About our Board of Directors
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Ben has over 30 years of experience in consulting and transactions in the construction and private equity industries. Through his firm Leap Financial, Ben provides advisory and board services to firms and their owners.
Ben was Managing Director of a Denver-based private equity firm, where he was responsible for acquiring and turning around distressed companies. For nearly twenty years prior, Ben was a Principal at FMI Corporation in the firm’s investment banking practice.
Ben has spoken to construction industry organizations and published in industry journals. He is active in CFMA, and is a past National Secretary. Ben has a BA in Geography and Economics, Magna Cum Laude and an MBA in Finance and Real Estate, both from the University of Denver.
Elie Homsi, P.E., is a senior vice president and fellow of Parsons in Westminster , CO. He graduated from the University of Texas with a civil engineering degree and has more than 33 years of experience in the construction and engineering industries. Frequently looked to as a leader in the industry, Elie has developed new and innovative construction solutions that have garnered numerous patents and awards.
Elie’s passion for engineering, teaching and traveling is a key component to the success of Bridges to Prosperity. He was instrumental in bringing Parsons as well as his former company, Flatiron Construction and B2P together, and he will continue to be a leading contributor to the advancement of B2P’s mission to share knowledge and expertise to help isolated communities progress.
Born in Lebanon, Elie has traveled the world for school, work and pleasure – once taking his family on a surprise trip through the Sahara desert. He and wife, Claudia, have two daughters Debani Aimee and Natalie Yara. When they aren’t traveling around the world, they call Broomfield, Colorado their home.
Gretchen is a recognized expert in the construction industry, consulting to both “owners” to support the cost-effective planning, design, and construction of capital assets; and consulting to contractors, engineering firms, and material and equipment suppliers on how to effectively serve these clients and achieve organizational success. She works closely with construction “owners” and their construction and engineering service providers to determine strategies for more closely aligning the value chain to reduce construction costs and schedules, and improve profitability. She is a prolific writer and sought-after speaker in the construction industry.
Gretchen enjoyed an 11-year career with FMI Corporation, a Raleigh, North Carolina based management consulting and investment banking firm focused upon the construction industry. During this time, she was a member of the contractor-focused Quality and Productivity Improvement Group, initiated and provided leadership to the Owner Services Group and managed the Market Research Group. Owner clients included Intel, Marriott, Hewlett Packard, General Motors, Starbucks, and Detroit Edison, and contractor clients included Barton Malow Company, DPR Construction and Kiewit to name a few. Gretchen has a proven track record of measurable results with her clients.
Prior to joining FMI, Gretchen worked for Ralston Purina and Coca-Cola Enterprises in operations management. Most recently, Gretchen served as President/CEO of The Women’s Foundation of Colorado and Assistant Dean of the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver.
Gretchen is a graduate of the University of Denver MBA program, and received her Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from Southern Methodist University. In addition, she holds a Master of Nonprofit Management from Regis University.
Ian Firth is well known as a bridge designer responsible for the engineering design of a wide variety of bridges, great and small, around the world. He regularly works in multi-disciplinary teams alongside leading bridge architects, and several of his projects have received high profile design awards. His bridge projects include major large span suspension or cable stayed bridges, as well as more modest but aesthetically interesting and technically challenging pedestrian bridges.
In addition to his design work, Ian has been involved for many years in the assessment, maintenance and upgrading of existing bridges, particularly steel box girder bridges, and he regularly provides specialist advice on long span bridge design and construction. Ian joined Flint & Neill in 1979 after graduating from the University of Bristol in the UK and became a Partner in the firm in 1990. When F&N joined the COWI Group in 2008 Ian became Chief Operating Officer.
He has been for many years an active member of the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering (IABSE) and is Chairman of the British Group of the Association. He is also President of the Institution of Structural Engineers, which he considers to be a great honour.
Ian Firth is a member of the Bridges to Prosperity Board of Directors and Chair of the Bridges to Prosperity UK Charitable Trust.
Jamey Barbas, PE is a Project Director with Louis Berger. A transformative senior executive with a career in bridge design and construction, she has held leadership positions in several international consulting firms. Her industry experience includes leadership of the strategic, operational and technical aspects for the delivery of major structures projects. A registered professional engineer with over 30 years of experience in bridge management, design, construction and inspection, she has special emphasis on complex and long span bridges.
Barbas’ experience includes a number of award winning domestic and international projects. She has led the inspection, design and construction support services for the reconstruction of the Williamsburg Bridge in NYC – one of the largest bridge reconstruction projects ever undertaken in the U.S. – and led the design of the major bridges of the AutoRoute 30 project in Montreal, Canada – one of the largest P3 bridge projects in North America.
Barbas is a graduate of Barnard College and the Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. She has written numerous technical papers and was named by Engineering News Record as one of their top Newsmakers of 2004 for her work in providing an emergency solution to a failing historic suspension bridge.
Ms. Janice L. Tuchman, also known as Jan, serves as Editor-in-Chief of Engineering News-Record (ENR) at Dodge Data & Analytics LLC (formerly, McGraw-Hill Construction Information Group). Ms. Tuchman directs the editorial operations of the Engineering News-Record enterprise—delivering news and analysis online, in print and at events. She works on strategic planning and develops new editorial products, projects and issues. She is active both in the construction industry and publishing associations. She serves as a Trustee of the SMPS Foundation. She was named to the National Research Council’s Board on Infrastructure and the Constructed Environment. She is a Member of the Editorial Committee at American Business Media. She serves on the Industry Advisory Committee of the Department of Civil Engineering at Columbia University.
In 2010, she was inducted into the National Academy of Construction and was appointed to the Industry Leaders Council of the American Society of Civil Engineers. In 2002, she became only the sixth woman to be elected to membership in “The Moles,” a prestigious heavy-construction industry leaders organization. In 2010, she won an award for journalism from the Society of Military Engineers, North Virginia Post. In 2009, she was inducted into the Construction Writers Association Hall of Fame, and the Women Builders Council of New York City selected her as a Champion Award Winner. In 2002, she was named Woman of the Year by the Los Angeles chapter of the Women’s Transportation Society and won a career achievement award from Professional Women in Construction. She has won McGraw-Hill Corporate Achievement Awards for Information Technology and for Editorial Excellence. She received special honor awards from ASBPE. She co-authored a McGraw-Hill book called Exposed Structure in Building Design.
Ms. Tuchman holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degrees in Journalism from the University of Colorado in Boulder.
I grew up in the heartland of America. Despite the scenic vistas of corn and cows as far as the eye could see, I yearned to take in other sights as I set out on my own: filled to the brim with grand, if vague, aspirations for the future.
While at the Colorado School of Mines I stumbled into my first bridge project in my quest to set foot in all corners of the world. Upon completion of this structure, I found myself imbued with a particular sense of purpose after witnessing the tangible way engineering could improve human life. I returned infected with a bug for international development that I could never seem to shake.
In the subsequent years working as a young engineer, I served on the University Program Ambassador team in my spare time before eventually joining the Board of Directors. Whilst I gained insight into the operation, challenges, and opportunities for Bridges as an organization, I also grew increasingly restless from sitting on the sidelines away from the action in the field. So, I did the only logical thing one can do in such a situation: I quit my job, packed up a suitcase, and moved to Panama. Today I happily fight off the scorpions, snakes, and humidity alongside the B2P Panama crew to provide access for isolated communities.
In my free time, I enjoy hacking my way through Spanish, hitting the beach, and taking in a nice dystopian fiction to take my mind off my troubles.
Ken Frantz is the Founder of Bridges to Prosperity. He has been in the construction and development industry for over 40 years, most of which was spent directing the activities of his own firm. Ken has received national and state commendations for construction and scheduling excellence and has served on many boards including the Board of Directors for the Associated Builders and Contractors. He has volunteered tens of thousands of hours to over 20 charitable organizations, from Rotary International to Bridges to Prosperity.
Ken received his undergraduate degree from Washington State University and his master’s degree from Golden Gate University. He enjoys sailing, fishing, hunting, golf, genealogy, and tough logistical challenges. Ken lives with his two boys, daughter, and wife in Yorktown, Virginia. He has donated substantial financial resources, and volunteered almost full-time at Bridges to Prosperity during 2001-2013. Currently, Ken can be found on his new catamaran with his wife Cheri sailing in the Mediterranean, or the Caribbean. Follow his blog here: www.helmsalee.us
Larry Cohen is the Head of Operations and Technology at AB (AllianceBernstein) where he manages the global infrastructure for institutional and retail asset management, private wealth management, and sell-side research and brokerage. Larry created a business-aligned infrastructure model to focus on key business priorities (new investment products and services, acquisitions, client engagement, and expansion to new markets) and enterprise goals (operational excellence, infrastructure innovation, risk management, operating leverage, and talent development). He joined the firm in 2004 as the Chief Technology Officer.
For more than three decades, Larry has been a technology leader in financial services. He has held senior leadership roles at UBS, where he managed technology for equities and enterprise shared services, at Goldman Sachs, where he was the head of technology for private wealth management, and at Morgan Stanley, where he managed technology for asset management, prime brokerage, trading, brokerage operations, correspondent clearing, global networking and telecommunications, and finance. From 1990 to 1993, he worked in Tokyo as the head of technology infrastructure for the Asia-Pacific region.
Larry received an A.B. in Engineering and Applied Sciences from Harvard University. He is a member of the Board of Directors of NYC FIRST, an organization that inspires and engages students in the study of science and technology. He is also a mentor for Columbia University’s Executive Master of Science in Technology Management.
Larry and his wife Tami live in NY and are the proud parents of four adult children.
Lou graduated from the University of Colorado in Economics and Mathematics. After work experience at Kaman Sciences, City of Denver and Hewlett-Packard, she co-founded DRC. That company was sold to H-P after six years. She was then a co-founder of DST, which was sold to Solera in 2013.
On the non-profit front, she was the President of the Friends of the Encinitas, CA, Library during the $25MM, 25K square foot rebuild. Also, she served as the President of the Coastal Community Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity for almost six years.
She and her husband Ray reside in Aspen, CO, where they are re-building a historic house.
Melody Pickett has served as general counsel for Flatiron Construction since 2008. Melody received her law degree from the University of California at Berkeley and has more than 23 years of legal experience in the areas of real estate, construction and general corporate law. Prior to Flatiron, she worked for Sherman & Howard, United Artists Theatres, and Wild Oats Markets.
When she’s not working, Melody enjoys being involved with her family’s sports activities. She is an avid volleyball and softball player and plays golf and disc golf with her husband, Mike, and their children Christopher, 22, and Jamie, 18. She also sings with a gospel group and enjoys playing the piano. If not for her legal pursuits, she might have pursued her childhood dream to become a forest ranger.
She was born in the Philippines but grew up in southern California (Riverside-San Bernardino area) before making her way to Colorado in 1987. She and her family now live in Arvada.