COAA Connect Spring 2023


MONDAY, MAY 8, 2023
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

Chapter Forum

Join Chapter leaders and those interested in becoming more involved with local Chapters as they discuss events, leadership strategies, and best practices.  This will be an informal open discussion with an opportunity to share your Chapter news and challenges.  If you are interested in starting a Chapter, this could also be a good chance to hear advice on starting your journey.


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.”
Learning Objectives:

  • Attendees will be able to measure how to reduce waste via consideration of expenditures
  • Attendees will identify how empowering the team creates value for the end customer.
  • Attendees will be able to distinguish challenging boundaries.
  • Attendees will be able to measure how delivering maximum value as efficiently as possible affects the end customer.

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


Charlotte Motor Speedway Tour

Hop on a COAA-furnished bus for the 10-minute drive to the iconic Charlotte Motor Speedway, where you’ll get a chance to learn about and experience “America’s Home for Racing.”  Tour the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage and ride through two infield race tracks, then make your way down Pit Road to take a picture in Winner’s Circle.  Enjoy a comfortable van ride around the superspeedway, where you’ll feel the full-tilt force of the 24-degree banking, then visit the zMAX Dragway and the Dirt Track.

11:30 AM - 1:00 PM Lunch on Your Own
1:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Conference Welcome

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

John Zahor, President COAA

2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Owner's Forum: Start Your Engines!

Join all attendees for an opportunity to get to know new faces in the crowd.  A seasoned facilitator will create opportunities for networking, team building, and fun.  Topics important to Owners will be explored in this interactive kick-off to the conference.  See you there!

3:00 PM - 3:30 PM


Strech Your Legs!

3:30 PM - 5:00 PM

Monday WorkShops

Risky Business: Mitigating Exposure, Enhancing the Experience."

Owners and their partners know – now more than ever – that no two projects are alike, regardless of how similar the building types may be.  The risks associated with each project are unique, which means a collaborative, project-specific evaluation of risks is necessary, coupled with a project-specific strategy for navigating those risks.  Hear from all three legs of the stool – Owner, design professional, and builder – on their experience with such a tailored, trust-building approach to risk management.  A mock project exercise will be used to examine risk management & mitigation strategies and tools.

Presenters/Facilitators: Anca Lipan, Baskervill; Dan Buchta, Barton Malow; Paul O’Keef, Virginia Tech 

How to Accelerate Innovation!

6:00 PM - 7:30 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.

TUESDAY, MAY 9, 2023
7:15 AM - 8:15 AM Breakfast
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


Project Everest, Part 1: Reaching New Heights

Climbing Mount Everest is considered one of humanity’s greatest feats of physical, mental, and emotional endurance.  Alan Mallory took on the challenge and learned a lifetime’s worth of lessons.  His story is about much more than the climb ... it’s about a purpose-driven team that set an ambitious goal, committed to the planning and preparation, persevered, and achieved success.  The strategies and skills that contributed to this achievement, especially during critical situations, are directly applicable to the high-stress world of project planning and execution.

Alan’s presentation will touch on a number of relatable strategies, including:

  • Reframing activities to focus on goals and results over tasks.
  • Adaptive planning
  • Empowering team members to make critical decisions.
  • Agile thinking, roles, and responsibilities
  • Development of risk response strategies

Alan Mallory, 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

Project Everest : The Discussion Continues

This session builds on the framework of Alan’s keynote, with a deeper and more interactive dive into the importance of EI (Emotional Intelligence).  EI is the ability to identify, manage, and purposefully express our own emotions ... and understand and respond appropriately to the emotions of others.  It’s a crucial “soft skill” that relates to our ability to motivate others, problem-solve, build trusting relationships, and resolve conflicts.

Alan Mallory, Keynote Speaker

The 49th Acre: Building Excitement for a New Era in UNC Charlotte’s Football

As the largest institution in the Greater Charlotte Region with over 30,000 students, UNC Charlotte is recognized nationally as a leader in innovation, social mobility, and student success. The 49th Acre project, guided by a project-specific steering committee, is a three-acre outdoor complex that will provide year-round opportunities for informal and organized student gatherings, including football tailgating. This special project brings several firsts to UNC Charlotte in order to navigate unique circumstances and a fast-paced construction approach to complement the athletics calendar – first Design-Build project, first campus use of a ground lease to the Foundation, and the first time the campus has ever utilized an outside program manager for a project. Aspects of the Team’s creative and collaborative approach can be more broadly applied in today’s challenging construction environment.

The completed venue, made possible through a $10 million anonymous donation, will have the ability to accommodate more than 2,500 students with defined tailgating areas equipped with power pedestals supporting individual tailgating spots. Pedestrian and enhanced lighting are being added to allow for evening use. Entrance to The 49th Acre will be defined by a signature gateway portal with paved pathways that match campus pavers and hardscape. Native trees and plants that are adapted to the North Carolina climate are being utilized and year-round green turf that is resilient to heavy foot traffic wear is already partially installed with the completion of Phase 1. An irrigation system will maintain the healthy turf and plants. A new Entertainment Pavilion with restroom facilities and specialized AV equipment will round out the project and will be a passionate venue to host pre-/post-game entertainment while also providing shelter for tailgating in inclement weather. The 49th Acre's location will be close to the football stadium to allow attendees more access to the football stadium. UNC Charlotte was accepted into the American Athletic Conference in 2021. The Foundation donation will improve the student’s overall athletic experience and quickly focused on a special place to enhance the student experience and to give visiting alumni a central place for entertainment.

Presenters/Facilitators:  Blake, Boyd, Barton Malow; Rich Steele, UNCC; Matt Butler, K2M Design Inc., and Glenn Johnson, DLR

10:45 AM - 11:00 AM


11:00 AM - 12:00 PM Concurrent Sessions

In Her Own Words: The Power of Women in Construction

The National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) interviewed 176 tradeswomen in 2022 to quantify the unique contributions women bring to the construction industry and outline strategies to become the industry of choice for women.  NCCER representatives will share the findings and recommendations of this study

Presenters/Facilitators:  Tim Taylor, National Center for Construction Education & Research Jennifer Wilkerson, National Center for Construction education & Research

Leveling Up on Your Digital Journey: Owner Paths to Increasing BIM Adoption

The National Institute of Building Sciences recently launched the U.S. National Building Information Management (BIM) Program to bring industry stakeholders together to accelerate digital transformation for the built environment.  A key tenet of the program is to increase value to Owners by improving lifecycle management practices through the development and adoption of next-gen standards.

 That sounds terrific, but BIM adoption can be an arduous journey, with each Owner at different stages or levels along the continuum.  Moving from one level to another can be challenging, exacerbated by rapid technology changes and the broad range of project stakeholders Owners engage.

 Learn how to make that journey more comfortable, with suggestions from the U.S. National BIM Program; a BIM-experienced Owner; and your fellow attendees through real time polling and an interactive whiteboard.

Presenters/Facilitators: Johnny Fortune, U.S. National Institute of Building Sciences.Grace Wang, Google Data Center Operations

12:00 PM - 12:15 PM Break
12:15 PM - 1:15 PM

Lunch & Al Phillips Scholarship Awards

Enjoy a delicious lunch while this year's winners of the Albert E. Phillips Scholarship are announced.

1:15 PM - 2:15 PM Concurrent Sessions

Let’s Start Digging!  Wait, Maybe We Should Have a Look First ...

Purdue University’s construction of a new $108M Veterinary Teaching Hospital was fraught with challenges and risk, particularly with respect to existing conditions.  Understanding the precise depth & location of existing underground utilities, across a 13-acre site adjacent to the central power plant, was a critical pre-construction effort to minimize cost and schedule impacts ... not to mention unplanned outages that could affect hundreds of facilities.  Even if you aren’t in the higher ed realm or will ever construct a vet facility, learn from project leaders how they mitigated this major risk with a thoughtfully planned approach developed long before construction began.

Presenters/Facilitators:  Cy Rangel, Project Executive Capital Asset Management

It’s STILL All About the People:  Resource Management for Owners

Attracting and retaining talent was a challenge before the pandemic and resulting market impacts.  Now, it’s harder than ever before.  Hear from an Owner who developed their own solution for forecasting and managing the workload of its most important resource – the internal staff.

Presenters/Facilitators:  Rick Niederstadt, MMSD; Sid Shah, President OnIndus

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

Teach, Train, Promote, Retain: It’s All About YOUR People

COAA’s California chapter hosted a 3-part series of virtual workshops to discuss workforce challenges that attracted attendees from across the country.  Workshop panelists will share highlights, data, and key take-aways to help you improve your acquisition, onboarding, development, and retention of talent ... and an interactive voting platform will be used to allow for direct audience feedback and interaction.

Presenters/Facilitators:  Dale Harvey, Arcadis/IBI Group; Jim Carroll; University of California Davis

The Connected Owner – Accelerating Innovation with Integrated Digital Workflows

Technology adoption is growing fast in every part of the capital asset life cycle, from design to operations. A key goal is to improve anywhere/anytime access to reliable data that supports better decision-making.  For Owners, that means an information ecosystem that enables data exchange both internally and externally with vendors and partners.  This type of “connected Owner” can quickly analyze and improve workflow processes, rapidly introduce, and refine innovations in a controlled environment, and measure the benefits across all stakeholders.

In fact, though, most Owner organizations aren’t there yet and face a number of inherent or self-inflicted challenges ... but fear not!  Dodge Data & Analytics has conducted several recent research studies that may be able to help.  Steve Jones from Dodge will share highlights of these findings to help organizations understand how they can become “connected Owners.”

Presenters/Facilitators:  Steve Jones, Senior Director, Industry Insights Research

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

Establish Trust in the Red Zone

Have you ever taken over a project someone else started and tried to integrate into a team that was already working together?  It’s like the backup quarterback taking over with the team on the 20-yard line.  Some capital projects take years to execute and change hands more than once, so the team must be built and grown to withstand leadership changes and other challenges.  Hear from leaders of the (GSA) Charles Jonas Federal Courthouse project in Charlotte how they did exactly that by establishing high levels of trust and incorporating “The COAA Way” principles to strengthen project team culture.

Presenters/Facilitators:  Shawn Kelly, General Services Administration; Brady McGee, Brasfield Gorrie; Rob Hsin, Jenkins Peer

6:00 PM - 7:303 PM

Evening Social at Charlotte Motor Speedway

After a full day of connecting & learning, we’ll hop on buses for a 10-minute drive to the iconic Charlotte Motor Speedway.  Helmets and other PPE not required, as we won’t be racing ... just enjoying good company and munchies & beverages with a panoramic view of “America’s Home for Racing.”

7:30 AM - 8:30 AM Breakfast
8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Concurrent Sessions
Establishing Sustainability Goals:  Hear from the Experts!

Choosing sustainable building construction and operational practices is no longer optional.  Efficiently managing complex, time-consuming green certification requirements requires knowledge and advice from seasoned professionals.  To ensure compliance with processes like LEED, BREEAM, or WELL, Owners must begin thinking “green” at the earliest stages of each project.  With the right planning and effective communications, teams can save hundreds of hours of valuable time, consistently manage processes across a portfolio of projects, and significantly reduce the risk of missing certification goals.

This panel of seasoned pros will share their experience and best practices from hundreds of projects to keep sustainability goals on pace and under budget.  Attendees will leave this interactive discussion with an in-depth understanding of a wide range of tools, what’s proven to work in the field, and how to implement them in their organization.

Presenters/Facilitators: Tommy Linstroth, Green Badger; Jennifer Taranto, Structure Tone; Vickie Breemes, Little Diversified; Ryan Poole, DPR Construction

Design Assist:  Should I Stay or Should I Go?

This session leverages a higher ed residence hall project to explore the Design Assist procurement method.  Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) sought to expand their housing capacity by building a 266-bed, apartment-style residence hall at a prominent Pittsburgh intersection.  Faced with a challenging construction market in 2018, CMU created their own flavor of Design Assist to expedite schedule, maintain costs, and mitigate risk during construction.  If we go, there will be trouble (cost) ... and if we stay it will be double (risk).  Since completion bled into and beyond 2020, pandemic impacts made for an interesting and true side-by-side comparison of procurement methods.  Learn from CMU’s experience what worked with Design Assist and what could have worked better.

Presenters/Facilitators: Janice Held, Carnegie Mellon; Salonika Garapaty, Carnegie Mellon University; John Wattick, Mosites Construction Company; Matthew Flynn, Goody

9:30 AM - 9:45 AM


Please be sure to visit our exhibitors and sponsors

9:45 AM - 10:45 AM Concurrent Sessions

Rapid Fire 640: Innovation

Where else can you get FIVE different perspectives on a single broad topic in under an hour?  Right here!  An all-star lineup of Owners and Associates will share thoughts, case studies, or opinions on innovation and ingenuity.  Each presenter has a limited amount of time to share their thoughts, so get your notepad ready!

Presenters/Facilitators: Amy Luchun,  Sam Werschky, Sandy Shaposky, Jared Zurbuchen, Chris Moore

How Do Libraries Promote Innovation on Today’s Campus?

How can the library system become a catalyst for cross-disciplinary pathways to lead to world-changing research? This session details Purdue’s master planning effort to align physical and technological inventories with current and future pedagogies.

With many disruptions shaking things up in higher education, university leadership is looking for ways to make their campuses efficient yet deliver world-class educational environments. At Purdue University, the Library System recently embarked on a master planning effort to align physical and technological inventories with current and future pedagogies to meet the university and student needs over the next decade.

Purdue University Libraries system is currently in eight buildings across campus with nearly 279,000 ASF. The system includes staff totaling nearly 10 of which 81 are faculty and professionals. Over 3 million printed volumes and electronic books. Nearly 228,000 electronic and print journals with hundreds of thousands of government documents and microforms.

Presenters/Facilitators: Drew Furry, Purdue University; Derek Jones, Perkins&Will; Jessica Figenholtz, Perkins&Will

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.

12:00 PM - 1:00 PM Lunch