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Black Lives Matter Means Black Contracts Matter

Join us virtually on Thursday, February 18th, 2021 for nycoba|NOMA'S fourth Owners Round Table Event.

A few of nycoba|NOMA's distinguished business owners will engage in a round table discussion on how to identify, focus and

maximize opportunities - be entrepreneurial in spirit and not shy away from disrupting the norm in creating or evolving into the ideal practice. 

Moderator Nicole Hollant‐Denis

Date and Time: 2/18/21 12:00PM (1 hr)

Program approved for 1.0 LU/HSW

Panelists will discuss thoughts on what types of policy changes, for public design, should now be implemented considering the socio-political shifts inspired by the murder of George Floyd, and others, in the middle of this international health crisis. Here in the United States, Americans of African descent have suffered the brunt of inordinate exposure to the deleterious effects of the pandemic due to inherent economic and health pre-dispositions. This outgrowth of socio-economic pre-dispositions caused by stark economic disparity, the lasting effects of past African American enslavement and the residual effects of present-day systemic racism have put Black and Brown people in a precarious health and economic position in America.  As a result, design and construction professionals of color, in keeping with a commitment to creating a more equitable world, require more than ever the proper tools and properly funded opportunities to ensure that they are well equipped to execute successful solutions. We propose to capture, for the first time, the testimony and anecdotes of accomplished African American professionals who will impart, with our community, firsthand examples of how they have consciously fought to correct unfair contractual arrangements and insidious barriers in the past.

About the panelists:

Michael Reed, CCM, Chief Executive Office, Elite Construction Company of NY, LLC ‐ 


Michael E. Reed, CCM is a Founding Partner & CEO of Elite Construction Company of NY, LLC, a Veteran and Minority-Owned Construction Firm, headquartered in Garden City. Mr. Reed was born and raised in Lakeview, NY. He was accepted to the United States Air Force Academy Preparatory School, and subsequently attended the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) upon a Congressional and Senatorial nomination.  Always intrigued by building construction, Mr. Reed earned two engineering degrees– a B.S. in Civil Engineering and a B.S. in Environmental Engineering, while leading the Men's Track and Field Team as Co-Captain, becoming a multiple champion in the Western Athletic Conference.

Graduating from USAFA, Mr. Reed received his commission as an Air Force Officer and served in a variety of positions while assigned to the Civil Engineering Squadron at McGuire Air Force Base, NJ.  During his tour of duty there, Lt. Reed was the Chief of Design and Construction Management for the installation. His team completed several Department of Defense and Army Corps of Engineer projects, with Mr. Reed managing $400 million of base infrastructure and realignment projects.

During his assignment at McGuire AFB, Lt. Reed also obtained his M.S. in Engineering Management from New Jersey Institute of Technology in 1997, and moved to Misawa Air Base, Japan where he was promoted to the rank of Captain, serving as a Flight Commander in the Civil Engineering Squadron until the end of his active duty.

In 2000, Captain Reed was honorably discharged, and immediately landed a Project Manager position at one of the top international construction firms, Turner Construction. Under Turner, he was a part of the first $100 million+ K-12 educational projects in New York State. His additional assignments included: the NYCEDC’s $77 million Coney Island Redevelopment Project, and liaison for the Goldman Sachs and Hines Development of the 42 story Goldman Sachs Tower in Jersey City, NJ.  

Mr. Reed later joined a start-up construction firm and helped propel the firm to a Top 50 Construction Firm in NY as their Project Executive in charge of the Long Island Construction Operations. Inspired by this entrepreneurial spirit, and that of his family members and friends, he formed Elite Construction Company of NY with his business partner, Eze Small in 2011.

Following his passion to help serve the community, Mr. Reed previously served as a Trustee at the Congregational Church of South Hempstead and as a Commissioner of the Freeport Housing Authority. He enjoys speaking at local schools and mentoring youth, and is a Life Member of the Lakeview NAACP. As a firm, Elite offers both scholarships to graduating high school student athletes interested in engineering, and internships to college students pursuing careers in Construction Management. 

Mr. Reed is married, lives on Long Island, and is a proud father of two.


Cheryl McKissack Daniel, President & CEO, McKissack & McKissack -

President & CEO Cheryl McKissack Daniel leads McKissack & McKissack, the oldest minority and woman-owned professional design and construction firm in the nation. With more than 25 years of experience in construction, she serves as Principal-in-Charge and Project Executive on numerous high-profile projects, including major work in the healthcare, education transportation and commercial sectors and is actively involved in project oversight and management, ensuring that diversity is implemented during each project phase. Under her direction, McKissack & McKissack has contracted more than $50 billion dollars in construction over the past decade. 

McKissack is involved with some of New York’s largest projects including: the New Terminal One at JFK International Airport; LGA Central Terminal Building Redevelopment; Coney Island Hospital Campus Renovation; Harlem Hospital Center Modernization; NYC Economic Development Corporation Hunts Point Cooperative Market, Fulton Fish Market, and MART125 Cultural Center projects; Atlantic Yards (Pacific Park) LIRR Yard Relocation; Columbia University Manhattanville Expansion; Henry J. Carter Specialty Hospital & Skilled Nursing Facility and The Studio Museum in Harlem. McKissack also serves as the MTA Independent Engineer Consultant overseeing the Capital Construction Program of the nation’s largest transportation system. 

Cheryl serves on various boards, including the New York Building Foundation, New York Building Congress, New York Women’s Forum and Women’s Builders Council. Under the leadership of Mayor Bill de Blasio, she serves the OneNYC Advisory Board, Jobs for New Yorkers Task Force and the MWBE Advisory Council. She also served on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for NYS Governor elect Andrew Cuomo’s Transition Team. Cheryl is an active member in Women in Transportation (WTS).

Cheryl earned both a bachelor and master’s degree in civil engineering from Howard University. Born in Nashville to architect William DeBerry and teacher, Leatrice McKissack, Cheryl represents the fifth generation of the McKissack family’s century-old business.

Steve Lewis, Principal, ZGF - 

Steven Lewis is an architect and a tireless advocate for social justice and diversity within the field of architecture. He is currently a principal with the firm ZGF Architects, where he leads the Los Angeles office’s urban design practice.


Prior to joining ZGF, Steven was appointed by Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, to the position of Urban Design Director for the City’s Central Region, where he played a key role in shaping the vision of present and future development. Steven is the AIA 2016 Whitney M. Young, Jr. Award recipient, and was elevated to the AIA College of Fellows in December of 2015. In January of 2008, he returned to Southern California to join Parsons as a Design Manager after serving four years with the U.S. General Services Administration’s Office of the

Chief Architect in Washington, DC.


Steven was a Loeb Fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Design for the 2006-07 academic year. He was a founding partner of the Los Angeles-based firm of RAW International in 1984, and for the next twenty years, was an essential part of the firm’s growth and success. In December of 2010, he concluded a two-year term as President of the National Organization of Minority Architects, traveling around the country advocating for architects-of-color, while cultivating the next generation of diverse architects and designers.


Steven recently launched a consulting practice – “Thinking Leadership – What we Do...Who we Are” – aimed at assisting clients attain superior outcomes through his engagement. More than anything, Steven is a facilitator of partnerships and alliances between groups and individuals who seek to use architecture and design to effect positive change to our world.

Dina A. Griffin, FAIA, NOMA, IIDA, NCARB , President, Interactive Design Architects -

Dina A. Griffin, FAIA, NOMA, IIDA, NCARB, became president of Interactive Design Architects (IDEA) in 1999. Under her leadership, along with partners Charles Young and Robert Larsen, IDEA has successfully completed a multitude of projects for clients such as The University of Chicago, Anti-Cruelty Society of Chicago and the General Services Administration among many others. Dina has been instrumental in bolstering the firm’s commitment to collaboration and the opportunity to create, learn and interact with other thought leaders in the profession. The firm has partnered with internationally renowned firms including Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects and
Renzo Piano Building Workshop. In 2016, IDEA was awarded The African American Cultural Center project at Dina’s alma mater, the University of Illinois. That same year, IDEA was selected to join the team of Tod Williams|Billie Tsien Architects to design the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Chicago.

Dina’s belief that change is inspired through leadership has motivated her active involvement both within and outside the profession. In addition to past leadership and board positions with the National Organization of Minority Architects, the American Institute of Architects, treasurer for Region 4 of National Council for Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), Dina currently
serves on the Illinois Architect Licensing Board as Chair and is a former Advisory Board member for Contract Magazine.

Reaching aspiring students is fundamental to Dina’s mission to encourage and guide minorities interested in building valuable careers in architecture. She is a sought-after speaker, regularly presenting to schools and universities as well as to organizations including the AIA, NOMA and U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In 2018, Dina was the recipient of the IIDA Star Award, a Women in Design Honoree and was elevated to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in recognition of her service to the profession, and to society, through her dedicated outreach to minority architecture students and emerging professionals.



About the moderator:

Nicole Hollant‐Denis, AIA, NOMA, CEO and President of Aaris Design Studios –


Award-winning architect and designer Nicole Hollant-Denis has a reputation for creating distinctive living and environmental spaces. The founder and president of Aaris Design Architects, PLLC in New York City, Nicole’s 30 year career in architecture has ranged from developing the historic African Burial Ground Memorial and designing Harlem’s first indoor plant-wall of fresh greenery for Columbia University to renovating Met Life’s Fifth Avenue offices and building a permanent hurricane and earthquake safe house community in Haiti.

Considered one of America’s most notable African American women architects, Nicole, a licensed architect, holds a Master in Design Studies (MDes) from Harvard University and a Bachelor Degree of Architecture from Cornell University.  Nicole has built structures and smashed glass ceilings to create influential projects of different architectural types throughout the New York metro area and beyond. Some of her most high-profile projects include the Port Authority Beautification project, which features six miles of hardscape and landscaping décor along the Air Train route of the Van Wyke Expressway leading to JFK Airport.  In 2004, the Aaris team, won the commission for the historical African Burial Ground Memorial in Lower Manhattan. The unique memorial design concepts originated in Hollant-Denis’s thesis at Cornell University and explores Afrocentric forms in architecture using organic elements like earth, air and water. 

More recently, Aaris Design Architects, PLLC is working as Associate Architect of the Columbia Business School’s $500 million contract for Columbia University’s Manhattanville, a 17acre campus expansion. Aaris joins a team lead by internationally renowned firms, DS+R the design architects and executive architects FXCollaborative. Since her days as a young activist, Nicole has spent the last two decades also supporting community focused on projects including Harlem’s La Marqueta Plaza and Shiloh Church of Christ. 


Please register through the AIANY website in order to receive access to the virtual meeting.

Please let us know if you were unable to attend and would like a recording of select presentations


Thursday, May 21st w/ NYC Mayors Office of Contract Services

Thursday, April 30th w/ NYC Small Business Services

Thursday, June 13th The Switzer Group

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