The 2021 Golden Gala: SMPS CT Marketing Communications Awards

May 12, 2021
4:00 PM EDT - 5:30 PM EDT
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Virtual Program
Registrants will receive the access link in the bottom section of their registration confirmation email, and a reminder email the morning of the virtual program.


Prepare yourself for the marketing event of the year! Join SMPS Connecticut as we recognize excellence in marketing communications by professional services firms in the A/E/C industry for their exemplary marketing projects, campaigns, and materials. In addition to the MCA entry awards, we will honor 3 non-entry awards that night!

Benefits of attending the Marketing Communications Awards Golden Gala include:

  • Exposure to potential clients and media

  • Learn about marketing projects submitted by your peers

  • Find inspiration for future campaigns for your own firm

MCA Entries

The deadline for Marketing Communications Awards has been closed. Thank you and best of luck to all submitting firms!

Keynote Address

More information to come.

About the Keynote Speaker

Bernice Rios Bako, FSMPS | SMPS President-Elect | Director of Marketing, Global Development | Turner Construction Company

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.

SMPS CT Professional Achievement Awards

In addition to the awards given for the Marketing Communications Project entries, we will award 3 individuals for their contributions to the chapter and/or A/E/C industry.

Grace Waldvogel Member of the Year

Carly Olson - Marketing Specialist | 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.

2021 Trail Blazer

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.

James Bancroft Lifetime Achievement Award 

Bernice Rios Bako, FSMPS | Turner Construction

Bernice is also our Keynote Speaker for the awards ceremony! For Bernice's headshot and bio check the Keynote Speaker section above.

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.

Event Details: Wednesday, May 12, 2020  | 4 PM to 5:30 PM - Keynote Adress, Awards Ceremony & Breakout Room Networking

Location: The comfort of your home, office or mobile device.


Dress Code: Although this is a virtual event, we still encourage you to dress to impress!

Thank you to our Sponsors:

Awards Sponsor 


Door Prize Sponsor

Keynote Sponsor


Register by 5/12/21, 12 PM EST. Registrants will receive an access link in the bottom section of their registration confirmation email and via email the morning of the program.

Please note:
  • If registering after 12 PM on 5/12/2021, please email [email protected].
  • Cancellations must be made 24 hours in advance to receive a refund.
  • No shows are responsible for payment in full.
  • Unauthorized sharing of the program's access link may result in higher registration costs.


Meet the Emcees:

Cathy DeFrances-Vittorio - Director of Business Development | Fuss & O'Neill

It's not surprising that Cathy loves marketing and business development in the engineering, design, and construction industry. Putting a successful project together is like completing a complex puzzle, and after more than 25 years, no two puzzles have been alike. Over the course of her career, she has held various positions with property management firms, real estate developers, architects, engineers, construction companies, and ultimately landed at Fuss & O’Neill where her reputation for integrity and honesty, as well as her down-to-earth and collaborative manner, has been instrumental in her success.

Professional accomplishments include a lifetime achievement award from the Connecticut Society for Marketing Professionals (SMPS) where she has been a member since 2001 and a past-president (twice). She serves on the advisory board of the ACE Mentor Program in Hartford, is co-chair of the allied committee for the Connecticut AIA, the programs committee for Professional Women in Construction, and although her game is hardly noteworthy, the golf committee for Connecticut Building Congress.

Keith Claytor - Owner and Photographer | TimeFrozen Photography

Keith is an award-winning photographer who specializes in commercial photography, portraiture and wedding images. Prior to photography, Keith enjoyed a 18-year career in the AV industry working with many local architectural firms designing technology spaces for corporate, educational and hospitality environments. In 2005, he decided to follow his true passion for capturing light and emotion and founded TimeFrozen Photography. Keith loves to capture images that create an emotional response from the viewer, always believing that the true test of a quality photograph is the one that gives you goosebumps. Keith's client list ranges from private individuals and small businesses to large corporations and print publications. He loves to mentor up-and-coming photographers, and in his free time can usually be found hanging out with his wife Chinenye and their amazing son, Jackson.


Meet the Judges:

Michael Buell, FSMPS, CPSM, Assoc. DBIA - National Client Development Leader, Int'l Speaker, Adjunt Professor | HTNB


Michael T. Buell has been a strategic marketing and client development professional in the A/E/C industry over the last 28+ years.  He has worked with construction, architecture and engineering firms from regional to national in market size.  Throughout his tenure, Michael has continued to build strong relationships with clients, colleagues and peers alike from coast to coast.  Whether for his firm at any given time or for the thousands of marketing and technical staff he has lead training sessions for, Michael’s number one goal has always been to help others build stronger and more abundant client relationships.

Michael broke into the A/E/C industry in 1992 with a small general construction firm in Cincinnati, Ohio.  While leading all marketing and sales efforts, he also took great pride in learning the industry and more specifically, learning how to read a set of construction documents.  In addition to construction services, this company also became a commercial development firm in which Michael was responsible for securing tenants and negotiating contracts for multi-unit commercial facilities.  During this tenure, Michael helped the firm quintuple in annual project volume.

In 1998, Michael looked to join the design side to gain a different perspective.  Working with regional, national and global architecture and engineering firms has brought great depth of experience, knowledge and understanding of how architects and engineers can be most successful. Because of Michael’s efforts, each of these firms gained much improved branding presence, successful experience in new vertical markets and a better understanding of what clients really care about.  This, along with leadership roles with DBIA and ACE and a long-running tenure as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Utah for graduate architecture students, Michael has developed a national presence as a proven leader and genuine mentor throughout the A/E/C industry.

Presently, Michael is a national strategist and pursuit champion with HNTB Corporation.  Michael travels to wherever he’s needed throughout the US to help HNTB offices or divisions both improve their client relationship development efforts and also win their largest project pursuits.  Michael continuously improves the comfort level and productiveness of client engagement for both young and tenured colleagues alike and thrives on coaching pursuit teams through extensive proposal and presentation processes that lead to successful outcomes at an extraordinary rate.

Throughout Michael’s career, he has taken hold of numerous leadership opportunities with SMPS.  Co-founding the Northeast Ohio chapter; chairing the hugely successful inaugural Heartland Regional Conference; and co-creating and being a lead instructor for their Business Development Institute are the accomplishments of which Michael is most proud.  These efforts are the primary reasons why Michael enjoys such a healthy national reputation and network today.  With his stage presence developed from an extensive theater performance background along with his industry expertise, Michael speaks at SMPS chapter and conference events and other industry and corporate programs on a regular basis (over 250 engagements to date) to rave reviews on a variety of strategic planning, trust building, business development, presentation skills and leadership topics.

Michael’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in Advertising Management, along with specializations in Marketing and History, from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.  In addition to his professional career and the speaking engagements he regularly leads throughout North America, Michael has also enjoyed performing with community theaters, lecturing at his parish, coaching youth football, client golf, hiking, biking and the company of great friends.  Above all, however, he cherishes his time with his family and the adventures they can enjoy together.

Deep Chaniara - Architectural Designer | Pickard Chilton


Deep Chaniara is an Architectural Designer at Pickard Chilton out of New Haven, CT. Growing up in India, the fascinating experiences of diverse heritage and utopian modernism inspired him to pursue architecture. Teaching and mentoring young students in design is an important part of his life. He was an active NOMAS member and a Teaching Assistant for undergraduate classes during his time at Iowa State University.

Today, through his work on the large-scale headquarters campuses and mixed-use global projects, he explores various methods for people to establish a relationship with nature, cultures, customs, and history. He currently serves on the Board of Directors at the newly chartered NOMAct.

Deep holds a Master of Architecture from Iowa State University and a Bachelor of Architecture from SCET, Surat – India.

Katherine DeMercurio - Director of Marketing | EverGreen Architectural Arts, Inc.


Katherine joined EverGreene in the Fall of 2017. With a passion for improving the built environment and design thinking, Katherine has spent a majority of her career in the A/E/C industry. Her passion for creative solutions and extensive experience in marketing strategy enabled Katherine to take a leading role in communications at EverGreene. Integral to public relations, corporate communications and brand management for the firm, Katherine works to drive transformation through best practices while innovating new concepts and procedures to build awareness, support business opportunities and further connect EverGreene with industry partners.

Katherine currently serves on the Board of Directors as Immediate Past President for the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) New York Chapter, is a founding member of the NYC Chapter of Project Color Corps, and has previously served as Chair of the Foundation Committee for Commercial Real Estate Women of New York (CREW NY.) She earned recognition as one of Sokol Media’s 2017 Pioneering Women in Real Estate in NYC, SMPS’ first Humanitarian of the Year award winner and Connect Media’s 2nd annual Women in Real Estate Awards program as a New York winner in 2018, and as an Outstanding Woman in Construction by the Women Builders Council (WBC) in 2019.

Katherine earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature at Northeastern University in Boston, MA and holds a Certificate in Digital Graphic Design from the New England Institute of Art.

Daniel T. King, Assoc. AIA/NOMA - Architect | GWWO Architects


Daniel joined GWWO in Fall of 2019 and brought along a wide variety of experience that includes drafting, detailing, FF&E documentation, and product research. His background includes work on multiple community, educational, and commercial projects. He also contributes to the National Organization of Minority Architects, Connecticut chapter, NOMAct, as a member of their communications committee.

He holds both Bachelor of Science and Master of Architecture degrees from the University of Hartford where he also helped to establish and subsequently serve as secretary of the University’s chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architect Students. He is also an Associate Member of the AIA and NOMA, as well as a published writer and part-time graphic designer.

Rebecca Roy - National Water Secgtor Marketing Lead | GEI Consultants


Rebecca Roy serves as GEI’s National Water Sector Marketing Lead. In this role, she helps to position the firm for strategic opportunities, facilitate and manage key accounts, and implement strategic goals as they relate to the water market. Rebecca has more than 15 years of marketing experience focused on the architecture, engineering, and construction industries, during which time she has contributed to major project pursuit planning and execution, corporate communications, branding and market research for firms throughout the country.

Rebecca is the Immediate Past President of the Northern New England (NNE) Chapter of SMPS. She has served has secretary and Program Committee Chair for NNE SMPS, and was the Awards Program Chair for the Boston Chapter of SMPS.

Susan Shelby, FSMPS, CPSM - President & CEO | Rhino PR


Susan has driven public relations, marketing and communications programs across diverse industries, with a focus on the A/E/C industry and technology, for more than 20 years. Her expertise in media relations, strategic planning, crisis communications and relationship management achieves bottom-line results for professional service firms. She was recognized as the Marketing Professional of the Year by SMPS Boston in 2012. Follow her @RhinoPRBoston or visit for more information about how Rhino PR can help you take charge of your PR.


$0.00 SMPS CT Member

$35.00 Non-Member

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$0.00 Non-Member Sponsor

$0.00 SMPS Other Chapter Member

$0.00 Submitting Firm Free Registration