Event Recap: SMPS CT Strategic Planning


As part of this year's strategic planning retreat, SMPS CT was joined by Inspire Corps. Acting as facilitators, they led SMPS CT members on a journey through time to discover the past and future of the chapter. From humble beginnings as a satellite office to the Boston chapter to various accolades and recent growth spurts, SMPS CT has a rich history that has that helped form the chapter as it is today. Our members came away with an understanding of how SMPS CT started and the various factors at play during it's growth stages.  

Inspire Corps illustrating the history of SMPS CT from our beginnings in the early 1980's to present day. 

With a clear view of the past, we were able to start planning for the future. As part of the discussion we took time to relflect on the SMPS Mission & Vision and benchmark our goals against both:

The SMPS Mission: To advocate for, educate, and connect leaders in the building industry. 
The SMPS Vision: Business transformed through marketing leadership. 

Attendees were able to use their creative thinking skills as we discussed critical path items and set goals to make our 2018-2019 program year the best it can be.

SMPS CT members discussing the vision and mission of SMPS.



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Event Recap: SMPS CT Annual Meeting and Connecticut Economic Outlook Client Panel

By: Marta Dabrowski

SMPS CT's Annual Meeting and Connecticut's Economic Outlook Client Panel took place on June 20th at the Back Nine Tavern at Southington Country Club. Before the panelists took the stage, current President Sharon Pomeroy, shared some of the past season's highlights which included record membership numbers, an impressive programs line-up, and an increase in our social media following. 

As part of the end-of-season celebrations, member of the year and lifetime achievement awards were awarded to members who made invaluable contributions to the chapter. Jessica Parkins of Petra Construction, was the recipient of the Grace Waldvogel Member of the Year Award. Jessica, as the Programs Committee Chair, has done an extraordinary job leading the committee and successfully coordinating chapter programs and events. Jim Bancroft of Lenard Engineering, was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. His contributions to SMPS and the Connecticut chapter over the past 24 years as treasurer are insurmountable. The SMPS CT board unanimously decided that going forward the Lifetime Achievement Award will be know as the Jim Bancroft Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Client Panel

Our all star client panel tackled some of the tough question regarding the current state of the Connecticut economy including the status of current and upcoming A/E/C projects and the future economic outlook for the State. Our panel included: James P. Redeker, Commissioner, Connecticut Department of Transportation; Laura Cruickshank, FAIA, University Master Planner and Chief Architect and Associate Vice President for University Planning, Design and Construction for the University of Connecticut; Karri May, AIA, Senior Project Manager, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center; Dawn Hocevar, President & CEO of Bio CT; and Courtney Hendricson, Vice President of Municipal Services at Connecticut Economic Resource Center, Inc. (CREC). Our moderator was Kent Schwendy, President/CEO of CIL, a non-profit real estate development company.

To start, the panelists each shared an experience that had a profound impact on their career. From changing the lives of cancer patients through the design of medical facilities to connecting people through transportation initiatives, the panelist made it clear that the spaces we live in have a profound effect on individuals and that, most importantly, we have to strive to make Connecticut a place where people want to live and work.  

When asked if the economy performed as expected over the past year and what the outlook was for the future, the panelists agreed that last year was not easy for anyone. The State budget cuts within the past couple months caused projects across Connecticut to be put on hold. This delay had a ripple effect on all future projects. Laura Cruickshank (UConn) concurred that the budget has put some of the university's projects on hold. With most projects being STEM-oriented, this not only had an impact on the University but also the job market - potentially causing a shortage in STEM graduates. Dawn Hocevar (Bio CT) had a positive outlook for the bio science industry in Connecticut. With bio science being one of the top five revenue generating industries in the State, it will be worthwhile for the State to invest in more incubator spaces and graduate spaces to allow these new start-ups to develop. 

Looking to the future, James Redeker (CTDOT) shared his vison for Connecticut which included getting rid of congestion and providing more alternative transportation options. He commented that sustained progress and investment in transportation will keep the economy going in the long run. Investing in transportation makes a difference - that's why the Department is planning to ease congestion by putting the Charter Oak Bridge out to bid later this year, the bridge is one of the most congested routes in the State. Karri May (CT Children's Medical Center) believes we need to start thinking more regionally and attract people and clients from outside the state. Courtney Hendricson (CERC) agreed, saying that CERC is currently working on recruiting foreign companies to do business in Connecticut. 

To conclude the program the panelists were asked how the A/E/C industry can help in their current positions. Courtney Hendricson (CERC) said the best way to help is to get to know the senior leaders and officials in your community - most often you share the same goals and can work together to make them a reality. James Redeker (CTDOT) commented that celebrating what we are doing together will make all the difference and make Connecticut a more positive place to work and live. 

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Event Recap: AEC Award Submissions

SMPS Connecticut presented a panel discussion on AEC Industry Award Submissions moderated by Cathy DeFrances, CPSM, Associate / Director of Business Development  |  Fuss & O'Neill EnviroScience, LLC. Speakers at the Wednesday March 14 afternoon event in Unionville included:

  • Theresa M. Casey, FSMPS, CPSM, President/CEO, On Target Marketing & Communications LLC
  • Kevin Herrick, AIA, Principal, The S/L/A/M Collaborative
  • Susan Labas, CPSM, Senior Associate and Director of Marketing, van Zelm Engineers


The panel discussed a number of relevant topics, sharing their insight and knowledge with attendees. There was a good turnout and the food was excellent!

First steps in submitting for an award:

  • Look at the criteria and select the project that best suits the competition.
  • Start early, up to a year in advance, and track project metrics.
  • Select awards programs and publications that will support your target markets.
  • Determine what information you need to gather from the project.
  • To identify awards programs, look at what your competitors are doing and ask your clients and consultants.


Getting the whole team on board:

  • Be creative! Strategize, give it a theme, and include photography.
  • Develop a story. Talk to as many people as you can who are involved with the project.
  • Step back, and tell the whole story. The judge is not going to be familiar with your project.


Review of winning project submissions:

  • Don’t underestimate the small projects. Those win more than their share of awards.
  • Supplemental information can make a big difference, such as letters of recommendation.
  • Tell the story with photos, layout, and supporting materials.
  • Follow the criteria and structure of the awards.


Additional tips:

  • Ask for a debrief when you don’t win. Lessons learned.
  • Use large, professional photos and label them.
  • The level of quality and care in submissions is rising each year.
  • Submit a blend of visuals and text and detail the images to tell the story.
  • Entries are judged on the submittal criteria over the design of the piece.
  • Follow the word and page count criteria, fitting extra information within the limits.
  • Nobody counts the photo captions. These could be used as extra words.
  • Take advantage of available award FAQs and webinars.



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Event Recap: Fireside Chat with Carolyn Bligh

At our latest Fireside Chat program, members of SMPS Connecticut spent the afternoon with Carolyn Bligh and gained insight on her career and the opportunities that have helped her to achieve success.

Carolyn is a past president of SMPS CT whose desire for living her life with the purpose to inspire others has guided her in making career and personal decisions over her 25+ year career in the A/E/C industry. Carolyn shared influences and defining moments that shaped her career journey - including following her mother's advice and applying for her first job as a graphic designer at Russell Gibson von Dohlen. She has transcended from Director of Graphic Design for one of the largest A/E/C firms in the Northeast, to owning her own consulting business for 24 years, and is currently the Director of Facilities Design for ESPN, a global leader in sports entertainment and events.

Carolyn shared some invaluable advice with our members:

  • It's all about being surrounded by people who believe in you, people you trust - it's all about surrounding yourself with people who will help you rise to the next level.
  • No one’s going to remember how much time you spent on a project, they’re going to remember how much they like it.
  • No excuses, it shows weakness.
  • Believe in yourself and your ability. You have to have strong principles and beliefs - always stick up for your beliefs and never let anyone compromise them.
  • Treat the person standing in front of you as the most important person at that time.
  • Push back, challenge. Know you're worth it, be confident in yourself.

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Event Recap: Event Management and Birthday Bash Program

There was an atmosphere of celebration at our November 15th program - SMPS Connecticut members and guests not only learned the latest event management tips and tricks but also celebrated SMPS Connecticut’s 35th birthday. The event took place at Real Art Ways in Hartford, Connecticut. Real Art Ways is an alternative multidisciplinary arts organization that presents and supports contemporary artists. The venue provided the perfect space for our attendees and panelists to mingle and discuss the ins-and-outs of event management.

SMPS Connecticut President, Sharon Pomeroy, kicked-off the event sharing the chapter’s history, including its origins as the Southern New England chapter, and its journey to becoming the SMPS Connecticut chapter we know today.  Sharon took the time to recognize the contributions of past presidents to our chapter's success. Past presidents in attendance included (left to right) Theresa Casey, Maria Loitz, Jim Bancroft, Cathy DeFrances, and Geryl Rose. 

Our panel included three event management experts: Amanda Mueller, Senior Vice President, Cashman + Katz Integrated Communications; Danielle Casey, Director of Corporate Sales & Catering, Present Company; and Lindsey Burke, Marketing Specialist, SystemOne. The panelists shared horror stories of missing equipment and late vendors. The panelists agreed that it's important to always have a plan b - whether that's an emergency kit you always keep in your car or an extra tradeshow banner you keep in your suitcase. Danielle Casey stressed the importance of keeping a checklist and assigning responsibilities to keep your team focused and on track. Our attendees questioned the value of new technologies and electronic media. Lindsey Burke shared her experience that the latest technologies, such as SnapChat filters, don't always provide the best return on investment and that sometimes going back to the basics is the best way to go.

After the panel, the birthday celebrations began. Everyone was treated to birthday cupcakes and t-shirts as our guests mingled and explored the venue.  As part of our celebrations we raffled off a free annual membership - this awesome prize went to Cathie Reese of Geomatrix Productions, Inc. - congratulations Cathie!



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