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Join MCCEI at the highly anticipated “Image of the Industry” symposium, a dynamic event dedicated to transforming the perception of the construction industry. This thought-provoking symposium brings together industry thought leaders, professionals, and stakeholders for a day of collaborative exploration, innovative solutions, and inspiring discussions. Together, we will delve into the narratives surrounding careers in construction and chart a path towards reshaping the industry’s image to attract top talent.

This engaging symposium features a comprehensive agenda that covers key topics essential to industry advancement. Attendees will gain valuable insights into effective marketing and communication strategies during the session on “Telling Stories and Showing Impact: Marketing and Communications in the Construction Industry.” Additionally, the event will address critical issues such as supporting employees affected by opioid addiction, uplifting youth through apprenticeship programs, and empowering women in construction through sponsorship and mentorship initiatives. By attending the “Image of the Industry” symposium, participants will be equipped with actionable takeaways, forge valuable connections, and contribute to the ongoing transformation of the construction industry into a vibrant and inclusive sector.

Our Agenda

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Make the most of this pre-panel networking opportunity to engage with fellow professionals, exchange ideas, and expand your network. This is the perfect way to start your day and prepare yourself for a stimulating and inspiring symposium! We are thrilled to have MCCEI President Jennifer Dewees kick off our day with a warm welcome at 8:40 am – an excellent opportunity to hear from a visionary leader who has championed education and workforce development throughout her career. Get ready for a day filled with insightful discussions, informative panels, and exciting networking opportunities!

This panel discussion will illuminate the future of construction communication. Industry experts and communication strategists will explore how innovative storytelling and marketing techniques shape the sector. The discussion will highlight a shift from technical jargon to relatable narratives that emphasize the human aspect of projects, capturing the interest of investors, communities, clients, and future employees. By leveraging storytelling and highlighting tangible impacts, construction companies can engage a wider audience, enhance brand reputation, and drive project success in the evolving landscape.

List of Speakers:

Moderator: Rachel McFadden of DrioDuo

She’s helped build bridges in Baltimore, Maryland. Now this civil engineer turned WordPress wizard and graphic designer creates websites and marketing collateral that build bridges between you and your ideal customers. In a nutshell, she makes sure that when a potential client finds you online, there’s a clear, connected, on-brand digital path that leads them straight to your inbox, smartphone, or checkout page. She’s happiest when she’s in the zone, earbuds in, getting her tech on.

Chris Eccleston of Delmarva Veteran Builders

CEO and founder of Delmarva Veteran Builders (DVB), a dynamic commercial construction firm in Salisbury, Maryland. DVB brings a “veteran attitude” to local projects, propelling its recognition as one of the nation’s fastest-growing companies on the Inc 5000 list for three years and the Vet 50 List for two years. A navy veteran, Chris served six years as a nuclear machinist mate, completing three overseas tours. Post-military, he earned construction management and MBA degrees from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Salisbury University. Passionate about inspiring the next generation in the trades, Chris fights to enhance the image of tradespeople. His commitment led DVB to win the Secretary of Defense Freedom Award at the Pentagon. With over 15 years in the construction industry, Chris is determined to showcase the value of construction careers. As a devoted husband and father of two, he champions his family.

Stacey Holsinger of Steeltoe Communications

 As a digital marketing leader in the A/E/C industry and owner of Steel Toe Communications, LLC, Stacey Holsinger has over 16+ years of experience helping small and medium contractors compete with larger regional and national firms. Her award-winning marketing campaigns helped grow one of the largest mechanical firms in the DC region, from $60M to $132M in annual revenues. Now as a marketing consultant, she works to be a trusted resource for contractors who want to showcase their work, establish credibility in the industry, build company culture, and attract the right candidates to their organization.

Stacey is the producer and co-host on the weekly construction podcast, The Morning Huddle, serves as Marketing Chair with Washington Building Congress, and participates in a nationwide co-hort program designed to reframe hindrances and identify opportunities for the success of CTE programs led by Bendable Labs and Harbor Freight Tools for Schools.

Daniel Strauch of Aliceanna Collective

Daniel Strauch is Co-founder and Head of Business Development for the Aliceanna Collective, an award-winning video production company based out of Baltimore, MD. He is responsible for developing creative media strategies that produce impactful content for client partners and marketing agencies alike. Some clients include HITT Contracting, Campbells Food Service, Hot Dish Advertising and Maryland Tourism. Daniel has spent over two decades in media production and has always found one thing to be true, authenticity is the most impactful communicator. 

Gina Richmond, Founder & CEO of Bloomtopia: 

Gina is the Founder & CEO of Bloomtopia, a marketing, communications, and consulting collective. She helps mission-driven entrepreneurs, brands, and nonprofits tell their stories and change the world. As an award-winning PR and marketing practitioner for 20+ years, Gina has developed and implemented successful strategic communications programs for clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to national non-profit organizations. 

Before Bloomtopia, Gina was the President of a Baltimore-based boutique firm where she led the agency’s day-to-day operations, managed a 15-person team, and oversaw strategy and implementation for clients. In 2019, Gina developed and launched a creativity workshop, now known as The Bloom Lab, to help organizations uncover unique solutions to their biggest marketing challenges.

Gina is a current board member and Vice President of NAMI Metropolitan Baltimore and previously held the role of President of the Baltimore Public Relations Council for three years. Gina has won various professional awards, including The Daily Record’s Top 100 Women, The Baltimore Business Journal’s 40 Under 40, and PRSA Maryland’s PR Team of the Year. 

Gina attended Towson University, earning her Bachelor of Science in Public Relations and a Certificate of Marketing.  


Did you know that construction workers are many times more likely to die of an opioid overdose than other workers? Across the country, the range is 3 to 9 times the risk than seen in other kinds of workers. In Maryland, the rate of overdose death for construction workers is over 5 times higher than the overall rate in Maryland. We know some of the reasons for this, but more importantly, we know what construction employers can do about it. In this session, you will:

  • Discover what research is showing about opioid overdose risks in construction in Maryland.
  • Share information about your own reality to guide researchers working on a Maryland toolkit for employers.
  • Learn about practical strategies you can use to protect your workforce.
  • Get involved in a new project funded by the Maryland Opioid Operational Command Center and focused on the construction workplace.

List of Speakers:

Marianne Cloeren, MD, MPH, FACOEM, FACP of University of Maryland, Baltimore

Dr. Marianne Cloeren, MD, MPH, is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and an international leader in work disability prevention. Her work in this area has included publications, teaching, research and treatment of patients with complex work disability issues. She recently completed a project funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) via the Maryland Department of Health to create a training module about the Maryland Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) and evaluate its impact on opioid-prescribing providers’ attitudes and behaviors. Before joining the faculty at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 2017, her decades of work with patients recovering from work injuries highlighted the important role of opioid use (prescribed or not) as a risk for long-term work disability. Joining forces with Dr. Jodi Jacobson Frey in the School of Social Work in 2019, this interprofessional team launched “Operation PROSPER – Peer Reintegration and Other Services Promoting Employment in Recovery,” a multiphase project to study the impact of interventions delivered primarily by peer specialists to increase work participation of patients in treatment for opioid use disorder. In 2020, this team began work for the Maryland Department of Health on a project called “Workplace PROSPER – Partnering to Reduce Opioid Stigma and Promote Employment in Recovery” to develop a Maryland toolkit for management of opioids in the workplace. This team recently focused its efforts on the construction industry, as the industry most impacted by opioid use disorder in Maryland and many other states.


Jodi Jacobson Frey, PhD, LCSW-C, CEAP of University of Maryland, Baltimore

Dr. Jodi J. Frey, PhD, LCSW-C, CEAP is a full Professor with tenure at University of Maryland, School of Social Work. She serves as Associate Dean for Research and chairs the Social Work in the Workplace & Employee Assistance Sub-specialization. She is the Founder and Faculty Executive Director of the Behavioral Health and Well-Being Lab (BHWell Lab). For 10 years (until 2022), she chaired the Financial Social Work Initiative. Dr. Frey’s research focuses on adult and emerging adult behavioral health and well-being with an emphasis on suicide prevention, mental health, substance use and the workplace. She has published over 100 articles, books and book chapters, in addition to presenting research at international conferences and receiving numerous awards for her research and teaching. Dr. Frey co-chairs the Workplace Suicide Prevention and Postvention Committee where she is working to disseminate the National Guidelines for Workplace Suicide Prevention. You can follow Dr. Frey on Twitter at: @JodiJFrey

MCCEI Director of Outreach and communication Emma Shirey will present the MCCEI Pathway Awards during a plated lunch. Join us in celebrating those who build the world. 


Emma Shirey is a dynamic professional with a deep-rooted passion for transforming lives through fitness, wellness, program management, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives. As the Director of Outreach and Communication at the Maryland Center for Construction Education and Innovation (MCCEI), a nonprofit workforce intermediary, she has committed herself to empowering individuals from diverse backgrounds and fostering meaningful careers in the built environment.


Emma serves as the influential host of the Build Your Path podcast, a platform where she shares valuable insights and inspiration for those seeking fulfilling careers in construction. She also lends her voice and expertise to engaging Build Your Path Career Exploration videos, igniting enthusiasm among aspiring professionals in the construction industry.

Join us at the Maryland Center for Construction Education and Innovation Symposium for a captivating panel discussion centered on the crucial theme of High ROI Recruitment and Retention Strategies with a special emphasis on Youth Apprenticeship in the Construction Industry. This engaging session will shine a spotlight on the challenges and opportunities associated with attracting and retaining a skilled workforce, particularly focusing on the integration of youth apprenticeship programs to cultivate a sustainable talent pipeline.

Industry leaders and experts will come together to share their profound insights and experiences, providing valuable perspectives on the integration of youth apprenticeship programs as a cornerstone of effective recruitment and retention strategies. Through interactive discussions and real-world case studies, attendees will gain practical knowledge on leveraging apprenticeship programs to foster the development of a dedicated and skilled workforce for the construction sector. The panel will delve into various crucial aspects, including the implementation of effective youth apprenticeship programs, the benefits of mentorship and hands-on training in cultivating long-term commitment, and the role of collaboration between educational institutions and industry stakeholders in shaping the future workforce. Moreover, the discussion will underscore the significance of instilling a passion for the construction industry among the youth and creating a supportive environment that encourages their active participation and growth. This session seeks to empower participants with actionable insights and best practices to successfully integrate youth apprenticeship programs within their organizations, thereby creating a robust talent pool and fostering a culture of continuous learning and development. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn from industry pioneers and gain comprehensive understanding of the strategies vital for driving success in recruitment and retention, with a dedicated focus on youth apprenticeship, within the construction industry.


Jenn Dewees, Moderator 

Stephanie Discepolo of Howard County Public Schools

Yvette Diamond of Maryland Apprenticeship Connector

Susan Sickinger

Anthony Breeze


For years, construction companies have implemented mentorship programs to make the industry a more welcoming place for women and help them advance in their careers.

But women still aren’t advancing to leadership roles at the same rate as men.

In this presentation, we explore why.

Based on the findings from the Building Better: A Women In Construction Benchmark Study by Ambition Theory and NCCER, we will unpack the following:

Why mentorship alone doesn’t work to advance women into leadership roles
Why sponsorship is a powerful alternative to mentorship
How individuals and organizations can take action today to start driving real change in the construction industry

You will leave this interactive session with tangible solutions you can bring back to your company to implement immediately. 
List of speakers
Andrea Janzen Ambition Theory Founder and CEO 
Andrea is a Certified Executive Coach with an MBA, the host of the Ambition Theory Podcast, a Forbes contributor and a top-rated speaker. She is passionate about coaching women in construction to develop themselves, set leadership goals and get results.  Since 2018, Andrea has coached and trained over 1,000 construction professionals. Before becoming a coach, Andrea was a marketing leader that worked on some of the world’s best-known brands. 
Laura Irwin of Southway Builders 
Ben Nichols of Harkins Builders
Laura Byrne of Harkins Builders

At the end of the day, participants will be challenged to come up with an action they can implement within 24 hours after leaving the symposium. Participants will also join a breakout group of their choice to brainstorm solutions to the four topics covered during the symposium. 

  • Opioid Use Disorder 
  • Women In Construction 
  • Youth Apprenticeships
  • Image Of The Construction Industry 

Thanks to our Symposium Sponsor

Join us in-person on February 28th in a celebration of the amazing work being done in Maryland to promote career pathways in the built environment. 

The Pathway Awards were created to recognize all the people, companies, and partners in the AEC industry who embody of the values of MCCEI and who have championed workforce development initiatives in the built environment in the past year.

Maryland Center for Construction Education & Innovation