Event Details

Dates: Tuesday, March 19 & Thursday, March 21, 2024
Time: 2:00 PM ET
Duration: 90 minutes (each day)
Price: $99

During this virtual experience attendees will hear from women thought leaders discuss bold leadership, peer networking, employee resource groups, and applicable steps to an inclusive workplace.

2024 Symposium Lineup

Day 1 – March 19
Knowing Your Way: 10 Bold Secrets Wise Women Use to Succeed | Susan Young
Bringing Your Employer Brand to Life: The Key Role Employee Resource Groups Play | Amy Collins, FSMPS, CPSM | Cricket Robertson, FSMPS, CPSM | Joelle Shea

Day 2 – March 21
Lean on Me: The Power of Peer Networks | Kate Attilio, CPSM | Laura Ewan, FSMPS, CPSM | Jen McGovern, CPSM
How to Use Case Studies to Demonstrate Your Firm’s Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion | Leslie Blaize, CPSM


For the last 50 years, SMPS has engaged, inspired, and empowered A/E/C professionals for leadership and lifelong learning. We recognize that this longevity and impact can be directly attributed to our 7,300+ members, which are 73% women. In alignment with our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) commitment, SMPS is debuting our new Women + A/E/C initiative to empower, champion and celebrate the impact of women in the A/E/C industry.

SMPS Chief Financial Officer and DEI Advocate, Antonio Payne, CPA, shares;

“We’re excited about expanding our DEI initiative in celebration of Women + A/E/C. This specific DEI initiative directly impacts so much of our membership. I’m proud that SMPS is taking another strategic step to create a more inclusive future for A/E/C.”

The Women + A/E/C Initiative

Women +A/E/C provides a space and a vehicle for women to amplify their voice and be champions of what’s next in the A/E/C industries and beyond. Making up more than 50% of the population in the United States, women are a viable source for workforce growth. We need their future participation to ensure our industries attract the best and most qualified talent possible. Gender diversity makes a difference in performance and profitability, and Women + A/E/C will be a catalyst for progress in the A/E/C industries.

What You Can Expect From Women + A/E/C

Women + A/E/C was designed to empower, champion and celebrate the impact of women in the A/E/C industries. This initiative directly aligns with our strategic priority to cultivate professionals with diverse expertise. This Women + AEC initiative will include:
  • In-person and virtual events
  • Peer-to-peer mentoring
  • Networking opportunities
  • Data and resources
  • Women + A/E/C Recognition Series
  • Private LinkedIn Group

Everyone Is Welcome (Not Just Women)

The future of A/E/C includes everyone. We encourage men, women and non-binary people to participate in these impactful discussions led by women leaders about technology, economics, leadership, sustainability and data. We extend this invitation beyond marketers and business developers to architects, project managers, contractors, CEOs, human resource professionals, and all others impacted by women in the A/E/C industries. If you are a woman or work with women, this Women + A/E/C initiative was designed for you.

How To Champion Women + A/E/C

If your firm wants to be part of the growth of  our Women + A/E/C initiative, you can become a sponsor. We have one exclusive EMPOWER sponsor and three sponsorship tiers: Impact, Engage and Support. For more information about how your firm can participate, visit our Women + A/E/C Partnership webpage.

Have questions about Women + A/E/C? Reach out to dei@smps.org.

SMPS Thanks our Women + A/E/C Partner

Ally Sponsor


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Leslie Blaize headshot
Leslie Blaize, CPSM

Many Architecture/Engineering/Construction firms elevate the industry with effective diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in their workforce. The big question is how are they promoting their efforts? Client-focused case studies are typically used to tell how an A/E/C company helped a happy client overcome a challenging situation. It can be used in the same way to promote a company’s diversity and inclusion efforts. Current employees would report how they’re benefiting from an equitable work environment. Through case studies, A/E/C firms can show how DEI policies impact the lives of their workforce, clients, and partners. Potential recruits, website visitors, and other stakeholders will appreciate the authentic stories of the firm’s selected employees. Finally, the impact of sharing well-composed and powerful stories is monumental for the A/E/C industry. Case studies typically follow a challenge, solution, and result format. Companies can ask select employees to tell their stories about obstacles they faced and how they received support to achieve their goals. In this presentation, I will emphasize the value of using a six-step case study process to feature employees who can address the corporate value of an inclusive workplace. It’s best if they have a good story to tell about how they’ve benefited from the company’s DEI policies, either directly or indirectly. We will discuss the types of questions to ask and how to uncover personal and professional stories that matter. Case studies also could reveal the benefits of diverse in-house or project teams. This session is a must for the Women+A/E/C event because these success stories focus on human connections rather than just corporate policy. Employee-based case studies provide social proof that a company supports differences.

Learning Objectives:

  • Attendees will learn a six-part process for creating an employee-based case study focusing on DEI.
  • Attendees will learn three approaches for developing the case study.
    Blaize will emphasize how case studies will stand out in an AI world.

About Leslie Balzie, CPSM
Client-focused case studies explain how design and construction companies help happy clients overcome challenging situations. They can promote many company commitment initiatives, including diversity and inclusion.

Leslie Blaize, CPSM, is an accomplished case study writer who helps A/E/C companies share their stories to build awareness and position them for more work and growth. Her background includes providing corporate communications for a multidisciplinary firm. Her mission is to promote the use of case studies because they are an effective marketing tool.

In 2022, Blaize, owner of Blaize Communications, launched A/E/C Connect. This LinkedIn newsletter analyzes issues related to case studies and storytelling topics. With the explosion of AI platforms like ChatGPT, telling stories and developing human connections have become even more critical.


Marketing in the A/E/C industries can feel lonely—many marketers are one-person teams, and even those on larger teams can be the only person in their role. It’s easy to feel misunderstood, or like your firm focuses on technical professionals’ growth rather than your own. That’s where your peer network comes into play—our panelists will explain how connecting with each other early in their careers helped push them to grow, and share ideas for how you can leverage your network to do the same.

Learning Objectives:

  • How the value of a peer network evolves over time as you grow in your career
  • Why peer mentoring matters to your growth and development
  • The type of peers you need in your network
  • How to be considered as a leader on the executive team (your composure, confidence, who you are communicating with, etc.)

About the panel

Kate, Laura, and Jen have presented a combined 75+ presentations across the A/E/C industry—and are proud to have an excellent peer network that supports them every step of the way. As marketers with construction, architecture, and engineering firms, respectively, Kate, Laura, and Jen bring a broad perspective that spans our industry. Kate’s passion for storytelling and connection fuel her leadership of DAVIS’ integrated marketing communications strategy. She sets and manages strategies that not only incorporate business and growth goals, but also connect to the corporate culture and local community. Laura is a brand builder who loves helping companies realize their most aspirational vision of themselves. She specializes in creative internal and external communications that reinforce corporate culture, encourage transparent leadership, and drive accountability around firm goals. Give Jen a PowerPoint and a microphone, and she can’t be stopped. A frequent author and presenter, Jen is passionate about arming marketers with real-life tips they can immediately apply to drive growth for their firms—and themselves.


While building a culture of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEI&B) ranks high among AEC firms, the implementation of robust, well-coordinated employee resource groups (ERG) aligned with the corporate brand is relatively low compared to firms in the Fortune 500. Join this panel discussion to learn about the value of ERGs and the important connection between ERGs, the employer brand, and the employer value proposition (EVP). We’ll provide an overview of effective employer brand tenets, EVP creation, and ERGs in our industry, and then use the Connected Women at Gannett Fleming ERG as a case study. Included and solidified in the firm’s strategic action plan and a critical component of employee experience, DEI&B is enhanced through the intersectionality of all ERGs as well as their connection to corporate goals. For example, Connected Women’s leadership sets intentional goals to incorporate employer brand into its strategic plan and uses it as a guide for our programming, activities, digital content, and learning opportunities throughout the year. Six years after launching Connected Women, we measure KPIs and have compelling proof of how women-led and focused ERGs impact employee retention rates.

Learning Objectives:
Leverage AEC-specific data about the value of ERGs
Understand the importance of developing a strong employer brand and EVP, as well as an ERG strategic plan centered around those foundational brand elements
Position women-led ERGs to foster a culture of inclusivity and increase employee retention and satisfaction rates
Determine KPIs to measure for a baseline and growth goals.

Amy Collins, FSMPS, CPSM
Senior Marketing Communications Manager, Gannett Fleming

As a career-long member of the AEC community, Amy is passionate about giving back to the industry. A former president of the SMPS Central Pennsylvania chapter, Amy completed a six-year term as trustee of the national SMPS Foundation, where she served as both secretary and treasurer and managed the development of multiple Foundation research projects.​

Amy is dedicated to transforming companies through marketing leadership, raising the bar for marketing strategy and deliverables, and achieving measurable results to support strategic growth and advance business goals. Throughout the past two decades, she has worked with firms to evolve marketing teams of all sizes, guiding the adoption of new solutions and structures to drive success. At Gannett Fleming, she is a member of the Connected Women at Gannett Fleming ERG steering committee.

Cricket Robertson, FSMPS, CPSM
Senior Marketing Communications Manager, Gannett Fleming

Cricket Robertson, FSMPS, CPSM, is a marketing and communications manager at Gannett Fleming. With more than 25 years in the AEC industry, her passion is aimed at driving tangible growth, optimizing the power of communication, and creating trusted partnerships. Having worked in architecture, engineering, and construction, Cricket’s non-linear career path has given her the skills to develop and implement marketing strategies and initiatives that align with company objectives. She is also committed to empowering women in AEC and is currently serving her second year on the steering committee for the Connected Women at Gannett Fleming ERG. An active member of SMPS since 2007, Cricket’s dedication to AEC marketing reflects her ability to translate ideas into strategies to transform business through marketing leadership.

Joelle Shea
Senior Corporate Communications Manager, Gannett Fleming

Joelle Shea is the senior corporate marketing and communications manager at Gannett Fleming. She is responsible for developing and executing integrated marketing and communications that support the firm’s strategic action plan, elevate experts as thought leaders within the AEC industry, and compel the audience to action. At Gannett Fleming, she is also the immediate past chair of the Connected Women ERG, which aims to create a culture that empowers, supports, and mentors women to achieve career and personal success.

With a master’s from Georgetown University and a bachelor’s from The Catholic University of America, Joelle is also actively engaged in the community. She’s a leader of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber Business Women’s Advisory Committee, serves on the Advisory Committee for the Fund for Women and Girls, and is a past president of the Pennsylvania Public Relations Society.


You’ve heard the adage that knowledge is power. Still, wisdom and knowing how to trust yourself are essential in the trades today. Susan Young is an award-winning communicator, entrepreneur, and A/E/C speaker. In this heartfelt keynote, Susan shares her “Ten Nuggets of Knowing.” These gems are not in popular books or YouTube videos. Instead, you will hear “lessons learned” from a 40-year career and journey of self-discovery. We’ll reflect on the wisdom and experience of fearless leaders, past and present. Get ready to know your true potential and use your gifts in a refreshing new way.

Learning Objectives:

  • Know when to use your voice and (subtly) brag on yourself
  • Know how to pay attention-or pay the price
  • Know that you have every right to be there
  • Know what you stand for and value
  • Know when to speak up and when to shut up
About Susan Young

Susan Young is an award-winning communicator and A/E/C keynote speaker.  She has worked with architecture, engineering, and construction firms for 24 years. Susan teaches clear, confident communication that wins trust, respect, and clients. 

Her experience as a radio news reporter and anchor brings a unique skill set to A/E/C. She has interviewed everyone from homeless people to presidents. With live and virtual programs, Susan teaches deep listening, curiosity, storytelling, and concise communication.

Her strategies include brain science that empowers business development teams to close more bids. Susan has been honored as “Entrepreneur of the Year.” Her favorite achievement is being one of the ‘Top 75 Badass Women on Twitter.’ 

Susan and her husband have two grown children. They live in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.