Build Better Podcast

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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 http://buildingtradesforrecovery.com/



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 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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