KAI Leader Appointed to Lead Texas Board of Architectural Examiners

With Darren L. James' appointment as board chair, KAI executives now hold two of the highest-ranking state positions in Texas architecture.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has appointed KAI President Darren L. James to the position of chair of the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners.

The multi-profession regulatory agency oversees the examination, registration, and professional regulation of architects, interior designers, and landscape architects in the Lone Star State.

James, who was named to the nine-member board in 2020, said he’s “honored to accept the role of chair of this important body protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public and enhancing opportunities for outreach among our collective professions.”

Darren L. James

James and the KAI team have gone into “Texas communities and fought to bring more resources to improve buildings and infrastructure for their clients and citizens,” a company representative said via email. 

With James appointment as chair of the examiners’ board, KAI executives now hold two of the highest-ranking state positions in Texas architecture. KAI’s VP of design, Derwin Broughton, is the Texas Society of Architects’ incoming president, according to the company.

A pledge to transform 100 communities in 10 years

Kai said James and Broughton are leading its mission to transform 100 communities in 10 years. The pledge aims to effect change both inside and outside its walls with integrated integrated design and construction through collaboration. 

James advocates a holistic approach to development projects that weaves into the fabric of the surrounding community. According to the company, James has led 150+ projects throughout North Texas with an emphasis on underrepresented communities over two decades.

The executive is active in numerous nonprofit and for-profit boards he has served on throughout his career. In addition to serving on the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners, he is president of the Fair Park First board of directors and serves as a board member of the Dallas Citizens Council and Trinity Park Conservancy. He is also a past chair of the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce.

President of one of the nation’s largest Black-owned AEC firms

A graduate of the University of Kansas School of Architecture and Urban Design, James began his career 31 years ago as an architect and has been president of Black-owned national design and construction services firm KAI for the past 18 years.

An architect, entrepreneur, and servant leader, James is devoted to uplifting underserved and underinvested communities and his passion for civic engagement has not gone unnoticed by the community, KAI said.

James received the Award for Community Service in Honor of James D. Pfluger, FAIA from the Texas Society of Architects in October 2023, the Award for Equitable Practice in Architecture in Honor of John S. Chase, FAIA from Texas Society of Architects in October of 2021 and has been named to D CEO Magazine’s list of 500 Most influential Business Leaders in North Texas since 2021, among many other accolades.

In 2019, James was elevated to the American Institute of Architects College of Fellows, one of the highest honors bestowed on architects for their contributions to architecture and the community, KAI said.

Founded in 1980, KAI Enterprises has grown into one of the largest minority-owned firms in the AEC industry. The national design and build firm has offices in DFW, St. Louis, and Atlanta.

From its place as the Architect of Record for the National Juneteenth Museum to monumental design and build projects, including South Oak High School, the firm said it proves its dedication to serving under-represented communities and making them better places.

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