better together

About GDA

The Global Design Alliance is an international network
 of design, planning and construction firms who are committed to fostering dynamic growth and change. We are a living 27-year experiment in transparency, resource- sharing, authenticity and creativity that builds trust and develops not only people, but whole companies, who truly are “Better Together.” The GDA intentionally brings together a diverse group of companies to facilitate trusted partnerships and knowledge sharing amongst the most forward-thinking leaders in the AEC industry. Our vision is to:

skate to where the puck is going;
nurture familiarity by prioritizing trust and respect;
engage in provocative and inspiring dialogue;
seek out diversity of thought;
and create a safe place to explore new ideas and initiatives

What our members say

“It’s the most rewarding conference I’ve ever participated in. In addition to the incredible relationships I’ve developed (I have a stable of experts I can call on for just about anything relating to AEC), I’ve also learned a ton. We’ve taken on topics from equity and inclusion, succession planning, cyber security, economics, sustainability to resiliency, you name it! But the true value is the open and honest perspectives on these subjects, the kind of info you can only get from being in a group founded on trust and integrity, which the GDA has in spades.”

– Susie Smith, KPFF

“Integrity and caring are two of our firm’s core values, and they’re qualities we’ve always valued in the GDA. Our colleagues here are vulnerable, supportive, and trusting together, with a profound spirit of empathy and encouragement. The relationships we make here carry to our practices, projects, and communities beyond, and make us all stronger.”

– Norma Lehman, The Beck Group

“What I love most about the GDA are the personal relationships. I’ve had the opportunity to develop with inspiring practice leaders from across North America. I learn something new whenever we come together. And whenever I need advice, I know that I can pick up the phone or send out a quick note, and within the hour I’ll have the benefit of their friendly, practical wisdom. Extremely rewarding, both personally and professionally!”

– Jeff DiBattista, DIALOG

GDA by the numbers

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Minneapolis Symposium

September 10, 2019 - September 13, 2019

Gender parity, ethnic & racial diversity, local resources & talent, and "green practices". The fall symposium brings a debate on integration, trends in construction law, discussion on the Climate Change Emergency and workshops surrounding leadership behaviors & core values, BD collaborations, and diversity, equity & inclusion.

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Knowledge Communities
Leadership & Human Capital

Members meet monthly to discuss critical leadership and human capital issues that our firms are facing. Topics range from transition and succession planning to professional development to talent recruitment and retention.

Diversity & Inclusion

This knowledge community shares in the deep commitment and fervent desire to bring diversity, equity and inclusion into each of our member firms. The group meets monthly to openly discuss best practices, challenges and also set collective goals that can be brought back in-house of our individual member firms.

Professional Training

Employees of member firms have access to key training opportunities organized by the Global Design Alliance. Recent workshops have included: Total Leadership by Stew Friedman of the Wharton School of Business.

Contact Us
Executive Director

Saskia Dennis-van Dijl joined the GDA as Executive Director in 2016. Saskia has served as a practice management consultant to the AEC industry for the past two decades advising firms around the US in the areas of marketing, practice management and strategic planning.  In recent years, Saskia has focused extensively on leadership development in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry including a deep commitment to concerns related to diversity equity and inclusion. She was a founding member of the 2014 Equity by Design research project sponsored by AIA San Francisco and now works with companies around the nation on culture and policy development to achieve goals of diversity and inclusion in all aspects.   

Associate Director

Brook Wyntergreen first joined the Global Design Alliance in 2014 and served as a former Alliance Coordinator Chair. In 2016, she accepted the role of Associate Director for the GDA, supporting the Board and Executive Director to manage the day-to-day operations of the consortium. Concurrently, Brook is a Project Engineer for McCarthy Building Companies and manages project schedules for various public and healthcare projects. With nearly 15 years of AEC experience, Brook holds a Masters in Business Administration and Bachelors of Architecture. 

Chair of the Board

Steve Frei is a Managing Principal with AEI and currently serves as the Chair of the Board for the Global Design Alliance. Over the past decade AEI has reaped the benefits of the vibrant and forward thinking culture of the GDA and its member firms. “During this 'Age of Accelerations', the informed and transparent discussion between the GDA members has impacted our organization today and even more importantly helped to create the foundation for our recently completed Strategic Plan. Particularly important to our planning efforts were GDA topics of digital transformation, AI and DEI. Beyond the practice enhancing role of the GDA, the significant opportunity to enhance existing relationships and create new relationships has created new business success for AEI. Lastly, during the COVID-19 Pandemic, the GDA has become a valuable resource and support to AEI, as we are all navigating through uncharted territory."