2019 Speakers
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Featured Speakers

March 31- April 2, 2019
Wyndham San Antonio River Walk
San Antonio, TX 78205

How to be a Team Player

Jody Conradt photoJody Conradt

Special Assistant, The University of Texas at Austin

Jody Conradt was nurtured by the small-town, West Texas values of Goldthwaite (pop. 1,345), where her childhood revolved around community, family, friends and sports.

Her love was basketball. Her aspirations were to teach. Fortunately, she is native to a state which takes pride in its passion, independence and can-do attitude. Those traits, along with her graceful, compassionate style, Texas-sharp wit and humor, and desire to bring education and sport opportunities to young women, advanced Conradt into a visionary leader for women's college basketball and women's sports administration.

Conradt's classroom eventually became a 16,000-seat arena at her beloved University of Texas, after serving as coach at Sam Houston State (1969-73) and coach/women's athletics director at UT-Arlington (1973-76). In 38 years as a collegiate head coach, Conradt's players won 900 games – and, more important, 99 percent of them graduated. Speak with her former student-athletes, and they agree on Conradt's life lessons: integrity and team goals above all, self-discipline and organization, embrace diversity and tolerance, commit to honest and effective communication, maintain presence and exhibit class.

Educated at Baylor (B.S., M.S. in physical education), Conradt first was a high school teacher and assistant girls basketball coach under legendary Waco Midway school administrator M.T. Rice. Under Rice, Conradt learned the value of fundamentals. Later, North Carolina's Dean Smith and his Tar Heels' run-and-jump, full-court press inspired her coaching style on the hardwood.

Especially at Texas, Conradt showcased her female student-athletes, their speed and athleticism in a fast-breaking, run-and-shoot attack that lifted her players above the rim. With a full-out style that was unprecedented and unmatched during its time, Conradt led the 1985-86 Longhorns to a 34-0 record and national championship, the NCAA's first perfect season in the sport.

As only the second woman ever inducted into the Springfield, Mass., Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1998, Conradt is known as a pioneer, but also a durable, dynamic and ethical leader who gave credibility to her sport during 31 years as head coach with the Longhorns. From 1992-2001, Conradt served UT in a dual role as basketball coach and women's athletics director. She continues to serve the University as a special assistant to women's athletics.

Leadership & Accountability When It Matters

Kirk Lippold photoCommander Kirk Lippold, USN (Ret.)

Authority on Leadership and Crisis Management & Former Commander of the USS Cole

Engaged leader, hands-on crisis management practitioner, and a go-to global security expert for major news networks, the former Commander of the USS Cole demonstrates the foundation for team success and time-critical decisions based on integrity.

Commander Kirk Lippold reveals how to lead teams to manage challenges and ensure success in a complex world where financial, security and global threats are of critical concern across industry sectors.

CDR Lippold was in command of the USS Cole when it was targeted by a deadly al Qaeda terrorist attack in 2000, 11 months before 9/11. His team training prior to the attack and unflappable leadership after galvanized his crew to action, resulting in lives and the ship being saved.

A compelling storyteller, CDR Lippold draws upon his Five Pillars of Leadership to offer strategies he learned and applied to instill integrity into his team members and mitigate crises throughout his naval career. With takeaways for organizations on assessing their own successes and failures to prepare for what the future may hold, his lessons learned can make the difference when it matters most.


The privilege and burden of leadership comes with a level of accountability that many aspire to emulate and anyone can rise up to and achieve. Using a devastating suicide terrorist attack as a backdrop, Commander Kirk Lippold conveys how the principle of integrity created an environment for leadership where his crew felt imbued with a sense of ownership, seizing the opportunity to be responsible for their ship and not just their jobs. Their own sense of personal accountability and leadership proved to be a guiding principle in the crucible of combat. Lippold shares why his "Five Pillars of Leadership" are must-have business tenets for any team.

Session Speakers

What's New in the 2018 The Life Safety Code?

Warren D. Bonisch photoWarren D. Bonisch, P.E.

Associate Principal, Fire Protection Engineer, Wiss Janney Elstner Associates, Fire & Life Safety Group

Practicing / licensed/ graduate fire protection engineer & code consultant since 1986, for Schirmer Engineer/Aon Fire Protection Engineering and now for WJE's Dallas Office. Former Chairman of NFPA's 101&5000 on Residential, and principal committee member on Means of Egress. Worked on 100's of UT, A&M, etc. higher ed projects in Texas, including stadiums, high rise labs, dorms, rec centers, etc.


Presentation will go over the major changes that have occurred in the new 2018 ed. of the Life Safety Code, focusing on means of egress chapter 7, fire protection chapter 8, building services chapter 9, and then the major occupancy chapters, assembly, apartments/dorms and business uses. We will discuss the reason behind the change and how the change will impact projects going forward.

How to be a Team Player

Scotie Selman photoScotie Selman

Director of Emergency Management and Safety Services, University of North Texas

Scotie Selman is the Director of Emergency Management and Safety Services for the University of North Texas and supports a talented team responsible for managing and administering the university’s Emergency Preparedness, Continuity of Operations, Fire and Life Safety and International Risk programs. Scotie has over 17 years of experience developing and managing emergency preparedness, risk management and safety programs for organizations within higher education and behavioral health.


In 2015 Senior Leadership at UNT determined that a fully equipped Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was needed in order to support their direction to establish and maintain an effective and progressive emergency management program. As a result, funding for the design and construction of a state of the art EOC was approved in 2015. Project was completed and the EOC fully operational in March of 2016.

Presentation will provide an overview of the Emergency Operations Center at the University of North Texas and will include information regarding the design and construction of the EOC, organizational structure, operations, programs and collaborative initiatives that are ongoing or currently underway.

Energy Management and Optimization at the University of Texas at Austin

Alex Gonzales photoAlex Gonzales

Program Manager, NV5

Alex has more than 29 years of experience in the AEC industry performing project/program planning, development, design/construction management and commissioning management in the public and private sector. He has provided professional services on a variety of large, small, and complex projects. His project experience includes educational, healthcare, aviation, and industrial facilities and has been involved in all aspects and types of project delivery.

Jessica Duenez photoJessica Duenez

Mechanical Engineer, NV5

Jessica is a mechanical engineer with more than nine years of professional and academic experience. She has served as the Lead Commissioning Agent on both large and small projects with a strong focus on working collaboratively with design and construction teams, and well as building operators, to deliver building systems that work and are easily maintained.

Adam Keeling photoAdam Keeling

Campus Energy Manager, University of Texas at Austin - Utilities and Energy Management

Adam is the Campus’s Energy Manager for the University of Texas at Austin, working in the Energy & Optimization Department, which provides energy efficiency in campus buildings and in the power plant through innovation, state-of-the-art technologies and optimization tools.


An examination of the needs of an institutional client, and ways to improve the warranty phase and handoff to Operations and Maintenance Staff. The University of Texas has transformed the requirements of their Commissioning Providers (CxA) to more robustly support their building operations and optimization while continuing to deliver quality design/construction projects. Changes include more involvement from the CxA in the design phase for energy modeling oversight, a stronger focus on the warranty period support provided by the CxA, including calibrated energy modeling oversight and bringing additional expertise to the table to assist in energy optimization.

Transition to Operations: A Programmatic Approach

Christopher Honkomp photoChristopher Honkomp

Assistant Vice Chancellor for Facilities, Texas Christian University

Chris currently serves as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Facilities at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. In this role, he provides support to the Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities and Planning in the areas of strategic planning, budget support, business process improvement and energy policy development. His previous experience includes 26 years of facility maintenance, construction, and contingency engineering in the US Navy Civil Engineer Corps, four years of private consulting experience in the energy and construction management areas, and two years as a member of the Senior Executive Service involved with contracting and construction management for the Department of Energy, Office of Environmental Management. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Texas A&M University, and a Master of Science degree in Environmental Engineering from the University of Maryland.

Matt Moore photoMatt Moore, CM-BIM, PMP

Sr. BIM Manager, The Broaddus Companies

In his role as BIM Manager, Mr. Moore helps construction owners achieve operational success through improved access to information. This digital age provides many technological opportunity to create valuable business improvements. Mr. Moore collaborates with facility staff and conducts assessments to identify opportunities that target improved access to facility information. Leveraging industry best practice, Mr. Moore composes standards that informs facility management work and improves capital project records. Mr. Moore regularly works with Architects, Engineers, and Contractors in all phases of a project to manage BIM implementation and to ensure its proper alignment with owner needs and goals. He has extensive experience working with teams to collaboratively develop BIM execution plans that support project objectives and deliver on the efficient workflows available with BIM. Mr. Moore oversees BIM execution and ultimate handover to the owner, ensuring proper information is migrated to operational tools (CMMS, CAFM, etc.) and becomes a long lasting valuable record.

Hyde Griffith, MBA-PM, P.E., PMP

Sr. Vice President, COO, The Broaddus Companies

Mr. Hyde Griffith, P.E., PMP serves as a Vice President for Broaddus & Associates providing overall operational leadership for our firm, while managing oversight of our facilities technology group. Mr. Griffith has an unparalleled understanding of the technical application of project management services. He has led our teams in providing Integrated Master Scheduling and Performance Metrics analysis for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. He is the responsible company executive for deploying staff resources for all of our client commitments. As the technology services division leader, Mr. Griffith has focused on helping owners develop and deploy project delivery processes and procedures for the specification, collection, validation, and migration of FM data and documents into their CMMS and operational platforms.


In the past, Broaddus has presented in regard to the benefits of improved asset information management or what we call Transition to Operations (T2O). This approach plans for facilities operations and maintenance needs by defining asset groups and attributes. It then specifies these requirements and aligns them to program standards and project deliverables. The project then collects the asset information and this information is carefully verified, both quantitatively and qualitatively. As information becomes available, it is then imported into operational platforms. Ultimately, this information is the basis for long term operations and data stewardship.

Vehicle Tracking on a low budget

Markus Hogue photoMarkus Hogue

Irrigation and Water Conservation Coordinator, The University of Texas at Austin

Markus has over 17 years in the landscape and irrigation industry with an IT background from Management Information System’s from The University of Texas at Arlington. He is a former City Councilman.


Fleet tracking can be an expensive endeavor, costing over thousands of dollars a month. How do you justify the ROI without any base data? Salesman will give you statistics and other schools information, but what is your team really doing? This presentation will show how you can take a simple onetime expense of a $45 fitness tracker and turn it into a fleet data logger. Giving you the data you need to determine if you should purchase a fully functional fleet tracking system, or to randomly monitor vehicles.

The case study will show examples from vehicles and carts over several month period of monitoring. It will also show how the data was put into Tableau to provide a visualization to upper management. Presentation will explain how it was used to determine where vehicles were parking to see if additional parking places were needed around buildings. Along with how it was used to increase efficiency by finding areas to improve on routing through campus. The data shows each drivers amount of time they drove and his route for that day on a map. Too our surprise, it was more than expected which gave us opportunity to provide improvement which increased efficiency.

Increasing Productivity Through Asset Information Collection

Ken Jordan photoKen Jordan

Facility Management Consultant, AkitaBox

Ken Jordan is a former Army officer turned facility manager. Prior to joining AkitaBox, he worked as a Director of Facility Services at numerous higher education facilities and in 2015 achieved national recognition in grounds management excellence by the Professional Grounds Management Society for the Green Star Honor Award. He is passionate about energy conservation management, preventive maintenance, asset management, and technology to help facility managers do their job more efficiently.


When budgets are tight, organizations looking to increase facilities management productivity don’t have the option to simply hire more staff. The answer: get the most out of the staff you already have by giving them the right information and tools to do their jobs more effectively. By building a database of reliable space and asset data, your team can waste less time searching for information and spend more time in the field completing tasks. In this presentation, industry veteran Ken Jordan will outline the value that accurate space and asset data brings to organizations, how to collect this information, and how this information increases productivity and reduces costs. Also covered are techniques to standardize and organize this data.

Utilizing LSV's in the Campus Fleet for Savings, Safety and Sustainability

Mark Kaligian photoMark Kaligian

Assistant Director Parking and Transportation, The University of Texas at Austin

Mark has managed the fleet at UT for more than 10 years, working on many initiatives that have proven to provide savings and reliability.

Amy Lewis

Fleet Manager, Texas Tech University

Amy has managed the TTU fleet for more than 10 years, adapting to industry shifts and providing the campus with the tools they need to move their materials and people.

Russ Ziegler photoRuss Ziegler

Strategic Accounts Manager - College and University Specialist, Polaris Industries

Russ has been in the LSV industry for more than 8 years, helping fleet managers make positive changes through putting the right vehicles in the right applications.


UT adopted LSV's (low speed vehicles) years ago and has been using them successfully as part of their operations since. TTU recently added a number of LSV's and is actively adding more to react to new challenges on campus and in the industry. Mark from UT can speak to the journey and flourishing of this mode of transportation and Amy can speak to overcoming new challenges. Russ is an LSV specialist and will be speaking to industry trends. This topic should get listeners to at least consider if right-size, right-application vehicles could save their campus money, increase safety and help meet sustainability goals.

El Paso Community College 2016 Bond Program

Richard Lobato photoRichard Lobato

Executive Director of Physical Plant, El Paso Community College

With a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical engineering, Mr. Lobato is the Executive Director of the Physical Plant at EPCC. He was the Director of Utilities for New Mexico State University.

Mel Herrera photoMel Herrera

President, ECM International

A registered engineer and a project management professional, Mr. Herrera has led multiple design and construction programs for higher education, municipal, airport, and mass transit agencies.


El Paso Community College hired ECM International as the Program Manager for their 2016 Master Plan Bond Program, which consists of seven projects across EPCC’s five campuses. The total project budget for Phase I of this program is $125 million. EPCC funded this group of projects with their own Revenue Bonds saved funds, but it hopes to fund the next group of 2016 Master Plan projects through a bond that will be presented to voters in 2020. This $220 million Phase II Program will consist of some new construction, but will mostly focus on the renovation of multiple classroom and laboratory spaces in all five campuses; therefore, it is critical that the current Phase I projects are delivered on time and within budget.

Currently, the program is under budget and approximately 50% complete, with the first two projects scheduled to be ready for the 2019 summer sessions, two more for the 2020 spring semester, one for the 2020 summer semester, and the final one for the 2020 fall semester, the target date to complete all of the Phase I projects.

How Texas State Technical College is transforming higher education in Texas with help from the private sector

Nathan Olson photoNathan Olson

Vice President of Preconstruction, Bartlett Cocke General Contractors

Nathan Olson started as a project manager on the Toyota Moto Manufacturing Texas Facility and was promoted to manager of special projects. He served as interim and later permanently became Director of Preconstruction.

Raymond Fried photoRaymond Fried

Associate Vice Chancellor Facilities Planning and Construction TSTC Statewide, Texas State Technical College

Raymond Fried has 30 years of experience with Martin K Eby Construction Company and 15 years of experience with TSTC as Director of Campus Facilities and as Associate Vice Chancellor of the TSTC System.

Alan Stilts photoAlan Stilts

Principal, PBK Architects

For over 15 years, Alan has worked with clients, designers and project executives to coordinate projects. His focus is on ensuring all projects aspects are completed to the owner’s requirements.


TSTC is unique in the fact that it is the only state-supported, multiple campus institution that operates under an accountability based funding formula. Funding is based on the condition that students receive jobs upon graduation. The institution successfully maintains ten campuses across Texas and partners with various businesses and industries to help fill the skills gap.

Contracting Best Practices by Procurement Professionals

David Reynolds photoModerator - David Reynolds

Associate Vice President for Facilities, University of North Texas

David Reynolds, PE., is the Associate Vice President for Facilities at the University of North Texas since September 2013. He has over 35 Years of Installation/Campus Operational Management including a 30-year career as a Colonel in the US Air Force with Installation, Major Command, Pentagon and combat assignments. David is the Vice President of TAPPA and a Fellow of the Society of American Military Engineers. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, a Master of Political Science from Midwestern State University, a Master of Civil Engineering from Clemson University and a Master of National Security & Strategic Studies from the US Naval War College.

Greg Obar photoPanelist - Greg Obar

Director of Operations & HUB Coordinator, University of North Texas (UNT) System

Mr. Obar is responsible for providing awareness of the HUB program to UNT System employees, including the University of North Texas (UNT), UNT-Dallas and UNT Health Science Center, to increase the utilization of HUB vendors and directs outreach efforts to mentor vendors and promote procurement opportunities.  His effort have led UNT Dallas to a #1 HUB utilization ranking in Texas for fiscal year 2017 and the University of North Texas and UNT Dallas both reaching “Top 25” in Texas for fiscal year 2018.  Prior to joining the UNT System, Greg was an active duty United States Marine Corps officer with nearly 24 years of service including combat duty.  Greg holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Park University and dual Master’s Degrees in Management & Leadership and Human Resources Development from Webster University.

Edie Harvey photoPanelist - Edie Harvey

Assistant Director, Facilities Procurement & Contracting, Texas State University

Edie Harvey has worked in Facilities Management at Texas State University for the past 8 years.  She is Assistant Director in charge of Facilities Procurement & Contracting and handles varying degrees of commodities and services in support of Facility Operations, Grounds, Utility Operations and a small in-house Custodial Operations.  She has 25 years of combined procurement experience in State and University settings.

Panelist - Elizabeth Mendez

Assistant Director of Facilities Procurement & Contracting, Texas State University

Ms. Mendez has thirty years in the Procurement and Contracting profession with experience in private industry, state government and Higher Ed. For the last seven years she has focused on capital construction projects ($1 million and above), as well as Special construction projects (renovation, infrastructure, repairs under $1 million). She oversees solicitations and contracts including numerous IDIQ contracts, furniture and equipment needs and also provides oversight of specialized audit and accounting.


Join a panel of procurement professionals from Texas State University, Tarrant County Community College and the University of North Texas as they discuss best practices in their organizations and engage the audience for other best practices across the state. From facilities commodities and services procurement construction contracting as well as management and growth of Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUB), there will be plenty to discuss with these experts. Contracting and HUB administrative requirements have grown in complexity over the last few years creating challenges in timely procurement for facilities professionals and challenges in workload for procurement teams. Learn how these professionals are supporting their organizations at this session TAPPA members have consistently requested at a TAPPA training session.

Interfacing with local governments and external agencies on jurisdictional issues

Rob Ramirez

Associate Vice President for Facilities Management and Construction, Texas Woman's University

Currently serving as the AVP for Facilities Management and Construction at the Texas Woman's University in Denton, Texas. Prior to this role, Rob worked in the operations and maintenance side of the facilities operation, and spent nearly ten years at Texas A&M University-Kingsville in similar roles.

James G. Norcom III photoJames G. Norcom III

Principal Project Manager, University of Houston

Jim currently serves at the University of Houston main campus in Houston, Texas. His role requires him to oversee the construction of large projects at satellite campuses, which give his direct knowledge of working with multiple local entities. He also recently completed his role as the President of TAPPA.


In the course of major and minor construction, it is often the case that universities will need to engage in coordination efforts with external agencies and local governments. It is a fact that partnerships are critical to the negotiation process in order to achieve a successful endeavor with entities that normally operate within their own jurisdiction. However, there are many challenges that must be navigated when working with them. When is it ok to concede to demands from another agency? How much should we plan for in terms of special request? What are the true requirements during discussions with cities and counties? All these questions are hard to answer, especially when, in many cases, a university may be its own Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ). This often complicates the nature of the partnership with local governments, and often times leads to disagreement or poor relationships with our local partners.

A panel discussion on how universities navigate this challenge will highlight several processes that normally happen to begin the conversation with a separate entities with its own jurisdiction. In addition, learn how there are tools to help build and maintain relationships that eliminate the need to start from square one on every project. Most importantly, how can a university compromise on certain topics without setting long-term precedents that could inadvertently cost the university for many years to come?

Work Management and Production Control – Back to Basics at the University of North Texas

David Reynolds photoDavid Reynolds, PE

Associate Vice President for Facilities, University of North Texas

David Reynolds, PE., is the Associate Vice President for Facilities at the University of North Texas since September 2013. He has over 35 Years of Installation/Campus Operational Management including a 30-year career as a Colonel in the US Air Force with Installation, Major Command, Pentagon and combat assignments. David is the Vice President of TAPPA and a Fellow of the Society of American Military Engineers. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, a Master of Political Science from Midwestern State University, a Master of Civil Engineering from Clemson University and a Master of National Security & Strategic Studies from the US Naval War College.

Chad Crocker photoChad Crocker

Sr. Director of Facility Maintenance, University of North Texas

Chad Crocker is the Senior Director of Maintenance at the University of North Texas since October 2016. He has over 22 years facilities experience with over 18 years spent supporting higher education/government including: Texas Wesleyan University, Eastern Michigan University, Lone Star College and Tarrant County College. Chad is a past President of Dallas Fort Worth Association of Physical Plant Administrators – DFWAPPA and former member of the TAPPA Board of Directors. He holds an MBA in Administrative Management from the University of North Texas, a Bachelor of Criminal Justice Administration from Park University, an Associate in Liberal Arts from the University of North Dakota and an Associate in Mechanical Electrical Technology from the Community College of the Air Force.


Thirty-plus years ago, work order management was a paper based process, printed in triplicate and using carbon paper. Since then it has evolved into a digital process using Computerized Maintenance Management Systems that makes it easy to assign jobs, yet lose customers in data and wear out technicians in chasing from job to job. Reactive maintenance has become a norm across the industry and a killer to work force morale and organizational budgeting. A return to planning, resource management and commitments to customers both internal and external is possible with a return to Production Control focus. At the University of North Texas, work order management is evolving with the return of a Production Control process to firm up delivery schedules, assign work and close out jobs which we believe will result in improved customer service. By combining proven techniques from facilities management and industrial engineering with modern technology available in a CMMS and reengaging supervisors and managers in the workload management, the University is putting a focus back on customers. Data, with appropriate reporting and analysis is helping the Facilities Team make schedule commitments, ensure they are honored and complete all associated reporting and financial transactions. The goal is happier customers and less stressed Facilities’ Technicians who now have more visibility and predictability in their daily schedules. To implement our Back to Basics mentality we have had to refocus on both using our existing CMMS, engaging our management team, stressing customer service to technicians, all while modifying our organization without a manpower expansion. The Facilities Team has begun rebuilding how we manage work requirements so that we can move from a reactive to a proactive organization. Teamwork across our organization and with partners across the campus is assisting us with our journey of improvement. Join us as we discuss how to utilize proven practices with an execution focused process to meet customer expectations.

Planning for and Communicating the Results of your Capital Planning Needs

Corey Ruff photoCorey Ruff

AVP Ops, Abilene Christian University

Corey is the Associate Vice President of Operations at Abilene Christian University (ACU).  He is a Registered Landscape Architect in the State of Texas, an Educational Facilities Professional through the Association of Physical Plant Administrators and a Certified Arborist through the International Society of Arboriculture.  Prior to moving to Operations, Corey was the Executive Director of Facilities & Campus Management at ACU for 6 years. 

Charles Kelm photoCharles Kelm

Executive Director of Client Services, ALPHA Facilities Solutions

Charles Kelm has 20+ years of demonstrated leadership to capture, model, and translate customer information and business requirements into cost-effective engineering, construction and management solutions. He has extensive experience in capital planning, facility condition assessments, maintenance management, investment strategy, and space planning. He enjoys building and leading technically diverse engineering teams in designing, developing, scheduling, and deploying large construction programs and projects. Mr. Kelm has a proven record of financial management, generating significant cost savings; leveraging standardized and streamlined process development with diverse client requirements; and improving customer service satisfaction.

Kyle Minner photoKyle Minner

Senior Account Executive, Dude Solutions

Kyle's Bio is coming soon.


Understanding the fundamentals of capital forecasting and the correlation between facility condition, asset life and student performance are essential. Learn how Abilene Christian University (ACU) has rolled out their capital planning requirements to University leadership; how the facilities group developed their facility asset program to support their capital planning needs, what has been accomplished to strengthen their facility planning processes, how they intend to build support for their long-term capital and maintenance and operations budgeting activities, and how they have used their asset management program to prioritize their capital improvement projects. As part of the presentation, we will feature the role of key performance indicators and how they can help you prioritize needs. We will also share reports that will help you gain visibility into critical areas and justify budgets and staffing needs.


Company Culture: What is it, and how do we get one?

Isidora Sanchez photoIsidora Sanchez

Strategic Support Manager, The University of Texas at Austin

Isidora Sanchez is strategic support manager for UEM, where she oversees employee engagement and communications. She has 15+ years in administrative experience and holds a bachelor’s degree in government from UT Austin.

Laura Stevens photoLaura Stevens

Communications Specialist, The University of Texas at Austin

Laura Stevens is the communications specialist for UEM. Her career spans 20+ years in corporate marketing communications, writing and consulting. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from UT Austin.


Ask your employees, “What’s it like to work here?” and you’ll no doubt receive a variety of answers. Taken together, the responses can help reveal your workplace culture. But what exactly is workplace culture, and how is it established in the first place? Just as culture refers to the behaviors, values and beliefs of a particular group, company or workplace culture is the collective behaviors, values and beliefs shared by the employees of an organization. It is set forth by the organizational leadership and applies to business and employee relationships, how the organization is run, how conflicts are handled, and how the brand is perceived. An organization’s principles, or ethics, are also largely indicative of its workplace culture. In 2017, following a university-wide employee engagement survey, The University of Texas at Austin Utilities and Energy Management (UEM) conducted several employee focus groups to discuss areas of concern that were highlighted by the survey. These informal discussions allowed employees the opportunity to speak freely in a safe, supportive environment on a variety of issues, including:

  • Effective job performance and productivity
  • Clarity in policies and procedures
  • Relationships between employees and leadership teams

The focus group discussions provided valuable insight into job satisfaction, peer-to-peer relationships, and manager-employee relationships. One of the driving forces behind all of these issues was communication. As a result, UEM hired a communications specialist and formed a communications team that set to work on improving both internal and external communications. The first step was to develop and implement a strategic communications plan, which was followed by a series of planning sessions in which leadership teams collaborated on ways to effectively define the UEM brand and strengthen the workplace culture. We also revised and developed some basic elements of workplace culture, including the UEM vision statement, mission statement, and core values.

This presentation will focus on the essential role of internal communications in shaping and developing workplace culture. We will share our experiences, our challenges, and our solutions to help participants develop and define their own workplace culture at their respective organizations. We will provide guidance on the development of several key deliverables, such as a company slogan, mission and vision statements, and core values. We will also discuss how content and graphics can be used to reflect a brand, and how social media platforms play a role in culture and branding. Participants will come away with the necessary tools to give their employees a better sense of value and purpose, which in turn will improve the overall strength of their organizational culture.


Bringing New Life to Aging Universities: From Old to Renewed Through Strategic Growth

Jane Schneider photoJane Schneider

AVP, Texas A&M University

Ms. Schneider oversees the departments of Mapping and Space Information, Sustainability, Facilities and Dining Administration, the Office of the University Architect and Utilities & Energy Services.


An aging college campus can be beautiful and historic. The sight of renowned buildings can stir up a sense of pride in the longstanding excellence that comes with an institution of higher education. But an aging campus also means that buildings and infrastructures could be going without the maintenance they need. Capital funding may be limited and operations may be strained. So how do aging universities catch up, keep up and get ahead of their peers when it comes to facility conditions and space utilization?

Gabriella Rosas photoGabriella Rosas

Regional Director, Sightlines, a Gordian Company

As the Regional Director on the West Coast, Gabby works to foster successful project teams consisting of 24 account managers and analysts who deliver annual services to approximately 80 campuses from the West Coast to the Mississippi River. Gabby is responsible for departmental management, ensuring staff success through trainings and providing support on projects, and contributing to growing the number of institutions Sightlines, a Gordian Company works with.

Gabby has been working with Sightlines for twelve years and has developed many long-term relationships with flagship public universities who engage with Sightlines. She has acquired a significant knowledge of public funding sources and cycles to help in advocating for additional facilities resources. The findings from her work with public systems is often shared at the highest levels of the administration.

Gabby has worked with more than 100 colleges, universities, and medical centers providing a range of Sightlines services. Specifically regarding Facilities Assessment & Planning, Gabby has worked with Texas A&M University, University of Alaska Anchorage, University of San Diego, Point Loma Nazarene University, Pacific Lutheran University, University of Denver, and Lewis & Clark College.

Gabby was awarded her B.A. in History and minor in Religion from Pacific Lutheran University.


An aging college campus can be beautiful and historic. The sight of renowned buildings can stir up a sense of pride in the longstanding excellence that comes with an institution of higher education. But an aging campus also means that buildings and infrastructures could be going without the maintenance they need. Capital funding may be limited and operations may be strained. So how do aging universities catch up, keep up and get ahead of their peers when it comes to facility conditions and space utilization?

You Had Me at Save Money...the Ins and Outs of Energy Management

Ashley Williams photoAshley Williams

Director of Curriculum and Certification, Texas Energy Managers Association

Ashley earned her Bachelors of Architecture and Masters of Regional and Community Planning from Kansas State University, she works for Texas Energy Managers Association and is working towards her Doctorate in Business Administration.


Integrating conservation best practices into any agency is a journey that proceeds incrementally through developing dedicated teams, creative solutions, solid strategies, and measurable results. No matter the overall goal – increasing sustainability, achieving cost reductions, striving for energy efficiency, ensuring regulatory compliance, decreasing resource consumption, conveying social responsibility, implementing environmental stewardship, and improving air quality, among others– planning is vital for success; and the key part of this journey is the establishment of an Energy Management Program. But, how do you get started?

It is beneficial for any organization to implement some level of energy management. The benefits include improved annual budgeting process, via prioritized project planning; decreased number of emergency repair projects; improved process for bond program development; reliable equipment and systems database; improved and consistent standard operations policy; updated technical requirements for future equipment purchases; improved credibility of the energy department; improved departmental cooperation; and it helps in converting an “uncontrollable expense” into a “consistently reliable expense,” leading to budget certainty.

This session reviews the steps that are integral to the development and implementation of an Energy Management Program. First, what is an Energy Management Plan?