UK Happenings

UK Hosts Construction Diversity Accelerator Program

The CDA program is designed to help minority-owned, women-owned and other underrepresented construction-related businesses.
CDA 2022 QR code

LEXINGTON Ky. (Dec. 14, 2021) — The University of Kentucky, in partnership with Turner Construction, will be hosting its inaugural Construction Diversity Accelerator (CDA) program, in person for the 2022 season. Classes will be held in the Gatton Student Center beginning March 8.

The CDA program is designed to help minority-owned, women-owned and other underrepresented construction-related businesses gain access to the tools, resources and opportunities to be competitive in the construction industry.

"The University of Kentucky is constantly adding new buildings or renovating existing structures on campus; therefore, we always have a need for various construction trades. Increasing our pool of diverse suppliers creates more competition and innovation and spurs our local economy. We want to be intentional in creating opportunities for inclusion on construction projects at UK, but we also want to mentor diverse suppliers to find opportunities with other community partners like the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government and Fayette County Public Schools. We are excited to partner with Turner and with the Kentucky Procurement Technical Assistance Center (KYPTAC) to bring a holistic approach to the accelerator program," said Marilyn Clark, the supplier diversity manager for UK.

The CDA program is 10 weeks and will cover important topics like safety, site logistics, insurance and bonding, contracts, subcontracting, construction drawings and specifications, estimating, scheduling, bid and proposal preparation, construction accounting, certification and more. The program culminates in a mock bid project that calls on teams to present their proposals in front of a panel of expert judges. This weekly program will help businesses gain hands-on, experiential learning.

“Turner is thrilled to partner with the University of Kentucky to bring this program to the Central Kentucky area. Our company has been committed to engaging with and supporting the development of underrepresented businesses in our communities for decades and this program serves as an extension of that commitment. We understand that to achieve greater equity and inclusion within our industry, we must proactively create opportunities for underrepresented firms to grow their businesses. We applaud Marilyn and her team for helping to activate our shared vision of creating a more intentionally inclusive economic ecosystem,” said Kristen Smitherman-Voltaire, community and citizenship manager at Turner.

The application deadline for the 2022 program is 5 p.m. EST Friday, Feb. 1, 2022. The application can be found here To ensure those participating have a successful CDA program, only 15 companies will be accepted for the 2022 season.

The Kentucky Procurement Technical Assistance Center will be the resource partner for the businesses enrolled in the CDA. Counselors will assist suppliers with certifications, capability statements and individual coaching. Businesses who are not admitted into the program can also sign up to become a client with KYPTAC to develop their business further and apply again next year.

“Our partnership with UK and Turner Construction aims to foster an inclusive and collaborative environment where our teams, clients, and community members can participate and work together to increase equity and diversity in contracting.” said Nancy Brown, executive director of Kentucky Procurement Technical Assistance Center (KYPTAC). 

KYPTAC, an initiative of the Kentucky Science and Technology Corporation (KSTC), promotes economic development and private sector business growth by providing free assistance to companies interested in providing products or services to federal, state and local governments and large primes, which annually offer billions of dollars in contracts to private sector companies.

About Turner Construction

Turner Construction is one of the largest construction companies in the country with regional offices in Lexington, Louisville and Cincinnati. The Construction Diversity Accelerator is based on the company’s acclaimed Turner School of Construction Management program, which is the oldest community outreach program in Turner’s history. It was initiated in 1969, one year after their Affirmative Action Department was created, and soon became an opportunity to develop strategic business relationships with minority and women owned firms. Since then, Turner has provided a training course for minority and women business owners in the disciplines practiced in the construction industry. 

The program is held in multiple markets free of charge to participants, utilizing Turner staff.

Turner contacts are Kristen Smitherman-Voltaire, community and citizenship manager — Southwest Ohio and Kentucky, and David Opalka, project executive — Kentucky market leader.

Turner Construction is a proud recipient of the 2020 Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council Corporation of the Year Award, the 2021 CLIMB Award for Creating Economic Inclusion with Intention and, for the sixth year in a row, is the only construction company that achieved a perfect score of 100% on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, designating us as a “Best Place to Work for LGBTQ Equality”.

Find opportunities with UK here:

Learn more about Turner here.

Learn more about KYPTAC consulting and training events at

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.