Building Diverse Partnerships

April 21, 2021
11:00 AM - 12:30 PM


The A/E/C business is built on relationships, and some of the most important relationships are those between firms that offer complementary services. The A/E/C industry consists of firms as diverse as the people who work in them. As the industry has become more diverse, we are learning more and more each day about how building long-term partnerships with small and disadvantaged firms can contribute to completing successful projects.

Combining the expertise of an owner/agency with a strong commitment to ensuring work for COBID-certified firms with representatives from large and small firms, this panel aims to give participants practical advice on how to build diverse partnerships that go beyond meeting diversity goals and result in lasting relationships over multiple projects. 

Learning Objectives

  1. Why COBID participation matters to agencies and the impact participation goals have on the success of COBID-certified businesses.
  2. How to approach prime or COBID-certified firms to build mutually beneficial partnerships.
  3. Tips for starting the discussion with your firm about building diverse partnerships.


11 – 11:15 a.m. | Sign-in/Welcome/Announcements
11:15 – 12:15 p.m. | Panel Discussion
12:15 – 12:30 p.m. | Q&A


Adrienne Lindsey, Senior Marketing and Business Development Specialist, GeoEngineers, Inc.Adrienne Lindsey, Senior Marketing and Business Development Specialist, GeoEngineers, Inc.

Adrienne co-founded GeoEngineers’ Inclusive Contracting Program in 2015 and has since lead the program from a small two-person effort to a national, companywide program. Starting with a grassroots approach, she created the Inclusive Contracting Group to increase awareness internally about the importance of proactively collaborating with diverse businesses. As an Inclusive Contracting advocate, she has helped build momentum and support across the company. These efforts were recognized with the 2020 SMPS-Oregon Marketing Communications Award for Internal Marketing. Adrienne is passionate about connecting with the firm’s leaders, technical staff and other advocates to partner with more certified firms in all aspects of the company’s business.

Adrienne is a Senior Marketing and Business Development Specialist at GeoEngineers with 13 years in the A/E/C industry. She has a Master’s in Public Administration from Portland State University, and a Bachelors’ in Political Science from Washington State University. In her current role, she is spearheading marketing efforts across GeoEngineers, a national employee-owned earth science and engineering consulting firm.

Afton Walsh, Community Outreach Director/Project Manager, Walsh Construction Co

Afton is the Community Outreach Director and project manager for Walsh Construction Co. with over 12 years of experience in construction working with education and non-profit partners. As Community Outreach Director, Afton builds further upon WALSH’s existing community and business relationships and is responsible for directing the equity work related to training, contracting, apprenticeship/workforce training and Section 3 hiring. As a project manager, Afton emphasizes a proactive approach based on constant and direct communication and teamwork on a variety of mixed-use, sustainably-built projects. Afton holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Economics and Management from Cornell University and an MBA from the University of Washington. She is as passionate about building community and supporting education both through her work at Walsh and in her civic commitments. A native and lifelong Oregonian, she now lives in Portland with her husband and is devoted to her two young (and very busy) sons.

Christine McKinley, PE, Owner, Bantam Engineering

McKinley is a licensed mechanical engineer, performing musician, and host of History Channel’s “Decoded.” Her musical about physics and Catholic school, "Gracie and the Atom," received an NEA grant and a 2010 Portland Drammy Original Score award.

Her engineering career has included work building power plants, designing HVAC systems, and commissioning mechanical systems for hospitals, schools, and semiconductor fabs.

McKinley relies on the laws of physics for guidance and inspiration. Her book, Physics for Rock Stars explains why the laws of gravity are comforting in hard times and how to use the Periodic Table as a guide for dating. It was published by Penguin in 2012 and has been translated into Chinese and Korean.

John Cárdenas, Sr. Construction, Business, and Workforce Equity Project Manager, Prosper Portland

John is a second-generation Mexican-American, Oregon native with roots in Woodburn and Salem. He has worked for the City of Portland for 17 years where he is now a Sr. Project Manager in charge of the agency’s construction business and workforce equity policy. John is also a seasoned videographer and photographer with more than 20 years of experience in commercial, broadcast, and online video production. Diversity, equity, and inclusion are the foundation of his work both in video and for the City of Portland. At Prosper Portland, his job is to ensure that BIPOC and women-owned businesses, as well as workers, have opportunities to win contracts and work on the agency’s real estate development and construction projects.

John holds advanced degrees from Portland State University in Economic and Real Estate Development, New York Film Academy in Digital Journalism, and from the University of Oregon in Multimedia and Strategic Communications.

Out-of-Chapter SMPS Member Tickets
Free tickets are available! Please check out as a Guest and select the "Other Chapter Member" ticket option and fill in your member ID. If you have questions or need help registering, please e-mail [email protected]


$15.00 Non-Member Registration

$0.00 Member Registration

$0.00 Other SMPS Chapter Members


Refund Policy

Refund requests must be received at least 48 hours prior to the event. No refunds can be given with less than 48-hour notice. No shows will be charged. 

Registration Help

If you are a new or reinstated member, please email Membership Director Leah Lukrofka at [email protected] for assistance completing your registration. 

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