JLG Architects names Michelle Mongeon Allen as next CEO

Lonnie Laffen to continue as President

Michelle Mongeon Allen has been appointed the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of JLG Architects, a 100% employee-owned architecture firm that is one of Inc. Magazine’s 50 Best Places to Work in America and Building Design + Construction’s Top 75 Architecture Giants.

The positions of President and CEO were previously combined at JLG, held by founder Lonnie Laffen. With the firm’s growth into new markets, Laffen recommended splitting the two roles. He will continue as President of JLG and will focus on the firm’s strategic initiatives.

“We are entering a new era of growth at JLG,” said Laffen, “and it is common for large companies to have a CEO separate from the President. Michelle has informally held this role for the past several years, and the time is right to make it official.”

“Gary and Lonnie built this firm on two foundational principles: relationships – our desire to work for and with people we call friends; and design – the belief that we could raise the bar for design in the communities we serve and delight with solutions that are within our clients’ constraints but beyond their wildest expectations,” said Allen. “Thirty years, 12 offices, and 110 employee-owners later, I am proud to carry the baton for this firm because, while a lot has changed, the most important things haven’t.”

Past President of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and one of Prairie Business Magazine’s Outstanding Woman Executives, Michelle Mongeon Allen led JLG’s operations from a one-office, 15-person North Dakota architecture studio to that of a national design firm with over 100 employees in 12 markets. One of Allen’s first major points of impact was to expand JLG into Minnesota – opening the firm’s second location in Minneapolis – and to grow the company onto the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal’s Top 25 Architecture Firms list. Allen became a Partner in 2004 and Chief Operating Officer in 2007 and, under her guidance, transitioned ownership to the employees in 2014 so as to make JLG a legacy company.

Known for her commitment to elevating the next generation of architects, Allen has been a leader within the Minnesota Chapter of the AIA, including positions of Co-Chair of the Council of Firms, Chair of the Annual Conference on Architecture, and the aforementioned President, as well as at North Dakota State University (NDSU), where she serves as Past Chair of the Department of Architecture and Landscape Architecture Advisory Board. Allen is a guest lecturer at NDSU and a presenter at AIA, PSMJ, and other industry conferences, and was the State Coordinator for AIA North Dakota’s Intern Development Program from 1997 to 2002.

Raised in Towner, ND, Allen garnered an appreciation for the sustainable prairie vernacular that has inspired much of her professional work. Though she dedicates significant time to JLG’s business operations and strategic initiatives, Allen is a design-driven CEO who has contributed to several AIA award-winning projects over the course of her career, including the State of Minnesota Joint Operations Facility in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, and the King’s Walk Golf Course in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Allen earned a Bachelor of Architecture from North Dakota State University. She is a Registered Architect, a LEED-Accredited Professional, and an accomplished vocalist. She lives in Dayton, Minnesota with her husband, Brian, and their three children.