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And the Winners Are...2021 SMPS CT Professional Achievement Awards!

SMPS CT is celebrating our industry's outstanding marketing and business development professionals of 2021! The recipients of the SMPS CT Professional Achievement Awards are being honored for their contributions to the chapter and/or the AEC industry.

Grace Waldvogel Member of the Year - Carly Olson, Lane Construction Corporation

Carly is currently the Marketing Specialist for the Lane Construction Corporation headquartered in Cheshire, Connecticut. She leads the company’s strategy in corporate branding and advertising, as well as corporate events and internal and external communication campaigns. She also works as a small business Marketing and Development Consultant through her own firm, Green Path Marketing. In her career, she has gained expertise in marketing, advertising and branding for government agencies, nonprofits, higher education, and many different for-profit industries. Carly graduated from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Resource Economics and concentrations in International Development and Business Management. Her Masters degree is in Sustainable Food Systems, and she puts it to good use as a certified Nutritionist and Fitness Coach as a side gig. In her spare time, Carly is a top-ranking competitive physique athlete and avid hiker. She loves to travel and tries to take a trip every month to somewhere she’s never been.

This honor is awarded to a SMPS CT member that has gone above and beyond for the Chapter within the 2020-2021 year. The Member of the Year Award recipient is determined by SMPS CT board votes.

Trail Blazer Award - Julia DeFrances, BL Companies

Julia DeFrances has worked in the AEC industry for eight years, and has been a member of SMPS since 2013 – both as a student and as a professional member. She graduated Summa Cum Laude as a Double Baccalaureate from Southern Connecticut State University in 2017, with degrees in English and Philosophy. Julia currently serves as Treasurer for SMPS CT and is a member of the newly created Education Committee. As Marketing Coordinator at BL Companies, Julia is able to combine a love of creating with a passion for writing by developing communications collateral, proposals, award submissions, and more. She has worked on a lot of proposals, having coordinated over 100 proposals in the last three years alone. Julia loves to write (yes, even proposals) and enjoys sharing her knowledge with others in the industry. She believes anyone can be a great writer, as long as they have the right tools and practice.

This honor is awarded to an up-in-coming Marketer/Business Development Professional who shows great promise for the A/E/C industry and possesses a positive attitude. The Trail Blazer Award recipient is determined by SMPS CT member nominations with final board approval.

The James Bancroft Lifetime Achievement Award - Bernice Rios Bako, FSMPS, Turner Construction

Bernice Bako is responsible for the development and implementation of all enterprise-wide marketing activities for this 6,650 person firm. She manages the marketing efforts for aviation, data centers, healthcare, pharma, industrial, and sports/public assembly market segment groups. In her current position she is also responsible for training and organizational development of the business development and marketing job families. She is currently managing the reorganization and branding refresh for SourceBlue, a subsidiary of Turner Construction Company, which launched in the first quarter of 2021. Prior to her current position, Bernice worked in the Toledo, Ohio; New York City, Hawthorne, New York, and Connecticut offices.

Her professional career with Turner runs parallel to her SMPS career. A member for over 25 years, Bernice has held several positions within the organization. She was president of the Connecticut chapter that won the National Striving for Excellence Grand Prize in 2002. Prior to Turner / SMPS, Bernice served as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Air Force.

Bernice grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina and is a graduate of Peace College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Since 2013, she has been working remotely for over six years currently residing in Dallas, Texas. She lives with her husband, twin six-year-old daughters and Havanese dog.

This honor is awarded to a seasoned Marketing/Business Development Professional that has made endless contributions to the Marketing/BD profession within the A/E/C industry, and has also acted as an advisor for the chapter. The James Bancroft Lifetime Achievement Award recipient is determined by SMPS CT member nominations with final board.

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