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At VERTEX, we are connected by our drive to provide value and results for our clients. We foster long-term relationships not just with our clients, but within our organization. On our projects, we are diligent, industrious and experts in our fields. Outside of the office, we are triathletes, competitive skiers, classical musicians, pilots, professional poker players, car enthusiasts, proud parents, volunteers in our communities, and more! As part of our #WeAreVERTEX campaign, we will be sharing profiles of our employees, so you can get to know the people behind our success.

VERTEX Environmental Spotlight, Alex Johnsen

Career Spotlight

Alexander Johnsen, CIH
Certified Industrial Hygienist
Denver, CO
Joined VERTEX in May 2018

Alex is a Certified Industrial Hygienist based out of VERTEX’s Denver office. Alex joined the VERTEX team in 2018 where he was able to obtain his CIH designation and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree through VERTEX’s Lifetime of Learning Program.

As a Colorado native, he enjoys spending time in the great outdoors with his lovely wife, Nicole, who is an elementary school teacher. Some of his other favorite pastimes include trying not to lose too many golf balls, watching his beloved Colorado sports teams try their best, and going to beer festivals (even though he has a soft spot for an ice cold Bud Light).

Alex is thrilled to be a part of the VERTEX family and is very proud to work with such a talented, hard-working group!

What is your specialty?

I specialize in mold/moisture assessments and clandestine lab inspections.

How did your career path lead you to VERTEX?

I heard about VERTEX through a professional relationship at the time (Tom Koch) and he told me about what a great opportunity working for VERTEX would be.

How long have you been in the AEC industry?

I have just over 7 years in the AEC industry.

What is something interesting about you that your peers/colleagues might not know?

I am a dual citizen (Canadian-American).

What are some of the unique project locations that you’ve worked?

I have worked on cell towers at the top of a mountain that required a snowcat for access, I have worked in mines that went down almost a mile underground, I have done work in Puerto Rico, and just about everywhere in between!

What role have mentors played in your career?

Mentors have played a tremendous role in my career! I have learned an invaluable amount from coworkers and supervisors, both past and present, that have helped shape who I am today. I will be forever grateful for all of the relationships I have had over the years.

Favorite Quote

“No lead is big enough if you’re a Denver sports fan.”

More About Alex

Robert Massey

Giving Spotlight

Robert Massey
Assistant Project Manager, Surety
Denver, CO
Joined VERTEX in March 2019

Robert Massey is an Assistant Project Manager for the Surety group out of the Denver, Colorado office. He has found his outlet outside of work, participating in his first professional cycling race on September 8th. Robert is part of the Karen Hornbostel Memorial Time Trial (KHMTT) series at Cherry Creek State Park that runs for seven weeks during the fall. The course is a challenging 9.6 miles that winds through the Cherry Creek Reservoir.

Robert placed 4th in his first race, which currently ranks him 12th out of 888 total riders. This is an impressive accomplishment for Robert, considering the unpredictable weather conditions in Colorado. The remaining races occur every Wednesday through October 20, 2021.

The KHMTT series is a fundraiser for Cancer Fitness Institute in memory of Karen Hosbostel, a four-time masters national road champion who battled metastatic breast cancer for over 13 years yet courageously pioneered a fitness program for cancer patients that started what is today the Cancer Fitness Institute.

Learn more at Karen Hornbostel Memorial Time Trial | At Cherry Creek State Park.

More About Robert

VERTEX Student Spotlight, Lance VanDemark

Student Spotlight

Lance VanDemark, PE, PhD
Vice President, Civil Engineering
Denver, CO
Joined VERTEX in February 2012

Dr. Lance VanDemark is a Vice President in VERTEX’s Civil Engineering Group, working from the Denver region. He recently completed his doctoral dissertation on dispute resolution and risk mitigation of civil engineering claims at the University of Colorado. Dr. VanDemark holds a B.S. degree in Civil and Mechanical Engineering, and M.S. degrees in Structural Dynamics and Engineering & Technology Management. He has also published several articles with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

“A lifetime of learning has afforded me the opportunity to grow and continually challenge myself both personally and professionally.”
– Lance VanDemark, PE, PhD

More About Lance

VERTEX Surety Spotlight, Jerry Librizzi

Career Spotlight

Jerry Librizzi
Division Manager
Morrisville, NC
Joined VERTEX in April 2011

Jerry is a Division Manager for the Surety Group out of VERTEX’s North Carolina office. Jerry’s construction career started at a very young age in Connecticut visiting project sites with his Dad who was also a lifelong construction manager. After earning two bachelor’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Northeastern University in Boston, Jerry began his 30+ year construction journey on projects throughout the Northeast and then moved south in 2009. He joined VERTEX in 2011 and has had the opportunity to visit a number of interesting countries while working on some of VERTEX’s international projects. When not providing support to the Surety Group, Jerry enjoys jogging as well as all outdoor activities and exploring the many hikes throughout the mountains of Western North Carolina.

What has motivated you throughout your career?

I’ve been in the construction world since 1985. I always try to stay humble and learn something new every day. We as humans do not know everything; we are always learning and growing. Another motivator is fear of failure. That is what keeps me going and motivated.

What is the best professional advice you have received throughout your career?

My dad’s entire career was in the construction world as well. I grew up going to job sites with him as a young kid. One thing he taught me was “there never seems to be enough time during a construction project to do it right the first time, but there always seems to be enough time to get it fixed.” Another piece of advice was “believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see in the construction world.” I have found this to be very true and continue to live by it.

Where is the best place you have traveled to?

One of the most beautiful places I have ever been to is Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I spend a lot of my free time skiing and they have some great trails at the ski resort.

More About Jerry

VERTEX Surety Spotlight, Frank Benway

Career Spotlight

Frank Benway
Division Manager
Weymouth, MA
Joined VERTEX in January 2005

Frank is a Division Manager in VERTEX’s Weymouth, MA office. He oversees complex surety claims matters and completion projects across the Northeast. In addition to consulting and managing projects across the United States, Frank has also managed matters internationally in Cuba and Canada. A native of the Boston area, Frank lived in Fort Lauderdale, FL for several years managing VERTEX’s team in the Southeast before relocating back to Massachusetts in 2016.

Frank is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Management/Construction Engineering through the University of Colorado at Denver. Outside of work, Frank enjoys spending time visiting the beaches of Cape Cod and the mountains of New Hampshire with his wife and two daughters.

How did your career path lead you to VERTEX?  

When I was in college, I had no idea what a surety bond was, but the school I went to offered a co-op program that allowed you to participate and practice in the field of your degree. I was matched with VERTEX. From January to June 2005, I was basically employed full-time with VERTEX through my co-op program while finishing school. I will forever remember the date that the job site I was on achieved full completion, March 23rd. After we achieved completion, I realized that surety consulting was what I wanted to do, and that VERTEX was where I wanted to do it.

What are some challenges you faced on a job site, and how did you overcome them? 

One of the biggest challenges, especially in the first few weeks or a month on a job site, is turning morale around and getting the contractor or subcontractor to be optimistic that we are the best choice for the job. Creating a great relationship with them and working together to complete the job successfully is key. We have a great team throughout the surety group and truly across VERTEX that makes it possible to restore morale and achieve job completion.

What are your weekend hobbies? 

I really enjoy traveling and seeing the world. In the last few years, my family and I have been on numerous road trips, including the beaches on Cape Cod and the mountains of New Hampshire. My wife and I have two young daughters so car travel seems to be the easiest way to get out, see and experience the world.

More About Frank

Lifetime of Learning Spotlight, Rebecca Snelling

Student Spotlight

Rebecca Snelling
Project Manager, Remediation
M.S. in Management and Organization Candidate
Boston, MA
Joined VERTEX in November 2013

Rebecca is a Project Manager in VERTEX’s Environmental Remediation team in the Boston, Massachusetts office. Rebecca has a B.S. in Earth and Environmental Science from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, and is currently pursuing an M.S. in Management and Organization with a specialization in Environmental Engineering at the University of Colorado Denver.

At the University of Colorado, Rebecca has completed approximately half of the course requirements for the MS in Management program. She looks forward to completing the management portion of her coursework this year and then moving on to the environmental engineering portion of the program.

“The Lifetime of Learning Program has given me the opportunity to further my education at no cost while participating in a unique hybrid program, which allows me to continue my technical education while furthering my effectiveness as a manager.”
– Rebecca Snelling

More About Rebecca

Surety Spotlight, Michael Prowse

Career Spotlight

Michael Prowse
Senior Project Manager
Calgary, AB
Joined VTX in January 2019

Michael Prowse is a Senior Project Manager with the Canadian Construction Group in Calgary, Alberta. During his thirty years of working in construction, he has managed numerous and diverse projects across Canada from Ontario to Vancouver Island. Away from work you can find Michael outdoors skiing and camping with his grandkids.

What are some pivotal experiences that led you to the construction industry?

I grew up all over the world and spent a lot of time in Africa. In Africa, there isn’t school after grade 9, so I went to a boarding high school in Canada.

Early on, I wanted to be a TV camera operator to watch hockey games for free, I pursued a degree in Broadcasting. While trying to find jobs in broadcasting, I picked up a few side jobs in construction and then realized construction was the field I wanted – I’ve now been in it for over 35 years.

So living in Canada, are you an Oilers fan?

Of course, it is a prerequisite to being Canadian, you have to like hockey, ha! So, yes, I am an Oilers fan. I live just outside Calgary, so I try to support the Flames as well. In Alberta, rivalries between Calgary and Edmonton happen, so you can imagine – as Canadians take hockey very seriously – that some people cannot wrap their heads around how I support both teams. When my team comes to town, I cheer for them – at least when they are playing well. I do hope the Oilers are better this year or next.

What has been your favorite outing with VERTEX?

That would be a toss-up between the boat cruise around the Great Lakes in 2019 and the virtual wine tasting event. The boat cruise was such a great experience and allowed me to mingle with some fun folks (pre-COVID). Both were very different but extremely fun!

What is an interesting thing about you that your co-workers may not know?

At age 54, I still play hockey and my team won both the winter and summer seasons last year in the NCHL League.

More About Michael

VERTEX engineering Spotlight, Ayesha Sohail

Career Spotlight

Ayesha Sohail
Design Engineer, Civil
Denver, CO
Joined VERTEX in July 2018

Ayesha is a Design Engineer in the Civil Engineering Division based in the Denver, CO office. She has a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Houston and recently earned an M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Ayesha has over six years of experience in Civil Land Development and Site Development and recently began providing support for Civil Forensic Services.

In her free time, she enjoys cooking and creative projects such as painting, drawing, sculpting, baking, and crafts. She also enjoys reading and listening to podcasts.

How long have you been in the industry?
Since 2012, approximately 8 years.

How did you get into your industry?

I began pursuing a Fine Arts (Painting) degree and then transitioned to Engineering. I was always focused on creating and fine arts was a skill that I had been developing throughout high school, but once I got into college the Fine Arts program wasn’t focused on creating thoughtful work. I took a few Architecture classes and then transitioned into Engineering. Engineering gave me the technical ability to create and gave me a whole new set of skills when it comes to how I take in and process information, even outside of the technical work. Basically, I learned how to learn!

What is the most interesting project you’ve worked on?

With VERTEX, Durfee High School. It was a fairly complex project in its design and construction phasing, but the size of that project was what made it such a unique project to work on. Outside of VERTEX, Engineers Without Borders – Nicaragua School House. I led a team of fellow students to raise funds for this project and went to Nicaragua to help construct the schoolhouse. It was a great experience in the application of engineering and really coming to terms with what it means to be a female in Engineering.

Additionally, I recently joined the DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) Taskforce within VERTEX. VERTEX supports its commitment to diversity as a core value not just in words, but in resources and effort. It’s been a great experience to help create a culture of inclusivity within the company and work with consultants to build DEI practices into the structure of our company. We are in the beginning stages of this effort, but I am glad to be a part of a project that is very personal to me and aligns with my values.

Is there any special type of project you would like to work on?

I’d like to get involved with more public projects which promote sustainable infrastructure and projects which promote construction practices that reduce carbon emissions. I am passionate about the migration crisis and refugee work, so in the future, I would like to provide Civil Engineering and Site Planning services for Refugee Camps.

Do you have any memorable moments while working at VERTEX?

Too many to count. The people I work with are great and fun but don’t tell them that.

What is something that your colleagues may not know about you?

My name is pronounced eye-sha.

What would be your baseball walk-up song?

If I’m walking up on a baseball field, something has gone really wrong in the world.

Tell us about your continuing education through VERTEX.

I finished my Masters of Science in Civil Engineering on December 17, 2020. My specialty was Civil Infrastructure Systems with an Emphasis on Engineering in Developing Communities. I had been pursuing this degree prior to working at VERTEX, but VERTEX truly supported me. I was able to take the time for school that I needed to and still maintain some balance in my life. I was able to have a flexible schedule which allowed me to attend classes during the week, and our Civil team worked with me to reduce my workload when school was ramping up. Having a culture that accepts higher education as important and promotes it made all the difference in me being successful at school and at work. Shout out to Lance VanDemark who is already on me to get my Ph.D.

More About Ayesha

VERTEX Student Spotlight, Christopher Weiman

Student Spotlight

Christopher Weiman
Environmental Engineer
M.S. in Environmental Policy and Management Candidate
Denver, CO
Joined VERTEX in October 2018

Chris is an Environmental Engineer in VERTEX’s Environmental Remediation and Due Diligence group, working from the Denver region. Chris has a B.S. in Environmental Engineering from Syracuse University and is currently pursuing an M.S. in Environmental Policy and Management at the University of Denver.

“The lifetime of learning program has allowed me to pursue my passion in environmental policy through an incredible education as well as think of new ways I can apply myself within VERTEX.”
– Christopher Weiman

More About Christopher

Kenneth Jones

Career Spotlight

Kenneth Jones
Division Manager
Irving, TX
Joined VERTEX in November 2012

Ken joined VERTEX in 2012 and is a Division Manager in the Irving, Texas office. Ken grew up in Fort Worth, Texas, and attended college at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. Ken’s favorite weekend activity is doing anything outdoors with his family (hunting, fishing, camping) or following football and baseball. He enjoys traveling to the mountains during the warm months and hunts in Colorado every year. Ken is also the proud parent of a four-year-old boy and four-month-old girl and enjoys watching his kids develop their own personalities and quirks.

Ken’s proudest achievements have occurred during his experience on completion projects where each project presents its own unique challenges to troubleshoot and overcome. He is currently working to obtain his Master’s in Construction Management at the University of Colorado Denver.

What is your dream project? 

I’m currently involved in surety, but my background and experience are in completion. My dream project in completion would be a takeover of a sports stadium, either football or baseball, even if it was just a subcontractor job.

To be involved in a “national monument” would be awesome. Ultimately, I think a heavy highway project is an ideal project for me, as I am very interested in concrete; it’s my favorite scope of work. Concrete is interesting to me because of the way you build the different forms to get the final form. I know some people think it’s as interesting as watching paint dry, but it’s one of my favorites.

What is your favorite thing about the Texas office? 

I think our office is the perfect size, space, and personnel; there are about 20 people in our office. It’s great to be exposed to what other verticals are diving into and know about the different projects everyone is working on.

What is a memorable experience you’ve had with a colleague while working at VERTEX? 

I have a lot of fond memories of my time with VERTEX – one that comes to mind was my first project;  overnight surveillance of concrete pours. Basically, my job was to stay up all night to watch heaters run because they had to have a fire watch. Through this project, I met Jeff Katz, a man always on the go. He’d leave late at night and come back super early in the morning, like at 4 am or 5 am. He always amazed me.

More recently, I worked with John Euwema and Lucas Wolff on a project in New Orleans. That was a lot of fun and those guys are great to work with.

What is something valuable you’ve learned since joining VERTEX? 

VERTEX is “baptism by fire.” You’re immersed in a project and so you learn quickly. I find that valuable. I didn’t come from a construction background. I definitely did not know what surety was all about, but being on-site, I learned fast. I also value learning how all the different roles work together, from the executive management role to the boots on the ground; if one role/part is not working, the projects are not going to get done. I really like being able to see how well we all work together to make everything come together.

What is your favorite thing about being a parent? 

My wife and I have a four-month-old and a four-year-old. When the baby sees the four-year-old, she just lights up and gets so happy. It’s cool to see them grow into being their own person and developing their own personalities. It’s also crazy to see what each parent gives them – their quirkiness or their smile. Everything about it is great.

More About Ken

VERTEX Surety Spotlight, Greg Duverge

Career Spotlight

Greg Duverge
Project Engineer
New York, NY
Joined VERTEX in June 2018

Greg joined VERTEX in June of 2018 and is a Project Engineer out of the New York office. He was born and raised in Queens, New York, and attended The Loomis Chaffee School, a four-year boarding school in Northern Connecticut. Greg graduated from Lafayette College in 2018 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Mechanical Engineering.

Greg likes to spend weekends going on spirited drives through the Catskill Mountains or turning a wrench on his classic car. His favorite thing about the Northeast is the distinct seasons throughout the year.

In the last two years with VERTEX, Greg has experienced a variety of surety projects ranging from enlarging an Air Force Base hangar in New Hampshire to renovating an elementary school in Pennsylvania. This fall, Greg will begin pursuing his master’s degree in Construction Engineering and Management at the University of Colorado Denver.

Your degree is in Mechanical Engineering, what made you interested in working in civil the construction sector?

I enjoy the day to day progression on a project, the dynamic nature where no one day is alike, really drew me into this sector and I like being able to be a part of that progress.

As you have had exposure to both; do you prefer being in the office or on site?

I would say being out on the field is what I prefer, it does get monotonous being in the office all the time when you are used to being on a job site. Being on-site gives you a balance of being in the office or being in the field and interacting with people with different personalities, expectations, and expertise. There is always something to learn whether being on site or in the office.

If you could own any car in the world, what would it be?

That’s tough because I am a big car guy, but I would own a mid-80’s Porsche 911, turbo, 4-speed manual. The engine in the back of the car makes them super unique, not very many cars are/were made that way. These cars were mass-produced, but a lot of them didn’t survive over the years, but the ones that are around now, are the ones that were well maintained, taken very good care of, and are in mint condition, so people try and search hard for those beauties as they are very valuable now. For reference, this is Jerry Seinfeld’s car.

What has been your favorite office outing with VERTEX?

Last fall, the New York office went Axe throwing. Axe throwing has become very popular in the last couple of years and this was my first chance at trying it out. It was a lot of fun getting competitive with my coworkers, but it was more enjoyable to connect and converse about topics non-work related.

What is a memorable experience you had on a project with a colleague?

One experience I recall vividly was the fast-paced nature of all construction activities when the project deadline was approaching. While working on the renovations to an elementary school in Southern Pennsylvania, our deadline was the start of the school year when the students were set to return. My coworker, John, and I ran around the site non-stop with checklists and punch lists ensuring we were ready to call for our Certificate of Occupancy. This was my first taste of the fast-paced environment involved in bringing a project to the finish line and I can proudly say we were able to get the job done well and on time.

More About Greg

VERTEX Student Spotlight, Kendra Kerr

Student Spotlight

Kendra Kerr
National Sales Associate
MBA Candidate
Weymouth, MA
Joined VERTEX in November 2014

Kendra is a National Sales Associate for the Environmental group, working from our corporate office in Weymouth, MA. Kendra has a B.S. in Business Management. Her educational background has allowed her to evolve into a unique position at VERTEX, assisting different operational units and service areas.

Kendra is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree with a concentration in Marketing at Southern New Hampshire University. Kendra has been with VERTEX for over five years and says it was a great time both personally and professionally to start a master’s degree program.

“The lifetime of learning program paired with insightful senior mentorship at VERTEX will further advance my skill set and provide a foundation to progress in the business environment in the future.”
– Kendra Kerr

More About Kendra

Construction Spotlight, Benjamin Fay

Career Spotlight

Benjamin Fay
Senior Project Manager, General Contracting
Denver, CO
Joined VERTEX in August 2012

Benjamin is a Senior Project Manager with VERTEX’s Commercial Interior General Contracting Division. Originally from Iowa, he moved to Colorado in 2010 where he met his wife, Sarah. In his spare time, he enjoys hunting, fishing, camping, and mountain biking, and hanging out with his wife and 1 ½-year-old daughter, Fiona.

Benjamin is pursuing a master’s in management degree from CU Denver through VERTEX’s Lifetime of Learning Program.

“I feel that continuing education is a great way to continue to grow as a manager.”
– Benjamin Fay

How did you get into your industry?

I started working with my father in the residential construction industry, studied construction management at the University of Northern Iowa, and worked for a mid-sized General contractor there as a ground-up superintendent.

How long have you been in the industry?

I have been in the commercial construction industry for 14 years

What is the most interesting project you’ve worked on?

The most interesting project I have worked on would be a ground-up elementary school I built in Iowa before my time at VERTEX.

Is there any special type of project you would like to work on?

I would love to work on a project in a foreign country. I think there would be a lot to learn as everyone has their own way of doing things.

Do you have any memorable moments while working at VERTEX?

I worked on a hotel remodel in Florida, which was very challenging, and I will never forget it because of the difficulty of finding skilled labor in that market.

What is something that your colleagues may not know about you?

I served in the Army National Guard as a mechanic for 6 years from 2001 to 2007.

More About Benjamin

VERTEX Surety Spotlight, Andrew Zagorski

Career Spotlight

Andrew Zagorski
Division Manager, Surety Claims Consulting
Milton, Ontario
Joined VTX in January 2017

Andrew is a Division Manager of the surety group in Toronto. He has been in various roles in the surety industry since 2005 and joined VTX in January 2017. Originally from Krakow, Poland, Andrew spent time in Southern Italy before settling in Calgary Alberta.

Growing up in Europe and then moving to Canada, Andrew learned four languages throughout his childhood. In 2015, Ontario became home. Andrew’s favorite part about living in Ontario is the access to lake life. In his spare time, Andrew can be found outdoors boating, biking, and exploring trails. Andrew also loves to travel, whether for work or pleasure. Andrew looks forward to new experiences with different cultures. Additionally, Andrew is passionate about home renovations and anything automotive.

If you weren’t doing what you are doing now, what would you choose as your career?

I always joke around with my family and friends that I missed my calling as a racecar driver. I love cars and being around them is a passion of mine. Personally, I believe that if I started this profession, I would excel, but I think some might say otherwise.

Recently, I was given a racing track package. I will be able to drive a bunch of race cars on the track, most of them luxury cars, like Ferraris and Lamborghinis. I will report back on how that goes with pictures and videos once I’m done.

What do you enjoy the most about your current role at VERTEX?

I love my current role. I get to wear many different hats; part of my job involves taking projects that are in complete disarray and getting the work back on track and completed for the client. One of my favorite aspects is talking to the parties involved and providing solutions and ideas that will help navigate through the problems and eventually complete the project.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Japan has always been on my list of places to visit, see the culture, and explore the country. That said, what really comes to mind are Greece and South America, especially Argentina and Peru. I’d like to visit Greece for the culture, history, and the water, which has always been my happy place. Traveling to Argentina and Peru would give me the opportunity to explore the culture, countryside, and wineries, and the opportunity to gain a different perspective on life. I traveled in Europe, the United States, and Canada, but have never been to South America and I would appreciate and enjoy experiencing the differences in daily life there.

More About Andrew

VERTEX Giving Spotlight, Bill Gibbons

Giving Spotlight

Bill Gibbons, PG, LSP
Senior Project Manager, Remediation
Boston, MA
Joined VERTEX in September 2013

Bill is a Senior Project Manager in the Environmental Remediation division based out of VERTEX’s Boston, MA office. He is a longtime supporter of the YMCA of Greater Boston’s overnight camps and a member of the VERTEX Charitable Giving Committee.

Tell us a little about the YMCA of Greater Boston’s overnight camps:

The YMCA of Greater Boston’s mission is to improve the health of mind, body, and spirit of individuals and families in its community. They welcome men and women, boys and girls of all incomes, faiths, and cultures. They own and operate three overnight camps on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire: Sandy Island Family Camp on the 66-acre Sandy Island, and Pleasant Valley Camp for Girls and North Woods Camp for Boys on 200 acres along the mainland shore. Each of the camps has been in operation for more than 90 years and are classic summer camps. The YMCA is a non-profit organization that believes its programs and services should be available to everyone regardless of their financial ability and it recognizes that the summer camp experience may be of greatest benefit to those who can least afford it.

Why is YMCA’s overnight camping program important to you?

Simply put, these camps positively change lives in a very direct way. The YMCA works with a number of groups that serve those in need, including programs that work with emotionally and physically disabled children, children in foster care, military families, and war refugees so that the people those groups serve may also have the experience of summer camp along with the children of families that can afford the full rate. The camps have a particularly direct impact on children by providing strong role models over 2-week sessions in a healthy environment.

Camp is so much more than just tie-dye and s’mores. Camp is one of the very few places where every child, teen, and adult can be themselves and feel confident in who they are because they have a sense of belonging. Over a camp session, children learn confidence, conflict resolution, and mutual respect for others who come from a wide variety of social, economic, and cultural backgrounds. They learn new skills that may one day save their life, like how to swim, and how to confront and conquer childhood fears that may seem small from an adult perspective, but they are real and can be significant for a child. Fears such as being away from home, being afraid of the dark, and fear that they may not fit in. Helping them conquer these and other fears in a safe and affirming way builds their confidence and gives them the emotional fortitude to tackle other challenges.

While there are many great day-camp programs available to children, there are few overnight camps available to children of limited economic means, and few camps that reach out to introduce the camp experience to children whose family history may not include childhood overnight camps. A two-week session at the camps away from home, away from electronics, and away from the bad situations some of these kids face every day is a powerful way to help the kids.

My family has been fortunate to attend the Sandy Island family camp since before I was born and it’s a place where families and single adults can relax away from the stress of everyday life. Through the efforts of the YMCA, the family camp has also been a welcome refuge for military families seeking a family vacation for when a member of the military may be home on a short leave, for single moms of differently abled children, and for families who may have experienced trauma.

How do you support the camps?

I initially started as an occasional volunteer and then served on the family camp committee for about 6 years. I was then asked to serve on the Board of Advisors for all the camps for two three-year terms and to chair their Facility and Property Committee where we address the many challenges of keeping the 100+ year old camps in good operating condition. I enjoy being a volunteer wood splitter, dish washer, leaf raker, and painter and nailer of things, as well as taking an active role in fundraising, and providing technical advice on facility issues.

Thanks, VERTEX for being a great supporter of the YMCA of Greater Boston’s overnight camps for several years through its generous charitable giving program and for this year giving me the opportunity to join the VERTEX Charitable Giving Committee where I have the honor of learning about the many charities other employees support and to help VERTEX extend its support to those charities.

More About Bill

VERTEX Surety Spotlight, Sam Reed

Career Spotlight

Sam Reed, AIA, CCCA
Vice President, Surety Claims Consulting
Asheville, NC
Joined VERTEX in September 2013

Sam is the Vice President of Vertex’s surety consulting services. He is originally from Minnesota but spent most of his 20s and 30s living in Hawaii and Colorado before relatively recently finding his permanent home in the Blue Ridge Mountains near Asheville, North Carolina. Sam is an avid long-distance runner, spending much of his free time on the local trails and regularly competing in 100-mile trail races around the country. He and his wife also enjoy traveling to beach destinations with every vacation opportunity, maintaining a household full of pets and random stray animals, and spending time in their backyard garden.

Sam began his career in the construction industry as an architectural draftsman after earning an Associate of Applied Science degree in Architectural Technology from Lake Superior College in Duluth, MN. He later continued his architectural education at the University of Hawaii, eventually earning a Doctor of Architecture degree and becoming a licensed architect shortly thereafter. Prior to joining the Vertex team in 2013, his career was largely focused on technical architectural design, construction contract administration, and construction management.

What do you enjoy the most about VERTEX?

I enjoy the challenge that each project brings. I enjoy the problem-solving aspect; no two matters are the same and they all present new challenges. While there may be some standard options in the playbook for resolving claims and disputes, there are always nuances that require creativity and critical thinking to obtain the best possible result for the client.

What is the most unique experience you’ve had at VERTEX?

There have been many opportunities to see unique places around the world where I likely never would have gone if not for the work we do at Vertex, including cities across the United States both large and small, and other countries like South Korea, Bahrain, and Poland, to name a few. It is always nice to visit — and work in — new places. I love to travel and experience the world, so that is easily one of my favorite and probably one of the most unique aspects of working at VERTEX.

What do you enjoy doing in your personal time?

I am an avid long-distance runner. I enjoy running 50-mile and 100-mile trail ultramarathons, or the occasional long-distance solo adventure, which I try to do a few times a year. I run every day, typically right after I close my laptop to transition away from the workday.

More About Sam

VERTEX Surety Spotlight, Jeff Katz

Career Spotlight

Jeffrey Katz, PE
Vice President, Surety Claims Consulting
New York, NY
Joined VERTEX in December 2010

Jeff is a Vice President of VERTEX who leads the surety team in the Northeast region and manages complex contract claim matters. As a native New Yorker, Jeff argues that Joe’s Pizza is the best slice in New York City. His favorite vacation was a trip to Japan, and he looks forward to traveling, football tailgates, Yankees home games, and Broadway shows after the pandemic is over.

Jeff holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Cornell University. He is a professional engineer who has been involved as a consultant or expert on large files across North America and has managed the construction of numerous complicated projects throughout the world.

What do you do in your free time?

I like to try to do handy things around the house when I can. I will also fiddle around on the guitar a little bit to try and learn some new music. I mostly hang out with close friends and watch trashy TV. I don’t have any extraordinary hobbies, I just enjoy having a good time.

What would your baseball walkup song be?

I would have to go with a classic WWF song like Hulk Hogan’s “Real American”. It brings back the nostalgia of watching wrestling when I was a kid.

Are there any nicknames that you have been given from your unique last name “Katz”? 

Bill McConnell still calls me “Katzy” and sometimes he will add “man” and call me “Katz man.” For the most part, though, people call me Jeff or Katz.

Is there a memorable project that has stood out in your 10 years with VERTEX?

Absolutely. I have two that come to mind. The first one involved two service plazas we built on the Ohio Turnpike with high-end finishes, including terrazzo flooring, 45-foot gypsum ceilings, and copper roofing. They were beautiful. The experienced and diverse team I worked with included Diana Minchella, Mike Pellegri, and Jerry Librizzi; it was great to be on-site with them all.

The second was a megaproject in Fort Hood. I was there for a little over a year working on the garages; the project had a lot of moving parts and the fast-paced nature of the project was exciting.

More About Jeff

VERTEX Giving Spotlight, Matt Click

Giving Spotlight

Matthew Click, AIA, GC
Vice President, Forensic Architect
Los Angeles, CA
Joined VERTEX in August 2011

Matt is a Vice President and Forensic Architect out of VERTEX’s Los Angeles, CA office. He is a lifelong runner who began running competitively in the second grade and continued running track through college at USC.

Why did you start the Lion’s Running Club?

I started the Lion’s Running Club at my kids’ middle school as a way to give back to the community. I wanted to introduce kids to the joys and benefits of running that I’ve experienced in my life. I wanted the club to be free of charge and thus financially all-inclusive, and open to students of all abilities.

Running at a younger age has such an incredibly positive impact on kids. Running relieves anxiety and provides a positive outlet that pre-teens need. Regardless of a child’s ability, through consistency in training, they experience measurable improvement that can be witnessed and celebrated, thereby boosting their confidence and self-esteem. Also, distance running is an activity that they can enjoy for years, and thus the running club introduces middle schoolers to a potential lifelong, healthy activity.

How has the community responded to the club?

The parents of the school community have been incredibly supportive and appreciative of my efforts to launch the running club. I would often receive nice messages from parents and faculty in response to my weekly parent email updates. At the end of the season, once COVID had shut down all activities, I was particularly touched by one email I received from a parent, which read:

I wanted to let you know that you’ve inspired our son with something I hope he enjoys for the rest of his life. After the lockdown he and his dad have been running three times each week- They’ve set goals and really enjoy running together (my husband never enjoyed running before he began with our son, so that was a bonus!). Just wanted to let you know you are very appreciated in our house, hope you continue spreading the positivity, thanks again!

VERTEX is proud to sponsor the Lion’s Running Club. The funds received from the Charitable Giving Committee helped to pay for team shirts, which were bright colored and increased their visibility when running through the local neighborhoods. The funds also helped purchase team equipment, such as a tent, table, water bottles, and other items.

More About Matt

VERTEX Environmental Spotlight, Madelyn Steenis

Career Spotlight

Madelyn Steenis
Geologist II
Seattle, WA
Joined VERTEX in June 2017

Maddie is a Geologist II for the Environmental Remediation Group out of VERTEX’s Seattle office. Her work has predominately been focused on completing Phase II investigations as well as conducting asbestos surveys. In her free time, Maddie enjoys spending time either outdoors or curled up on the couch reading with her two Maine Coon cats, Mario and Luigi.

What is your specialty?

My educational background is in geology, however, my work experience is predominantly focused on site remediation with a sprinkling of asbestos work.

How long have you been in the AEC industry?

I’ve been in the AEC industry for 3.5 years.

What is something interesting about you that your peers/colleagues might not know?

I am an avid bowler and collector of plants. I’ve also volunteered for the last 13 years at Camp Agape Northwest here in Washington State. Camp Agape Northwest is a free camp for children with cancer and their families to kick their feet up for a week of repose and fun.

What are some of the unique project locations that you’ve worked on?

Before my time with VERTEX, I hadn’t been east of Missoula, Montana. Since then, I have spent two months in the US Virgin Islands helping respond to hurricanes Irma and Maria as well as multiple weeks in Boston and Chicago assisting with various projects. I’ve also worked on a remote island here in Puget Sound doing some groundwater sampling.

More About Madelyn

VERTREX Surety Spotlight, Robert Massey

Career Spotlight

Robert Massey
Assistant Project Manager
Denver, CO
Joined VERTEX in March 2019

Robert is an Assistant Project Manager based out of VERTEX’s Denver office. Born and raised in Rifle, Colorado, Robert joined the Denver office in 2019 and now resides in Parker, Colorado.

As an avid track cyclist, Robert competes at the Olympic Training Center Velodrome in Colorado Springs, Colorado focusing on sprint events. His long term goal is to compete at the Masters World Championship someday. When he is not competing on his bike, he is likely four-wheeling and camping in the mountains with his wife and their three dogs.

Robert obtained his Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Colorado Mesa University in 2003, graduating Cum Laude, and is currently pursuing his Master’s in Construction Engineering Management from the University of Colorado.

What led you to work for VERTEX?

I came from an estimating litigation company. I was looking for a company that offered growth and other opportunities and I was familiar with VERTEX and intrigued by its work. I wanted to change my construction career path from an estimator to surety claims consulting, which I enjoy a lot.

Has there been a memorable project or experience that has stood out to you since being with VERTEX?

I think every single project stands out as they all start out the same, but then go in many different directions. It is always fun figuring out the remaining scope of work and the best way to keep the project moving forward. As a result, all projects are challenging, but I really enjoy it.

What do you do in your free time?

I am a track cyclist and have been for about 7 years. I started out with endurance mountain bike racing for the Rocky Mountain Endurance series, which culminated in the Breckenridge 100. Then, I decided to change direction. I came across someone who had been on my team and who is now my coach. The best year on the track for me was 2017; I raced in the Rocky Mountain State Games and placed silver and bronze.

More About Robert

VERTEX Student Spotlight, Jared O'Brien

Student Spotlight

Jared O’Brien
Project Engineer, Surety Claims Consulting
Master of Engineering Candidate
Boston, MA
Joined VERTEX in May 2017

Jared is a Project Engineer in VERTEX’s Surety Group, working in the Boston region. Jared has a Bachelor of Science degree in Earth Science and is currently pursuing a Master of Engineering degree in Construction Engineering Management at the University of Colorado.

Jared started with VERTEX in the Environmental Remediation group in Boston, MA, and wanted to do more with VERTEX. He felt the Surety Group would be a great fit as he pursues his Master’s degree. This way, he could get hands-on experience as well as learn from classes.

“VERTEX University has opened multiple doors of opportunity for me already. It has challenged me for the better and has provided me with the next steps towards my goals.”
– Jared O’Brien

More About Jared

VERTEX Surety Spotlight, Carl Stokley

Career Spotlight

Carl Stokley, PE
Project Engineer, Surety Claims Consulting
New York, NY
Joined VERTEX in February 2014

Carl is a Project Manager based out of VERTEX’s New York office. Born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, Carl joined VERTEX in 2014 after completing his undergraduate degree. Carl currently resides in Queens and spends most of the year traveling to projects around the United States. As an avid outdoorsman, he frequently hikes and backpacks during his free time and loves to explore new areas when traveling. When home in Queens, Carl can usually be found visiting the various restaurants and food stalls that make up the diverse culinary landscape of his neighborhood.

Carl obtained his Bachelor’s of Science in Civil Engineering from Cornell University in 2013 and, while working at VERTEX, earned a Master’s of Science in Civil Engineering from the New Jersey Institute of Technology in 2014. He also earned a Professional Engineer license in Civil/Construction in 2019.

What would be your baseball walkup song?

Tenth Avenue Freezeout by Bruce Springsteen.

Who has played a mentor role in your career within VERTEX?

Diana Minchella and Jeff Katz taught me everything I know about litigation, claims, and surety consulting. Over six years ago they brought me into the office and I haven’t looked back. They fostered an environment of learning and collaboration that allowed me to work and achieve a Master’s degree and professional licensure.

What is an interesting thing about you your co-workers may not know?

Prior to studying Civil Engineering, I worked at the Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory assisting in the operation and maintenance of the nuclear fusion reactor and obtaining LEED certification for the facility complex.

What is your dream project?

I would love to do some transportation/infrastructure projects like train stations. Although a project next to a beach on a tropical island doesn’t sound too bad either.

What has been your favorite office outing with VERTEX?

It has to be the karaoke nights. I can’t carry a tune to save my life but nothing beats belting out hits with your colleagues.

What have you learned since working with VERTEX?

I have learned so much about contract law, technical writing, and construction methods during my time with VERTEX. VERTEX has so many people with different areas of expertise so it is always fascinating to learn about the specific services we offer and projects people work on. Every project brings something completely new and full of opportunities to learn about the Arch/Eng/Const industry. One interesting thing is getting to see different types of owners and how contract administration is handled i.e. military vs federal vs state vs municipal contracts.

More About Carl

VERTEX Environmental Spotlight, Timothy Biercz

Career Spotlight

Timothy Biercz
Division Manager, Remediation/Due Diligence
Branchburg, NJ
Joined VERTEX in November 2014

Tim is a Division Manager for the Environmental Remediation/Due Diligence Group out of VERTEX’s Branchburg, NJ office. Originally from Connecticut, he moved to New Jersey in 1997. Currently, he enjoys working on house renovation projects and spending time with family and friends at his home at the Jersey Shore.

What is your specialty?

At VERTEX, my specialty is providing technical and organizational support for due diligence and remediation projects in the New York/New Jersey area. I am a certified New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) Subsurface Evaluator and New York City Office of Environmental Remediation (NYCOER) Gold Certified Professional.

How did your career path lead you to VERTEX?

In approximately 2011, I worked across the table from Jaron Frieden, Managing Director at VERTEX, on a remediation project in New Jersey. Three years following that interaction, Mr. Frieden reached out to me to gauge my interest in joining the growing VERTEX environmental team in the New Jersey office. I met with the team, and it was a great fit professionally and personally.

How long have you been in the AEC industry?

I have been working in the environmental consulting field since graduating from Rutgers University in 2002 with a B.S. in Natural Resource Management and Applied Ecology.

What is something interesting about you that your peers/colleagues might not know?

Since college, I have played bass guitar in several original and cover bands. Although my playing is far from professional, I have had the good fortune to play live music in some well-known venues in central New Jersey and New York City.

What are some of the unique project locations that you’ve worked on?

Working in the environmental field has afforded me the opportunity to travel to many states in the continental United States, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. Since coming to VERTEX, I have conducted field investigations and managed projects at New York City locations with an interesting history, including a brewery from the late 1800s, the Steinway & Sons piano manufacturing facility, and a metal scrap yard with mob ties.

What role have mentors played in your career?

In addition to the technical knowledge they share, mentors have really helped me improve my human resources skills (managing junior staff) and client management.

More About Timothy

VERTEX Surety Spotlight, Andrew Sargent

Career Spotlight

Andrew Sargent
Senior Consultant, Surety Claims Consulting
New York, NY
Joined VERTEX in June 2012

Andrew is a Senior Consultant out of VERTEX’s New York City office. He obtained both his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering and a Master’s in Engineering from Cornell University. After finishing school, he moved back to New York City to join the VERTEX team in 2012.

Outside of work Andrew enjoys reading, baseball, and walking his dog, and is currently learning to speak Turkish. Andrew is also an avid traveler and has had the opportunity to visit several interesting countries while working on some of VERTEX’s international projects.

His professional background includes more than eight years of construction claims and dispute resolution experience and he is recognized as a certified Planning and Scheduling Professional by AACE. His ability to assist clients on construction dispute matters is enhanced by his experience managing multiple large-scale construction projects as part of VERTEX’s surety consulting team.

What is your favorite part of construction?

I like claims; that is my bread and butter, and it’s what I am most interested in and how I spend most of my day-to-day. Every once in a while, I like to switch it up and be in the field. Sometimes, we get claims where I go on site, which is a nice break from being in the office; in those cases, I get the best of both worlds.

With what you know now, what piece of advice would you give yourself when you first joined VERTEX?

It is not specific to VERTEX, but more so in general when starting your career. I remember being intimidated by people in meetings who would say “I’ve been doing this for 40 years, so I’m an expert.” Over the years, I’ve learned that person doesn’t necessarily know as much as you think they do. I’ve learned not to worry about everything and to ask questions. Embrace the fact that you always have room to grow and learn and you will never know everything.

What’s your favorite sports team and the best piece of memorabilia you own?

The team is easy: definitely the Yankees by a landslide and the Knicks behind them (although it’s hard to watch the Knicks lately because they are so bad, but you have to be a true fan).

I have a vintage Yankee cup sitting on my desk every day from 2013 that I will keep forever; they don’t make the cups like that anymore. I’m not huge on memorabilia, but I do have a CC Sabathia bobblehead. I don’t have a signed Mariano sock or anything like that, but maybe, when Greg Duverge, one of my colleagues here at VERTEX, buys himself a Porsche 911, I will go buy a Yankees World Series ring.

More About Andrew

VERTEX Student Spotlight, Lauri Fern Glinsky

Student Spotlight

Lauri Fern Glinsky
Senior Project Manager, Environmental Insurance
Master of Management Candidate
Bradenton, FL
Joined VERTEX in April 2011

Lauri is a Senior Project Manager in VERTEX’s Environmental Insurance team in the Bradenton/Sarasota, Florida region. Lauri has a BS degree in Environmental Studies from Stockton University in New Jersey and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Management at the University of Colorado – Denver.

Through the Lifetime of Learning Program, Lauri is broadening her management skills and knowledge base to further develop and implement a formal corporate mentorship program, which she has been working on with the assistance of executive leadership for several years. Lauri has already leveraged her coursework within the program to implement a mentorship pilot study within the Environmental Insurance group.

“I love learning, challenging myself, and meeting new people. VERTEX’s Lifetime of Learning Program provides the perfect opportunity to expand my knowledge alongside my colleagues as well as other students outside of VERTEX from all across the country. I have thoroughly enjoyed my first three semesters and feel honored to have been included in the Lifetime of Learning Program. I look forward to the continued personal and professional growth as I work to complete the program and utilize the knowledge and experience to fulfill my dream of establishing a formal mentorship program.”
– Lauri Fern Glinsky

More About Lauri

VERTEX Surety Spotlight, Andrew Brouwer

Career Spotlight

Andrew Brouwer
Project Manager, Surety Claims Consulting
Irvine, CA
Joined VERTEX in September 2014

Andrew is a Project Manager in VERTEX’s Irvine office. Truly an Irvine native, he grew up on the UC Irvine campus and attended the same university for his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering. In addition to attending UCI, Andrew obtained his Bachelor of Science in Physics from UC Santa Barbara and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Management degree from the University of Colorado, Denver Business School. Andrew hopes the knowledge gained through his current Master’s program will continue to enhance his team and value add for clients.

Andrew loves a home-cooked meal and prefers to have a staycation rather than a vacation. He also enjoys playing casual video games or reading Brandon Sanderson novels; however, he is a new father and now spends most of his free time caring for young Luke. Andrew envisions a long career at VERTEX and aspires to advance into leadership within VERTEX.

What is a memorable experience you had working on a project with a colleague?

The most memorable experience was on my first big project with VERTEX. I worked in Germany for a year and a half. At the time, my wife and I had only been married for six weeks when I got the assignment. I remember my first time flying in, having traveled halfway across the world from California to Germany, and Jeff Katz picked me up at 5:30 in the morning fired up and ready to get the day started.

Some of my favorite memories include Jeff Katz and Andrew Sargent, as they would frequently travel to Germany for the project. On one very memorable occasion, Jeff was onsite and following our workday, he ended up joining a gathering of friends we held at our house. We played a game of charades that Jeff won (it stings a little because of my competitive nature – I look forward to a rematch).

My time in Germany was a great experience and I will cherish those memories forever.

What is something valuable you have learned since joining the VERTEX team?

My family has a habit of communicating, perhaps too much. Since joining VERTEX, I’ve learned to better effectively communicate with colleagues and clients.

What is your favorite thing about being a new dad?

I feel very lucky and blessed because Luke has been a very easy baby – we aren’t experiencing a lot of crying. I love that VERTEX has a paternity leave program where I can spend 100% of my time those first few weeks with him. Singing to him and watching him recognize my voice is priceless – probably my favorite thing.

What is something interesting about you your co-workers may not know?

I am a former music director of the acapella group Naked Voices in Santa Barbara, California. I have been singing casually and/or semi-professionally for over 20 years. Through my years of singing, I have sung every vocal part, from Soprano all the way down to Bass!

What is your dream project?

I would love the opportunity to work on another long-duration international project. VERTEX provided the opportunity to live in Germany with my wife for nearly two years from 2016 to 2018. The work was hard but well worth it for the experience of living abroad. I would be thrilled to have a similar opportunity in the future.

More About Andrew

VERTEX Surety Spotlight, Serina Burch

Career Spotlight

Serina Burch
Construction Operations Manager
Irvine, CA
Joined VERTEX in March 2016

Serina is the Operations Manager for the Construction Consulting Services group out of VERTEX’s Irvine, CA office. Born and raised in Southern California, she loves to be outside at the beach enjoying time with her family and friends. Serina obtained her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from California State University, Fullerton, and hopes to get her Master of Business Administration in the future. She started with VERTEX in March 2016 and has been supporting the Construction team since.

What is your dream project?

For me, it’s a little different because I am not on site for the majority of our projects. I think it would be more in the areas of administration and operations; for example, training the team on new software or programs. Getting the team excited to learn about new technology and being able to fully utilize something everyone loves, would be ideal for me.

What is your favorite thing about the Irvine office?

Our office is kind of like a condo. There are two levels and we do not share the building with other tenants. Since we are all working from home now, I miss being in the office and connecting with the team. Being able to get everyone motivated, collaborating and bonding are the best things about our office. Since we have our own space, we have held a few holiday parties in our office and those turned out really well.

What is a memorable experience you’ve had with a colleague while working at VERTEX?

That’s a tough one because I have a lot of great memories since joining VERTEX. One time, we had a giant bowling tournament in the office with huge inflatable pins and balls. One colleague decided to kick the ball, instead of rolling it, and it hit the corner and broke a desk (it’s safe to say we won’t do that again).

I am lucky to be able to work with Mark Degenaars, he is a lot of fun and has a great personality, which makes work very enjoyable.

What is something valuable you’ve learned since joining VERTEX?

I am coming up on my 5th year and I feel like I have grown and learned so much. I did not come from a construction background, so I’ve learned a lot about the field since being with VERTEX; you jump in and sink or swim. I learned the value of working for good people and enjoying the people I work with. I also really love what I do and working with people is my favorite aspect of the job.

What is your favorite thing about being a new parent?

I really like watching Beau, my son, grow. It is crazy how fast they grow and how quickly he is becoming aware of things. His face lights up when he is learning something new or when he recognizes your face. He is three months old and my husband got his first giggle on camera the other day. It was amazing! He is a smiley baby and we love that.

More About Serina

VERTEX Surety Spotlight, Rafael Cardenas

Career Spotlight

Rafael Cardenas
Project Manager, Surety Claims Consulting
Irvine, CA
Joined VERTEX in November 2019

Rafael is a Project Manager working out of VERTEX’s Irvine office. Originally from Mexicali, Baja California, Mexico, his favorite hobbies include playing basketball, working out, watching TV series and movies, cookouts, and playing video games. Rafael is eager to travel worldwide and learn about different cultures and experience wonderful places.

In 2012, Rafael obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Civil Engineering (ABET-accredited) and in 2015, his Master’s in Construction Management (AACSB-accredited) from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. In April 2018 Rafael moved to the United States to continue his career, and in November 2019, joined VERTEX.

His professional background includes more than seven years of construction experience involving cost analysis, site supervision, engineering, scheduling, and project management. Rafael continues to focus on expanding his project management skills and knowledge and gaining valuable experience to handle projects more strategically.

Over the course of your career, what are some unique places you have worked?

When employed with my previous company, I visited five military bases that were pretty unique. I was very interested in the chambers they were building, as they were testing electromagnetic waves and frequencies for jets and planes. Many of the Air Force bases I visited where they test missiles and things like that are really intriguing to me.

What role have mentors played in your career?

My mentors have always been my bosses and managers. The role they played was pushing me to pursue growth and to be able to do more within a certain job, which helped me achieve better opportunities and positions. The push to be and do better has helped me succeed and allowed me to get where I am now in my career.

Are there any projects in your personal life that you’re working on?

I am designing my own home: preparing the drawings, sketches, and designs on my computer has been the first step. I don’t have an end date, but I have been spending my free time focusing on my future home.

More About Rafael

VERTEX Student Spotlight, Max Elliott

Student Spotlight

Max Elliot, PMP
Senior Project Manager, Construction
Master of Engineering Candidate
Irving, TX
Joined VERTEX in July 2016

Max is a Senior Project Manager in VERTEX’s Real Estate Construction Services team, based out of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Max has a BS Degree in Construction Science from Texas A&M University with a Minor in Business and is currently pursuing a Master of Engineering in Civil Engineering (focus on Construction Engineering and Management) from the University of Colorado.

Through the Lifetime of Learning Program (LOLP), Max has acquired his Project Management Professional Certification through the Project Management Institute (PMI) and hopes to eventually obtain his Professional Engineering license to expand his reach of services to support a variety of stakeholders within the AEC industry. Max has already leveraged his coursework within the program to support VERTEX’s online blog/insight topics. Check out his most recent article on the impacts of COVID-19, Construction Industry Health Assessment with Building Permit Analysis.

“The AEC industry, in particular, is one that is built on individuals that thrive on unique challenges and constantly learning to better themselves and their organization – what better vehicle to exemplify that than VERTEX’s LOLP program.”
– Max Elliot, PMP

More About Max

VERTEX Surety Spotlight, Leslie Sanchez

Career Spotlight

Leslie Sanchez
Project Engineer, Surety Claims Consulting
Irvine, CA
Joined VERTEX in December 2019

Leslie is a Project Engineer in VERTEX’s Irvine office. Originally from the Philippines, Leslie and her family came to the United States in 2010 and have been living in Lake Forest, California. Her favorite pastimes include reading, biking, and camping.

Leslie obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management at Holy Angel University in the Philippines and was conferred an equivalent degree in the United States by the International Education Research Foundation. She is a LEED Green Associate and recently finished her Associate in Arts degree in Construction Technology and Residential Construction Development at Orange Coast College.

Her professional background includes more than five years of project management as an owner’s representative for small to large sized commercial facilities, tenant improvement projects, building renovations, and construction completion.

How did your career path lead you to VERTEX?

I am quite new with VERTEX, I have been here for about seven months now. I came across VERTEX when I decided to pursue construction management as my career. I was working for a medical device company for almost eight years in facilities construction, and one day I realized, why not work for a company with a focus on AEC? Since I am a believer in a lifetime of learning, I find this industry to be more challenging since every project is different.

What is your favorite weekend activity?

Normally, I just bike on the weekends, but since I’ve been house sitting for my parents for the last two months, I started gardening to help my mom maintain her garden. I also really like camping; I went for the first time ever a few weeks ago and now my boyfriend and I have gone every weekend and I have enjoyed every minute of it. One of my favorite spots includes June Lake, which is near Yosemite in California – it was about a seven-hour drive but was worth it as we were able to hike and fish as well. Camping has been a great way to relax and enjoy the beautiful outdoors in California.

What do you love most about VERTEX?

VERTEX stands apart from other companies due to its Lifetime of Learning program. This stood out to me, as that is what I was looking for in a company and am so happy to have found it within VERTEX. This program also allows for more opportunities to work in different areas within construction. I am looking forward to going back to school to obtain my Master’s in Construction Management.

Do you have mentors within VERTEX that you look up to?

I have two mentors that I look up to since I have been with VERTEX. Drew Brower has been a huge mentor, as he is very articulate, detailed, and has a concise way of speaking and explaining job duties. Drew is also one of the Project Managers I have worked with side-by-side on job sites and I have learned a lot from him. Additionally, Nick Deeley, my direct manager, is another mentor. His leadership, problem solving skills, and communication make work enjoyable. Working with Nick has also taught me not to take life so seriously, as he is a jokester and has a great character.

More About Leslie

VERTEX Surety Spotlight, Lucas Wolff

Career Spotlight

Lucas Wolff
Project Engineer, Surety Claims Consulting
Denver, CO
Joined VERTEX in February 2018

Lucas is a Project Engineer out of VERTEX’s Denver Office. Originally from Washington D.C., Lucas moved to Colorado in 2012. Growing up in D.C., his favorite childhood memory is visiting all the Smithsonian’s and museums. His favorite thing about living in Denver is being in the Rocky Mountains. Going snowboarding, hiking and camping are his favorite weekend activities. Lucas attended the University of Colorado Boulder where he majored in Environmental Design, with an emphasis on Architectural Design and studied Business (Entrepreneurship) and Engineering (Architectural Lighting Design).

If you had to pick your dream project type, what would it be?

I would have to say location is everything. I got into construction because I love building and have always been fascinated with custom homes. Doing some crazy modern custom home in the mountains or on the beach with an extensive budget and high-end finishes would be awesome.

I also think a stadium would a great experience – Denver is in line for a new stadium in the next ten years, so I would love to be involved in something like that.

What is an interesting thing about you that your co-workers might not know?

I have played guitar since I was in 5th or 6th grade. When I was in high school, I auditioned and joined the competitive band — call me a nerd if you will. We traveled to Russia when I was 17, where we stayed in three cities and played nine shows. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life – being a “touring musician.” I played the electric guitar with a big band jazz group, including a row of saxophones and trumpets and we wore fake bow ties — we got to experience it all.

What would be your walkup song when you come up to the plate?

This one is tough, I would have to pull up my Spotify library but I will have to go with a new artist, Grizz, I’m not sure if you’ve heard of him, but he has a great song “Can’t Hold Me Down.”

Do you have role models at VERTEX, and if so, what role have they played in your career?

I have two mentors/role models at VERTEX: Corey Schafer and John Euwema – they’ve paved a path for me. I came from an architectural background and my knowledge of construction and surety was limited, so Corey took me under his wing, showed me the ropes and got me up to speed. John Euwema has improved my critical and analytical thinking skills by encouraging me to look at the entire picture and drill down to a successful result. Both Corey and John have been instrumental in my career at VERTEX and I really appreciate it.

What is your favorite thing about the Denver office?

I love the open office concept. Our seating is arranged according to our departments, but if we need anything from a different department, we just walk over and everyone and anyone are willing and able to assist, and I think that is super cool. The exposure to the people and camaraderie is the best part, and the view we have of downtown Denver doesn’t hurt either.

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VERTEX Surety Spotlight, Nick Deeley

Career Spotlight

Nick Deeley
Division Manager, Surety Claims Consulting
Irvine, CA
Joined VERTEX in August 2015

Nick is a Division Manager out of VERTEX’s Irvine office. Originally from Kailua, Hawaii, Nick moved to Irvine, California in 2019. He attended the University of Hawaii, where he got a Master’s in Public Administration. Having grown up in Hawaii, Nick loves hanging out on the beach, so he moved from Hawaii to California to make sure he would still have plenty of sunshine and beaches.

What is your background and educational background?

I have an undergraduate degree in history, and a Master’s in Public Administration. I was not very focused when I was younger and would get into trouble. After getting into a fistfight at a bar, I decided I needed a change. So, I moved from Hawaii to California and went back to school. The only subject that I enjoyed was history, so I loaded up on any courses related to history, locked myself in a room, and graduated in three years from San Francisco State. I planned to get a master’s in Urban and Regional Planning but ended up getting a Master’s of Public Administration thinking I would work for the government.

How long have you been in the AEC industry?

I have been in this field for about 14 years. My father-in-law managed a large A&E firm and offered me a position writing environmental assessments for large construction projects. My first project was in the Marshall Islands on a runway safety area and land reclamation project. The client liked me so much he requested I be the PM on the project, so I went from just writing a report to the PM of a $38 million international airport project. I was coached a lot, but it went well and was a great experience.

If you changed professions tomorrow, what would you be doing?

I always thought I would make a great high school guidance counselor and basketball coach. I even took a Master’s course in counseling. I like people, and I like problem-solving, so that’s why working with others has always been appealing to me. Eventually, I hope to own a bar: a hole in the wall, where only a handful of people show up at a time. That way, I can tell tall tales, hear good stories, and meet new people.

What was it like living in Hawaii?

The best thing about living in Hawaii is the culture. In Hawaii, it’s about the person you are not the things you own. Your problems are never more important than anyone else problems. Anyone older than you is called Aunty or Uncle because that is how we view our community, like family. The beach and sun are also not bad.

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