Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Philosophy & Policy

SMPS recognizes, respects, and values the dignity of all people. We are united in our stance against all forms of injustice and inequity. SMPS commits to actively champion diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) within our organization, the firms we represent, the communities we serve, and the architecture/engineering/construction (A/E/C) industries. We are intentionally working to increase participation in our organization and the A/E/C industries by underrepresented groups; advocate for recruitment and retention of professionals of all backgrounds by creating inclusive and welcoming environments; and promote equality and opportunities for advancement in the Society and industry overall. Together, we can transform our businesses, enhance membership experiences, and influence change in our communities.

We recognize that our diversity is reflected by our different people and firms. We believe our varying ethnicities, cultures, religious beliefs, genders, sexual orientations, ages, levels of experiences, physical abilities, and other differences benefit us as individuals and as an organization. In SMPS, we will organize and promote programs and activities that espouse our beliefs and increase awareness, understanding, recruitment, and participation of diverse persons and firms.

To start the DEI conversation within your organization, download our Crucial DEI Conversation Starter Manual today.

Upcoming DEI + AEC Townhall

DEI + AEC Townhalls

DEI + A/E/C | September 12, 2022: Amplifying Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Join Melvin Gravely, commercial construction CEO and author of Dear White Friend, as he expands on his MAX Talk from Amplify A|E|C. Mel will dive deeper into a conversation about race and how it’s played out in our communities, with our customers, and in our business. His approach to this challenging topic is forthright yet collegial and, at the same time, thought-provoking and inspiring.

Amplifying Your Influence: Our Customers, Our Business and Race with Mel will take place on September 12, from 3–4: 15 ET. At the end of this virtual program, there will be dedicated time for questions. This and all events in our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) townhall series are complimentary. Please spread the word by sharing this with your friends and colleagues.

Thought Leader

Mel Gravely is the majority owner and CEO of a commercial construction company in Cincinnati, Ohio. As one of the largest construction companies in the region, it is a consistent member of the Deloitte 100 list of the largest privately owned companies.

An active business and civic leader who has chaired the board of the Cincinnati Regional Chamber of Commerce, Gravely served on the board of the United Way, was a founding board member of the Cincinnati Regional Economic Development Initative (REDI Cincinnati), and vice chairperson of Artswave, the largest community arts fund in the nation. He co-chaired the Cincinnati Regional Business Committee, a group of 100 middle market CEOs working collectively toward meaningful civic action. He is also a board member of several private companies.

Gravely earned a BS in Computer Science from Mount Union University, an MBA from Kent State University, and a Ph.D. from the Union Institute and University. He has written eight business books. He is the father of three adult children and married to Chandra (Webb) Gravely. They have one granddaughter.


With over two decades of experience, Jennifer Nix-McGerald has led and supported all phases of the marketing-to-sales funnel, from awareness building and positioning to capture planning and pursuit strategies. As RS&H’s External Communications & Public Relations Manager, she is responsible for developing and implementing an integrated external communications strategy that shares RS&H’s stories and bolsters positive relationships with the communities the firm serves.

Jennifer Nix-McGerald is a Certified Professional Services Marketer (CPSM) and has served in various roles at the Society and chapter levels, including chapter president. She is passionate about doing her part to transform the A/E/C industry through advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I).


DEI + A/E/C | August 2, 2022: Construction and Real Estate

Let’s continue to drive the conversation forward. Join us on August 2 from 3-4:15pm ET for the next complimentary event in our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) townhall series. We’ll discuss the history of representation and inclusion within construction and real estate, what’s lacking, and how we can work together to improve it.

Our distinguished panel will include Colette Holt, J.D., and Henry Nutt III, and SMPS Task Force Chair Asheya L. Warren, CPSM, will moderate the discussion. At the end of our virtual program, there will be time for questions.

The Panelists

Antoine Bryant, AIA , NOMA
Antoine Bryant, director of the Planning & Development Department, comes to Detroit from Houston, following 25-plus years as a planner, architect for national firm Moody Nolan, and community advocate focused on engagement and equity. With a clear commitment to – and a long track record of – deep community engagement and developing a vision and plan that reflects the desires of residents, Bryant’s career has centered around the development and social empowerment of underserved communities. He is a nationally recognized thought leader in civic engagement, urban planning, and community-led design. According to the press release, he also directed efforts across the country, from neighborhood plans to full-scale strategic planning activities. Bryant holds a B.S. Urban and Regional Studies from Cornell University and a Masters of Architecture from the University of Texas.

Colette Holt, J.D.
Colette serves as general counsel to the American Contract Compliance Association. Colette is also an author and frequent media commentator who represents public agencies and private firms on issues related to civil rights, public contracting, and affirmative action. For over 30 years, Colette has managed a national law and consulting practice that focuses on affirmative action issues, Minority/Women/Disadvantaged Business programs, local hire and community benefits programs, and expert witness services regarding these substantive areas. In addition to my practice, I serve as General counsel to the American Contract Compliance Association,

Henry Nutt III

Henry serves as the preconstruction executive for Southland Industries, after serving as the Sheet Metal General superintendent for over 12 years. He sits on the Associated General Contractors of America’s board of directors and is their current chair for the Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee.

Dr. Destiny Thomas
Dr. Thomas is a socio-cultural anthropologist with over 15 years of experience developing equitable systems in government and non-profit spaces. Her methods include dignity-infused planning & community engagement, participatory governance, interdisciplinary praxis, critical race theory, gender studies, and anti- displacement. Thrivance Group is an accountability-partner to urban and transportation planning policymakers, regulatory agencies, and civil service agencies. A for profit, socially-responsible planning firm working, in the interest of racialized people, to bring transformative justice into public policy, urban planning and community development, Thrivance Group believes that race, place, and joy matter in defining individual and community outcomes. Dr. Thomas holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Fisk University, where she graduated in 2006. As well as a Master of Public Administration with an emphasis in Public Health and Non-Profit Management from Tennessee State University; PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology from the California Institute of Integral Studies.

Download presentation handouts.


DEI + A/E/C | June 13, 2022: Pride Talk with SMPS

Marketing professionals can play an integral role in supporting a more equitable, inclusive industry and workplace for LGTBQ+ communities. During our next Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) event, learn more LGTBQ+ persons’ experiences within architecture and engineering firms related to workplace culture, leadership, and inclusion. Featuring industry-specific research and insights, you’ll be equipped with knowledge and approaches to support equity, inclusion and allyship. The virtual presentation, which includes a Q&A segment, will also demonstrate how marketing knowledge and skills can be applied to support industry change and a more equitable, inclusive workplace for all.

By attending this complimentary DEI event, you’ll walk away with:

  • Increased knowledge of DEI terms and concepts that impact one’s daily work and leadership
  • Increased awareness of how many LGTBQ+ colleagues experience workplace culture and leadership
  • Practical approaches to support equity, inclusion and allyship for your LGTBQ+ colleagues
  • A learning-capture document summarizing the presentation to support and apply what you’ve learned

Presenter: Russell Pollard (he/him), MBA

Russell is an active member of the A/E/C communities. For four years, he has volunteered on the board of SMPS Ontario and currently serves as immediate past-president for the chapter. As a management consultant, he provides associate’s leadership training, workplace culture assessments and advisory, and change management support to architecture and engineering firms. He embeds principles of equity, diversity, and inclusion in his work.

Since joining the A/E/C sector in 2017, Russell has been contributing to industry change through public speaking, sponsorship, volunteerism, and research, aiming to support a more inclusive, equitable industry for all. Russell has a Master’s of Business Administration, bachelor’s of interdisciplinary leadership, and a certificate in Leadership and Inclusion.


DEI + A/E/C | May 3, 2022: Inclusive Leadership

On May 3 our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program focused on the topic of Inclusive Leadership.

The virtual panel discussion, moderated by DEI Committee Chair, Asheya, Warren, CPSM, took a deep-dive into inclusive leadership, and how to achieve it.

Panelists included:

Toni Howard Lowe, SHRM-CP, PHR, a global diversity & inclusion and human resource practitioner.

Paula Stamp, director, business development for PCL Construction Services

Halima K. McWilliams, MS, SHRM-CP, PHR, CDP, an Associate Principal at Corgan,

Michael Geary, CAE, Chief Executive Officer SMPS and the SMPS Foundation

Or watch the full video below.


DEI + A/E/C | March 8, 2022: How diversity and inclusion are vital to the future of A/E/C

If the future of A/E/C matters to us, we need to continue having crucial conversations. Actions—and words—will make an impact within our firms and industries.

On March 8, we heard from DEI thought leaders as they shared their perspectives. The virtual panel discussion, moderated by DEI Task Force Chair, Asheya, Warren, CPSM, focused on where we are now in the DEI space and why diversity is vital in A/E/C.

View the key takeaways from the presentation here. Or watch the full video below.


Our Action Plan

SMPS is dedicated to strengthening equitable and inclusive practices, and through the DEI Task Force and Society leadership, we will:

  • Develop and provide proper training materials, toolkits, and guides to encourage DEI, allyship, and relevant conversations for our chapters and members.
  • Provide resources and references from diverse individuals who can provide a different and profound perspective, especially in panels or speaking events, allowing others the chance to speak and engage audiences of their peers.
  • Cultivate exposure opportunities to enhance awareness of professional services marketing career paths for K-12, community colleges, and higher education institutions, targeting underrepresented groups.
  • Broaden recruitment, participation, retention, and involvement efforts to build a more engaged and inclusive network.
  • Identify research opportunities for the SMPS Foundation that support DEI competencies among professionals and firms.
  • Through the SMPS Foundation, provide $25,000 in scholarships for the 2021-22 academic year to students from across the country attending historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) to provide awareness and accessibility to the A/E/C industries. Scholarship recipients will receive mentorship, support, and access to SMPS programming through a student membership included as part of the scholarship award package.
  • Expand strategic partnerships with other A/E/C organizations and DEI entities that support this mission allowing us to fight in strength and numbers.

We recognize this effort is ongoing and that we are just beginning our journey to transformational change.

Areas of Impact

DEI Resources

Below are a few SMPS and industry partner resources around DEI. If you’re an SMPS member, join the discussions on MySMPS and to get additional member and chapter resources.

SMPS Resources

Crucial DEI Conversation Starters 

Three Major Steps Toward Inclusion and Racial Equality in A/E/C, by Asheya L. Warren, CPSM (published in the August 2021 Marketer)

SMPS Foundation Zinsmeyer Scholarship

February 2021 Marketer: Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity

SMPS Member Voices

Board Diversity Matrix

Industry Partner Resources

Kanarys’ Resources Center

  • AAPI Heritage Month | Keeping Commitments: Going Beyond APAHM and Mental Health Awareness Months in the Workplace

The National Organization of Minority Architects

American Institute of Architects

Perkins&Will and AIA Best Practices

Associated General Contractors of America

Chapter Resources and Events

Are you interested in finding out what local chapters are doing around DEI? Navigate to your chapter’s website to find out more.

About the DEI Committee

Prosperity comes from diversity.

Research shows that firms with diverse experiences and perspectives seated around the table are more profitable. That’s why SMPS is working to promote a culture of inclusion, amplify the voices of the underrepresented, and support the business case for diversity.

In February 2020, the SMPS board approved the creation of a DEI Task Force. Its purpose is to suggest initiatives and strategic objectives to the board of directors and staff to increase awareness of and support DEI for our membership, the marketing profession, and our members’ firms.

As our goal, SMPS aspires to be a leader for our members, among our peer groups, and in our professional community. We will have diverse leadership structure, staff, and membership; we will create a supportive environment for people of color; we will offer tools to make change in our organization, profession, and industries.

Through our task force, SMPS is leading the way forward.

Task force members are passionate about finding and illuminating the Society’s voice and strategies through the lens of DEI. Their work will help our members and chapter leaders advance our profession, industries, and SMPS to achieve our vision for a more just society.

Scholarships and Endowments