VLK Architects Announces New Executive Leadership Structure

VLK Architects proudly announces a new executive leadership structure to support the firm's continued investment in providing exceptional work opportunities for its employees while providing extraordinary client service and innovative project solutions. Sloan Harris AIA, NCARB, LEED® AP has been named as Chief Executive Officer; Justin Hiles AIA, LEED® AP BD+C, Chief Operations Officer; Ken Hutchens, Chief Creative Officer; and Linsy Grozdanich, Chief Financial Officer. This new leadership structure is a natural progression in growth for the firm and will position additional leaders who are experts in their chosen areas to be more focused, timely, and strategic in their decision-making. "VLK is all about being client-responsive," said Sloan Harris, VLK CEO/Partner. "Having a formal executive leadership team that can make decisions on behalf of the firm is a true benefit to our clients."

Sloan Harris AIA, NCARB, LEED® AP – Chief Executive Officer

As Chief Executive Officer, Harris reports to and advises the Board of Directors for firm performance and operations. He is responsible for high-level strategic decisions and the firm's overall growth, setting the tone, vision, and culture of VLK while working with other firm executives and leaders for input on significant firm decisions. Sloan's vision for the future, enthusiasm for building great communities, and innovative leadership represent VLK Architects' commitment to delivering exceptional architectural services. Since he joined VLK Architects in 2003, Sloan Harris has been a driving force in the expansion of the markets served by the firm. As a Partner, Sloan manages the firm's client services and actively engages with not only the owner but also consultants and internal staff to achieve the client's vision. In addition, he directs VLK's business development pursuits. In 2012, Sloan was promoted to Principal at VLK. In 2015, Sloan was named Partner with oversight of business growth strategies, operations, and client management while directing multiple signature projects such as the Arlington ISD Dipert Career and Technology Center, iProspect's headquarters, Allen ISD STEAM Center, and PMG's office. Sloan leads the firm's market sector pursuits in commercial and institutional projects, including corporate interiors, mixed-use, automotive, K-12, and higher education. Sloan's leadership has contributed significantly to VLK's remarkable upward trajectory and elevated visibility in the marketplace. With a Bachelor of Science in Architecture, a Master of Architecture, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas in Arlington, Sloan is NCARB-certified, and a LEED® Accredited Professional. In 2011, he was honored as a "40 Under 40" by the Fort Worth Business Press. Sloan's active participation in civic and professional organizations in Texas proves he is not only a leader for the firm but also for the communities it serves. He is an alumnus of Leadership Fort Worth's Class of 2012 and is a member of the American Institute of Architects, Fort Worth Chapter, and the Construction Specifications Institute. He has also served on the City of Fort Worth Planning Commission (2014-2017) and as a board member for the Real Estate Council of Greater Fort Worth, the Texas Transit Alliance, and the Cultural District Alliance. "Sloan's greatest attribute is his ability to set a clear vision and strategy for the firm that allows our enormously talented staff to align around and implement consistently," said Leesa Vardeman, VLK Principal. "Through his extraordinary vision, VLK has experienced unprecedented growth in revenue, number of offices, number of employees, market sectors, and range of services provided. This restructuring will serve to amplify the execution of his strategy for precise, consistent, communication throughout our organization and to enhance the culture that has defined us."

Justin S. Hiles, AIA, LEED® AP BD+C - Chief Operations Officer

As Chief Operations Officer, Hiles is responsible for the overall architecture operations and performance of the firm, providing management, vision, and leadership to ensure proper operational controls and systems for the benefit of the firm's architectural practice and firm performance. With 18 years of architectural experience and an extensive background in commercial and educational design, Justin Hiles has served the firm as Project Architect for many of VLK's most notable projects such as Eagle Mountain - Saginaw ISD's Sarah Hollenstein Career and Technology Center and Denton ISD's Dr. Ray Braswell High School, as well as Project Director on Arlington ISD's Dan Dipert Career and Technical Center and Katy ISD's Legacy Stadium. Since 2015, Justin has been in the Architecture Director role and has managed the daily operations of VLK's architectural unit in both Fort Worth and Dallas. He has been directly responsible for implementing strategies and procedures, ensuring the quality of VLK's designs. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture degree and a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Texas at Arlington. He is a member of the American Institute of Architecture (AIA), including acting as the current President of AIA Fort Worth. He has also earned certifications through the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) and is a LEED Accredited Professional and is a member of the Association for Learning Environments (A4LE), DFW Chapter and the Texas Society of Architects. "Justin is a key factor ensuring the performance of VLK on behalf of our projects and clients has been at the highest level. He has also implemented many of VLK's continuing education for VLK's architectural practice and procedures," said Sloan Harris, VLK CEO/Partner. "Justin has truly established himself as a leader within the firm and is a natural fit for the position of COO."

Ken Hutchens- Chief Creative Officer

As Chief Creative Officer, Hutchens is responsible for VLK's brand, including marketing and media. Working collaboratively with other creative leaders, developing processes for output of design deliverables, Ken directs the firm's innovative development of artistic design strategy. Throughout his 17 years at VLK, Ken's leadership has represented his steadfast dedication to successfully translating client goals into creative and thoughtful environments. For more than 30 years, Ken has completed a wide variety of project types. As VLK Principal, Ken maintained relationships with long term clients such as College Station ISD, Clear Creek ISD, and Cypress-Fairbanks ISD. In 2015, Ken transitioned to Principal of Creative for the entire firm and had been responsible for driving VLK's design philosophy. During this time, he was the creator of VLK's vital research, development, and design philosophies and implemented processes that VLK uses today, such as VLK | Launch, VLK | Edge, and VLK | Link. With a Bachelor's in Architecture from Texas Tech University, he is a member of the Association of Learning Environments (A4LE), Gulf Coast Chapter. He serves on the Texas Leadership Center's board of directors for the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA). "Ken is a high-level thinker, conceiving many of VLK's unique design approach methodologies. Whether it be overall firm practice and philosophy, branding of the firm, or how we approach project design, there is no denying the impact that Ken Hutchens has had on our firm," said Sloan Harris, VLK CEO/Partner. "Providing him the opportunity to utilize those skills at a C-level leadership position will undoubtedly elevate our practice and our work."

Linsy Grozdanich- Chief Financial Officer

As Chief Financial Officer, Linsy is responsible for VLK's Business Departments, which includes accounting, finance, human resources, and facilities operations. In addition, she manages financial forecasting processes, reporting, and provides recommendations on long-term business and financial strategy for the firm. Linsy joined VLK in 1998; she advanced through the organization, taking on the responsibility of managing the firm's entire business function through her previous roles as Accounting Manager and Business Director. In her recent Business Director role, in addition to her business and financial responsibilities, she expanded her leadership responsibilities into facilities operations and human resources for the firm. She has a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting from the University of Texas at Arlington. "Moving Linsy to the CFO role for the firm allows her to add essential staff to handle accounting functions. It puts her in a position to provide strategic financial advisement to the firm's leadership on key decisions that steer the direction of the firm," said Sloan Harris, VLK CEO/Partner. "Linsy is an expert at providing insight regarding financial data and analytics, as well as forward-thinking strategies regarding the firm's performance. Every decision made at VLK is for one purpose; to provide exceptional opportunities for our employees to pursue their passion for architecture and to expand on our ability to provide excellent client service and innovative solutions for our clients. This new executive leadership structure is another step in that direction. I look forward to seeing how our firm continues to grow, create, and innovate!"