Day one: Thursday, February 20

Continental Breakfast/Registration 8:00 – 8:30

Opening Remarks: 8:30 – 9:15


Keynote 9:15 – 10:30

Bossy Isn’t a Dirty Word – Be Assertive Without Sounding B!tchy: Jennifer Danforth

Speaking assertively isn’t about being pushy. It’s not about picking a fight or about having the nerve to shout down a stubborn project manager. Speaking assertively is about communicating truthfully in a no-nonsense fashion. Why is this effective? Because even difficult project managers want to know what can be accomplished and when. They don’t want empty promises or work with timid people who are afraid to speak up. Project managers simply want their marketing tasks completed in the best manner that time allows. These are the keys to speaking assertively—saying yes when you can (and then delivering on that yes) and being able to say no when you can’t.

Join speaker Jennifer Danforth, CPSM, as she uses her enthusiasm and engaging presentation style to help you discover your inner boss, stop apologizing for everything, and gives practical tools to get to YES during their next proposal, assignment, or project.

Speaker Bio: Jennifer Danforth, CPSM, is no stranger to assertive communication. During her 12-year A/E/C career, she has developed a talent for working with the most challenging and notorious project managers. While these same difficult personalities were critical of virtually every other proposal manager, they sang her praises and requested her for their submittals. Why? Because she would tell them the plain, unvarnished truth in a calm and professional manner. She would tell them yes when she could fulfill their requests, and no when she couldn’t.

As an adjunct professor of communication at Northern Kentucky University for 20 years, she honed her understanding of different communication styles. She has successfully used this knowledge during her professional career in the A/E/C industry. As Woolpert’s Proposal Director, Jennifer encourages her own team to find their voice among a range of personality types in an assertive yet supportive manner. She earned her Master of Arts in Communication from the University of Cincinnati.


Session 2 – 10:45 – 12:00

How to Retrain Your Dragons (To Write Better Proposals): Jim Rogers

Marketers have much expertise for writing better proposals that gets ignored by the crusty old dragons back at the office. If you’ve ever felt that your advice is undervalued, then this talk will give you some ammunition for slaying, okay, maybe not slaying, but taming your dragons and retraining them a bit.

You’ll learn new techniques—and the rationale behind them—so you can better persuade your collaborators to try new techniques. You may even have some of your own preconceptions challenged, so you’ll need to be open to new ideas yourself during this session! You’ll learn some straightforward ways to introduce new strategies for proposals that will help increase your win rates and transform you into a true internal consultant. When you succeed at changing minds, you’ll feel like a valued partner and less like an assembly line worker!

Speaker Bio: AEC firms hire Jim Rogers to write winning proposals and to help them develop their people to be better marketers and sellers. He is a consultant, speaker, trainer, and author of the forthcoming book tentatively titled The Civil Engineer’s Guide to Becoming a (Better) Seller-Doer, to be published by ASCE. As a longtime organizational change management executive with one of the world’s largest management consulting firms, he helped companies transform their people, processes, and culture to be more successful. Today, AEC executives engage him to help their professionals become first-time seller-doers... or to become better ones.

Jim is the author of Win More Work: How to Write Winning A/E/C Proposals (ACEC 2014). Having lived many years in New York City and San Diego, he now lives in Lexington, Kentucky. Jim holds a B.A. in Economics from UNC-Chapel Hill.


Luncheon – 12:15 – 1:15


Session 3 – 1:30 – 2:45

Finding Your Sweet-Spot for Video and Content Marketing: Asa Eslocker

How can video content and well-crafted storytelling fit into your fast-paced content marketing strategy?

And what are some realistic approaches for finding the right sweet-spot for video – including the latest apps, tech, and budget-friendly gear – that can help dial-up your in-house video production capabilities with a well-defined value proposition? We’ve all learned that marketing is impossible without great content. As traditional marketing is becoming less effective, forward-thinking marketers see the value of efficient video production as vital for content marketing and social media. For this session, join Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist and documentary filmmaker Asa Eslocker, who shares the most current trends and approaches for video production after recently making the life-altering pivot into the world of A/E/C marketing. This session will apply strategies from more than 15 years of video production experience to the fast-paced A/E/C marketing profession which demands balancing other duties along with efficient video production.

Speaker Bio: Asa is a two-time National Emmy Award-winning journalist, filmmaker, and marketing strategist who is passionate about human-centered storytelling, videography, and creative communications. Before A/E/C Marketing, Asa had a career with ABC News in NYC covering breaking new for Good Morning America and World News Tonight, and producing award-winning, long-form news stories for 20/20, Nightline, and ABC’s Investigative Unit. Asa has delivered 40+ public speaking presentations related to his documentary film, design communications, and storytelling approaches – topics he’s also taught at UVA’s School of Architecture. As a marketing team member for VMDO Architects, Asa balances content-rich storytelling and video production with the on-going duties of RFP/proposal submissions, tracking public procurement, creating website content, and collaborative interview/presentation strategies. Asa loves exploring innovations at the intersection of video storytelling and content marketing, where he believes that authentic narratives of real people in real places can be the most impactful marketing of all.


Session 4 – 3:00 – 4:15

From Millennials to Gen Z: Reaching the Next Generation of Decision Makers: Ida Cheinman

Millennials are now 50% of the workforce with 73% involved in B2B executive decisions. Gen Z, which outnumbers Millennials, is starting to enter the workforce and the differences between the two generations are significant. To compete and win in the decade ahead, companies must find new ways to reach, engage and convert the next generation of clients and employees. A/E/C firms that intentionally shift their marketing and business development strategies to cater to the new decision-makers’ mindset and preferences will outperform their competition.

The session will help create a roadmap for how to prepare for, and conquer, this next marketing frontier!

Speaker Bio: Ida Cheinman is Principal and Creative Director of the brand strategy design and digital firm Substsance151 and past president of SMPS Maryland. She uses her 20+ years of experience as a brand strategist, designer, marketer, and educator to help business leaders and marketing professionals make sense of trends, tools, and best practices in order to position their firms to win in the 21st century’s fast-changing and extremely competitive marketplace.

With a niche focus on Professional Services and A/E/C, Ida’s work has earned numerous design awards and has been published nationally and internationally. Ida is a sought after speaker who has presented for professional services organizations and conferences nationwide. She is a frequent contributor to industry webinars, blogs, podcasts and publications and she sits on the Advisory Committee for SMPS Marketer.


Networking Reception (Circuit Social) – 4:30 – 6:30



Day Two: Friday, February 21

Continental Breakfast/Registration 8:00 – 8:45

Opening Remarks: 8:45 – 9:00


Session 1 – 9:00 – 10:15

The First 90 Days: Navigating Career Changes like a Boss: Susan Dawson & Karen Cotton

"The First 90 Days: Navigating Career Changes like a Boss" addresses career transitions and getting up to speed quickly in a new role. This session is modeled after the popular book “The First 90 Days: Proven Strategies for Getting Up to Speed Faster and Smarter” by Michael D. Watkins. The session will provide a 30-60-90 day framework specific to the A/E/C industry, including handouts and a structured learning plan that participants can immediately use in their new roles.

This interactive session walks participants through various A/E/C-specific scenarios they could encounter during the first 90 days of their new role as an A/E/C Marketer or Business Developer. Using proven tools and techniques adapted from Watkins’ 30-60-90 Day Plans, plus real-life examples from the speakers' careers, you will be equipped with the skills necessary to hit the ground running!

Speaker Bios:

Susan Dawson is the Marketing & Communications Manager for GHT Limited, a leading MEP Engineering firm in the Washington Metropolitan Area. With more than a decade’s worth of experience in managing and coaching A/E/C marketing teams, Susan has led successful career transitions to new firms and will share her own anecdotes about transition traps, plus lessons learned. She is a LEED Accredited Professional with a specialty designation in Building Design + Construction, serves on the Market Leadership Advisory Board for the USGBC National Capital Region and is a member of the Community Outreach committee for SMPS DC.

Karen Cotton is the Director of Pursuits for HITT Contracting, an ENR Top 50 general contracting firm based in the Washington Metropolitan Area. Karen brings 17+ years' experience leading marketing and pursuit teams for general contracting firms. With a passion for mentoring, Karen shares her own best practices for motivating teams, stepping into new roles and leading peers. Karen is a Certified Professional Services Marketer (CPSM) and a LEED Accredited Professional. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Washington Building Congress and is a member of the Education & Membership Committees for SMPS DC.


Session 2 – 10:30 – 11:45

TRACK ONE – Creating Cultural Buy-In: Dana Galvin Lancour

Your company’s culture is that special part of your brand that lives outside of logos, marketing collateral, and other tangible cues. It is hard to see and yet it is constantly on display. So, there is no wonder that getting everyone inside and outside of your organization to buy into your company culture can be a challenge. Join us as we discuss what culture means for employee engagement, how to create that buy-in, and the benefits a strong culture can have for your firm.

Speaker Bio: Dana Galvin Lancour, FSPMS, CPSM, Vice President of Branding and Communications at Barton Malow, is an 18-year veteran in A/E/C marketing and communications. Her creative, results-oriented marketing communications strategies have resulted in countless projects won, numerous marketing and communications awards, and drives her team to pursue innovative marketing solutions.

TRACK TWO – Maximize Your CRM to be Future-Forward: Courtney Kearney

Skill and reputation have helped your firm succeed to this point but in this market that’s expected. Discipline and focus are what wins projects with technology playing a big part in being successful. It’s vital we understand how to best use future-forward tech and harness its potential. This session will investigate tech evolution, the future of the “cyber physical”, Industry 4.0 and how CRM solutions help us gain and keep clients.

Speaker Bio: Known for her love of data, Courtney Kearney, CPSM - owner of CKearney Consulting (CKC) - brings her marketing skills and years of experience to a technical world of databases, processes, and numbers. She is a CRM thought leader; writing white papers, leading roundtables and giving presentations at local and national conferences. Courtney has served in several leadership roles in SMPS Fort Worth including the role of President. She enjoys spending time with her nurse husband and two amazing daughters.


Luncheon – 12:00 – 1:00

Session 3 – 1:15 – 2:30

Mindfulness in the Workplace and Dismantling Overwhelm: Ellie Burke

Learn about how mindfulness practices can reduce stress, increase overall well-being, and help you feel more present and balanced in your work and life, as a whole. Through lecture, experiential learning, and dynamic discussion, you will leave with a better understanding of how to incorporate mindfulness into your life as well as the value it can bring to you. We live in a culture of overwhelm, one that glorifies "busy." But our constant busy-ness is causing us to become overwhelmed, mentally, emotionally, and even physically. In this workshop, Ellie will do a deep-dive with one of her most-frequently used coaching tools that helps her clients gain clarity, prioritize efficiently, and create manageable lives that feel more balanced and purposeful.

Speaker Bio: Ellie Burke, M.Ed, is a Certified Life Coach and a senior Yoga & Meditation Teacher registered with The Yoga Alliance at their highest designation (E-RYT-500). Ellie has extensive experience teaching yoga and meditation in group and 1:1 settings. With the goal of supporting people in finding their way towards happier, more meaningful and connected lives, Ellie currently coaches a full schedule of clients, hosts a popular Annual Wellness Retreat, teaches weekly yoga and meditation classes, and facilitates custom workshops & presentations on wellness, mindfulness, and life balance. 


Closing Remarks – 2:30-2:45