Published: March 11, 2022 By

The University of Colorado Boulder is hosting a Construction Diversity Summit to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in the construction industry.

The free event, planned for April 1, will bring together companies and students from around the state to discuss and raise awareness about diversity-related issues in construction, build empathy within the workforce, and bring forward solutions to help construction employers and employees navigate the industry. 

The summit will include breakout sessions, talks on ways to enhance company culture, and programming on skills to promote meaningful dialogue and respect for all contributions, according to Amy Javernick-Will, the Nicholas R. and Nancy D. Petry Professor in Construction Engineering and Management in the Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering.

“We hope attendees will recognize the importance of diversity and inclusion on jobsites and in the office, learn new communication strategies and skills, and better understand challenges facing students and graduates to cultivate an inclusive environment,” Javernick-Will said.

The keynote speaker will be Michael J. Garner, who serves as Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority. Garner and his team have designed and implemented workforce strategies at MTA which have significantly increased minority and women hires.

Registration is still open for the summit, and the full schedule is available on the Construction Diversity Summit website.

The event was the brainchild of alumna Briana Santa Ana (CivEngr ’20), who faced discrimination during a summer internship when she was an undergraduate student. Matthew Morris, a senior instructor in CEAE, realized her experience was far too common, and when she suggested a summit to address DEI issues in the construction industry, the event was born.

“Students had reported experiencing, at times, an unwelcoming environment, and one in which they could not see themselves thriving,” Javernick-Will said. “This spurred us to want to bring industry and students together to learn and take action to create a welcoming and inclusive environment where each person could thrive.”

Santa Ana subsequently was recognized with an Outstanding Undergraduate for Service Award by the College of Engineering and Applied Science for her efforts.

The summit is being organized by Morris, together with Sage Hobbs, Amy Moreno-Sherwood, Amy Nelson, Maxine Pryor, and a panel of recent graduates, including Santa Ana.

Support is being provided by numerous industry sponsors, including The Beavers Heavy Engineering Construction Association, Flatiron Construction, Holder Construction, Kiewit Corporation, and Whiting-Turner, as well as the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Endowment for Construction Engineering and Management.

The summit was originally planned for 2020, but was delayed to 2022 by the pandemic.