The Big Pitch

Taking the MERGE Theme to the Next Level!

The Big PitchJoin us at NERC 2018 for The Big Pitch – swing for the fences and your idea could be the next big thing! This pilot program, which is inspired by the hit television show Shark Tank™, offers conference attendees a chance to tap into their creativity and invent an idea, product, or service to pitch to our panel of “Big Hitters”! Whether you’re brand new to the industry or can recite the six Domains of Practice backwards in your sleep, this first of its kind experience for SMPS is for you.

Interested participants can either work solo or be assigned to a team. One month before the conference, participants will begin brainstorming, giving everyone ample time to perfect your pitch, as well as get to know your teammates.

We’ll have an in-person meet up at the Four Seasons conference hotel on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 21 – allowing for final program review, team meetings, and extra practice time, if needed. From there, you will embark on your NERC 2018 journey, attending the dynamic program sessions and special events throughout the next three days in Baltimore’s Scenic Inner Harbor.

On the final day of the conference, teams will take the stage to pitch their ideas to our distinguished panel of Big Hitters and all conference attendees. The panel will determine the most standout idea during the closing MERGE Moment, and the winner(s) will be announced afterwards during the conference close-out.

Walk away with bragging rights, new connections, new insight, and an unforgettable adventure in this brand new immersive experience – as well as free registration to the 2019 NERC!

We are looking for interested participants at this time. Please fill out this survey by February 9th if you are interested. We will follow up with an email detailing our kickoff webinar, scheduled for February 15th, where more information will be given. Then you can let us know if you are definitely in (and we hope you are) by February 19th!

Benefits of the Program

  • Get your million-dollar idea heard in front of highly experienced and successful “Big Hitters” and 300+ AEC marketers
  • Unique networking opportunity
  • Get insight into different regions, roles, and disciplines
  • Goes beyond the traditional conference experience
  • Build long-term relationships with your team
  • Pass along new ideas to SMPS and the AEC industry as a whole
  • Go down in history as one of the first participants of The Big Pitch!

PrizeS & The Ultimate Goal

While we sadly can’t give you hundreds of thousands of dollars to make your idea come to life at this conference, winners will receive free registration to the 2019 NERC! Our ultimate goal is for this idea to take off and become so big that we can award the winning idea with a Kickstarter campaign. Register for the kick-off webinar now to be a part of making this dream a reality!


Free! There is no additional conference charge to be part of this program.


The Big Pitch will be hosted by Jessica Gillette and Susan Dawson from the SMPS DC chapter. They will be available for any questions while you are putting your pitch together leading up to the conference.

Jessica GilletteJessica is a Marketing Coordinator for christopher consultants in Fairfax, VA. She plays a key part in strategizing the firm’s efforts for all communications, and also leads all marketing and business development efforts for the firm’s partner company, UPI. The Big Pitch has been her brain child since early 2016, and she’s excited to see it come to life!

Susan DawsonSusan is a Marketing Manager for GHT Limited in Arlington, VA, leading all marketing, PR, and communication efforts. She is a LEED Accredited Professional with a specialty designation in Building Design + Construction and comes with nearly ten years of marketing experience in the AEC industry. She’s looking forward to co-hosting this unique conference program and hearing everyone’s innovative ideas!

Meet the Big Hitters!

Heather DavisHeather Davis, PHR, SHRM-CP is the Director of Change Management + Employee Experience at KGO Project Management in Washington, DC. She obtained her M.A. in Interior Design from Corcoran College of Art + Design and her B.A. in Growth and Structure of Cities from Bryn Mawr College, and she graduated from SMPS U in 2015. Heather is a member of the SMPS DC Chapter.

Casey RhoadsCasey Rhoads is Vice President and Account Director at TBC, Inc. As a seasoned advertising professional with over 15 years in the industry, Casey has managed the strategic development and efficient execution of both brand and direct response campaigns for clients such as MileOne AutoGroup, Visit Baltimore, University of Maryland University College, WGL, Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort, Penn National Gaming, Hard Rock Casinos, Ventev, and Lincoln Financial Group.

Lauren YoungLauren Young, Senior Associate and head of business development for BKV Group’s Washington, DC office, has more than 20 years of experience in business development, marketing, and strategic planning in the AEC industry. Lauren is an active member of SMPS DC and was the recipient of the 2016 SMPS DC Ginny Solomon Golden Tuba Award. She was instrumental in transforming BKV Group’s new office into a 30-person, multi-disciplined studio.