San Diego Academy Hosts First Architects of Change at School

Architects of Change Live is our conversation series with a mission. It celebrates individuals who challenge what is, imagine what can be, and move humanity forward.

Maria Shriver believes that we all have the power to be Architects of Change in our lives—be that at home, at school, at work or in our communities. That’s why she encourages anyone who is inspired by our vision to start their own conversation series.

San Diego’s oldest and only all-girls’ school, the Academy of Our Lady of Peace, decided to do just that. A year ago, several OLP students attended Maria’s Architects of Change Live conversation with Shonda Rhimes and were inspired to emulate that event at their school. The idea held particular interest with the girls as their education is one that is rooted in the mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet; a mission that is infused with adherence to moving humanity forward through social justice practices.

The Academy of Our Lady of Peace’s inaugural Architects of Change at School event was held Wednesday, November 30. With Ms. Shriver’s blessing and the support of her Shriver Media team, OLP held a successful first event, with 750 high school girls, 80 faculty and staff, and roughly 30 members of the extended community in attendance.

This first conversation at school was facilitated by two students—Elizabeth Hanczor and Marlene Vollbrechthausen Perez—whose fervor to bring Architects of Change to the scholastic level could not be quelled.

For the inaugural event, the student production team focused on sharing the stories of their school’s two leaders, Dr. Lauren Lek and Jessica Hooper. Lauren Lek (now in her fourth year as the first lay leader of the 134-year-old school) and Jessica Hooper are seen as a dynamic duo. In a matter of only three years, the school has seen an increase in curricular access within the STEM fields, as well as augmentations in the arts and athletics programs. With so many positive changes in motion under their leadership, the girls wanted to honor these two women’s stories. Following the same format used by Maria herself, the two students took the audience on a journey into the personal and professional lives of both women. The feedback from the audience and community afterward was nothing short of positive, sparking anticipated interest for the next event to come!

With the launch of AOC at School being such a success, OLP’s team of students is looking to grow the program to include weekly highlights of an AOC individual, as well as a monthly, 5-minute televised conversation with individuals making a difference in the community. The school is also looking to live-stream future conversations and build Alzheimer’s awareness opportunities into the program guidelines.

To find out how you can start an Architects of Change conversation series in your school, work or community, email

Photos from Academy of Our Lady of Peace’s Architects of Change at School:







About the Author

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Rivka Bent is a staff member at San Diego's Academy of Our Lady of Peace School.

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