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Luncheon Speaker Series: Higher Education

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Join us to hear about “The Decade Ahead in Higher Education." Our panelists will share their thoughts on what changes, trends, and innovations are on the radar with regard to campus planning, energy management and planning, student housing, and more.


Sean Plunkett, AIA, LEED AP, Principal  |  Weber Murphy Fox

Sean has been with Weber Murphy Fox since 2001. As President of the firm and a Principal, he leads many of the firms design and construction projects across its’ three offices. Sean has experience in many types of higher education facilities across Ohio and Pennsylvania having focused on collegiate projects for most of his career. He prides himself on being a collaborative member of any project team that includes WMF, Client and consultants. 

Weber Murphy Fox was founded in 1967 and provides architectural, interiors and planning services to higher education institutions, industrial manufacturing companies, corporate office spaces and both indoor and outdoor recreation facilities. 

Sean holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Syracuse University.


Joanne S. Brown, AIA, ASID, Assistant Director of Planning, Design and Construction  |  Case Western Reserve University

Joanne S. Brown, AIA, ASID currently serves as Assistant Director of Planning, Design and Construction within the division of Campus Planning and Facilities Management at Case Western Reserve University. Ms. Brown has been employed with the university since June 2008.

Ms. Brown has over 30 years of experience in project management leadership with a strong background in architecture, interior design, and facilities planning and construction management. Previous experience includes having been a partner within an architectural firm, vice president of a construction company and facility planning director of a bank. Having worked in a variety of fields, with various degrees of resources and capital allocation, Ms. Brown offers diverse knowledge and expertise in successfully managing areas of design, planning and project oversight.

Ms. Brown is a State of Ohio Registered Architect and NCIDQ Certified Interior Designer. She is also active in numerous civic and professional organizations.

Cynthia Leitson, Vice President of Capital, Construction and Facilities  |  Cuyahoga Community College

Cynthia Leitson is the Vice President of Capital, Construction, and Facilities at Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C). She is responsible for maintaining, improving and repurposing existing facilities and for developing new facilities (leased and owned) and managing capital assets. She oversees services including: facilities and operations maintenance, architectural/engineering, programming and design, bidding, facility construction and renovation, infrastructure replacement of furnishings and equipment, site development and landscaping, new signage/wayfinding, college-wide master planning, sustainability, real estate services and asset management.

 Throughout her lengthy career, Ms. Leitson has held top level executive positions in strategic management and procurement operations. Ms. Leitson joined Cuyahoga Community College in 2010 as the Executive Director of Supplier Managed Services. During her time with the College Ms. Leitson has transformed purchasing and supply chain services. Ms. Leitson and her team have automated processes, centralized operations, improved accountability, enhanced reporting, and strengthened supplier relations – saving the College hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

The Capital, Construction, & Facilities department was presented with the President’s Award of Excellence in 2018 for Capital Planning on the 2017 Capital Bond Levy Phase II Facilities Master Plan.  In 2017, Ms. Leitson was presented with the President’s Award of Excellence for the College-wide Inclusion & Diversity Plan.  In December 2016, the Cleveland Chapter of the AIA and the International Interior Design Association presented the Tri-C team with the Client Commitment to Cleveland Award.

Ms. Leitsons’ professional and organization involvement include; serving as the Tri-C representative to the Inter-University Council, Greater Cleveland Partnership, Construction Diversity and Inclusion Owner Team Member, Construction Engineering Society, COAA, Cogence, CMAA, and The ACE Mentor Program – board member and volunteer.

Ms. Leitson holds a B.A., Materials & Logistics, from Michigan State University.

Meghan Riesterer, Assistant Vice President Campus Energy and Sustainability  |  Oberlin College

Meghan Riesterer is the Assistant Vice President Campus Energy and Sustainability at Oberlin College where she leads of the Office of Environmental Sustainability. She is responsible for the strategic development and implementation of the College’s resource and sustainability initiatives, projects, and programs. Meghan utilizes her technical city planning and energy management expertise with a background in systems thinking and facilitation to foster a culture of good environmental stewardship, including strategies to sharply reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. Prior to coming to Oberlin in January 2014, Meghan was Director of Sustainability for the Medical Center Company, a non-profit district energy system providing thermal energy and power to the University Circle neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio.

Meghan is a Certified Energy Manager, Certified Demand Side Energy Manager, and LEED Accredited Professional. She earned a Master in City Planning degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 

Michael Bruder, University Architect and Executive Director of Facilities, Planning and Design  |  Kent State University

Michael E. Bruder has been with Kent State University in the Office of the University Architect since 1999.  In his current role as University Architect and Executive Director of Facilities, Planning and Design, Michael is responsible for all design and construction projects on the Kent Campus as well as Kent State University’s seven regional campuses. 

With a staff of 25 full time employees, the office manages over 200 projects per year with an annual design and construction budget averaging $100 million.  In the fall of 2017, the university completed the Foundations of Excellence construction initiative that involved the addition of 300,000 s.f. to the campus and the renovation of seven major facilities.  The completed buildings have been recognized for the outstanding design and commitment to sustainable architecture.

In 2018, he led the team that developed the university’s first comprehensive facilities master plan in 20 years.  The 10 year, $1.2B Gateway to a Distinctive Kent State master plan was adopted by the board of trustees and phase I of the master plan is approved to move forward.  He will oversee the implementation of key Gateway plan projects including a new building for the College of Business Administration and the rehabilitation of an aging facility into a modern Design Innovation Hub. 

In his role as university architect, he stresses a collaborative process to provide well-designed, sustainable buildings in a cohesive campus plan that fosters a positive environment for learning, researching, living and working for students, faculty and staff.



Please note that the parking garage at City Club sometimes fills up quickly. Other options may include Arena Stadium Parking, 515 Euclid Garage or calling an Uber.

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Event Location

City Club
850 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44114
Phone: 2166210082
When: 11:30 am - 1:30 pm

Event Sponsors

DLR Group
Fiorilli Construction
Karpinski Engineering
Moody Nolan, Inc.
The Krill Company
Weber Murphy Fox

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What our sponsors are saying...

“SMPS has been a tremendous resource to our company [CBLH]. It has reshaped the way we conduct marketing. All of their programs, seminars, articles and conferences have given us the ability to educate our marketing staff on the changing tactics and strategies facing our industry. Lastly, we have built relationships through all the networking opportunities SMPS offers. It only made sense to support our chapter through sponsorship as they have supported us”.

John Rach, AIA, Director of Marketing
CBLH Design, Inc.

“We are proud once again to support the local SMPS Northeast Ohio Chapter as renewing Annual Sponsor, and have been actively engaged with the SMPS NEO Chapter for over 5 years now. It has been a pleasure to be a part of the SMPS NEO family, as it has brought us closer together with the local A/E/C community and has created new partnerships with fellow SMPS'ers.”

PCS Annual Sponsor

"My membership with SMPS was gifted to me while working at Karpinski Engineering and while I was hesitant to get involved in the operations of the board, I can’t imagine life without SMPS and my fellow committee members. Volunteering has afforded me not only great professional relationships, but great friendships as well. I truly believe our board members are the best around and some of the hardest working individuals I know. In short, I joined SMPS for the educational resources and have stayed for the relationships and interaction with fellow contemporaries and the fun."

Vanessa Aron

"As someone who was new to the industry, I was inspired by the NEO board members and all the hard work and dedication they put in to provide this region with an organization that is educational, entertaining and that puts you face to face with some of the most significant people throughout the A/E/C industry. As Membership & Social Media Chair, if I can give back to others half of what SMPSNEO has given to me; my job will have been a success."

Dave Eyssen
Precision Environmental Co.

"I discovered SMPS while looking at a Properties Magazine (no plug intended) and had a discussion with the owner of my firm, Scott Maloney. He encouraged me to get involved but stressed to really be engaged and take a role in the organization to really get something out of your membership. He was right! It was easy to engage with such a great group of people but really getting involved, being a part of the organization and not just an attendee has really opened up doors and introductions that would not have been possible. Coming from outside of the A/E/C industry prior to working at K2M, SMPS really helped me to understand and grasp this dynamic industry."

Stephanie C.
K2M Design

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Tamara Zupancic
Tec Inc.