CMA has been named a South Florida Top Workplaces 2020 Honoree by the Sun Sentinel. CMA was recognized at the Top Workplaces Awards event held virtually on September 17 and ranked 15 out of 47 in the Small Employer Group. CMA was also featured in the September 20 edition of the Sun Sentinel in the annual Top Workplaces special section. Being named a Top Workplace is a big deal and only 90 companies made this years list that is based solely on employee feedback gathered through a third-party survey administered by employee engagement technology partner Energage, LLC. The anonymous survey uniquely measures 15 drivers of engaged cultures that are critical to the success of any organization: including alignment, execution, and connection, just to name a few. Thank you to all of our employees who completed this survey!
adminCMA Named South Florida Top Workplaces 2020 Honoree
Last week: Recently the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) partnered on a new economic report that quantifies water infrastructure investment and what happens when the nation fails to invest. The report “The Economic Benefits of Investing in Water Infrastructure: How a Failure to Act Would Affect the U.S. Economy Recovery” shows that closing the water investment gap brings enormous economic benefits and public health protections. As federal lawmakers consider how best to alleviate economic hardships caused by COVID-19 and protect public health, it is critical they understand the role water plays in keeping communities safe and healthy and our economy flowing.
Looking ahead: We all understand the immediate need for Congress and the administration to provide fiscal relief to state and local governments hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are also longer-term stressors on our nation’s infrastructure system that need to be addressed, specifically the relationship between the federal government and local governments. The ACEC Research Institute and partners have produced a series of recommendations to better align federal policies, funding options and regulations with local priorities within urban areas. The Community Serving Infrastructure: A Playbook for a New Infrastructure Partnership offers recommendations. Our local officials should read the Playbook this week.
Congratulations to CMA’s Director of Landscape Architecture and Planning, Cris Betancourt, RLA, AICP on his acceptance to the Urban Land Institutes Southeast Florida/Caribbean Leadership Institute Program. The Leadership Institute is an immersive and engaging leadership program that educates emerging leaders and prepares them with the tools to solve South Floridas most critical real estate and land use issues. The program, which includes 8 full-day programs from January 2021 to August 2021, is a leadership development program that cultivates leadership and life-strategy skills by teaching emerging leaders in the real estate and land use industries how the Southeast Florida/Caribbean region gets built.
adminCris Betancourt, RLA, AICP Accepted to ULI Leadership Institute Program
Last week: When is the best time to roll out a new tax? The simple answer to that is never. When is the best time to start planning for sea-level rise? The answer to that is yesterday. The City of Fort Lauderdale began meetings this past week on changes to their stormwater utility fee program that will increase rates for residents and businesses. These dedicated funding sources are critical to provide continuity with these programs and will allow the city to apply for grants requiring matching funds or bond the fees to accelerate progress. These are necessary for our future.
Looking ahead: Sept. 30 is a very important day in Washington D.C. for highways, airports and transit. Both the Payroll Support Program and the current surface transportation bill expire without congressional action. The Payroll Support Program has been keeping 100,000 airline workers and contractors employed while the airline industry is trying to recover. If the surface transportation bill deadline passes, the current law expires which will deplete the Highway Trust Fund. This will have a cascading effect, furloughing federal DOT employees and impacting a wide variety of state projects that get federal reimbursement. We need these reauthorizations to stave off disaster.
CMA staff members Vice President Jose L. Acosta, P.E., F.ASCE, Senior Engineer Robert Best, P.E. and Senior Landscape Architect Jason Sutton, RLA staffed our booth at the Florida Recreation and Park Association (FRPA) Annual Conference and Exhibit Show while practicing social distancing. The event was held August 31 to September 3 in Orlando and drew 150 delegates. FRPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion, preservation, and advocacy of the Parks, Recreation, and Leisure Services profession. www.frpa.org
Last week: I previously wrote about this as a concern, and this past week it happened. State Rep. Mike La Rosa, a Republican who faces term limits this year, was named last Friday by Gov. DeSantis to serve on the Florida Public Service Commission. The selection of La Rosa was over two other politicians and engineer Donald Polmann, who was seeking to be re-elected and was previously the only engineer on the commission. The five-member Public Service Commission regulates utilities and is expected to grapple with a series of high-profile issues in the coming years, including complex base-rate cases for electric utilities.
Looking ahead: After watching the destruction caused by Hurricane Laura in Louisiana and Texas this past week, we are looking at another two disturbances in the Caribbean in the coming week. When I was a child, my only knowledge of tropical activity was when storms became named and I used the Public Hurricane map and the latitude and longitude information provided to plot them on the refrigerator. In know that all this information causes stress to some – “not another two storms” – but I congratulate the advancements and warnings that lead to increase preparedness.
Congratulations to CMA Associate Engineer Carlos Tijerino who was installed as President of the Miami-Dade Branch of ASCE on August 27. Carlos works in the field civil engineering with a focus on construction managements. His expertise includes project administration, procurement, and construction management of site development projects and structural restoration projects. The Miami-Dade Branch is a subsidiary of the Florida Section, grouped under Region 5 of the American Society of Civil Engineers with over 900 members in the Miami area.
adminCMA Associate Engineer Carlos Tijerino Named ASCE Miami Dade Chapter President
Last week: This past week, I heard from a lot of people about the quality of both public and private virtual learning as the beginning of the school year kicked off. While most of the conversations ended with a reference to an alcoholic beverage, there were some definite success stories. My own daughter who never previously attended school struggled with PK3 math lessons, but found a connection over music class and story time. A teacher friend found that he was able to migrate to a completely paperless class. I know it isn’t easy, but let’s dwell on the positive for the children.
Looking ahead: This coming week will see two hurricanes simultaneously hit the gulf coast in Florida. In a typical storm response, there is a great deal of coordination between localities that share common risk. Risk prone areas have huge resources in crews, generators, pumps and everything necessary for recovery, but never quite enough to recover individually from a true disaster. For those events, it requires many localities banding together to give the resources of dozens of localities. If storms start coming in twos, threes or more, we’ll need to rethink preparedness and recovery plans. Let’s hope this is an anomaly.
CMA participated in the TeamFootworks Annual Mercedes-Benz Corporate Run this year. The virtual event was held from August 19-23 and included a virtual live kick-off and warm-up session on August 19 in Miami. Team members were able to complete their 3.1 mile run or walk from a location of their choice. CMA team members were: Andres R. (wife Kiara), David, Greg, Jennifer C., Joel, Justin, Karen, Rex, Safiya and Teresa. Thank you to the Social Activities Committee for organizing the event and to Stefan for creating our t-shirt design! For more information or to follow on social media, please use #MBCR2020 and follow @thecorporaterun or visit http://www.mercedesbenzcorporaterun.com/
adminCMA Team Participated in the Annual Mercedes-Benz Corporate Run
Last week: Last week, the nominating council for the Public Service Commission (PSC) sent four names to Gov. DeSantis for appointment of an expiring term. The list included three outgoing state legislators and one engineer. While I understand that the PSC must review a wide range of topics that aren’t all technical, three legislators jumping on the $132,000 per year part-time job is something that appears to be ready for failure. I believe that these positions should have requirements for technical competence. They sign off on all our utility rates, do we want politics in that role?
Looking ahead: The Public Service Commission (PSC) has a history of over 130 years in the State of Florida. Last week, the nominating council sent four names to Governor DeSantis. The Governor now has 30 days from then to nominate the next member. The member that currently holds the seat is the only engineer currently on the PSC. I’m not saying all 12 members should be engineers, but I’d like to think that one of 12 members of the group that regulates energy, water, sewer, gas and, to some extent telecom ought to be. Please keep at least one engineer, governor!
Sean Dannelly, CPA, is the CFO for Chen Moore and Associates and a member of our firm’s executive committee. In 2007, Mr. Dannelly founded Paladin Global Partners, LLC as a partner and in that role, he oversees the accounting and financial aspects of the firm including providing audit assistance, strategic development for clients, developing succession plans, mentoring finance management, and establishing internal controls and infrastructures to maintain audit compliance. He is also President of Dannelly, Monteleone & Associates, P.A. firm where he is dedicated to meeting the needs of small and medium sized businesses through tax planning, financial reporting, and financial planning services. Mr. Dannelly received his Master of Accounting degree and Bachelor of Science degree from The University of Florida.
P.E., LEED AP
Shareholder & Corporate Secretary
Safiya Brea, P.E., LEED AP, is Secretary and Sr. Project Manager for Chen Moore and Associates. Her experience includes large neighborhood improvement projects, including the design of roadways, sidewalks, drainage, water and wastewater infrastructure. She is currently the Project Manager and main client contact for the Broward County UAZ 110/111 & 113 Water Sewer Improvements (an estimated $60 million infrastructure improvement project). In addition, she has managed projects ranging from thousands of dollars to multi-million-dollar, large-scale neighborhood improvement programs. Ms. Brea has managed and designed streetscape improvements, roundabouts, lift station, stormwater improvements and master plans, and booster station basis of design reports. Her duties include construction management, design work, water sewer modeling and project management for municipalities throughout Florida. Ms. Brea received her Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Florida. She is currently on the board for the Florida Engineering Management Corporation and is a graduate of Leadership Florida Connect Class 8.
Ray Monteleone is President of Paladin Global Partners, a business management consulting firm, and Partner with Dannelly, Monteleone & Associates, a full-service CPA firm. Ray focuses on strategic management, problem solving, mergers & acquisitions, compensation consulting, growing companies, and senior executive mentoring for clients worldwide in industries such as healthcare, high tech, manufacturing, education, financial institutions and not-for-profit organizations.
As the President of the firm for over a decade, Mr. Moore has helped to grow our firm from three staff when he joined in 1999 to over 60 staff today. Mr. Moore has served in numerous leadership positions in engineering organizations, including President of the Florida Engineering Society, President of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Florida and the Region 5 Director for the American Society of Civil Engineers. He volunteers with numerous collegiate engineering programs, including the University of Florida, Florida Atlantic University and Nova Southeastern University, and works with youth programs at the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Discovery and Science. Peter is a life member of Leadership Florida, the Florida Engineering Leadership Institute and Leadership Broward, where he is also a Past Chair of the Foundation. Mr. Moore also serves as a board member for Florida TaxWatch, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit taxpayer research institute and government watchdog for more than one third of a century which works to improve the productivity and accountability of Florida government. Mr. Moore served on the board of the Sailboat Bend Civic Association for several years beginning in 2006 where he used his job skills to assist the neighborhood with traffic calming and construction concerns. Mr. Moore received his Master of Engineering degree in Civil Engineering and Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Florida.
Jose L. Acosta
Jose L. Acosta
Jose L. Acosta, P.E., F.ASCE, is Vice President of Chen Moore and Associates. Mr. Acosta is responsible for business development and strategic planning for the firm. He also serves as Principal-in-Charge and Senior Project Manager for several significant public and private sector Clients. Mr. Acosta has over two decades of experience in various types of public and private sector civil engineering infrastructure projects. He has lead design teams for land development, water/wastewater infrastructure, roadway/transportation, and education/institutional projects throughout Florida. Prior to joining CMA, Mr. Acosta served as the director of engineering for a multi-discipline firm in Florida. Mr. Acosta has been a long standing leader in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), serving as a local branch President, chairing various state committees, President of Florida Section and as a Region 5 Governor, where he represented Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Mr. Acosta also served as President of the Cuban-American Association of Civil Engineers (CAACE) and is currently on their board of directors. Mr. Acosta served on the Industry Advisory Board of the Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering Department of the University of Miami and has worked as an adjunct professor. He was the recipient of the Broward Branch’s 2003 and 2009 Young Member of the Year Award. In 2008, the Broward County Chapter of the FES named him the Young Engineer of the Year. In 2011, the CAACE named him their Young Engineer of the Year. In 2015, Mr. Acosta was named one of the Top 40 Under 40 by the South Florida Business Journal. In 2017, ASCE Region 5 named Mr. Acosta their inaugural winner of their Engineer of the Year award recipient. Mr. Acosta was a member of Leadership Florida’s Cornerstone 37 Class and currently service on its Southeast Region’s Board of Directors. Mr. Acosta has Bachelor Degrees in Civil and Architectural Engineering from the University of Miami and a Master of Business Administration from Auburn University.
P.E., LEED AP
Jason McClair, P.E., CFM, LEED AP, is Treasurer and Vice President of Chen Moore and Associates. Mr. McClair is responsible for the project operations and resource management of the firm. He is also the Principal-in-Charge for several key clients and serves as a Senior Project Manager for several important public sector clients. Mr. McClair is an expert in stormwater management modeling in Florida and has been the lead engineer on various stormwater master plans throughout Florida. Mr. McClair also has over 20 years of engineering experience in utility infrastructure design, regulatory permitting, modeling for stormwater collection, water distribution, and sanitary transmission systems. Mr. McClair received his Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from the University of Florida.
Dr. Ben Chen
Dr. Ben Chen,
Dr. Ben Chen, P.E., BCEE, is the founder of Chen Moore and Associates (formerly Chen and Associates Consulting Engineers, Inc.) and serves as Chairman of the Board for our firm’s Board of Directors, where he is responsible for the long-term planning for the firm’s future. Dr. Chen has had a wonderful career, working on some of the most significant utility and neighborhood improvement projects in South Florida. Dr. Chen has also had a long-standing history of being a leader in the community as an advocate for infrastructure needs throughout Florida, but also as a philanthropist throughout Florida. He has a served organizations in leadership positions of all types, including the Florida Engineering Society, Workforce One (known as CareerSource Broward now) and on university civil engineering department advisory boards for Florida International University, Florida Atlantic University, and formerly St. Thomas University. Dr. Chen received his Master of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees in Civil and Sanitary Engineering from National Taiwan University before immigrating to the United States to obtain his Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Civil Engineering from Virginia Tech.
Cristobal Betancourt, RLA, is Director of Planning and Landscape Architecture for Chen Moore and Associates. He has experience providing planning and landscape architecture design solutions for public and private sector clients. Mr. Betancourt leads a team that has extensive experience on significant municipal streetscapes, parks (including master plans), transportation projects, campuses, facilities and land development projects throughout Florida (from northern Florida to Key West). Examples of such projects include the implementation of the Complete Streets Master Plan developed by the Broward County Metropolitan Planning Organization, master planning for SunTrax in Lakeland, segments of areas on the Florida Turnpike and the incorporation of an existing street in the pedestrianized Lincoln Road Mall in South Beach. In addition, Mr. Betancourt is the principal for our LA Department’s efforts for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) throughout the state. He and his team are well versed in designing for multiple modes of transportation including air, rail, roadway, and multimodal transit facilities. He has been the Project or Task Manager for districtwide landscape contracts, highway beautification projects and LAP funded projects. Mr. Betancourt completed his post graduate studies in urban design at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture and his Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape Architecture from Cornell University.
Brent Whitfield, P.E., ENV SP is the Director of Water Resources for CMA. Mr. Whitfield has worked for a variety of public sector clients at the City, County and State level. His experience includes tasks as varied as hydrologic and hydraulic modeling related to environmental and flood protection studies and detailed engineering design and construction oversight for roadway, water, sewer, and stormwater infrastructure. Mr. Whitfield has provided infrastructure solutions in various settings from residential neighborhoods to commercial airports. As a life-long resident of Florida, Mr. Whitfield has maintained a commitment to serving the community both professionally and personally serving as an appointed board member for a municipal advisory board with maintaining involvement in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the Florida Engineering Society (FES) and Leadership Florida. He serves as the chair of the water resources committee for the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Florida. Mr. Whitfield holds a Bachelor of Science Degree and a Master of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Florida.
William “Bill” Thorp has decades of experience as a Certified Public Accountant, eventually specializing in the financial management of the transportation industry. He served as the Deputy Executive Director and Chief Financial Officer of the Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise (FTE) as well as the Assistant Secretary of Finance and Administration for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). Mr. Thorp attended the City College of New York from which he holds a Bachelor of Science degree and Master of Arts degree. He also attended the University of South Florida. Mr. Thorp is married and has three grown children and four grandchildren all of which he is very proud. His hobbies include fishing, photography and silversmithing.