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Please make plans to join us in Atlanta, where it all began, as we celebrate COAA's 25th Anniversary! Hundreds of planning, design, and construction industry professionals will gather at COAA’s Fall Owners Leadership Conference for three days  of high-quality, Owner-focused educational sessions, great networking opportunities, a lively exhibit hall, and an optional Friday afternoon tour.  

Learning Credits:
COAA will apply for AIA learning credits - including some that qualify for Health Safety and Welfare (HSW). Certificates are also available upon request.
Who Attends:
Owners involved in the planning, design, and construction process, architects, consultants, engineers, and contractors. 


John Bechtel

Penn State University

John Bechtel is the Assistant Director of the Design and Construction Division at Penn State's Office of Physical Plant (OPP) and is responsible for contract administration, construction services, renovation services, and various organizational initiatives.

Allison Muth

Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH)

Allison Muth is a Facilities Project Manager with Facilities Planning & Development at Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH), responsible for budgeting, planning and project delivery in the Austin market.

Justin Newton

Walt Disney Imagineering

Justin Newton is the executive in charge of project management, planning, and controls at Walt Disney Imagineering.

Craig Russell

Walt Disney Imagineering

Craig Russell is a project integration executive for Walt Disney Imagineering, applying his unique expertise in project integration across all scopes of work for the company.

Bob Minutoli, Jr.

The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company

Bob Minutoli Jr is a Vice President for The Whiting-Turner Contracting Company.

Ryan Seckinger

Walter P. Moore

Ryan Seckinger joined Walter P. Moore in 2004 and serves as Managing Director of the firm's Washington, D.C. structural operations, with responsibility for all activities throughout the mid-Atlantic region.

John Zahor

University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC)

John V. Zahor is the Director of Operations and Maintenance within the Facilities Management Department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).

Mike Kenig

Holder Construction Company

Mike is Vice Chairman of Holder Construction Company. Founded in 1960, Holder is a national commercial construction services firm.

Jake Smithwick, PhD, MPA

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Dr. Jake Smithwick is the go-to resource for any construction professional who wants to elevate their team’s capabilities through team optimization and organizational change.

Derick Stadge

Ohio State University

Derick Stadge is a Senior Project Manager in the office of Facilities Design & Construction at The Ohio State University.

Brian Nahas

M.A. Mortenson Company

Brian Nahas is a Senior Digital Design Manager for the M.A. Mortenson Company.

Kerri Murray

ShelterBox USA

Kerri Murray is President of ShelterBox USA, an international disaster relief charity that delivers shelter and essential supplies to people affected by natural disaster or conflict.

Jack Mumma

Michigan State University

Jack Mumma is Construction Contract Administrator at Michigan State University, responsible for procurement, accounting, and budget monitoring for almost all major capital construction projects at MSU.

Fran Ahern

Wayne State University

Fran Ahern is an architect with 20+ years of experience in higher education construction industry in the areas of planning, design, project management, and administration.

Salonika Garapaty

Carnegie Mellon University

Salonika Garapaty is a Project Manager in the office of Campus Design and Facility Development at Carnegie Mellon University ( CMU) and manages capital construction projects, renovations and infrastructure projects at CMU.

Bryan Macias

UC San Diego

Bryan Macias is a licensed architect and project manager with Capital Program Management for UC San Diego.

Alec Pesant


Project Executive with BNBuilders.

Scott Shell FAIA, LEED® AP BD+C, CPHC®

EHDD Architects SF

Scott is a nationally recognized expert on high-performance buildings.

Shana Merlin

Merlin Works

The Founder of Merlin Works, Shana Merlin is one of the most experienced and effective improv teachers in Texas.

John Sier


John Sier is the head of the Commercial and Construction Practice Group at the Kitch firm, headquartered in Detroit (MI), where he has been practicing for more than 30 years.

Ross Caldwell


Ross Caldwell, a project executive with GREYHAWK, has over 30 years of construction management experience with new construction, renovation, and historical restoration projects.

David Stutzman, AIA, FCSI, CCS

Conspectus, Inc.

David Stutzman, AIA, CSI, CCS is an independent construction specifier and architect.

Joseph Sprys

National Heritage Academies

Joe Sprys serves as the Director of Facilities and Construction for National Heritage Academies, with responsibilities for facilities management, construction management, engineering services procurement, and facility operations.

Howie Ferguson

Construction Owners Association of America

Howie Ferguson began serving as Executive Director of COAA in August of 2018 after 28+ years as an Owner.



Welcome and Intro

05/14/2020 11:00 AM - 05/14/2020 11:15 AM

COAA’s President and Executive Director will welcome attendees, preview the 2-day agenda, and outline ground rules & etiquette for the virtual event.


Selecting the Right Project Delivery Method: Disney Says It’s More Than Pixie Dust

05/14/2020 11:15 AM - 05/14/2020 12:00 PM

Not all delivery methods are created equal and projects are like snowflakes or Forest Gump’s box of chocolates. As a result, Owners shouldn’t implement a one-size-fits-all approach to design and construction projects.


Selecting the Right Project Delivery Method: A Facilitated Discussion

05/14/2020 12:00 AM - 05/14/2020 12:30 PM

Immediately following the Disney-led presentation, two experienced COAA leaders will facilitate an open discussion that both follows up on the presentation and explores other aspects of project delivery method selection.


The Human Quotient: How To Better Identify, Develop, and Employ Talent

05/14/2020 01:30 PM - 05/14/2020 02:15 PM

Big data and human science are progressing at a rapid pace. Tools now exist that can help leaders (a) better identify future high performers early in their careers and (b) customize talent development based upon each person’s specific traits, personality, and aptitudes.


Innovation and Technology

05/14/2020 02:15 PM - 05/14/2020 03:00 PM

What does “innovation” mean in the context of a project? 


COAA Cares

05/14/2020 03:30 PM - 05/14/2020 04:00 PM

COAA Cares (Connecting Attendees with Rewarding Experience & Service) was created this year on the heels of a wildly successful volunteer effort during COAA’s fall (2019) conference in Atlanta, where conference attendees constructed wooden rocking chairs for children in support of CHRIS 180, an Atlanta charitable organization.


Virtual Happy Half-Hour

05/14/2020 04:00 PM - 05/14/2020 04:30 PM

OK, enough learning … time to unwind. Music, breakout rooms, games – we’re not entirely sure what will happen, but we’re pretty sure it’ll be fun.


Welcome & Scholarship Presentation

05/15/2020 11:00 AM - 05/15/2020 11:15 AM

COAA’s Past President and chair of the Scholarship Committee will welcome attendees and present this year’s winner(s) of the Albert E. Phillips Scholarship for one or more college students pursuing a career in the design and construction industry.


Looking Beyond COVID-19: Returning To Work, New Realities, and More

05/15/2020 11:15 AM - 05/15/2020 12:00 PM

Modeled after two highly successful virtual “town hall meetings,” this open forum will provide Owners and other stakeholders the chance to weigh in … not so much on impacts, but on the road ahead.


California Dreaming: UCSD Rescues a Project With Integrated CMGC

05/15/2020 12:00 PM - 05/15/2020 12:45 PM

When the initial concept for the new $67M Design & Innovation building at the University of California, San Diego was over budget and a poor design fit, a new team was brought in using "Integrated CMGC" to re-align the project.


Improv Skills For a Changing World

05/15/2020 01:15 PM - 05/15/2020 01:45 PM

Put on your pants and enjoy this fun, interactive session using the tools from the world of improv comedy to help us connect, recharge and swiftly and joyfully deal with the chaos of life.


Pay Me Now or Pay Me Later: Tailored General Conditions Worth the Effort

05/15/2020 01:45 PM - 05/15/2020 02:30 PM

Boilerplate specifications that aren’t edited to suit and address the specifics of a project inevitably lead to problems when it comes to resolving issues and managing risk.


Owner’s Roundtable

05/15/2020 03:00 PM - 05/15/2020 03:45 PM

Always one of the most highly rated sessions at COAA’s in-person conferences, this purposely unstructured discussion allows for peer-to-peer sharing of information, best practices, and lessons learned.


Virtual Happy Hour

05/15/2020 03:45 PM - 05/15/2020 04:45 PM

OK, enough learning … time to unwind, this time for a full hour and with a live virtual bartender!