A jury of previous Outstanding Mentor award winners selected five exceptional mentors as 2020 ENR—ACE Outstanding Mentors. Their contributions to students, fellow mentors, and affiliates epitomize the dedication and effectiveness of ACE’s over 4,100 mentors. Each of their affiliates has received a student scholarship to be named after them. Engineering News-Record and its parent company BNP Media generously support this program.


Daniel Blaise, PMP, LEED AP

Washington, DC | Senior Project Manager, Smoot Construction

Since 2014 Daniel has been the Washington, DC affiliate’s “go-to” mentor to start a new team or help a struggling site.  After several start-ups, he was tapped in 2019 to lead a new team at a non-traditional public charter school that seeks to re-engage high school students aged 16-24 years, through non-traditional educational opportunities. Students earn a GED and training in various trades, plus various certifications.  Daniel successfully adapted the regular ACE program to suit student interests and needs, and credits ACE Mentor program with helping to secure full-time employment for several students.



Alex Buscher, EIT

Houston, TX | Senior Project Engineer, DPR Construction

An alumnus of the Central Iowa affiliate, Alex now mentors for the Houston affiliate and this year stepped up to lead the affiliate’s largest team. As a founding member of Houston’s Associates Board, he helped overhaul the affiliate’s curriculum. After mastering Procore’s Brick by Brick module, Alex is now training other teams how to use it. To deepen students’ interest in the industry, he has helped students obtain internships, particularly at his firm.




Jeffrey Messinger, PE, LEED AP BD+C

New York, NY | Vice President, STV Group

During his 17 years as mentor and team leader for the Greater New York affiliate, Jeffrey has impacted 400-500 students.  Two of his former students have joined his team as mentors, including one alumna who co-leads the team with him.  His students and fellow mentors appreciate his broad knowledge of the design and construction industry and ability to explain complex concepts.  Many students ask Jeffrey to write recommendations and then stay in touch  for advice and assistance with internships and jobs.



Kate Dunfee, AIA, RID

Fort Worth, TX | Project Architect, Huckabee

Kate is largely responsible for reviving the Fort Worth program of the Dallas/Fort Worth affiliate. Near collapse in 2017 when Kate took it over, the 20-session program now attracts more than 30 students and awards $30,000 in scholarships. The final design projects created by Kate and her fellow mentors have attracted the interest and involvement of the City Council and a local economic development group.




Amanda Shade, CEM

Los Angeles, CA | Senior Project Manager, ACCO Engineered Systems

Amanda has mentored for 13 years, first in San Diego and since 2010 with the Los Angeles/Orange County affiliate. In addition to inspiring students to pursue industry-related majors in college, she organizes field trips promoting skilled trades careers. With a mechanical engineering background, she created two MEP activities utilized by several affiliate teams. Amanda serves on the affiliate’s board of directors and co-chaired its 2020 sold-out fundraiser, which raised over $200,000.



Holly Snow, LEED Green Associate

Portland, OR | Estimating Manager, JE Dunn Construction

A mentor for the Portland, OR affiliate starting in 2015, Holly became a team leader in 2017. In 2019 at the request of several students, she organized and led the affiliate’s first team to enter the CIRT National Design and Construction Competition. As a member of affiliate’s board and scholarship committee, Holly advocates for underserved and minority students. At her firm she recruits mentors for ACE, especially women, and also supervises ACE students who intern there.