SMPS Chicago April Luncheon - Diversity in the AEC Industry: The Potential and Benefits For a Stronger Workforce

April 10, 2019
11:30 AM - 1:00 PM

150 North Dearborn Street
Chicago, IL 60601

Our panelists will discuss how and why diversity is important in creating a stronger, more resilient and profitable micro and macro-economy.

We will learn what agencies expect from firms they work with, requesting equal opportunity and participation goals for minority, women, disadvantaged, disabled and veteran owned businesses.

Firms are leading the change with intentional diverse recruiting methods.

Some questions we will have answered:

  • What are the benefits of having a diverse workforce and team.
  • What are some challenges a diverse workforce might encounter.
  • Which certification is best for you? and why?
  • How does your certification affect your business plan and decisions that you make regarding your business plan?
  • Once an MBE how to do you "sell" it without it becoming the reason that you are chosen for a team?


Our Panel

Michael Sutton, President, Infrastructure Engineering, Inc. 

As the CEO of IEI, Michael focuses on elevating and empowering minorities and women within the firm, holding positions from senior management to internships. As an MBE firm, IEI has benefited from agency commitments to promote and support the economic development of diverse businesses. Michael has been dedicated to paying it forward by providing opportunities for MWBE partners with meaningful roles on project pursuits. IEI is also currently mentoring multiple firms with technical training to strengthen the firm’s ability to grow capacity, enhance capabilities and develop long-term partnerships. One of their recent protégé firms recently received their first prime contract. To address the issue of gender and racial disparity in the AEC industry, Michael founded NOME to promote the advancement of Minority Owned and Operated engineering firms. By collaborating with other companies, NOME provides the opportunity for firms to improve the industry’s business climate and firms’ growth from winning subconsultant work to winning Prime work.

Sandra Marks, Senior Vice President, Clayco

Sandra addresses external areas of outreach, alignment of community resources and impactful improvement of the design and construction industry—locally and nationwide. Internally, Sandra focuses on talent management and development, including mission, vision and culture. Sandra also plays a critical part in strategic planning for the entire Clayco enterprise, including BatesForum, Concrete Strategies and Ventana. In addition, Sandra continues to operate and own Marks & Associates, a firm she founded in 1986. Marks & Associates has been a leader in the development of minority businesses and community MBE/WBE programs nationwide, and more recently she has been offering direct supplier and workforce diversity program management. Sandra’s unique perspective on diversification as a means to impacting cultural norms creates a more vibrant and productive community and industry, one that will complement Clayco’s integrated philosophical approach to solving complex project requirements.

Joan Archie, Executive Director of Construction Compliance, University of Chicago Medical Center

Joan Archie is the Executive Director of Construction Compliance for the University of Chicago Medical Center.  In this position she is responsible for directing the Medical Center’s Construction Compliance Initiative. This initiative was established to maximize opportunity for minority and woman-owned firms and workers to participate in and achieve economic benefit through Medical Center new construction, renovation, plant and maintenance projects. Through advocacy efforts spearheaded by Ms. Archie, every new construction project since the inception of the program in 2001 has won acclaim for the inclusion level of minority and woman-owned firms.

Prior to joining the Medical Center, Joan served as Director of Employment, Counseling and Training at the Chicago Urban League responsible for developing and implementing programs and projects designed to maximize economic opportunity for minority and female workers and minority and women-owned firms. 


Paul Cerpa, Executive Manager of Diversity and Strategic Development, Illinois Tollway

Paul believes that the success of any capital program depends upon the success of small, diverse and veteran-owned businesses that participate. It’s a philosophy that has remained steadfast over his career helping promote and increase supplier diversity and in serving as an advocate for entrepreneurs.

At the Illinois Tollway, Paul oversees the agency’s responsibility in addressing diversity inclusion in the overall procurement process and in the Tollway’s 15-year, $14 billion Move Illinois capital program. Since joining the Tollway in May 2016, Paul has lent his expertise and insights to help develop and expand various diversity programs, including the Technical Assistance Program, Partnering for Growth, the Earned Credit Program and the ConstructionWorks apprenticeship initiative.

Paul continues to play a valuable role in serving minority, women and veteran business, leveraging his three decades of management experience in the areas of disadvantaged, minority and women-owned business enterprise programs, contract compliance, affirmative action and small business development.


Parking is available at the garage located across the street from Petterino’s at 181 N. Dearborn. When checking in for the program, please make sure you receive a parking voucher. Please insert the parking voucher into the automated machine at the garage in order to receive the discount of $14 for a max of 3 hours. 

CPSM CE Credits: 1

This is a Programs event.

All sales are final. Refunds must be requested 5 days prior to an event in writing or by email. 

Student Membership Eligibility. Registration at Student rate be verified and if the registrant is found to be non-compliant with these requirements, s/he will be responsible for the balance of the full, applicable rate.


$0.00 Annual Sponsor - Member

$50.00 SMPS Members
$75.00 after 12:00 pm April 9

$95.00 Non-members
$120.00 after 12:00 pm April 9