond the expected and make our firm the best place to work.

 

At the end of the day, Dani believes the people are the best thing about working at Ankrom Moisan. “We have a group of very passionate and creative people, and the more I talk to and meet these people, the more I realize how much [events and programming like] this means to some of them,” she stated.

 

Extremely modest about the depth of her involvement with the DEIB Council, Dani emphasizes how it’s never a one-person effort. “I want to hear input and create something meaningful for everyone,” she said. “I can help do it and help push [programming] in the right direction to make sure things get done, but at the end of the day it’s a group effort. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

 

Dani’s work extends past programming and into extracurriculars. Events like Women’s Month or Hispanic Heritage Month – which honored the existing community of Hispanic and Latino people at Ankrom Moisan by discussing how their background influences their work, and by celebrating their respective cultures through the rich, shared tradition of empanadas – are just one piece of the pie when it comes to the organizational culture Dani champions. If she can’t plan an event or put together programming, Dani does her best to compile a list of resources to help educate and celebrate any cultural celebration, from Black History Month to Asian American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. These lists often include book, movie, and podcast recommendations, museum exhibits and other local events to attend, and minority-owned businesses to support, among other volunteer opportunities.

 

“There’s a ton of different initiatives and policies that the DEIB Council is going to be focusing on,” Dani revealed. “There are educational and volunteering opportunities, both of which connect us to the community at large. There are a ton of avenues for education.” That’s really what Dani’s position is all about: providing her coworkers with ample resources and opportunities to be themselves, embrace their passions, learn more about topics that pique their interest, connect with others, and show off the hidden talents that make them unique.

 

As for Dani herself, her hidden talents are her athleticism, artistry, culinary skills, and green thumb. During the pandemic, she punch needled an 8-piece solar system that she showed off at the AM Women’s Walk. “At the time it was a combination of what I was most interested in; space and punch needling,” she shared.

 

Dani with her punch needle solar system

 

Dani with her punch needle solar system at the Women’s Walk.

 

It’s clear that Dani’s efforts as both an individual and as a member of the DEIB Council make her a cornerstone of Ankrom Moisan’s company culture. She is always eager to meet new people, listen to their thoughts and feelings, and lift them up in ways that continue to make Ankrom Moisan the best place to work. After all, in her own words, it’s the people that make this place so great.

 

Black and white headshot of Jack Cochran, the author of this blog post.

 

by Jack Cochran, Marketing Coordinator

An Interactive Timeline of Ankrom Moisan’s History

July 24, 2023
Celebrating 40 Years of Exploring Beyond

 

In celebration of Ankrom Moisan’s 40th anniversary this year, we look back and reflect upon the firm’s explosive growth, gathering the most significant and noteworthy projects and moments from AM’s history and culture. The result of all our hard work of digging, interviewing, and assembling information is an immersive, interactive timeline of milestones.  

 

 

Take a walk down memory lane, reminisce, and celebrate 40 incredible years of Ankrom Moisan exploring beyond the expected. For the best experience, use Google Chrome on a desktop computer to view the timeline. If trouble scrolling is experienced, use arrow keys to navigate the milestones.

 

 

 

 

 

Filo Canseco headshot   Black and white headshot of Jack Cochran, the author of this blog post.   

 

Graphic Design by Filo Canseco.

Research and Copy by Jack Cochran and Mackenzie Gilstrap.