Opening Keynote: Hot Button Issues That Derail a Project (Where Do We Go Wrong?)


Moderator: Jim Whitaker, FAIA, NCARB, FDBIA, HKS, Inc.

Jim Whitaker is an architect and lifelong design-build advocate, influencer and educator. He is an industry expert, national speaker and published author. He has served in executive leadership roles in both design and construction firms. Based in Dallas, Texas, he is a partner at the international design firm of HKS, Inc. Extraordinarily rare, he was elected a Fellow of both AIA and DBIA in 2018. For DBIA, he currently serves as the Chancellor of the College of Fellows. Previously, he served on DBIA’s national Board of Directors and was its Chair in 2014. For AIA, he has served in national roles in its Federal Architects Task Group (FATG) and Project Delivery Knowledge Community (PDKC). Today, he also serves on the board of directors of the Construction Industry Round Table (CIRT).

Jennifer Macks, PE, LEED, DBIA, Gilbane

Jennifer Macks leads Gilbane’s design-build program, working in partnership with project teams across the company to deliver a seamless project experience for Gilbane’s clients from design through construction. She has spent a majority of her 28-year career performing design-build work in the education and healthcare sectors. She has a civil engineering degree from the University of Michigan and an MBA from Wayne State University.

Virginia McAlister, RA, LEED AP, NCIDQ, DBIA, Iron Horse Architects, Inc.

Virginia McAllister is a visionary leader in architecture and business, renowned for championing Responsible Design. As the founder of Iron Horse Architects, she excels in transformative projects nationwide, with a portfolio valued over $6 billion. McAllister’s exemplary leadership earned her recognition as SBA Colorado Business Person of the Year and SAME Small Business of the Year. She influences the industry through DBIA’s executive committee and was honored as CREW Denver Woman of Influence. Committed to giving back, she actively engages in charitable initiatives, leaving a sustainable legacy on the architectural landscape.

Angela Miklich, LEED AP BD+C, General Services Administration

Angela Miklich serves as the Director of Project Programs for GSA’s Great Lakes Region, which provides strategic project planning, subject matter expertise, and advisory services in the support of project delivery and building management. Since joining GSA in 2007, her career has encompassed delivering complex projects from planning to closeout. Miklich has served as project manager, project executive and program manager for the Great Lakes Region Capital Construction Program, which includes over $2B in planned and active work. She has provided key leadership roles in developing national tools and processes across GSA’s Design and Construction community, including fostering industry partnerships. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and a Masters of Architecture from Kent State University. She is certified LEED AP BD+C, FAC P/PM and FAC COR.

Laura Wake-Ramos, AIA, NCARB, EDAC, DBIA, Mortenson

Laura Wake-Ramos has more than eight years of experience with Mortenson in the Chicago, Federal and Real Estate Development businesses. She is Chair of the AIA Project Delivery Knowledge Community, a national network that promotes the architect’s leadership role in project delivery. Wake-Ramos serves as the Student Engagement Liaison on the DBIA Mid-Atlantic Region Board, growing DBIA student chapters in universities. She has presented at several events on innovation in project delivery, such as virtual reality mock-ups and laser scanning.