By Jessica Bonin

“Emerging Professional” is a term that is today, spoken frequently in the COAA organization. While it’s still relatively new, the term and the Emerging Professionals Committee are becoming more popular and gaining momentum. So, who is an Emerging Professional? How did the committee come to be? And lastly, but most importantly, what do we want to be when we grow up? 

An Emerging Professional (EP) is defined by COAA as an Owner, builder, designer or other industry stakeholder age 35 or younger. While EP’s are still early in their careers, it is a group of industry professionals who are passionate about creating good owners and partners, developing and engaging other EP’s around them and identifying the next generation of leaders. 

What’s now known as the Emerging Professional Task Force started in the Spring of 2016, as a subgroup of the Membership Committee, meeting regularly to brainstorm how to identify emerging professionals in current member organizations and what benefits could be provided to get them interested and engaged in COAA. 

Member organizations had EP’s in their organizations, so why were they not involved with COAA? After several months of outreach, the task force started to gain momentum and we needed to find ways to recruit even more of our peers. COAA started providing discounts for Emerging Professionals and we wrote transcripts on “how to convince your boss to let you come to COAA.” 

The group was finally taking off and in 2017 the Emerging Professional Task Force formed its first Charter. Fast forward to 2019, the Emerging Professional Task Force, became its own Committee with members who are on the COAA Board, in leadership positions at the Chapter level, and involved with other COAA committees. 


Who Do We Want To Be When We Grow Up? 

Emerging Professionals want to be the next generation of good owners and associates. The Committee wants to continue to grow and provide training, education and networking opportunities for peers who are early in their career. The Committee is growing through local chapters as well as at a national level. This fall, presentations will be given by Emerging Professionals at the Texas Chapter and Maryland/DC Chapter workshops. 

Additionally, the EP’s are focused on succession planning – students still in college – and talking to them about opportunities to be an Owner.  

Lastly, this fall, at the National Conference in Atlanta, we will present the first Emerging Professional Award for Excellence to recognize an EP who demonstrates outstanding service to the COAA organization and exemplifies The COAA Way. 

The Emerging Professional Committee has made great strides in a few short years, but we are not stopping here. COAA and the EP Committee continue to recognize the importance of investing in the future for Owners and we want to continue to grow EP membership involvement for the next generation of COAA leaders.


Jessica is a Manager of Business Development for Holder Construction, a national construction services firm with experience all over the country and offices in Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Denver, Phoenix, San Jose and Washington, D.C. Holder is consistently ranked by ENR (Engineering News-Record) as one of the nation’s leading contractors in construction management.

Jessica started her career at Holder in 2010, in the Mid-Atlantic region, and became involved in the Maryland/DC Chapter of COAA. Since 2010, she has served on the Executive Leadership Committee of the Maryland/DC Chapter helping to organize workshops, send marketing emails and increase membership. In 2015, Jessica relocated to Holder’s Dallas, Texas office and became involved in the Texas Chapter of COAA. Having a passion for emerging professionals, teaching them about the benefits of COAA and increasing COAA’s membership, she became the Chair of the Young Professionals Task Force (now Emerging Professionals Committee) for COAA in 2017.