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Happy Holidays, y’all!

Thanksgiving is behind us and, before we know it, Christmas and New Year holidays will be upon us as well. It’s the time of year where your schedule gets filled up with open houses and company parties. It also means your 2016 calendar is filling up with association galas, which hopefully will include SMPS Austin’s inaugural Black + White Bash! Please make sure to put that one down NOW - January 21 at Highball on South Lamar.

As the year comes to an end, it is often a time to reflect on your personal and professional goals for the past year as well as plan and prepare for the new year. (After all, we all know how important planning and preparation is in order to achieve a higher rate of success!) We also know that we need to take a few risks in order to advance. At the beginning of the 2015-2016 SMPS Austin board year, we defined several goals aimed at our members’ personal and professional growth. We have taken a few different routes to achieving those goals. For example, our annual Holiday Luncheon in December included the opportunity to help our community and those less fortunate by giving donations to Austin’s Operation Blue Santa. We also changed the luncheon format from our usual Communications Awards to provide more opportunity to network with friends and associates, both new and old. We have moved the Communications Awards to its own event, the Black + White Bash on January 21, to celebrate our marketers and what they do to help our companies WIN! This inaugural event will be an exciting night of awards, awesome networking, music and cocktails, and putting the spotlight on our marketers. We hope to see everyone there! 

But we won’t stop there. SMPS Austin will continue to bring you timely and relevant monthly luncheons packed with project and professional info, the annual Top Golf tournament, and our excellent wine and cheese and libation tasting events. We have a couple of great Lunch & Learns planned, such as a CRM roundtable to discuss the pros and cons of different programs to help your company choose the correct one for you. We also have a session planned on business development for technical staff, which will be a must for our technical folks! This will give a roadmap to getting them out of their office and feeling comfortable helping in your company’s BD efforts. And lastly, we welcome back to our great city the SMPS Southern Regional Conference (SRC) on Feb 3-5! We are excited about the upcoming events for 2016. If anyone would like to discuss anything they have read above, please feel free to shoot me an email! 

Thank you, everyone, for your continued support of SMPS Austin!


The fabulous Black + White Bash will combine our annual awards ceremony with a festive cocktail party, hosted on January 21. We will honor our Communications Awards winners as well as the Leadership Award and the Community Service Award honorees.

The party is open to both members and non-members. We encourage attendance by marketing and BD teams, firm leadership, friends, colleagues, and significant others to help celebrate.

Food & Drink | Live Music | Photo Booth | Awards Ceremony | More

Jitterbug Vipers

The Highball
Parking on-site

Black and white cocktail attire

Tickets are $65 each and are on sale now!
CLICK HERE to purchase.

Sponsorships for the Black + White Bash are SOLD OUT.

David Knoll, Development Director of Ryan Companies, will serve as the event's emcee. 

About Ryan Companies
Ryan Companies US, Inc. is a third generation, family-owned national developer, designer, capital investment consultant, builder and real estate manager specializing in fully integrated solutions for over 75 years. In 2012, Ryan opened their SouthCentral regional office in Austin. Key market sectors include retailers, industrial, health care, senior living, and corporate build-to-suit; and product experience includes work on office, retail, mixed-use, hospitality, multi-housing, industrial, medical office building, senior living, distribution center, public sector, and mission critical facilities. Ryan serves customers throughout the United States with offices in the North, Midwest, Great Lakes, Southeast, South-Central, Southwest and West regions. Ryan was named the 2007 National Developer of the Year by NAIOP, the Commercial Real Estate Development Association. For more information, visit


The deadline to submit your work for the Communications Awards and the deadline to nominate your colleagues for our Individual Awards is December 16. Don't miss out on this opportunity to have your work and your peers recognized!

The Communications Awards are a great opportunity to gain recognition for your firm and the hard work you have done in 2015. 

Communication Awards categories include:

  • Brochure (includes video brochures)
  • Holiday piece
  • Newsletter
  • Website
  • Special event
  • Social media

Communication Awards Judges:

  • Jeff Kaufmann, Texas General Land Office
  • Clint Huff, EPIC Project Management
  • Heather Ladage, Austin Business Journal
  • Patricia Buchholtz, lookthinkmake
  • Sean Thompson, lookthinkmake

Awards Emcee:

  • David Knoll, Ryan Companies

CLICK HERE to submit today! 

These two, new individual awards allow SMPS Austin to recognize and honor outstanding colleagues who are making an impact on the AEC industry in Austin. We invite you to nominate your coworkers and colleagues for these exceptional recognitions. The awardees will be honored at the SMPS Austin Black + White Bash on January 21. Finalists will be notified and announced in advance.

Individual Awards Categories:

  • Community Service
  • Leadership

CLICK HERE to nominate today! 


Our annual members holiday luncheon was held on Tuesday, December 8. Guests enjoyed extended networking time over a delicious meal at Carmelo's. There was a quick game of holiday trivia won by the most festive table of guests, who were awarded with Starbucks gift cards. 

Attendees also generously donated toys for the Operation Santa toy collection. We gathered three huge bags worth of toys and greatly appreciate the donations which will go to help support families this holiday season! 

CLICK HERE to view all photos from the event. 

PUT SOME JINGLE IN THE SEASON FOR OTHERS: Holiday Volunteer Opportunities

Want to get involved and give back to your community? Here are five organizations you can get involved with that make the holiday season a bit brighter for fellow Austin-ites.

Operation Blue Santa
A toy and food drive hosted by the Austin Police Department, Operation Blue Santa provides families with a full meal and gifts for children under 14 years old during the holiday season. 

Partnerships for Children’s Holiday Wishes
Another toy drive opportunity, Holiday Wishes accepts toys, money to purchase toys, and volunteer time to purchase, wrap, and sort the collected gifts. You can sponsor a specific child to get them exactly what's on their wish list.

Salvation Army’s Angel Tree
The Angel Tree adorns ornaments with the names and wishes of local children in need. Anyone can take an ornament and purchase the gifts based on a specific child’s wish list. Volunteers looking to get a bit more involved can help manage the tree and its ornaments, ring the donation bell, or help with sorting received gifts. The Angel Trees can be found at businesses all around Austin.

SAFE’s Project Santa
Stop Abuse For Everyone (SAFE) hosts Project Santa which specifically serves children who have fallen victim of neglect and abuse by providing them with gifts during the holiday season. Like Holiday Wishes, you can donate gifts or money for volunteers to purchase gifts. 

Meals on Wheels and More
If you’re looking to get some face time with the community members you’re serving, Meals on Wheels and More is a great place to invest your time. Hot, nutritious meals are provided to Austin-ites who will be alone for the holidays. Volunteers with a valid driver’s license and insurance will personally deliver the donated holiday meals to the homes on Christmas morning.


Name: Jennifer Finch, Director of Sponsorships

Firm: Kiewit Building Group

Title: Business Development Manager

Brief description of firm:
Kiewit Building Group is a national commercial general contractor. We provide preconstruction, construction, and post-construction services via the following delivery methods: construction manager-at-risk, design-build, and bid-build.

How many years have you been an SMPS member: 3

What do you like about being involved with SMPS?
I’ve really taken advantage of the professional development opportunities - the mentor/protégé program, serving on the communications committee, and now on the board. My favorite part about SMPS is the genuine, down-to-earth people that make up the organization.

Where are you originally from?
Born in Houston and grew up in Lake Jackson.

What’s your favorite restaurant?
Liberty Kitchen. So glad they opened an Austin location!

What are your hobbies?
I love running and antique shopping. I have the Round Top antique fair dates blocked out on my calendar each year. My husband, John, and I are also both Aggies. We met at A&M and love to head back to College Station and tailgate for the home games.


SMPS Austin is seeking volunteers for our Annual Golf Tournament, which will be held in March, 2016. If you are interested in serving on the Golf Planning Committee, please email Adam Kohler:


Register now for the Southern Regional Conference! The 2016 Conference will be held right here in Austin at the recently opened Hotel Van Zandt. 

Congrats to Erika Passailaigue of Datum Engineers, who won SMPS Austin's complimentary registration for next year's conference!

PROJECT SPOTLIGHT: Austin Sunshine Camps

Austin Sunshine Camps is a three-story, 21,443 square-foot, project located in Zilker Park. The Austin Sunshine Camps is a non-profit organization seeking to "engage and empower youth through education and outdoor experiences." Their new structure increased capacity by 50% and allows Austin Sunshine Camps to service and assist more of the community. The construction project was a labor of love, made possible through generous campaign donors and a collaborative effort between the entire project team.

Location: Austin, Texas
Date Completed: May 29, 2015
Size: 11,500 SF demolition, and 21,443 SF ground up
Owner:  Austin YMBL Sunshine Camps

Land Owner: Austin Parks & Recreation
General Contractor: IE² Construction, Inc.
Architect: Cornerstone Group Architects
Structural: JQ Engineering
MEP: DKM Consulting
Civil: Bury
Landscape Architect: dwg. urban landscape architecture
Entitlement Attorney: Metcalfe Wolff Stuart & Williams, LP


Caroline D. Cashion

F. Todd Woods
FTWOODS Construction