CUFO Honors Black Construction Pioneers for Black History Month

Columbia University Facilities and Operations (CUFO) celebrated Black History Month on February 20, 2024, with a tribute to the remarkable contributions of Black construction pioneers. In collaboration with Skanska, CUFO’s Equity and Inclusion (EI) Council hosted the event, paying homage to these trailblazers whose impact reverberates not only across Columbia's campuses but also throughout the broader construction industry.

February 26, 2024

Following opening remarks from CUFO's Chief Diversity Officer Sheetal Kale and Chair of the EI Council Keith George which set the tone for an engaging discourse, CUFO Assistant Vice President of University Supplier Diversity Tanya Pope and Skanska National Director of Culture & Engagement Ayesha Adams provided an enlightening overview of the illustrious Black inventors whose groundbreaking innovations have reshaped the construction landscape.

The spotlight then turned to contemporary Black construction pioneers, showcasing their significant contributions to both Columbia University's projects and the wider community. Representatives from Skanska shared insights into recent milestones, such as the Nash Building renovation in Manhattanville, notable for its 48% minority, women, or local workforce participation. 

Alexis McSween, the visionary CEO of Bottom Line Construction, emphasized the imperative of amplifying underrepresented voices in the industry. McSween founded the Youth Construct initiative, which provides NYC high school students from diverse backgrounds valuable training and paid internships across various disciplines including architecture, construction, engineering, and development (ACED).

"The program aims to effectively uplift High School Juniors and Seniors from all boroughs of underserved communities by exposing them to the ACED industry," said McSween. "The goal is to set them on a career with upward mobility, which is the key to addressing the systemic racial and income equality in New York."

As the discussion drew to a close, Pope and Adams invited attendees to reflect on the enduring legacy of these pioneering figures, encouraging them to contemplate the impact of inspirational individuals in their own lives.