Donna Francis Named Planner of the Year by the Association for Learning Environments NC Chapter

Donna Francis, AIA, ALEP, LEED AP BD+C

Donna Ward Francis, AIA, ALEP, LEED BD+C

Architect Donna Francis was named Planner of the Year by the Association for Learning Environments (A4LE) North Carolina Chapter at their annual conference awards dinner March 19 in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina.

The Planner of the Year is the most distinguished professional award bestowed to an individual North Carolina Chapter member. This award is designed to honor an individual who has distinguished themselves by making significant lasting contributions to the educational facility planning industry throughout their career.

Donna is passionate about creating spaces that support and enhance student learning. For nearly four decades, she has worked on more than 50 K-12 and higher education facilities for clients that include the Wake County Public School System and Guilford County Schools, Duke University, and NC State University. She leads Clark Nexsen’s K-12 Practice and was recognized as an Accredited Learning Environmental Planner (ALEP) in 2015.

“Donna values community engagement as a part of the planning process,” said Sheri Green, Wake County Public School System Director of Planning & Design, and State Governor of the A4LE – NC Chapter. “She understands the connections between student learning and how facilities support student achievement.”

“Donna truly has a vision for where K-12 education is going.” said Clark Nexsen President Terri Hall. “She focuses on the educational process and works to enhance the learning experience for every student.”

Donna is a member of the NC Department of Energy’s High Performance Building Task Force and serves on Wake County Public School System’s Hub Advisory Committee. She has also served as an advisory member to the School Construction Support Committee of Wake County Public Schools, seeking ways to provide better school facilities in the face of economic challenges. As a ALEP member, Donna has served on the Content Committee and New Focus/New Directions Committee for A4LE.

Donna was the project principal, in collaboration with Snøhetta, for Hunt Library on NC State University’s Centennial Campus. The library incorporates a new attitude of collaborative learning enhanced by integrated technology. Time magazine called it “the library of the future” and the facility has been honored with more than 25 awards, including an AIA CAE Education Facility Design Merit Award, an AIA/ALA Library Building Award and the Stanford Prize for Innovation in Research Libraries.

Donna served as principal in charge for Park Shops at NC State University, an adaptive reuse project that was honored with multiple AIA design awards, including an AIA CAE Education Facility Design Merit Award. She served as project manager for Laurel Park Elementary School, an adaptive reuse of a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility for the Wake County Public School System that received local, state and regional AIA design awards.

Donna holds a Master of Architecture and Bachelor of Environmental Design in Architecture from NC State University.