WebEd Panel Discussion: Supporting LGBTQIA+ Professionals in the AEC Industry

When:  Apr 18, 2023 from 12:00 PM to 01:30 PM (CT)
Associated with  Chicago


When: Tuesday, April 18, 2023  Noon – 1:30 PM CST

Where: Virtual - Zoom Discussion


Panel Discussion: Supporting LGBTQIA+ Professionals in the AEC Industry


Building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture is essential to fostering a sense of belonging and well-being, and ensuring each person’s voice is heard. Active listening, self-awareness, reflection, and thoughtful discussion contribute to fostering an inclusive culture.

This panel discussion will explore the experiences of LGBTQIA+ professionals in the  AEC industry including the challenges they have faced, progress that has been made, and work that still needs to be done. Panelists will share lessons learned, celebrate stories of inclusion, and discuss how to move forward as a more inclusive and equitable industry.


The discussion led by a moderator will cover a range of topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the AEC industry. These may include discussions about workplace policies and practices that promote inclusion and respect for all employees, the role of leadership in fostering a culture of inclusion, and the importance of education and awareness around LGBTQIA+ issues.


Learning Objectives:

  1. Identify challenges facing the LGBTQIA+ community in the architecture and construction industry, and explain how to address them.

  2. Analyze the experiences of LGBTQIA+ professionals in the AEC industry, including the impact of societal attitudes and stereotypes on their careers.

  3. Explain the importance and benefits of creating a supportive and inclusive environment for LGBTQIA+ individuals in the workplace.

  4. Identify action items and strategies for creating a more inclusive and supportive environment for LGBTQIA+ professionals in the architecture and construction industry.





Mladen Jovanov

Lab Planner



Mladen Jovanov has a Master of Architecture Engineering from Ss. Cyril and Methodius University. His experience includes commercial office design and construction, as well as projects in higher education and healthcare. With a concentration in lab design, Mladen has worked on a number of successful projects from conception to construction. In projects where Mladen has led a team, his focus has been to empower each individual to take ownership of a portion of the project and work cohesively to always meet our deadlines and achieve the project’s vision. 


Mladen is originally from North Macedonia where his family still lives and where he normally spends his vacations. Being from that part of the world has made him more exposed to travel, good food and weird humor. (his words) Outside of work, Mladen enjoys hiking, camping, working out, reading, cooking, baking, listening to a true crime podcast, and traveling to new places.


Mladen values diversity, innovative design, collaboration and a strong culture of inclusivity.



Cynie Linton, CSI, CDT, LEED AP


Kalin Associates


Cynie Linton has 25 years of experience writing specifications, and is a specifications consultant with Kalin Associates with a focus on public projects making a difference in our civic life through participation in design and construction of schools, libraries, fire stations, and community centers. 


She has been a CSI member since the early 90s and has served as President of the Boston Chapter, as secretary for the northeast region and she currently serves on the CSI national Diversity Equity and Inclusion Task Force. Cynie has taught design at the Boston Architectural College, and worked as a stonecutter at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. Through these experiences she has learned that listening is key to successful team work.  


Outside of work she enjoys the company of her cats, cooking, yoga, and travel.  In 2022 she visited volcanic islands – Iceland, and the Azores.



Mark Schmieding, FAIA 

Director of Digital Practice 

Goettsch Partners


Mark Schmieding, FAIA is the Director of Digital Practice at Goettsch Partners in Chicago. He earned his B. Arch degree at the University of Kansas, spent several years in Europe with studies at Universität Dortmund, the Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, and worked professionally in Barcelona, Spain. He began his design career at SOM and gained a reputation for developing and implementing architectural design software, which led to recruitment by the original Revit Technology Corporation where he was part of the team that created the BIM software that has changed the AEC industry. 


Luis Hernandez
Senior Interior Designer
Dunne Kozlowski

Luis Hernandez is an interior designer at full-service design firm Dunne Kozlowski (formerly d+k Architects). A Chicago native, Hernandez holds a Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Illinois at Chicago. His early career focused on single- and multi-family residential projects in an architectural role. In the last eight years, Hernandez has pivoted to hospitality design, primarily supporting national hotel brands like Hilton Worldwide, Marriott Bonvoy, and Oxford Hotels and Resorts. His appetite for design transcends interiors into fashion, art, and graphic design, empowering him to bring a multidisciplinary approach to his work as a hospitality expert. Hernandez's most recent projects include the complete interior design for the Godfrey Hotel Detroit, and the rebranding and renovation of the fast-casual restaurant chain Yoshinoya America, with locations throughout the Los Angeles area.





Eric Wu

Leadership and Talent Development Specialist

Northwestern University


Eric Wu works in the Leadership and Talent Development space on the Talent Development and Well-being Team within the Human Resources Department at Northwestern University, where he focuses on building scalable talent and performance management strategy and solutions to improve professional development and career outcomes for staff.  Eric leverages human-centered design and design thinking to solve for organizational challenges and social impact initiatives.


A career pivoter, Eric finished up his graduate studies at Northwestern in 2022 where he obtained his MS in Learning and Organizational Change and completed a graduate certificate in Designing for Organizational Effectiveness. Prior to moving into the human capital space, he spent 12.5 years in beer working in corporate strategy, sales operations, and business transformation for MillerCoors.  At MillerCoors, he was a dedicated DEIJ advocate, including leading the Asian employee resource group for many years. 


Outside of work, he is a passionate community advocate that is involved with co-chairing the Asian Giving Circle and is an active member of Fourth Presbyterian Church.


Continuing Education Credit: 

  • 1.0 AIA/CES LU 


Registration Cost:

No cost to register. Registration closes 2 days before the event.

CSI Member = $0 

CSI Non-Member = $0

Event Contact

CSI Chicago Chapter