Vermont’s Architecture & Construction Expo

Workforce & The Workplace


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Center for Communication and Creative Media at Champlain College

Conference Hotel Block: Sheraton Hotel Burlington
Block Name: "ACX 17 Conference" - (802) 865-6600


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A Collaboration Between:


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8:00 – 9:00

Registration (Breakfast): Champlain Room & Lobby

9:00 – 10:00
10:00 – 10:45

Exposition Open (Coffee Break): Champlain Room & Lobby

10:45 – 12:00
12:00 – 1:30

Exposition Open (Lunch): EATS / Terrace, Champlain Room & Lobby

1:30 – 2:45
2:45 – 3:45

Exposition Open (Snack): Champlain Room & Lobby

3:45 – 5:00
5:00 – 7:00

Cocktail Reception: Terrace (CSI Vermont’s 50th Anniversary)


Bob Duncan, AIA

Bob Duncan founded Duncan•Wisniewski Architecture with Michael Wisniewski in 1984. Bob has been responsible for a wide range of work, including non-profit and market rate multi-family housing, historic preservation and adaptive re-use, medical office buildings, veterinary clinics, civic buildings, other commercial work and single family residences. Born and raised in Vermont, Bob trained as a mason while attending college, attended the Universita delle belle Arte in Florence, Italy in 1973 and graduated from the Pennsylvania State University in 1974. He has had significant experience in historic preservation and adaptive reuse projects and has been licensed to practice architecture here since 1979. Bob has served on several City task forces and boards, state building code committees, as well as several community non-profit boards, serves the AIA on its Public Policy Committee, and currently serves on the Board of Directors of Wake Robin Continuing Care Community. A father of two adult children, he lives in Burlington with his wife Jean Markey-Duncan.

Chad DaGraca Headshot

Chad J DaGraca, CPA

Chad is a Partner in the Commercial Business group and has over 18 years of experience servicing clients in the professional services, manufacturing, distribution and technology industries.
Chad focuses on helping the owners of closely-held businesses with their financial and tax advisory needs. He specializes in financial reporting and taxation, as well as M&A due diligence and tax planning. His expertise extends to ownership transition, internal controls and systems analysis, overhead rate and FAR consulting, as well as evaluating operational strategies and business opportunities.

Diana Nicklaus, AIA

With over 20 years’ experience, Diana has practiced architecture in both the United States and Italy, with projects throughout the continental U.S. and Europe. Diana co-founded Saam Architecture (Saam is a multi-lingual descriptor that translates as “together”) in June of 2014. The Saam partnership, a certified Massachusetts WBE/DBE firm, was established with the goal of providing a high level of client services through unique and innovative project-specific solutions over sector-based opportunities. The firm has adopted a business model that leverages technology to provide progressive HR policies, thereby attracting top talent.  Diana received her Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Tufts University in 1993, followed by a Master of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin in 1997. She is a LEED BD+C AP, and is a licensed architect in New York, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Ohio. She has been a guest lecturer at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Syracuse University in Florence, as well as a presenter at ABX 2015 and 2017. Diana was a founding co-chair of the Massachusetts Building Congress Women’s Network, and is currently serving as the President of Boston Professional Women in Construction.

Emily Grandstaff-Rice, FAIA

Emily Grandstaff-Rice is an architect with 18 years of experience on a broad range of academic, hospitality, institutional, and commercial projects. Her leadership includes serving as 2014 president of the Boston Society of Architects, 2018-2020 At-large Director on the AIA Board of Directors, and chairing the AIA Equity and Future of Architecture Committee focusing on equity, diversity, and inclusion in architecture. As a frequent speaker and writer on the future of architectural practice, Emily’s innovative design work reinforces that a building is more than its shell; it is an experience.


Mathew Barewicz

Mathew Barewicz is the Economic & Labor Market Information Chief for the Vermont Department of Labor. He has 12 years of professional experience as an economist across both the public and private sector.  Additionally, he has provided economic instruction at the collegiate level.  Prior to his work in economics, he was employed in the brokerage industry as an equity trader. Mathew graduated from the University of Vermont with a double major in economics and French.  He earned his master’s degree in economics from San Diego State University.  In his free time, Mathew supports music and the arts.

Sarah Buxton

Director of Workforce Policy & Performance

Taryn Barrett, AIA

Taryn Barrett returned home to Vermont and joined Duncan•Wisniewski Architecture in 2008 upon completion of her master’s degree at Miami University. Her success at balancing academics and div. 1 athletics prepared her to steadily advance and contribute to the firm in a multitude of ways. She has contributed to various award winning projects including the neighborhood planning of Bright Street (Burlington) and Hickory Street (Rutland), as well as design development and construction drawings of Canal Street Veterans’ Housing. Taryn achieved licensure in VT and became a member AIA VT where she recently joined the board of directors. Most notably, Taryn received the AIAS National Honor Award for Community Service for designing a home for Lianna, a young girl with quadriplegic mixed cerebral palsy. The award went to a member of the AIAS who “enriched communities through the spirit of collaboration through design.” Taryn also received a grant for the AIA Women’s Leadership Summit, an enlightening experience that highlighted the power of women architects to advocate for one another, promote equity and education, and enrich their local communities. Taryn lives in Colchester with her husband T.J. and two young children Brynn and Madden.


Keynote – Allowing Space for Culture Change in the AEC Workplace

By Diana Nicklaus, AIA (saam architecture)

Media has been prolific in discussing the evolution of the workforce and workplace.  Topics surrounding the cross-generational workforce, remote work, flexible schedules, and shared workspace present a new daily routine for many professionals.  These changes, however, have been slow to impact the design and construction industry. This presentation will address the challenges and benefits of progressive workplace culture within the AEC industry and offer case studies of successful alternative business models.


Economic Trends and Strategic Initiatives

By Sarah Buxton and Mathew Barewicz

Vermont Department of Labor staff Sarah Buxton, Director of Workforce Policy & Performance, and Mathew Barewicz, Economic & Labor Market Information Chief, will lead a discussion about the Vermont workforce. The presentation will start with broad economic trends and how the Vermont economy has evolved with a focus on industry and labor force trends in Vermont. The second half of the presentation will highlight the Department’s programmatic initiatives in response to data and in collaboration with employer input.



Equity and the Future of Architecture

Presenters: Emily Grandstaff-Rice, FAIA

As the world and the workplace changes around us, it is clear that understanding others and creating opportunities for all in the profession of architecture will create a stronger, more empathic, more responsible built environment. Learn how the AIA is addressing issues of creating a more equitable practice that celebrates diversity and inclusion. This will create a better workforce, better architecture, and better architects.


Ownership Transition Planning for A&E Firms

Presenter: Taryn Barrett, Bob Duncan, and Chad DaGraca

In a state with many small scale established A&E design firms, questions of how to transition out of and in to ownership are prevalent, but not commonly talked about among peers.  This presentation will provide an overview of the ownership transition planning process for A&E firms, with a particular focus on internal transition strategies.  We will review key considerations from firm valuation to tax minimization strategies to leadership succession.  We will also discuss the common reasons internal transitions succeed or fail and how firms can best position themselves for long-term sustainability.  The presentation will wrap with a Q&A session or panel discussion between Bob and Taryn on their experience and perspectives (while working with Chad) on framework for new ownership.



Mats, Inc.


Seacoast Building Solutions

Shannon Corporation

Sika Sarnafil

Smart Vent Products, Inc.

Vermont Verde Antique, LLC


Underwriter Sponsor

Curtis Lumber


Reception Sponsor



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