Advisory Board

Nicole Adewale - President, ABNA
Nicole Adewale LEED®AP is a Principal of ABNA; which she co-founded in 1994 with business partner Abe Adewale after several years of service with IDOT. ABNA’s number one goal is to Delight Its Clients. ABNA is a full service Civil Engineering firm and Heavy Civil General Contractor servicing such clients as MoDOT, IDOT, BJC, Monsanto, St. Louis Public Schools, and the Salvation Army. Nicole is a member of several organizations including NSBE, St. Louis Minority Business Council, SLCCC, AGC, FIRST Robotics, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, and Top Ladies of Distinction. Nicole holds a BS in Civil Engineering from Georgia Tech. "As much as we loathe to admit, St. Louis is a very fractured community and it shows in every aspect of business, community development, religious worship, schools and neighborhoods," she said. "These fractures are most visible in the construction community. I am hopeful that by participating in Construction Forum STL we can focus on strengthening relationships and establishing new ones so that we can fix these fractures from the inside out instead of just focusing on cosmetic repairs don’t really offer long term solutions."
Steve Bannes - Director Graduate Studies in Construction Management, WUSTL
Steve W. Bannes is the Director of the Graduate Studies in Construction Management (GSCM) Programs at Washington University in St. Louis. As director, he provides strategic guidance, policy development, and departmental leadership ensuring that graduate studies in construction management are highly effective and valued academic programs. A ‘hands-on’ leader, he is engaged in every aspect of the GSCM programs including student advising, adjunct faculty and student recruitment and development, and outreach to the professional community and local built environment organizations and associations. A non-traditional educationist, Bannes brings a full-spectrum of construction industry experience to the classroom. In his career, he has been directly responsible for acquiring and/or managing over $800 million of construction work. He worked as a carpenter, project engineer, estimator, project manager, and officer. Professor Bannes earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Construction Management from the School of Engineering, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville; and a Master of Science in Education from Southwest Baptist University. "As stated on our website, 'Construction Forum STL is a nonprofit dedicated to addressing the big issues facing the St. Louis construction industry. We believe that when the construction community comes together to network, discuss ideas, and share information we are all better for it.' 'My aspirations for the Forum are two-fold: First, the Forum becomes an inter-industry organization recognized for increasing the levels of authentic collaboration throughout the built environment. Second, these collaborative efforts result in innovative and deep change."
Joe Blanner - Partner, McCarthy, Leonard, Kaemmerer
Joe Blanner is a Partner at the law firm of McCarthy, Leonard and Kaemmerer, LC. For the last twelve years, Joe has primarily practiced in the area of construction law and construction litigation, representing project owners, contractors, subcontractors and design professionals on both commercial and residential construction projects from contract drafting and negotiation through project related litigation. Joe's interest in economic development for the region and the construction industry in particular has led him to serve on both construction and non-construction related boards, including serving as the current President of the Eureka Chamber of Commerce, on an Advisory Board with the Regional Union Construction Center and previously serving as a Team Member on the Infrastructure Implementation Team through the Missouri Department of Economic Development. "Because of technological advancements and economic factors, I believe that the timing is right for the formation of an innovative group that transcends construction industry lines for the purpose of helping those within the industry to develop their respective businesses, to improve their business practices and to engage in dialogue as a result of those relationships that will ultimately improve the businesses involved and the St. Louis construction industry as a whole."
Mark Carlie, CPA, CMA, CM&AA, CITP - Partner – BDO USA, LLP
Mark Carlie serves as a Partner at BDO USA, LLP, a professional services firm providing assurance, tax, financial advisory and consulting services to a wide range of publicly traded and privately held companies for over 100 years. Mark’s knowledge and passion for the construction industry as well as his over 30 years of experience led him to the role of directing the Construction Industry Services practice for BDO’s St. Louis office. In this position, he oversees the St. Louis office construction and real estate practices in the areas of business development, staff development, product development and service delivery. He furthers his commitment to the industry by serving as a committee member for numerous local and regional construction and real estate associations. “I am honored to be part of such an innovative and forward-thinking group that will surely help strengthen the St. Louis construction industry as a whole. The Forum will not only allow stakeholders to stay up-to-date on the latest industry issues, it will cultivate lasting relationships.”
Bruce Edwards - Design and Construction, The DESCO Group
Bruce Edwards holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geology from Eastern Illinois University and has 25 years of experience in his development and construction career ranging from asbestos surveys and site assessments to leadership of teams in multi-faceted governmental improvement programs. Mr. Edwards has managed over $1B in projects in the United States and overseas, and includes diverse experience in aviation, defense, transportation, industrial and commercial sectors. DESCO provides comprehensive development, construction management, investment management, property management and brokerage services and also brings its experience and expertise to a variety of project types in more than a dozen Central, Mid-South, Southwest and Southeast states. DESCO’s development activities have touched many sectors of the real estate market, including historic landmark renovations, regional shopping centers, medical office space, office parks and urban/suburban renewal projects. With a portfolio of more than 6 million square feet of buildings and $700 million in value currently under management, DESCO currently has over two million square feet under development.
Steve Faust - Business Development and Diversity Director, icon Mechanical
Steve brings over 35 years of construction experience to the Forum. He has spent his career holding positions from apprentice carpenter, journeymen, superintendent, project manager and marketing director. Steve’s current position is business development and diversity coordinator for icon Mechanical. His commitment to diversity and the community extends well beyond the doors of icon Mechanical. He is the driving force behind icon’s community garden which helps to provide fresh produce for the Outreach Center here in Granite City as well as once a month serving lunches to the homeless at St. Vincent DePaul and serving as a trustee for Our Little Haven. Granite City is more than icon's corporate address. Steve has been personally involved in supporting the Madison County DARE program and the Granite City Family Earth day to support renewable and sustainable practices. “I feel that my involvement in the Forum will bring yet another voice to the conservation and broaden the discussion regarding construction in our region. My goal for the Forum would be that through my understanding of the construction process: from design engineering, boots on the ground and apprenticeships programs, to working with general contractors and owners, will bring the construction community together to better understand each other’s needs and concerns.”
Tom Finan - Executive Director, Construction Forum STL
Tom Finan has served as a publisher, business developer, marketer, and communicator, primarily in the construction field, for 38 years. He was been the publisher of St. Louis CNR magazine from 1976 until assuming the executive director position at Construction Forum STL in June, 2014. He has published magazines and developed marketing communications, and managed events locally, regionally, and nationally. Finan has a Bachelor’s degree in communication from SIU-Carbondale and a Masters degree in Communication from Webster University with an emphasis on interactive media. The title of his 2010 Masters thesis was “Collaboration, Communication, and the Future of Construction.” “My goal is to develop new business opportunities and to facilitate successful collaboration through relationships, written and visual communication, and implementation of the latest available technology,” he said. "Construction Forum STL will give people in our industry and opportunity to build relationships – both in personal and through social media. We will address the ‘big issues' facing the St. Louis construction industry. We believe that everyone benefits when the construction community comes together to network, discuss ideas and share information."
John Gaal EdD - Director of Training and Workforce Development, St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council
Dr. John Gaal, is the director of training and workforce development for the St. Louis - Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council. His studies, papers, and the programs he has helped to initiate on workforce development have won national and international recognition. Most recently, the program that Gaal helped at Bayless High School was one of 40 programs nationally recognized by the White House. Dr. Gaal believes, that many programs which target non-traditional workers for construction are using an outdated model. That model, he says, ignores the technology that is raising the bar of STEM skills that will be required if workers are to use new tools and systems without being replaced by them. He has long railed about the lack of accountability for outcomes among construction training programs. Instead, he has said, programs focus on intake of new, non-traditional construction workers rather than retention of those workers and the raising of skill levels of those already established in the industry.
Todd Jacobs - Vice President, KAI Design & Build
Theodore (Todd) R. Jacobs recently joined KAI Design & Build, a St. Louis, MO-based firm as vice president. Todd was formerly a principal with Bates Architects. He has over 30 years of management and collaborative experience in programming, facilities master planning, design, construction documents, and construction administration on corporate, retail, healthcare, institutional and educational projects. He holds a bachelor of science in architecture and a bachelor of science in business administration from Kansas State University. Todd served as president of the St. Louis Chapter, American Institute of Architects in 2012. “My goal is that (the Forum) will create a better built environment for St. Louis and the region. Having a Forum that allows all stakeholders to be informed about the ever changing issues in the construction industry would be a great asset.”
Patrick Kozeny - President/COO, Kozeny-Wagner
As President and COO of Kozeny-Wagner, Patrick Kozeny's responsibilities include the management of people who love “building a better quality of life” for the St. Louis region. He has built Kozeny-Wagner into one of the most diversified construction service providers and a leader in the sustainable construction practices. Today, the company is recognized as a top construction company in commercial and civil general contracting, construction management and design-build. Patrick is actively involved as a board member in several industry related professional and community organizations. “The Forum is a medium where the entire regional A/E/C industry can come together and help shape the way we, as an entire industry, collaborate in an effort to foster strong regional economic growth.”
Emily Martin - President, Aschinger Electric
Emily Martin, President of Aschinger Electric Company based in St. Louis, is the fourth generation of Aschingers in the electrical contracting business. She earned her law license in 1994 and practiced law before joining the family business in 1998. Emily has served in various capacities at Aschinger, including estimating, project management, contract management, business development, and sales management before taking the role of President in 2008. She earned her electrical contractor’s license in 2004. Emily has been active in St. Louis Chapter, NECA throughout her career in the industry. “The Forum will become the venue where the whole industry – from owners to suppliers, cities to subs, developers to general contractors – can come together to move the region forward.”
Mary Schanuel - President, Synergy Group
Mary Schanuel, president of Synergy Group, develops and manages public relations and marketing programs for a wide variety of organizations, including firms in the architecture, engineering and construction industry. Schanuel has more than 25 years experience in corporate communications and public relations. She founded Synergy Group in 1995 with a commitment to results, and has fostered numerous long-term client relationships. She developed a niche in the AEC industry primarily through client referrals. Schanuel developed Synergy Group’s cutting-edge online Media Center, an innovative tool that provides a custom Newsroom for every clients’ news releases, published articles, high-resolution photos, and audio and video clips. "The future and health of the St. Louis construction industry is important to me and my business. The last few years have been tough on the industry," she said. "Now we have an opportunity to re-set and move forward in important new ways. What do you envision the forum accomplishing and becoming? Construction Forum STL is rapidly becoming an open, thriving community without walls.Our mission is to create a space where that can happen by transcending the barriers that traditionally separate us, such as industry trades, gender, age, race, even the rivers. We believe Construction Forum STL can become exactly what the industry needs it to be."
Scott Wilson - CEO, S.M. Wilson
Scott Wilson has been leading the local construction industry for many years toward meaningful achievement of greater diversity. He does this by leveraging his position as CEO of S. M. Wilson & Co. to build numerous partnerships among all key business organizations. As Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Associated General Contractors of St. Louis, he led the organization and its Diversity Committee to fund and staff a new Vice President – Diversity Initiatives position. The Minority Contractors Association of St. Louis recruited Scott to serve on its first Executive Committee. He was also chairman of the Regional Business Council Diversity Committee. Scott has mentored the owners of minority-owned contractors and women business entrepreneurs through the Construction Careers Center, the Regional Business Council’s Career Coaching Program and the St. Louis Development Corporation.
Byron Witherspoon - Managing Executive Supplier Diversity, Ameren
Byron Witherspoon is managing executive for supplier diversity at Ameren Corporation. He was previously supplier diversity executive for power generation and gas supply in Illinois and Missouri at Ameren. Byron came to Ameren with more than 12 years of experience, developing and executing Civil Rights/Supplier Diversity programs designed to provide meaningful contract opportunity for diverse vendors. Witherspoon directed the Supplier Diversity Program of the St. Louis Regional Public Transit Provider, Metro. Believing in the importance of supporting a diverse workforce, he has provided life skill coaching to individuals enrolled in pre-apprenticeship programs who were interested in the construction trades.