8:00 AM - 9:00 AM COAA-101

Whether this is your first COAA event or not, you might have questions about the organization and its purpose. Maybe you know the basics but would like a deeper dive or wonder how you can plug in and participate ... or would just like to know how COAA can help you do your job better. If any of those apply, this session is for you. Grab some caffeine and join us for an informal introduction to THE home for Owners who are serious about improving their project leadership game.

Howie Ferguson, Executive Director, COAA

9:30 AM - 11:00 AM Concurrent Sessions

This session is not about Lean…and it’s not about Coffee! Come experience an organized, interactive meeting format where the participants set the agenda, have fun, and learn what is important to them. Attendees will learn why it is called Lean Coffee, then we will experience the process first-hand and also learn how to use this format for our own meetings. People who have used it say things like, “It completely changed our staff meetings—for the better. It’s amazing.

RJ Reed, Vice President, The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company

Optional | Hilton Bonnet Creek & Waldorf Astoria 

Join us for a jobsite tour of the Hilton Bonnet Creek Resort that includes a 100,000 SF Ballroom addition to the Hilton and Waldorf Astoria along with renovations to the Reese Jones Golf Course. A short walk across the street from the Conference Hotel, come see how this project Team is delivering this distinctive addition to an operating event center and hotel, built over a pond tackling complicated logistics and safety hazards.  See how these new amenities were built over water, maintaining guest access to the adjacent award-winning golf course and operational access through one of the area’s busiest and most luxurious hotel properties.

Additional Registration Required: Click here to register

11:30 AM - 1:00 PM Lunch on Your Own
1:00 PM - 1:30 PM

Conference Welcome 

Join COAA leaders as they welcome you to Orlando, provide an overview of the conference, and speak briefly on organizational news & issues.

John Zahor, President COAA; Howie Ferguson, Executive Director, COAA; John Bechtel, Assistant Director of Design & Construction, Penn State University; Gregory Stock, Stantec, Designer/Manager

1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

COAA Cares: Bike Build Challenge

Kick-start (kickstand?) your COAA Connect experience by helping assemble bicycles for deserving area children through Wish for Wheels.  Blindfolds, races, and dogs paired with cats may be involved, so don’t miss this ... even if you prefer to just watch or heckle.

Throughout the rest of the conference, you can help brighten the day of Orlando-area veterans by creating hand-written cards of thanks & support that will be delivered by the Camaraderie Foundation.  Pop into the COAA Cares room throughout the conference as time allows and create one, 10, or as many as you’d like.

3:00 PM - 3:30 PM



  Concurrent/Workshop Sessions

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Procurement and Supply Chain Impacts: A Reality-Based Academic Study

Wendy Peacock has a “day job” at Auburn University that was – and continues to be – impacted by construction supply chain issues.  For her master’s thesis, she decided to explore more deeply and learn what fellow Owners are doing to mitigate those impacts.  While her research targeted public higher ed Owners in the southeastern U.S., the findings are universally applicable to practically all Owners and locations.  This session provides a great opportunity to compare & contrast your organization’s current strategies and practices with Wendy’s research.

Presenters: Wendy Peacock, Director of Construction Management, Auburn University 

Josh Nooney, JE Dunn Construction Company; Tyler Deal, JE Dunn Construction Company 

Interoperability: A Team-Oriented Approach to Leveraging Data

In today’s world, data and technology are part of everyday conversation.  On construction projects, though, how can we all speak the same language, communicate effectively, and work efficiently in the digital age?  Attendees of this scenario-based workshop will work in teams to map “shared pains” holding back progress, then work through a root cause analysis to envision better and more efficient ways to enter, share, and leverage data.

Nick Caravella, Avicado Construction Technology Services; Nathan Wood, Construction Progress Coalition 

5:15 PM - 7:00 PM

Opening Night Reception

Meet, network, and socialize with your fellow attendees.  Hors d'oeuvres will be served, along with a variety of beverages at the bar, to ease those pre-dinner hunger pangs.

7:15 AM - 8:15 AM


Start your morning off right with coffee, a breakfast buffet and conversation with peers. 

8:15 AM - 8:30 AM


Let’s get busy learning!  Grab your seat for a preview of today’s content by the Chair of COAA’s Conference Committee.

8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Keynote - Follow Me, I’m Right Behind You | How to Lead & Influence 

The key to successful leadership today is influence, not authority.  Especially with the traditional workplace evolving before our eyes, strong leaders must influence and engage others as opposed to barking orders.  Jody will provide funny but deadly accurate insight and suggestions for inspiring your teams to be high-performing, focused, and collaborative.

Jody Urquhart, Keynote Speaker

9:30 AM - 9:45 AM


During the break please be sure to visit our exhibitors and sponsors.

9:45 AM - 10:45 AM

Concurrent Sessions

Let's Discuss Part 2 | Follow Me, I’m Right Behind You | How to Lead & Influence 

Ready to discuss what Jody just shared in her keynote address?  Grab some caffeine, then join her in a more intimate and interactive session that dives deeper into the idea that successful leadership leans more on influence than authority.

Jody Urquhart, Keynote Speaker 

Tradition vs. Innovation | Bridging the Gap Between Energy and Health

Given current cost, compliance, and market drivers, building Owners are confronted these days with unprecedented pressure to decarbonize real estate portfolios and ensure healthy indoor environments.  Solving the complex challenge has become a battle of tradition versus innovation:

  • On one hand, traditional industry practices for energy efficiency and indoor air quality often impede decarbonization and health goals, drive up capital and operating expenses, and compromise readiness for increasingly stringent health and building code requirements.
  • On the other hand, recent public health and climate change-related crises have spurred significant innovation in building design and operations, particularly next-gen technology platforms and solutions for validating, monitoring, and controlling HVAC systems to improve health and energy performance in buildings.

This panel of experienced stakeholders will discuss that quandary ... leverage case studies to illustrate tech-enabled, data-driven initiatives ... and dive deeper into related strategies, like the "Clean First Framework."

Presenters: Sarah Smith, Auburn University, Executive Director of Design; Sam Wershky, Assistant Vice President, Planning, Design & Construction, Cook Children's Health Care System; Stephanie Scibilia, Director of Channel Partnership, Safetraces, Inc   

10:45 - 11:00 AM


11:00 AM - 12:00 PM Concurrent Sessions

Optimizing PM Workload and Development

Seven years ago, Virginia Tech had an undersized project management team, a large volume of pending work, and an in-house reputation to clean up.  Today, the PM team has been right-sized, the volume of work is the highest ever achieved on campus, collaboration has improved, and internal client/stakeholder expectations are being met.  Hear how these changes were conceived and implemented, then discuss and consider how some of the changes at VT could be applied within your organization.

Presenters: Dwyn Taylor, PE, Assistant Vice President for Capital Construction, Virginia Tech

Travis Jessee, AIA, LEED AP, Supervisory Capital Project Manager, Virginia Tech 

ACE’s Transformative Partner Program

Founded in 1994 (same as COAA!), the ACE Mentor Program of America is a free, award-winning, afterschool program designed to attract high school students into pursuing careers in the AEC industry, including skilled trades.  ACE’s new Transformative Partner Program will take that mission a step further by mentoring and supporting students beyond high school.  Hear more about this exciting initiative and discuss workforce development best practices with the President of ACE and a prominent healthcare Owner.

Presenters: Diana Eidenshink, President, ACE Mentor Program of America, Inc. 

                        Clint Russell, HCA Healthcare 


Lunch & Project Leadership Award

Enjoy a delicious lunch while this year's winner of the Project Leadership Award is announced.

1:00PM - 1:15 PM


1:15 PM - 2:15 PM Concurrent Sessions

Wait, What?!?  Managing Change With Proven Lean Practices

The Princeton Cancer Center project team was tasked with designing a new 180,000 SF freestanding cancer center.  Early in the design phase, the Owner challenged the team with a new opportunity ... to improve the patient arrival experience by connecting the new Center to an existing hospital with an atrium serving as a single point of access to the two facilities.  Instead of recoiling with fear or disgust, the team came together in a remarkable way, implementing Lean best practices to effectively manage change and develop the best possible solution.  While this healthcare project was delivered via Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), the Lean principles & strategies apply to practically building type and delivery method.

Presenters: Michelle Amberson, Principal Shepley Bulfinch Architects; Larry Bell, Project Manager, Penn Medicine; Ed Hanzel, Vice President, LF Driscoll Construction Manager and Jason Lukes, Sr. Associate, BR+A Engineering

Embodied Carbon Reduction:  Let’s Get Serious

Through a multi-year coordinated effort from schematic design through construction, the Washington University School of Medicine / BJC Healthcare worked with their design & construction partners to benchmark the embodied carbon of a new Ambulatory Cancer Center in St. Louis (MO).  The intention was simple yet direct ... use the “EC3” tool to track and reduce embodied carbon without sacrificing cost, schedule, performance, aesthetics, or durability.  Two main strategies were implemented: 1) Replace cement with fly ash on applicable mixes and 2) Intentionally source products with Type III Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs).  Learn how this team was able to achieve an impressive 16% reduction in embodied carbon and hear how they’d improve the process on future projects.

Presenters: Rick Moeckel, Clayco; Madeline Smith, Clayco; Steve Sobo, Washington University in St. Louis 

2:15 PM - 2:45 PM Break
2:45 PM - 3:45 PM Concurrent Sessions

Predicting the Future:  Tracking Accurate Portfolio Cash Flow

In the dynamic world of project management, accurate cash flow prediction is a crucial pillar for achieving successful portfolio management. The significance of schedule management cannot be overlooked, as it empowers project owners to comprehend the potential programmatic impact of project delays and effectively plan and manage their portfolio cash flow while optimizing resource allocation.

Learn firsthand about USC's best practices that have streamlined their current projects and laid a robust foundation for future expansion. Through their strategic integration of schedule policies, bespoke templates, analytics, and continuous training, USC has pioneered a model that harmonizes schedule and cash flow, enabling them to confidently plan for and execute a growing portfolio of projects. This deep dive offers insights, lessons, and actionable takeaways for institutions looking to elevate their financial foresight and readiness for expansion.

Presenters: Irene Seatter, University of Southern California & Harpreet Suji, OnIndus 

Rapid Fire, Power of Engagement

Do not miss this opportunity to hear from FIVE industry experts as they present a discussion on engagement.  This rapid-fire format will share thoughts, examples, and tricks for effective communication.  You will not be bored as each presenter has a limited amount of time to share how they see current and future engagement taking place in our industry

Presenters: Sarah Smith, Auburn University; Ann Leiner, Stacey & Associates

Ken Ausley, Ausley Construction; David Stutzman, Conspectus; Carli Cole, HGA

3:45 PM - 4:00 PM Break
4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Epic Visualization

Construction of Universal’s new “Epic Universe” park is a massive, complex, and fast-moving endeavor.  Instead of relying on standard means for communicating and collaborating, this O-A-C team used a digital wall as the centerpiece of daily onsite huddles.  This allowed for real-time data and visualization of anything and everything ... from current & projected progress to conflict resolution, illustration of challenges and restraints, long-range planning, and more.  See and hear how basic technology and existing platforms & tools were leveraged to create the digital wall, proving this approach might be applicable to YOUR projects (even if they’re not “Epic”).

Presenters: Thomas Amato, Project Manager, Whiting-Turner; Ryan Fintel, VDC Manager Whiting-Turner; 

Josh Metzge, Universal Creative; Aaron Reedy, Baker Concrete

5:15 PM - 7:00 PM

Evening Social 

Wear your favorite t-shirt to spark conversation - sports, music, a good quote - have fun with it! Come casual and enjoy!

7:30 AM - 8:30 AM


Start your morning off right with coffee, a breakfast buffet and conversation with peers.

8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Concurrent Sessions

Planning and Delivering Federal Courthouses

The General Services Administration (GSA) is responsible for constructing federal courthouses that serves the needs of the citizens of the United States. This task, however, demands a delicate balance between the competing priorities of the GSA's real estate portfolio requirements and the ever-evolving needs of its tenants.

Delivering a new federal courthouse involves navigating through a myriad of obstacles and making critical decisions along the way. The GSA must ensure that the courthouse meets the highest standards of functionality, security, and accessibility, while also adhering to budgetary constraints and time limitations.

One of the primary challenges lies in striking the right balance between the GSA's real estate portfolio needs and the evolving requirements of its tenants. The GSA must carefully assess the demands of its diverse tenant base, that include judges, attorneys, court staff, and the public. Each group has unique needs and expectations that must be met to ensure the smooth operation of the courthouse.

In addition to these challenges, the GSA must also navigate the complex web of regulations and compliance requirements that govern federal construction projects. From environmental regulations to mandates, the GSA must ensure that the new courthouse meets all necessary criteria,.

Ultimately, the successful delivery of a new federal courthouse requires a meticulous approach, unwavering dedication, and a deep understanding of the unique needs of both the GSA and its tenants.

Presenters: David Lee, Director, General Services Administration; Laura Shadix, Project Executive, General Services Administration; Charlie Hearn, General Services Administration 

I Didn’t Have Time To Write a Short RFP ... So I Wrote a Long One

The way we consume information has changed.  Brevity and graphical content are the norm, so why are we using the same stale proposal formats used for decades?  Firms prepare 50-page proposals because Owners require them in tired and regurgitated RFQs and RFPs.  Owners complain they review dozens of proposals that seem almost identical, while the proposers lament assembling lengthy proposals that can't possibly be read.  It’s time for disruption with the application of Lean thinking via ‘A3’ RFPs and proposals.  The process & format force the author to provide concise and curated information with graphical elements often replacing long-winded narratives.  This session will feature an Owner, builder, and design pro experienced with this approach and will include a brief refresher of Lean thinking in construction.

 Presenters: Jack Mumma, JD, CM-Lean, University of Maryland Baltimore; Kenneth Ausley, Ausley Contruction Co, Inc.; Ann Leiner Stacey & Associates, LLC

9:30 AM - 9:45 AM


9:45 AM - 10:45 AM Concurrent Sessions

The Importance of Community: A Swarthmore Case Study

“This project is about much more than a building; it represents an opportunity to reimagine how we live in community with one another.”  So says Jim Terhune, VP and Dean of Students at Swarthmore College.  The project in question – a new Dining and Community Commons – is a game-changer for Swarthmore and features several components of interest to practically any Owner, including:

  • Phased construction challenges
  • Design elements supportive of the College’s “To Zero by Thirty-Five” carbon neutrality goals
  • Using the built environment to foster connection and collaboration

 Presenters: Susan Smythe, Senior Project Manager

Benjamin Strain, Higher Education Design Leader

Seeking to Up Your Lean Game, Owners?  We Got You!

Most facility/project Owners have a basic understanding of what Lean means but may not know enough to truly “speak the language,” lead the team, and understand which Lean strategies are best suited to a particular project or process improvement effort.  Two of the industry’s leading organizations – COAA and LCI, the experts when it comes to Owners and Lean – partnered to fill that knowledge void by creating an all-day Owner Training Institute® course entitled “Lean For Owners.”  See and hear a condensed summary of this highly popular and interactive course to both whet your Lean appetite and gauge whether this might be a good training opportunity for your organization.

Presenters: Kate Edwards, Whiting-Turner; John Bechtel, Penn State University and Kurt Neubek, Page Southerland Page

10:45 AM - 11:00 AM Break
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Owners Roundtable

Always one of the highest-rated sessions at each COAA conference, this unstructured discussion allows for professional-to-professional sharing of challenges, best practices, and lessons learned.

Stuart Cullen, University of Florida Planning, Design and Construction 

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM Lunch