Je'Nen Chastain

Founder Apostrophe Consulting, Raleigh, N.C.

Bachelor of Arts in Architecture, UNC Charlotte (2009)
Master of Business Administration, Mills College (2017)

Hometown: Richmond, VA

In her commencement address at Mills College in Oakland, California, where she recently received a Master of Business Administration, Je’Nen Chastain reminded her classmates and colleagues that several buildings on the campus had been designed by Julia Morgan, the first woman to become a licensed architect in California and the first to win an American Institute of Architects (AIA) Gold Medal (awarded posthumously in 2014). It was fitting that Je’Nen recognized Morgan; while a student at UNC Charlotte, she was elected to serve as the national president of the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), the first female to serve in that role in a decade.

When Je’Nen graduated from UNC Charlotte in 2009, the recession had all but obliterated job opportunities for recent architecture graduates. But that hardship ultimately inspired her to move to California to pursue new career paths and a graduate degree. While at Mills College, Je’Nen focused her research on social entrepreneurship and the intersections of business and architecture. In recognition of her academic leadership, she received a Career Development Grant with the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and a Forté Fellowship with the Forté Foundation.

In 2016, Je’Nen was awarded a Presidential Citation from the AIA California Council in recognition for her work organizing the AIA Center for Civic Leadership and the AIA Leadership Institute. The next year, AIA National awarded her a 2017 Associates Award, “given to individual Associate AIA members to recognize outstanding leaders and creative thinkers for significant contributions to their communities and the architecture profession.”

Je’Nen was a designer with Heller Manus Architects, in San Francisco prior to returning to North Carolina, where she has founded Apostrophe Consulting, in Raleigh, N.C., a management consultancy serving professionals in architecture and the creative fields.

She reflects on her experience in the School of Architecture:

“I've been lucky to visit over 40 schools of architecture across the country and can say for certain that we have something special under Dean Ken Lambla’s leadership. The culture, the building, the students, the faculty, the alliances on and off campus, and the greater Charlotte professional community – all come together to make a very engaged community seeking to make a difference in the world. And walking through (Storrs Hall), seeing all the wonderful updates to the building, as well as the pride of our student and alumni work, reminded me what a gem this school is. Because of the culture, I thrived and it helped my career bloom!”

Below, see a memory from her time at SoA: AIAS South Quad conference hosted at UNC Charlotte, photo by Rex Yau. (2007) 

soa memory

Work Samples

Practice Disrupted with Evelyn Lee and Je'Nen Chastain
Date Completed: 1/10/2022 | Credit: Practice of Architecture & Gābl Media

image of workJe’Nen Chastain partnered with Evelyn Lee in 2019 to collaborate on their growing businesses, Apostrophe Consulting and Practice of Architecture. In 2020 the duo launched Practice Disrupted, a podcast produced by Gābl Media. The team has created 60 episodes over three seasons, with over 31K downloads. The team is currently producing season four, which aired in mid-January 2022. About the show: The evolution of architectural practice has been relatively slow towards change, yet modern shifts in business and design management have prompted today’s leading architects to rethink how they work. On Practice Disrupted, Evelyn Lee, an architect, design strategist, and Senior Experience Designer at Slack, and architecture business strategy consultant, Je’Nen Chastain, set out to illuminate the future of the profession to help architects remain relevant and valuable in a changing world. They will explore how technology, cultural shifts, and emerging best practices are prompting firm owners to assess their business models and make adjustments in their studios. Each episode features an industry leader, and together our hosts will explore the new frontier of architectural practice. “Fantastic and insightful podcast that looks at the practice in a different way - something that is desperately needed.” – Five Star Review on Apple Podcasts For more information on the show visit:

Apostrophe Consulting Case Studies
Date Completed: 1/10/2022 | Credit: Apostrophe Consulting

image of workWith expertise in talent development, change management, and business strategy, Je'Nen Chastain works with award-winning architects across the country to help her clients transform the way they practice. People are the most critical resource in any design studio. That's why Je'Nen focuses on helping the architects, designers, and administrative staff that make up a studio environment. She leveraged her MBA to research the business of architecture and designed the AIA Leadership Institute to build a robust and affordable training program for next-generation leaders. After growing the program into a successful multi-year event, she launched Apostrophe Consulting full-time to focus on bringing training inside the studio. Inspired by foundational research on studio culture at the SoA, Apostrophe Consulting is helping re-imagine and modernize studio culture in a professional setting by helping her clients design custom programs on leadership, mentorship, and communication. She is helping her design teams meet the demands of a new era of practice.