Why DBIA Cares So Much About Regions

Andrew Ausel | August 14, 2015

Over the past quarter, the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) has taken strategic steps to foster coordination and enhanced communication to its 14 Regions and local chapters. In the process of implementing this strategy, I can’t help but notice the tapped potential for state policy. States love to do what their neighbors have already done. If I have learned anything as a legislative professional, it has been that if you want to discuss a new idea with a legislator, make sure you know who else has done it, and make sure those who have done it are close in proximity. While this was not the impetus for DBIA’s prioritization of regional development over the years, it is worth pointing out that the strengthening of our regional chapters stands to enrich our efforts to educate policy-makers on Design-Build Done RightTM for years to come.

I experienced this first-hand when I worked in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. As a legislative fellow for the Committee on Urban Affairs, the common refrain when formulating talking points for legislators was, “make sure you highlight that Maryland and Ohio have done it.” No matter if it dealt with transportation or tax reform, the typical legislator is put at ease if its regional partners have already vetted a solution before them. Knowing this and preparing answers accordingly is a key to making real headway across the states. In the past few years alone, DBIA has been able to engage with Region leaders in California, New York, Missouri, and Washington in order to move pro-design-build legislation forward.

This is why DBIA’s recent moves to develop regional prowess is especially important to our advocacy efforts. This June, Katie Colten was added to our team to serve as DBIA’s Region Development Manager. Katie has bolstered our coordination efforts with regional leadership and already has spearheaded projects related to this. Katie will soon be joined by our new Deputy Executive Director, Lisa Choplin, who comes to us from the Maryland State Highway Administration (MSHA) where she was involved in developing the project delivery strategies and procurement of the $2.4 billion Intercounty Connector (ICC) project (an 18.8-mile highway that connects major transportation corridors north of Washington, D.C.). Choplin will serve as a thought partner to DBIA’s Executive Director/CEO, with a primary focus on working in close partnership with DBIA’s Regions and Chapters to lead the development and implementation of strategies to grow membership and industry engagement with DBIA. Both Lisa and Katie will be essential in fortifying our efforts to strengthen our Regions.

Investing in our Regions is an essential aspect of defining, teaching and promoting best practices in design-build. Each Region plays a critical role in DBIA’s interaction with not only legislators, but members, owners, the general public and academia. By bolstering the ability of our Regions to engage their communities, the gains are likely to be felt in the legislative arena, but more importantly in all aspects of championing the value of design-build. Accordingly, the skills of both Katie Colten and Lisa Choplin will undoubtedly permeate deeply into the goals and success of DBIA for years to come.


The author is Manager of Legislative & Public Affairs for the Design-Build Institute of America.