Related Midwest Blog

Curating Connections Networking Event Fosters Conversation and Celebrates Community Development

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Related Midwest hosted its third Curating Connections networking event, bringing together Related’s diverse partners in the construction, development and architecture industries in Chicago. The gathering featured a panel of experts in the construction industry who focused on how the construction industry can shape our communities through diverse, equitable and inclusive practices.  

In addition to engaging in conversation, attendees enjoyed tasting Casa Humilde craft beer. Javier and Jose Lopez, Founders of Casa Humilde, spoke to their mission of incorporating and showcasing Latin ingredients. Presenting on a variety of their beers, Javier and Jose shared how their flavors represent Mexican culture, including a flavor brewed in collaboration with the National Museum of Mexican Art.  

The heart of the event was the engaging panel moderated by Don Biernacki, Executive Vice President of Construction at Related Midwest. The dialogue centered around the voices and stories of Minority Business Enterprise and Women Business Enterprise leaders. Panelists included: Cristina Beran, President and Founder of Chicago Voice and Data Authority, Bobby Ibarra, Owner of Ibarra Group LLC, Calvin “C.J.” Jenkins, Owner of Community Play Lot Builders Inc., and Owen Pittman, Owner and CEO of M.I.K.K/DLP Construction and Development. 

The panelists spoke to their journeys on how they reached the current points in their careers. The speakers dove into discussion about the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion in the construction industry and making a difference in communities. During the panel, Cristina shared how working with Related on Lathrop allowed her to grow her company and hire more people from the community. Bobby spoke about the inspiration from his father to build his own company and highlighted the value of empowering others to help build community. Calvin discussed the significance of contractors and developers providing MBE and WBE subcontractors with opportunities to work on projects, in order to increase diversity and inclusion within the industry. Owen shed light on the importance of giving back to communities. One way he makes a difference is by providing employment opportunities in the west and south sides of Chicago. 

Curating Connections will continue with one more event in 2024, and will feature even more opportunities to connect and collaborate.