Daniel Eriksson, AIA, NCARB

Principal

Education:   Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

What was your path to becoming where you are in your career now?

...I was going to be a lifeguard!

My path was traditional:  complete school, formal education, and get an accredited degree – and then a lot of hard work – boots on the ground, always moving forward, and taking opportunities as they presented themselves! At one point, I was going to be a lifeguard! But in seeking summer work, I showed up at Comstock Johnson as a college student –  not in a suit! – and the owners welcomed me as a summer intern throughout my college years. After graduation, I continued my work with them and was fortunate to have leaders who were interested in an ultimate transition for eventual ownership and provided mentorship to that goal.

Personal Philosophy: 

Always treat people fairly and with respect.
Learn from your mistakes and try not to repeat them.
Integrity is #1.

Focus/Hobbies outside of work: 

Not surprisingly, I love to do building projects! I also enjoy skiing, volleyball, continuing my role as a BSA Scoutmaster, mentoring, staying busy and addressing challenges.

What inspires your work every day? 

I like to improve the process. I look for systematic approaches that provide a better opportunity for success; identifying processes and resources that support them, and then making time to share them with the CJA team. When we provide an informed solution, our opportunity for success increases.

If you were a car, what make and model would you be and what color? Why?

7 Series BMW, Silver. It’s stylish but not too flashy; it’s recognized as a reliable tool, not a toy; it’s established and respected for quality.

Kevin Wilcox, AIA, LEED AP

Principal

Education:   UC Davis, Cosumnes River College, College of the Redwoods

What was your path to becoming where you are in your career now?

I knew when I was in 6th grade that I was going to be an architect.

Through my father’s work, I grew up in a construction business. When I was 12 years old, I started drawing plans and most people thought I would be an engineer. I was probably the only guy in my high school graduating class that knew exactly what I was going to do.

At age 22, I was managing an architecture firm and I had written a guide on overlay drafting, which was the manual precursor to CAD as a drafting tool. CJA’s owners were interested in that and hired me. I expected to be here for one year, but was welcomed to stay on and ultimately mentored for eventual ownership.

Personal Philosophy:

Move with a sense of purpose in everything you do.

Focus/Hobbies outside of work: 

Family, first and always. I love to golf and hunt. I was an Eagle Scout and continue as a Scouter to mentor youth. Scouting has always been part of my life and is a passion for me.

What inspires your work every day? 

The opportunity to establish and enhance relationships.

If you were a car, what make and model would you be and what color? Why?

A Ford Bronco, Black and Gold. It’s smart, stout, and forever persevering.

Rachel Luhrsen

Project Manager

Education:   Cal Poly San Luis Obispo

Member of ACRE - Association of Commercial Real Estate

What was your path to becoming where you are in your career now?

In my 5th grade class I took a personality/career test. The results stated that architecture was the ideal career for me. I never questioned it!

Personal Philosophy: 

To work hard, be kind, and make good choices. I strive every day to lead my children by example.

Focus/Hobbies outside of work: 

My family, always! I enjoy D.I.Y. home improvement projects, cleaning and organizing, food+beer+wine, gardening, reading and volunteering.

What inspires your work every day? 

The desire to serve my clients to the best of my ability and to foster the many wonderful professional relationships I have made.

If you were a car, what make and model would you be and what color? Why?

A Gray Volvo XC90. It’s modest in size and presentation, but has a huge capacity to carry a load of people and cargo.

Dave Helms, AIA

Project Manager 

Vice President & Director, CJA Studio

Education:   San Diego State University

P.A.S.S. Certified

What was your path to becoming where you are in your career now?

It’s been a fulfilling journey.

My 8th grade Algebra teacher thought I should take the drafting class based on my math and penmanship skills. In high school I took three years of architectural drafting classes and made life-long friends with my classmates. Then in college, I took classes in environmental design with the goal of becoming an architect. It’s been a fulfilling journey.

Personal Philosophy: 

Work together to provide inspiring solutions.

Focus/Hobbies outside of work: 

Gardening, learning guitar, home improvement projects, visiting family, and anything that involves the ocean – relaxing at the beach, boat rides, and fishing.

What inspires your work every day? 

Gaining knowledge. As a problem solver, I seek to understand the challenge I’m faced with, find the right solution, and execute the solution to my satisfaction and that of my client.

If you were a car, what make and model would you be and what color? Why?

A 1961 Porsche 356B Convertible, Fire Engine Red. It’s stylish, fast, simple, and it looks really cool driving down the Pacific Coast Highway in the afternoon on a summer’s day!

Jeff Reilly, CSI

Project Manager

Education:   Washington State University; Denmark International Studies Program

What was your path to becoming where you are in your career now?

I began my career running a small design-build landscape company in Seattle for four years before entering the architecture world in Sacramento. I worked for a mid-sized firm and participated in AIA, where I met Don Comstock, who invited me to join CJA.

Personal Philosophy:

Take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously

Focus/Hobbies outside of work: 

Spending time with my family and traveling together.

What inspires your work every day? 

The chance to design places that become reality. We accept unique project challenges that don’t fit into specialty categories established by other firms. We take a practical, methodical approach that combines traditional construction and project types with a creative problem-solving attitude, enabling us to deliver interesting real-world solutions.

If you were a car, what make and model would you be and what color? Why?

A 1970 Super Beetle, Blue. It’s not too flashy, dependable, and with some character that’s not worried about setting any land speed records.

Danielle Badger, Assoc. IIDA

Designer

Education:  CSU Sacramento

What was your path to becoming where you are in your career now?

My path has been short and rough, but clearly led and purposeful

My path has been short and rough, but clearly led and purposeful. After graduating from CSU Sacramento in December 2015, I immediately jumped into a position with a local firm. While there, I made some wonderful connections that led me to CJA!

Personal Philosophy:

  • Every day is a new opportunity to learn and improve, and a little smile can go a long way.
  • So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. – 1 Corinthinans 10:31

Focus/Hobbies outside of work: 

I love teaching music and performance, and also being OUTSIDE exploring and enjoying new adventures with friends or pets!

What inspires your work every day? 

The idea that I am helping to create safe and inspiring spaces for others to occupy is a significant inspiration. The helpful, supportive, fun and encouraging environment here at CJA makes it easy to enjoy work and inspire me to learn and improve each day and reach for my own potential.

If you were a car, what make and model would you be and what color? Why?

Toyota Camry, Silver. Don’t get too bored – this car proves to be reliable and comfortable, gets the job done, is easily accessible and approachable. It doesn’t draw a lot of attention to itself, but the Silver color gives it the sparkle and individuality it needs. 

Yevgeniy Tikhomirov

Job Captain

Education:  American River College

What was your path to becoming where you are in your career now?

I was always interested in design as a little kid, specifically in building and auto design, so naturally working for one of the two industries was the logical step. I chose Architecture because it was a more accessible field.

Personal Philosophy:

What goes around comes around.

Focus/Hobbies outside of work: 

Snowboarding in the winter, waterboarding in the summer.

What inspires your work every day? 

New ideas, interesting designs.

A sense of accomplishment by solving design issues with the best approach possible and applicable, working in the field I love.

If you were a car, what make and model would you be and what color? Why?

BMW X5M, Black. It’s everything you need out of a vehicle in one package because “it’s the ultimate driving machine.” 

Yevgenia Watts, Assoc. AIA

Job Captain

Education:   UC Berkeley

What was your path to becoming where you are in your career now?

I am now the person on the other side of the drawings, and it’s fantastic!

My dad used to lay tile and I was with him at a job site. When I saw a set of drawings for the remodel he was working on, they made sense to me and I became intrigued. I wanted to be the person on the other side of those drawings. Since then, I attended several colleges and universities, became a wife and mom, pursued a successful career as a fine artist, and moved across the world. I am now the person on the other side of the drawings, and it’s fantastic!

Personal Philosophy: 

Be honest, stay true to your values, and approach life with a sense of humor.

Focus/Hobbies outside of work: 

My kids and family; watercolor painting and teaching art classes; learning guitar!

What inspires your work every day? 

I love challenge and I enjoy learning something new every day. Above all, I get a kick out of designing and solving problems.

If you were a car, what make and model would you be and what color? Why?

A motorcycle: Black and orange BMW R1200GS Adventure. Independent, reliable, with a dash of… adventure. Orange because colors make me happy!