ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala

    November 3 – November 5, 2021

    Denver, Colorado

    Earn up to 12 PDH/LU credit hours


    Zweig Group is excited to see you in person again!


    Zweig Group is thrilled to announce that the annual in-person ElevateAEC Awards Gala will return in 2021. Due to recent guidance from the CDC as well as loosening guidelines from the State of Colorado, the 2021 ElevateAEC Conference and Awards Gala is opening up registrations and restoring the full agenda for the annual in-person conference in Denver, November 3-5. This includes bringing back the iconic black-tie awards gala celebrating the 2021 winners of the Hot Firm list, Best Firms To Work For, Marketing Excellence, Rising Stars, Top New Ventures and the Jerry Allen Courage In Leadership Awards.  In accordance with CDC, state, and venue requirements, masks will not be required for vaccinated individuals.


    Register now for the AEC industry’s top IN-PERSON learning and networking event of the year.


    Conference Overview

    Wednesday, November 3, 2021

    2:00 PM – 6:00 PM


    Visit us on the fourth floor, Capitol Ballroom to check-in and meet with sponsors!

    6:00 PM – 7:30 PM

    ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala Welcome Reception

    More information coming soon.

    Thursday, November 4, 2021

    8:00 AM

    Breakfast & Check-In

    9:00 AM – 9:30 AM

    Conference Welcome & Opening Remarks

    Speaker: Chad Clinehens | President & CEO, Zweig Group & Ryan Manougian | Vice President, Sales, Cosential, Unanet

    9:30 AM – 10:30 AM

    Opening Keynote - How Bull & Bear Markets Impact the AEC industry & How to Navigate and Grow Through All Phases of an Economic Cycle

    Speaker: Bill McConnell, PE, JD, MSCE, CDT

    Description: Growth of AEC companies, or lack thereof, is often dictated by overall market conditions. Corporate expansion through bull and bear markets alike requires a culture of growth and awareness of current market conditions. The Vertex Companies, Inc. (“Vertex”) has averaged 20%-plus year-over-year growth for nearly 25 years. The co-founder and CEO of Vertex, William J. McConnell PE, JD, will explore historic data trends, especially related to growth and decline cycles in AEC. Bill will also look at the unique anomalies from 2020 and where the state of the industry is currently and where indicators show we are headed. Bill will also review how Vertex’s growth plan contemplates a balance of non cyclical services (to hedge against recessionary cycles) with traditional AEC services (in order to take advantage of expansion cycles). Lastly, Mr. McConnell will discuss the benefits and challenges that a accompany a continued growth strategy.

    10:45 AM – 11:45 AM

    Keynote - The Future of Work: Design Strategies for the Work Experience

    Speaker: Sandra M Parét, AIA, IIDA | CEO, STG Design

    Description: The pandemic was a catalyst for change in the way we work, but not the cause. Hybrid or flexible work has been occurring for many years as corporate real estate executive balance their portfolio of properties to reduce expense.  What has occurred is the empowerment of the employee to adapt to the most productive way of working under extreme circumstances. As we return to the office, how can physical space enable that level of productivity, effectiveness and wellbeing that many have experienced for the first time in their professional careers?  We’ll explore the ways in which those involved in the design profession can lead the exploration for solutions in an office environment.

    11:45 PM – 12:30 PM

    Lunch & Rising Stars Celebration

    Speakers: Christy Zweig | Director, Research & E-Commerce & Phil Keil | Principal & Director of Strategic Services, Zweig Group

    12:30 PM – 12:50 PM

    Lunch Presentation - Research & Design Tax Credit: How Your Firm Can Save $1000's

    Speaker: Dawson Fercho | Co-Founder & VP of Business Development, CTA

    1:15 PM – 2:15 PM

    Breakout Session One

    Breakout Session A: From Start-Up to 300 Employees: Critical Considerations for a Sustainable Competitive Advantage

    Speakers: Phil Keil | Principal & Director of Strategic Services, Zweig Group

    Description: “Someone once told me the definition of hell; on your last day on earth, the person you could have become will meet the person you became.” Legacy isn’t something you arrive at by copying your competition. Developing a legacy building strategy means looking within to the sources of your greatest purpose and potential. Where do you, your customers, and your community need you to be uniquely great? Once determined, ruthlessly concentrate your time and resources in those areas. This is “strategic coherence.” It is having a single compelling view of how your company creates value in the market, the capabilities to do so, the way those fit into a system, and the way that relates to the services you provide. This is the only way to consistently create value today. Join us for a discussion on ideas, legacy, and purpose within small firms.


    Breakout Session B: 300+ Employee Firms: Turning Risk Into Profit

    Speakers: Ted Grace | Executive VP, Risk Management, Stephens Insurance & Dathan Gaskill | Managing Director, Zweig Group Risk Solutions

    Description:This session is designed to explore enterprise risk and educate companies on how to profitably manage enterprise risk. The session will view risk management from a strategic point of view and from a practical implementation perspective. We will explore and interactively discuss ways to figure out optimal coverage, how to grow coverage as a firm grows and how to make money while managing risk. The operating economics, impacts and flexibility of captive insurance programs will be highlighted as an optimal form for strategic risk management.


    Breakout Session C: M&A Next

    Speakers: Jamie Claire Kiser | Managing Principal & Director of Advisory Services, Zweig Group

    Description: We are in the midst of a great M&A run in AEC. This conversational session will dive into the trends and offer prognosis on these indicators as we prepare for the next five years.

    2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

    Breakout Session Two

    Breakout Session A: Building A Strong Legacy

    Speakers: Edward Renenger | President & CEO, SES ESOP Strategies, Will Swearingen | Director of Ownership Transition, Zweig Group & Larry Zucchino | Chairman, JDavis Architects

    Description: When evaluating options for exiting or achieving liquidity from a business, owners can choose many different paths. In this session, you’ll hear about the various strategic options business owners have when looking to sell a business. For an owner seeking an exit strategy that allows him or her to retain the legacy of the business, maintain the business in the local community and allow the owner to stay involved following a change in ownership, an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) may be an ideal choice. This session will examine the journey through the internal options and a company’s ultimate decision to become employee owned.


    Breakout Session B: Lifeblood of Business: How to be a Marketing, Branding and PR Master in one hour.

    Speakers: Dr. Kit Miyamoto | CEO, Miyamoto International

    Description: Research show businesses with clear, distinct brand and communication strategy outpace businesses without one. Consecutive years’ multicategory winner of Zweig Marketing Excellence, Miyamoto International will describe their secret source to its PR and communication success.


    Breakout Session C: Project Management: The not-so secret weapon in client engagement. A Customized Assessment, Training, and Implementation Approach to Enhancing Project Management and Client Experience

    Speakers: Justin Smith, S.E, P.E | Principal, Start2Rise & James E. Spencer, AIA | Principal, Architect, GHC Architects

    Description: Project managers are uniquely positioned to impact a wide range of experiences, ranging from the employee experience within project teams, to the client experience on projects.  Project Managers are the tip of the proverbial spear when it comes to positively impacting the lives of clients and delivering on the promises that firms make to the world.  Done well, effective Project Managers create healthy teams, foster growth-oriented employee experiences, and high levels of client engagement.  If the goal is to engage the client in a meaningful way that creates lasting, memorable experiences and builds strong, resilient relationships, why does most Project Management Training focus on budgets, spreadsheets, timesheets, and bean counting?

    3:30 PM – 4:00 PM

    Networking Break

    This is a great opportunity to network and continue session topic discussions amongst other conference attendees!

    6:00 PM – 7:00 PM

    Cocktail Reception

    Join us in the Capitol Ballroom North Foyer for fun and drinks in celebration of our award winners! Be sure to wear your best gala attire and take a professional red-carpet picture in front of our step-and-repeat and photo booth!

    7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

    ElevateAEC Black-Tie Awards Gala

    Fill your drinks and find your seat! We will be celebrating and cheering on all our award winners while enjoying a delicious dinner meal!

    Friday, November 5, 2021

    9:30 AM

    ElevateHER Brunch Begins

    10:00 AM – 10:45 AM

    ElevateHER Keynote

    Speaker: Jamie Claire Kiser – Managing Principal, Zweig Group, Veronica Porter – ElevateHER program coordinator, Zweig Group & Team MentHER Match

    11:00 AM – 12:00 PM

    Leadership Roundtables

    More information coming soon. 

    12:15 PM – 1:15 PM

    Breakout Session Three

    Breakout Session A: Next Level Leadership & Management for the New Era

    Speakers: Pete Atherton, P.E | President and Founder, ActionsProve

    Description: We know that the “next normal” will never be as it was, and neither will the type of leadership and management needed to move our teams and organizations forward. This session is designed to help position you and your team for greater success now and moving forward.


    Breakout Session B: Designing a Client Experience Program

    Speakers: Ryan Suydam | Chief Experience Officer, Client Savvy & Phil Keil | Principal & Director of Strategic Services, Zweig Group

    Description: New research by SMPS revealed a firm’s Client Experience (CX) will be the single most important driver of growth and differentiation by 2022. And while 87% of Fortune 2000 companies have integrated CX Management into their organization’s operations and marketing, fewer than 3% of AEC firms have made the leap. During this session you will learn the fundamentals of CX Management. Hear case studies of AEC firms who have invested in (and seen a return on) CX – including how one firm cut proposal volume 66% and increased sales 15% in just one year. Finally, we will lay out a CX Maturity Model that will enable any A/E/C leader to chart their firm’s course and take the first (or next) step on their CX journey.


    Breakout Session C: Building a Best Practices Board of Directors

    Speakers: Dan Williams | Chair Emeritus and Retired CEO, Garver & John McAdams, P.E., PLS | Founder and Chairman, McAdams

    Description: This session will present best practices to help you assemble the ideal board of directors to elevate your firm. Topics will include: the role of the board and of board members, selecting ideal board members, best practices meetings, value of outsiders, effective agendas, and more. Presented by two veteran industry leaders, this session can take your strategy to the next level.

    1:30 PM – 2:30 PM

    Closing Keynote - Inspiring Design: From Architect to Entrepreneur - The Janus Motorcycles Story

    Speaker: Richard Worsham – CEO, Janus Motorcycles

    Description: Janus Motorcycles is a company built around the idea of providing handmade production motorcycles that answer the question of why we ride motorcycles in the first place. In this talk, Richard will discuss the founding and history of Janus Motorcycles, the influence of his classical architectural training, and the role that tradition plays in the timeless designs and values that define the company.

    2:30 PM – 3:00 PM

    Conference Conclusion & Closing Remarks

    More information coming soon.

    2021 ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala Speakers

    Chad Clinehens, P.E

    President and CEO, Zweig Group

    November 4th | 9:00am

    Visit Website

    Dawson Fercho

    Co-Founder & VP of Business Development, Corporate Tax Advisors

    November 4th | 12:30pm

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    Will Swearingen

    Director of Ownership Transition, Zweig Group

    November 4th |  2:30pm

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    Ted Grace

    Executive Vice President, Risk Management, Stephens Insurance

    November 4th | 1:15pm

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    Justin Smith

    Principal, Start2Rise

    November 4th | 2:30pm

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    Jamie Claire Kiser

    Managing Principal & Director of Advisory Services, Zweig Group

    November 5th | 10:00am

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    Dan Williams

    Chair Emeritus and Retired CEO, Garver

    November 5th | 12:15pm

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    John McAdams

    Founder and Chairman, McAdams

    November 5th | 12:15pm

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    Richard Worsham

    Co-Founder & Designer, Janus Motorcycles

    November 5th |  1:30pm

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    Bill McConnell, P.E.

    CEO, The Vertex Companies

    November 4th | 9:30am

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    Sandra M. Paret, AIA

    CEO, STG Design

    November 4th | 10:45am

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    Phil Keil

    Principal & Director of Strategic Services, Zweig Group

    November 4th | 1:15pm & November 5th | 12:15pm

    Visit Website

    Dathan Gaskill

    Managing Director, Risk Solutions, Zweig Group

    November 4th | 1:15pm

    Visit Website

    Edward Renenger

    President and CEO, SES ESOP Strategies

    November 4th | 2:30pm

    Visit Website

    James Spencer, AIA

    President and Architect, GHC Architects

    November 4th | 2:30pm

    Visit Website

    Dr. Kit Miyamoto

    CEO, Miyamoto International

    November 4th | 2:30pm

    Visit Website

    Ryan Suydam

    Chief Experience Officer, Client Savvy

    November 5th | 12:15pm

    Visit Website

    Peter C. Atherton, P.E.

    President & Founder, Actions Prove, LLC

    November 5th |  12:15pm

    Visit Website

    This event is being held at the Hyatt Regency Denver at Colorado Convention Center in Downtown Denver.


    Click the following link to make a hotel reservation in the conference block :

    Can you help me understand how this coincides with the virtual event? Are attendees choosing one or the other, or do they have the option of both? Does the virtual event have a different audience all together, or is it the same audience?

    The in-person conference and the virtual conference are two separate events with the same mission: To Elevate The Industry. They are taking place at separate times and will have different content so anyone has the opportunity to join both conferences!

    They will have different audiences, as the virtual conference is free and open to the entire org chart (expecting 1500-2000 attendees), while the in-person conference is targeted towards the C-Suite (expecting 150-250) attendees.


    Virtual ElevateAEC Conference & ElevateHER Symposium

    When: September 13-October 7, 2021.

    Where: Virtual

    Target Audience: Entire org chart

    Expected Attendees: 1500-2000

    Link for more information: 2021VIRTUAL

    In-Person ElevateAEC Conference & Awards Gala: November 3-5, in Denver CO. 

    When: November 3-5

    Where: Denver, CO

    Target Audience: C-Suite and Executive Level

    Expected Attendees: 150-250

    Link for more information: 2021INPERSON

    Overall, we saw the success that came from the virtual conference last year and wanted to continue to offer that in a virtual capacity so we can reach a larger audience but thankfully as the pandemic is slowly ending we are able to get back together in person for those interested as well! We wanted to have both options as there are still some people who prefer one over the other.

    Is there a deadline to register for the in-person conference/gala?

    The deadline to register for the in-person will most likely be around September 30th, but there is a chance that spots will fill up before then so we recommend registering as soon as possible to hold your spot!

    Would we be able to bring a spouse/guest to the welcome reception and awards gala?

    Yes absolutely!

    We are offering an Awards Gala Only pass that you can purchase for your guest/spouse and all guests are welcome to join us for the Welcome Reception as well!

    It is available for purchase now at the following link: AWARDSGALA

    We are interested in register a group for the ElevateAEC Awards Gala. Is there an option to buy a table(s)?

    Yes, absolutely!

    A table at the ElevateAEC Awards Gala fits 8 attendees and if you buy the whole table we are offering a 15% discount off each registration. Before the discount, each registration is $495, bringing the table of 8 to $3960 originally but with a 15% discount that brings the total price of the table of 8 attendees to $3366.

    If you have 8 “Awards Gala Only/Guest Pass” tickets in your cart, you can use the discount code “2021ELEVATE15″ at checkout for 15% off your whole order.

    Here is the link to purchase those registration tickets: GROUPTICKETS

    Schedule subject to change.


    Want to be a sponsor? 

    Investing in an ElevateLeadership Summit sponsorship offers incredible value for your marketing dollars. Your company’s brand will be firmly positioned across one of the leading and most recognized events in the AEC industry.

    Want to be a speaker?

    Zweig Group is actively searching for the top speakers in the AEC industry. Send your speaker information and session abstract to

    The Evolution of the Hot Firm & A/E Industry Awards to ElevateAEC

    “We really do need to celebrate more… we see ElevateAEC – and especially the awards component – as an essential celebration of what we do.”

    — Chad Clinehens, PE
    President & CEO, Zweig Group

    Enter Our Awards

    Is your firm a Hot Firm?  Are you a Best Firm To Work For? Are you a Top New Venture? Do you have a Rising Star? Found out now by entering Zweig Group’s awards programs which recognizes outstanding firm performance in the AEC Industry.

    “This conference is the best in the industry. With great networking opportunities, valuable learning sessions, and access to the best advisors, this conference is a must-attend for any AEC professional.”

    – Past attendee feedback