Monday, October 2, 2023

Speakers – 2021 Professional Practice Forum

Vaki mawema

Vaki Mawema, LEED AP, BD+C, Gensler

Vaki Mawema leads Gensler’s Baltimore office as Managing Director and Principal. He also leads Gensler’s Southeast regional Mixed Use practice area which focuses on the planning and design of experiential, branded environments that include office, retail, hospitality and food & beverage.

His leadership within Gensler has created an enterprising workplace culture that embodies creative passion, design excellence, exceptional client service, and promotes leadership and entrepreneurship.

Within the community Vaki is known as a business leader and industry expert and was named one of the Washington Business Journal’s 40 under 40 for 2016. His colleagues admire his creative eye and rigor, and his vast array of award-winning projects speak for themselves.


David Barkin
David Barkin FAIA, Chief Architect – State of Connecticut, DAS | Construction Services
The Chief Architect for the State is a member of the management team overseeing design and construction of State buildings. David is responsible for developing and monitoring design and quality standards for new and renovated construction and participates in the selection of AEC consultants to the State. In addition, the Chief Architect is the State’s interface with the AEC industry. David also has served as adjunct faculty at the University of Connecticut’s Department of Public Policy in Hartford.
David graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor of Arts degree, from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a Bachelor of Architecture degree, and from the University of Connecticut with a Master of Public Administration. Previously he worked at Cesar Pelli Associates, New Haven, and subsequently headed his own firm, Barkin Associates Architects PC, for over 14 years. Prior to joining state government in 2013, David was Principal at JCJ Architecture, Hartford, where he established and led the Science and Technology Group; in 2011 he was named Director of Architectural Practice Standards.  He is noted for historic preservation expertise in the state and has been active in the architectural community both nationally and in Connecticut, serving on the American Institute of Architects’ Connecticut Board of Directors and, since 2008, on the Connecticut State Architectural Licensing Board where he was appointed Chair in 2017. He currently serves on national committees at the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), and on the Industry Advisory Council for Central Connecticut State University’s construction management degree programs. Recently David received the 2019 Public Service award from AIA / Connecticut acknowledging decades of participation within his community and the broader design profession. David was awarded Fellowship in AIA in 2020
Michael Ayles

F. Michael Ayles, FAIA, NCARB, Antinozzi Associates

F. Michael Ayles, FAIA, NCARB is Principal of Business Development at Antinozzi Associates in Bridgeport, CT and is responsible for the firm’s business development strategies and human resource efforts. With the firm since 1994, he held the roles of project architect, project manager, and Director of Operations before entering the world of marketing.

For almost two decades, Mike served as a national leader with the AIA, chairing both the Young Architects Forum and the Center for Civic Leadership. He has presented topics at numerous regional/national conferences ranging from A/E/C business development to leadership education and training. As a volunteer, Mike was involved for many years with the ACE Mentor Program, has served as Connecticut’s NCARB
Architect Licensing Advisor, and continues to be an active member of SMPS, the Connecticut Building Congress, and the University of Hartford’s Construction Institute. Mike has served as an elected official in his hometown of Guilford, Connecticut on its Board of Finance and was appointed Chairman in 2017. He received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Roger Williams University.

jim mcmanus
James M. McManus, FAIA Emeritus, Retired Chairman, The S/L/A/M Collaborative and President, S/L/A/M Construction Services 
As former CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of The S/L/A/M Collaborative, Mr. McManus has over 45 years of experience in the design and construction industry.
He has lead dozens of complex projects in Education, Science and Health Care including the 800,000sf Campus Crossroads project and the Eck School of Law at the University of Notre Dame; and the Shriners Hospital for Children, Mexico City. He has been instrumental in developing the firm’s Integrated Project Delivery process that combines planning, design and full construction services for client projects.
He holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Notre Dame and is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects (AIA).
He is also a member and Past President of AIA/Connecticut. He has been an active participant in Large Group National Roundtable of AIA; American Arbitration Association, Alumni Advisory Council Notre Dame School of Architecture; and the Board of Advisors of The Construction Institute.
Brad Benjamin 2

Brad Benjamin, AIA, CSI, LEED AP bd+c, Radium Architecture

Brad Benjamin, AIA, CSI, LEED AP bd+c, is an Architect and Partner at Radium Architecture, a firm he founded in Greenville, SC, in 2011. Brad has more than 18 years of experience and provides clients demonstrated expertise in programming, workflow analysis, concept development, space evaluation, document production, and construction administration. His skills integrate the rare ability to blend award-winning design talent with practical application and tight project management.

Brad is a passionate supporter of the architecture profession and a developing leader within the AIA. Currently serving as the 2017 President of AIA South Carolina, he is a recipient of the national AIA’s Young Architect Award as well as a ‘40 Under 40’ honoree of Building Design + Construction magazine.

Katelyn Chapin headshot

Katelyn Chapin, AIA, Svigals + Partners

Katelyn Chapin, AIA is a project architect and associate with Svigals + Partners, an architecture, art and advisory firm in New Haven, Connecticut.  In her ten years with the firm, she has developed a passion for projects within the education sector and has been monumental in such high-profile projects as the University of New Haven’s Bergami Center for Science, Technology, and Innovation, and the new Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Conn. Building Design + Construction recognized Katelyn as an “education heavy hitter” in their 40 Under 40 Class of 2020.

Katelyn’s leadership within the Institute extends locally, regionally, and nationally. She currently chairs the mentorship subcommittee of AIA Connecticut’s Women in Architecture Committee, serves as the 2020-2021 Community Director of the Young Architects Forum, represents young architects on the AIA – Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) Joint Committee, and serves of the Equity and Future of Architecture (EQFA) board committee.  From 2018-2019, Katelyn represented New England as the 2018-2019 Young Architect Regional Director in addition to her role serving on the AIA New England Council. Katelyn was named a recipient of the AIA National 2021 Young Architect Award for her contributions to the Institute and profession.


Je’Nen Chastain, Assoc. AIA, MBA, Apostrophe Consulting

Je’Nen M. Chastain, MBA, Assoc. AIA is trained in architecture and business management with a decade of experience working with award-winning architects.

She founded Apostrophe Consulting to help architecture firms win more work, build a culture of leadership and trust within the studio, and create a pipeline for emerging leaders to grow.

She is the co-host of Practice Disrupted, a podcast that addresses how technology, cultural shifts, and emerging best practices in business are prompting industry disruption and transformation.

Evelyn M. Lee, AIA, a 2014 AIA YoungArchitects Award recipient, is part of the strategy team at MKThink, San Francisco-based research, planning, and design firm. Lee, who has been active in the AIA’s Repositioning efforts, holds graduate degrees in Architecture, Public Administration, and Business Administration and is an advocate for architects to expand the definition of their traditional roles. “As an architect I do not thrive as a designer of buildings, project manager, or construction administrator,” she says, “and so, I have really found my place as a designstrategist and communications expert.”

Evelyn Lee, FAIA, Senior Experience Designer, Slack Technologies and Publisher of the Practice of Architecture

Evelyn Lee, FAIA, is the first ever Senior Experience Designer at Slack Technologies, Founder of the Practice of Architecture, and Co-Host on the Podcast, Practice Disrupted. Lee seamlessly integrates her business and architecture background with a qualitative and quantitative focus to build a better experiences for organization’s Employees, clients, and guests.

Evelyn received her Bachelor of Architecture degree with honors in 2002 from Drury University where she minored in Global Studies while playing on the Women’s Soccer Team. In 2003 she received her Masters of Architecture degree from the Southern California Institute of Architecture (SCI-Arc). Most recently, in 2012, Evelyn finished a dual MPA (Masters Public Administration)/MBA (Masters Business Administration) in Sustainable Management from the Presidio Graduate School

Maria Loitz_VP-Regional Marketing

Maria A. Loitz, FSMPS, CPSM, Vice President, Regional Marketing, BVH Integrated Services, a Salas O’Brien company

With 25 years of experience, Maria A. Loitz, FSMPS, CPSM, directs the marketing and communications efforts for BVH Integrated Services, a Salas O’Brien company. Recognized as an industry leader throughout Connecticut, Maria tirelessly promotes careers in architecture, construction, and engineering to high school students. For nearly 20 years, Maria has held leadership roles in the ACE Mentor Program of Connecticut, currently serving as its president.

Passionate about the recruitment and diversity challenges in the design and construction industry, Maria co-authored “Addressing the AEC/O Workforce Shortage: How to Attract and Retain Women in Today’s Talent Pool,” published in 2018. This whitepaper discusses significant issues in retaining, replacing, and growing the industry’s workforce. Maria received a Lifetime Achievement Award by Society for Marketing Professional Services Connecticut in 2020. The Connecticut Chapter of
Professional Women in Construction recognized Maria with the 2016 Women of Achievement Award. The Construction Institute also honored her in 2011 with the Distinguished Achievement Award for her contributions to the advancement of Connecticut’s construction industry.

Angela Cahill

Angela Cahill, AIA, NCARB, NOMA, AIA Connecticut President, QA+M Architecture

Angela Cahill, AIA, NOMA, NCARB, LEED AP, in an Associate at QA+M Architecture. Angela has had a distinguished 25-year career in architecture, and has managed dozens of large, complex projects in a variety of market types. Currently the President of Connecticut AIA, she serves on the J.E.D.I and Women in Architecture Committees, the CAF Board, and is one of the Founding Architects of NOMAct. Ms. Cahill is a Gubernatorial appointee to the State of Connecticut Architectural Licensing Board. Angela holds architectural licenses in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Maine. For many years, Angela served as a Design Studio Professor for the University of Hartford Architecture Program and she is regularly a Visiting Critic. She previously served on the ACE Mentor Program statewide advisory board and led the Hartford Chapter. Angela still contributes time to mentor women and youth looking to succeed as architects, which exemplifies her passion for the profession.


Phil Bernstein, FAIA, NOMA, LEED AP, Yale School of Architecture

Phil Bernstein is an is an Associate Dean and Professor Adjunct at the Yale School of Architecture, where he received his B.A and M.Arch and has taught since 1988. He was formerly a Vice President at Autodesk where he was responsible for setting the company’s future vision and strategy for BIM technology as well as cultivating and sustaining the firm's relationships with strategic industry leaders and associations. Prior to Autodesk Phil was an associate principal at Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects where he managed many of the firm’s most complex commissions. He is the author Architecture | Design | Data – Practice Competency in the Era of Computation (2018) and co-editor of Building (In) The Future: Recasting Labor in Architecture (2010 with Peggy Deamer), and speaks and writes extensively on technology, practice, and project delivery. He is a Senior Fellow of the Design Futures Council and former Chair of the AIA National Contract Documents Committee. His upcoming book, Machine Design: Architecture in the Age of Artificial Intelligence will be published by RIBA in 2021.

Jeff Pinheiro

Jeff Pinheiro, AIA, Regional VDC Manager, Turner Construction

Jeffrey is a registered architect in the state of Connecticut and has 16 years of experience in varying roles throughout the industry. Jeffrey began his professional career at the age of 16 working in a local architecture firm and continued gaining valuable experience at one of the largest architectural firms in the state. Born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, Jeffrey holds a Master of Architecture and a Bachelor of Science (Architecture) from the University of Hartford. Additionally, he obtained associate degrees in Architecture and Construction Management from Norwalk Community College. Jeffrey is a leader in the industry when it comes to the use of BIM (Building Information Modeling) and technology. He has spoken and taught classes at national conferences and is the creator of The Revit (a worldwide resource
on all things Revit and BIM related). Jeffrey currently holds the role of Regional VDC Manager for Turner Construction, is an adjunct professor at the University of Hartford, and also runs an online community dedicated to the education and advancement of BIM called "BIM After Dark".


Andrew J. Swartzell, LEED AP, Pickard Chilton, Associate & Director of Design Computing

Andrew enables studio members to adopt and adapt to an array of technological developments at the forefront of the AEC industry and leverages his background in computational design to address complex challenges on projects across the studio. As a designer, Andrew has coordinated all phases of design and construction projects for a diverse and international client base. Recently, in collaboration Uber and Arup, he led
Pickard Chilton’s design efforts to help the Uber Elevate team envision the future of urban aviation. The resulting work, dubbed the “Uber Sky Tower” and “Uber Sky Loft”, has been presented and exhibited at the Uber Elevate conference, the Boston Society of Architects as part of Balancing Act: Urbanism & Emerging Technologies, and the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat’s Philadelphia Chapter. Andrew received his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Penn State University and a Master of Architecture degree from the University of Pennsylvania.


Alison DiVenere, Assoc. AIA, JCJ Architecture

Alison DiVenere, Associate AIA attended Roger Williams University where she earned her Bachelor of Science and Master of Architecture degrees. She currently holds a Design Technician position at JCJ Architecture in Hartford, where she has been working for the past 4 years. During her time at the firm, she has had the opportunity to work on a variety of large, and small-scale Hotel and Casino projects in the Hospitality sector. She is currently transitioning into assisting with the design and documentation of schools on the Institutional side. Aside from her daily work, Alison is also the current Secretary of the JCJ ESOP Communication Committee. Outside of the office, Alison also sits on the Hartford ACE Board of Advisors and actively participates as a Team Leader for one of the Hartford ACE Chapters.

Amy Graver

Amy Graver, Principal & Creative Director, Elements®

Amy Graver is the Principal & Creative Director of Elements®, overseeing all projects that come through our busy studio. She works closely with clients to identify their marketing and design needs and develops effective strategies with her team to meet and exceed their goals. Amy’s design work has been recognized and awarded both nationally and internationally by leading industry publications and organizations such as AIGA, CADC, AdClub of CT, Print, Package Design Magazine, HOW, Communication Arts, Graphic Design USA and more. Amy was named on of the top designer's in the country to watch by Graphic Design USA magazine and 40 Under 40 from New Haven Business Journal. She also wrote a best-selling book on graphic design that's been translated into many languages and used in many universities all over the world called "Best Practices for Graphic Designers: Grids and Layouts"

kara gruss

Kara Gruss, TSKP Studio

Kara Gruss is the Director of Business Development for TSKP Studio. Kara has been involved in the Architectural, Engineering and Construction (A/E/C) community for more fifteen years, successfully leading numerous strategic marketing and business development efforts, from all aspects of the building process, in a rapidly changing industry.
Kara has been engaged with the Construction Institute and Society for Marketing Professionals (SMPS) since 2006, participating on numerous boards and committees throughout the years. From 2009-2010 Kara served as President for the Society of Marketing Professional Services (SMPS), Connecticut Chapter. She continues to prove support as a leader in this industry by currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Construction Institute and Chairing the Construction Institute’s Education Committee. She is a longstanding member of SMPS and is proud be giving back to the community having served as a mentor in SMPS’s Mentorship Program.