Build Better Podcast

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Mike McDonagh

In episode 9 of Build Better, Anastasia welcomes Mike McDonagh, CEO of the Associated Subcontractors of Massachusetts, for an update on the state of the construction industry in 2019. McDonagh talks about the big issues facing subcontractors this year and what the ASM is doing to address those – from current legislation affecting the industry to what employers can be doing to address the opioid crisis.

Mike McDonagh is the CEO of the Associated Subcontractors of Massachusetts. Mike joined ASM in 2018 and is responsible for overseeing the Association’s programs and services and works closely with the Directors and Officers to further the Association’s mission to serve the needs of subcontractors. This includes all legislative and regulatory advocacy efforts, education and events, member benefit programs and other activities of the Association. Prior to joining ASM, he worked for the Massachusetts Association of Realtors in Waltham for 17 years, serving most recently as their General Counsel and Director of Government Affairs. He serves as co-chair of the Real Estate Bar Association’s Legislative Committee and is a regular volunteer for the Pan-Mass Challenge fundraiser.



Andrea Dunn and Mary Vogel

In episode 8 of Build Better, Anastasia Barnes talks with Mary Vogel, executive director of Building Pathways (BP), an eastern Massachusetts organization that creates opportunities for low-income area residents to access and prepare for building trades apprenticeships and family-sustaining careers in the construction industry and Andrea Dunn, a sprinkler fitter apprentice at E.M. Duggan (and a graduate of the BP program).  They discuss the benefits of the Building Pathways program and how it is changing lives and contributing to much-needed diversity in the construction industry.

Andrea Dunn is a sprinkler fitter apprentice for local 550 currently working for E.M Duggan. She is a proud mother of two boys currently living in the city of Boston.  Dunn previously worked at Boston Medical Center in the call center for several years and holds a certificate for Medical Administrative Assistant. She chose a career in the construction industry after her completion of the building pathways program, which is has changed her life tremendously.She enjoys reading and spending time with her children and family.  In early May of 2019, Dunn was the recipient of the first Sprinkler Fitter Apprentice of the Year award.

Mary Vogel is the executive director of Building Pathways, Inc., a Boston-based non-profit dedicated to creating opportunities for low-income Boston metro area residents, young adults, and historically underrepresented populations in the building trades industry, to access and prepare for building trades apprenticeships. She has a distinguished history as an attorney, advocate, and administrator dedicated to improving labor standards and practices in construction and other industries. She previously served as Executive Director of the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health and was the founding Executive Director of The Construction Institute, a statewide labor-management organization engaged in advocacy, training, and collaborative efforts to promote union construction and improve health and safety and working conditions in the Massachusetts construction trades. She has also served as Executive Director of the Asbestos Victims Special Fund Trust in Philadelphia, General Counsel to the Sheet Metal Occupational Health Institute in Washington, DC, and as an associate attorney in the labor law firms of Sherman, Dunn, Cohen, Leifer, and Counts PC in Washington, DC and Cohen, Weiss and Simon in New York, NY. Mary is a graduate of Georgetown Law School, where she helped found the Equal Justice Foundation.

Special thanks to Makepeace for sponsoring Episode 8 of our podcast!



Tom S. Gunning

In the third and final installment of the focus on the Opioid Crisis in Construction, Anastasia Barnes chats with Tom S. Gunning, the director of labor relations at the Building Trades Employers’s Association (BTEA).

Tom was the organizer behind “Building Trades for Recovery Week”, which happened between April 29 and May 3rd of 2019.  The week-long event was designed to increase awareness and understanding of substance use disorder and help construction industry professionals learn best practices for prevention and recovery. Tom discusses the reason behind his organizing the event, the take-aways and success of the conference.

Tom Gunning is the Director of Labor Relations for the Building Trade Employers Association (BTEA). As a voice for union building trades contractors throughout New England, his efforts focus on developing and maintaining prosperous relationships with seven trade groups in order to negotiate with 13 different trades covering over 85 different local unions in the northeast region. Gunning acts as an advocate for planning and development issues to efficiently generate and sustain business for the association’s members and drive partnerships for economic development. He serves as a trustee on several joint apprentice and training committees. Prior to joining BTEA, Gunning was a member of Laborers Local 223. Gunning is a graduate of Bridgton Academy and St. Anselm College. Currently in recovery himself, Tom Gunning is an advocate for mental health wellness in the building trades and regularly acts as a Substance Abuse Counselor through Modern Assistance Programs, Inc.

Special thanks to Karas & Karas Glass for sponsoring Episode 7 of our podcast!


Jean Carroon and Jeremy Gregory

On Episode 6 of Build Better, Anastasia welcomes Jeremy Gregory, executive director of MIT’s Concrete Sustainability Hub and Jean Carroon, FAIA, principal of Goody Clancy, to learn more about embodied carbon and to discuss the challenges those in the A/E/C industry face in reducing their carbon footprint. Embodied carbon refers to the environmental impact associated with the construction of buildings and creating the materials for those buildings. Carroon and Gregory talk about how there is no “one size fits all” solution for this complex issue, and how companies can do their part in protecting the environment now and in the long term.  Both guests are on the advisory group for the Embodied Buildings in Carbon Conference, which is being held on May 31, 2019 at MIT’s Sloan Center.



Jared Hesek and Pat Donovan

Episode 5 of Build Better is Part 2 of a 3 part series on the opioid epidemic in the construction industry in New England.  In this episode, Anastasia has a frank conversation with Jared Hesek and Pat Donovan, contractors at Karas & Karas Glass. Both men have struggled with addiction and are now in recovery, living healthy sober lives.  They each share their journey to recovery and how they ended up working for Karas & Karas Glass.  They give real advice to those who may be currently struggling with addiction.


We would like to encourage all AEC professionals to learn more about the Building Trades Recovery Week,
happening April 29 to May 3.  View the agenda or register for events at



Episode 4 of Build Better is Part 1 of a 3 part series on the opioid epidemic in the construction industry in New England.  In this episode, Anastasia has an intimate conversation with David Argus, director of operations at Karas & Karas, about his family member’s struggle (and recovery) with drugs.

Through his son’s journey to recovery, Argus became more aware of the rehabilitation and counseling services available to addicts.  He was so moved by these counselors’ selfless passion for providing addicts a second chance that he and a friend created a program at Karas & Karas to help recovering addicts pursue careers in the construction industry.

David Argus

Born on November 16, 1966 in Canton, Massachusetts, David Argus developed an interest in construction very early.  In 1985 David graduated from high school and immediately joined the carpenters union. He became employed by Karas & Karas Glass Company in 1986 and has been with the company ever since.

Due to a strong work ethic, charisma and passion, David ascended to management very quickly. His current position is Director of Operations, where he manages over $100M in construction projects annually.

In addition to his successful construction career, David has developed an affinity for helping others.  Argus’s innate ability to make people feel loved and appreciated has created a trusting environment at his workplace.

He enjoys studying humanity and has taken courses at Harvard, including religion, philosophy, and neuroscience.

Special thanks to Gleeson Powers for sponsoring Episode 4 of our podcast!


On Episode 3 of Build Better, Julia McFadden of Svigals + Partners discusses what productive playgrounds are, how biophilia design is connecting us back to nature and the unique role it played in the redesign of the Sandy Hook School Elementary School.  Julia also shares the current discourse surrounding school safety, including the American Institute of Architects’ (AIA) federal clearing house of resources on school design best practices for school officials and design professionals.Our listeners also learn what the term “echinus” means.

Julia McFadden

Julia McFadden is an Associate Principal with Svigals + Partners — a New Haven, Connecticut architecture firm.

Following undergraduate study in Theatre Arts and a Master of Architecture program, Julia took up a post-graduate study of Public Art at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design to expand upon her interest in creating meaningful places through designs encompassing art, landscape, and structures. Prior to joining Svigals in 2008, Julia practiced residential architecture for ten years, five years running her own design firm. This work honed her design thinking around the immediacy and intimacy of our living spaces, augmented by becoming a certified Feng Shui practitioner in 2010.

Julia has developed particular expertise in facilitating and leading community workshops to establish design themes and aspirations. Recent work includes a residential hall for the University of Hartford and facilitation of a design process with a group of New Haven mothers to establish a memorial Healing Garden to victims of gun violence.


On Episode 2 of Build Better, Karrie Kratz of Gilbane Building Company tells our listeners how her company sells leaders, not buildings, and because of this Gilbane is at the forefront of training their employees – their most prized asset.

Karrie Kratz

Karrie Kratz is vice president of Gilbane Building Company, and is currently the operations manager of Gilbane’s Connecticut office. Kratz leads Gilbane’s field operations which are comprised of a diverse portfolio of complex projects including one of the state’s largest projects, Renovation of 165 Capital Ave., several K-12 projects such as Greenwich New Lebanon Elementary School and West Haven High School, Fairfield University, Danbury Hospital and others in the Healthcare, K-12, Higher Education, Corporate and Pharmaceutical & Life Sciences Markets.

A 19 year veteran of the construction management industry, she has held the positions of accounting clerk, project accountant, project engineer, manager of engineering, regional quality manager, project manager and senior project manager and operations manager over the course of her career. 

A 2010 recipient of the PWC – Woman on the Rise Award and AGC’s 2013 Project Manager of the Year, 2016 Hartford Business Journal 40 under 40 honoree and an ENR Top Young Professional, Kratz has dedicated her career to building collaborative teams and providing exceptional client satisfaction on all of Gilbane’s Connecticut projects. In addition to participating in several industry organizations and mentoring youth interested in the construction industry, she is also an active member of the Girl Scouts of Connecticut and a meal site team leader for the Shoreline Soup Kitchen and Pantry.

Special thanks to Triax Technologies for sponsoring Episode 2 of our podcast!


In the first episode of Build Better, Luiza Mills, vice president of human resources and public relations,  Interstate Electrical Services, discusses lean construction, the importance of solution-based thinking, challenges of recruiting new talent, and IESC’s new apprentice program.

Luiza Mills

Luiza Mills brings over 16 years of executive management experience in electrical distribution to her role as vice president of human resources and public relations at Interstate Electrical Services. Mills’ education, energy, passion for excellence, and ability to focus on the details while never losing sight of the broader picture, are assets that drive Interstate and its employees to achieve continued success.

Under Mills’ direction, Interstate’s Human Resources and Marketing departments are responsible for the policies and programs that affect employees, including recruitment and orientation, disability compensation services, employee career planning, diversity programs, training, internal and external company branding and marketing strategies.

Having served on numerous boards over the years, Mills’ is a current member of the New England Employee Benefit Council (NEEBC), Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), Gould Institute Board of Trustees, ABC Human Resource Committee, and the ABC Apprentice Oversight Committee. Mills’ professional background in the construction industry also includes marketing, business operations, lean methodologies, and mergers and acquisitions.

Special thanks to Manufacton for sponsoring Episode 1 of our podcast!



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