DBI Architects has recently added new staff. Over the past months, Interior Designers Deidre Ryan, Robin Donilon, and Sarah Parks, and Marketing Manager Rick Gondella have come on board. Each of these new members of the DBI team brings valuable strengths, skills, and perspectives.

Deidre Ryan joined DBI in August. Born in New York, she grew up mostly in Virginia, where she earned her BA in Historic Preservation from the University of Mary Washington, and her MA in Interior Design from Marymount University. Deidre brings broad background experience in exhibit design and installation, textile and finish orders, and space use planning. She is dedicated to building strong client relationships and believes that all great design begins with good communication. “Having an opportunity to sit with clients, to talk with the people we’re designing for is super gratifying,” Deidre says. “Getting perspectives from all members of the team is key to good outcomes – and the end-user is definitely part of the team.” Deidre is a hands-on designer, and likes to get out in the field, for site surveys, when projects kick off. She thrives when faced with a challenge and works well in both collaborative and independent situations, and she is proficient in the latest 3D modeling software, visual editing software, and fully versed in Auto CAD, Revit, SketchUp,  Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. She delivers comprehensive project presentations, including finishes selections, materials, and furnishings, contributing significantly to the development and review of design and construction documents. Deidre is fully engaged in contributing to the exceptional work that DBI Architects brings to life. In her spare time, she works with ceramics, and is an avid Do-It-Yourself craftsperson.

Robin Donilon has been with DBI since September. She is a native of Florida, grew up on Merritt Island, near Cape Canaveral, and earned her BS in Interior Design at Florida State University, graduating cum laude. As a child, she could watch Space Shuttle launches from the front lawn of her home. Robin’s father is an interior contractor in Florida, specializing in paint and wallpaper, and would often bring her to jobsites with him. “I grew up on the jobsites,” Robin says. “My dad would have me on scaffoldings, right beside him. I think that’s where my love for interior design comes from.” Prior to settling into her profession as Interior Designer, Robin worked as an investigator for the United States Government, conducting inquiries of people seeking security clearance. It was this work that piqued her interest in designing not just for commercial and residential spaces, but also for governmental spaces. Before coming to DBI, Robin had her own interior design business, and was also an Assistant Project Manager for Interior Building Systems, managing numerous time-sensitive commercial projects, including material finish selections, submittals, purchase orders, change orders, field measurements, formulation of LEED submittals, collaboration and communication with general contractors, project managers, and architects throughout projects. Interior design is not just Robin’s vocation; it is her avocation as well. She currently has several renovation projects in progress at home. She is devoted to her 10-month-old daughter, who just learned to say “mama.”

Rick Gondella joined the DBI staff as Marketing Manager in September. Prior to coming aboard, Rick was Managing Partner with Causeware, a marketing and branding firm serving small businesses and nonprofits. Prior to that, he was Vice President of Marketing, Communications, and Media Relations at America’s Charities, an organization that specializes in delivering flexible giving and volunteering options to major corporations. That background gives Rick a unique perspective. “Marketing isn’t just about selling product,” Rick says. “Ethical marketing is about determining the needs of the client and presenting goods and services that address those needs while exceeding expectations.” Rick’s alma mater is George Mason University, where he designed his Bachelor of Independent Studies program to address presentation of complex issues in understandable terms. In his time at GMU, he completely exhausted the writing program, and took large chunks out of the environmental sciences and biology programs. Rick is an avid environmentalist and photographer. He’s written two novels and dozens of short stories.

Sarah Parks is the newest addition to the DBI staff, having joined the firm in December. She honed her interior design skills at Anderson University, School of Interior Design, in Anderson South Carolina, graduating cum laude. Originally from Florence, South Carolina, Sarah came to the Washington DC area about three and a half years ago. “It’s different,” she says with a laugh. “The DC area is a lot faster-paced. When I was growing up, our neighbors were cows.” Before coming to DBI, Sarah spent three years with INTEC Group, as a designer, where she worked on all facets of design from conceptual space planning and interior finish selection, to construction documents and construction administration. Sarah has a passion for creating spaces that help people, and that ultimately contribute to the health and well-being of the user.  She strives to incorporate research-based design into every space, while continuing to investigate, study, and explore new avenues of design. “Design is much more than aesthetics,” Sarah says. “Good design can change personal perspective and social constructs.” Sarah is interested in the tiny-house movement, which is concerned with residences of 400 square feet and less, and has completed coursework in tiny house building. She also paints, is a skilled ceramicist and fiber artist, and loves kayaking, hiking, and camping.