Photo by Carbon Stories. Trudy Ngo-Brown, director of Public Agency at WMCAT and Kiara Conway, design associate, lead participants through the Listening to Learn workshop.

“How might we listen to learn?” That was the question posed by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Grand Rapids, who contracted with Public Agency at WMCAT for two half-day sessions on listening, empathy, and common frameworks for meeting the needs of clients.

As WMCAT’s design thinking social enterprise, Public Agency brings teams and organizations like AIA together to transform the way they innovate, serve, and lead.

Photo by Carbon Stories. Participants reflect on their personal values and experiences.

“No matter your industry, whether it be architecture or social services, you are creating experiences for others. How are you listening to your stakeholders? What are the lived experiences and identities you bring to the table? That’s what Public Agency can help you uncover,” said Trudy Ngo-Brown, director of Public Agency at WMCAT. “Through our workshops, teams can learn to identify those influences and practice being empathetic listeners to mitigate bias in their own designs.”

When asked what they will be taking away from the workshop, one participant replied, “Personal things that I believe about myself will shape how I interact and identify with others. These biases can be seen as a positive by others, even though I may not see it that way.”

Reach out to see how our half-day workshops can support your team’s work at

Photo by Carbon Stories. Architects from ten different employers gather at WMCAT to learn with Public Agency.