Colvin Institute's Webinar Series: Engineering Equity from the Ground Up

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Leadership In Engineering Equitable Participation

On March 16th, presenters Alan Dones and Ana McPhail  introduced the audience to The LEEP Initiative and was followed by a Q&A. 

The LEEP Initiative is a nonprofit aiming to build a better world through equitable, community-oriented, and socially responsible development. The certification process is modeled after the environmental-sustainability framework LEED, and ensures that developers meaningfully engage the community. From the design and pre-conception phase through the end-use of a development all stakeholders are involved and have decision-making power, making sure that the social and economic benefits are more equitably distributed to everyone.

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For questions regarding the webinar, please contact Carrie Chard at


Alan Dones
Alan E. Dones
Managing Partner, Strategic Urban Development Alliance, LLC

Alan E. Dones is a licensed engineering construction contractor, a long-time entrepreneur, an outspoken advocate of equal opportunity in employment and contracting, and an accomplished musician/composer/producer. Alan is Managing Partner and co-founder of Strategic Urban Development Alliance, LLC (SUDA), a firm specializing in large-scale, innovative, public agency projects and mixed-use development. Alan and SUDA have completed several landmark projects in Oakland, CA and are currently involved in the development of approximately 3 million square feet of projects around the City.

As an outspoken advocate for equitable real estate land use, Alan is often called upon as a guest lecturer/speaker on the subject at Stanford University, and UC Berkeley.  He serves on a number of Boards of local, national, and international organizations and has worked with agencies throughout the United States to revise and enhance their small business policies. He currently serves on the Boards of the Vatican’s Justice & Peace Foundation, Oakland Private Industry Council, and the Ghana National Museum on Slavery and Freedom.

Alan has previously served on the Board of the Minority Business Enterprise Legal Defense and Education Fund (MBELDEF), the City of Oakland’s Workforce Investment Board, the Board of the Oakland Chamber Of Commerce, the Board of the Alameda County Health Care Foundation, as past president of the Northern California Chapter of the National Association of Minority Contractors, Board of the East Bay Conversion and Reinvestment Commission, and, as former vice-chairman of the Oakland City Charter Commission.

Alan is actively involved in economic development on the African continent and, among other roles, currently serves in strategic partnerships with the Government of Ghana and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

As a member of the (Military) Conversion and Reinvestment Commission, Alan was instrumental in promoting legislation and drafting revisions to the language of the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) that enhanced the ability of Women and Minority owned firms to compete for Department of Defense and conversion related contracts.

In 1988, Alan Dones co-founded and served as CEO of Rondeau Bay Construction, Inc. (RBC), an engineering and construction firm based in Oakland, CA. Under his leadership, RBC grew to include offices in five major U.S. cities and completed over $70 million of construction projects.

Alan has authored several articles on minority business issues in local and National publications.  He has co-authored a measure on the 1996 ballot in Oakland (California) to amend Oakland’s City Charter mandating Affirmative Action programs, combating disparities in City employment and contracting.  This initiative had national significance in that it is one of the first voter responses to counter the impact of the controversial anti-affirmative action California Civil Right Initiative (CCRI).

Alan is a licensed electrician, studied business administration at San Jose State University, and has worked his way up through the various echelons of the construction industry to lead major development projects from concept to implementation. Throughout his career as a musician, construction workers, entrepreneur, and community advocacy, Alan has specialized in deploying state-of-the-art technologies, innovative financial structures, and the strategic leveraging of public-policy and processes to bridge traditional barriers to market entry.




Ana McPhailDr. Ana McPhail, PhD,
Executive Director, Leadership in Engineering Equitable Participation (LEEP)

Dr. Ana McPhail is the executive director of the Leadership in Engineering Equitable Participation (LEEP) Initiative, a nonprofit aiming to build a better world through socially and economically equitable and community-oriented real estate development. Through LEEP best practices and certification, all stakeholders are involved throughout the real estate development process, from the initial design and pre-conception phase through the end-use of a development, making sure that the social and economic benefits are more equitably distributed to everyone. 

An experienced scientific researcher, engineer, consultant, and strategist, Dr. McPhail partners with individuals and organizations in the creation, development, implementation, and management of ESG-focused (Environmental, Social and Governance) projects, businesses, and investments. She provides guidance and insightful context in the fast-growing yet niche areas of sustainable investments and equitable market solutions using interdisciplinary approaches in business management and operational processes. Her current interest areas include impact investing for community benefit, socially responsible business practices, and management strategies for consistent and equitable outcomes.

Throughout her career, Dr. McPhail has worked with large and small research institutes, universities, municipalities, policy makers, and other energy and environmental stakeholders to draft and develop comprehensive research, technical reports, financial strategies, and investment guidance with insights and understanding of environmental, social equity, and energy focused considerations. She assists in creating or redesigning non-profits or private sector entities that benefit from integrating the triple bottom line (people, planet, profit) with key components from engineering, environmental, economic, and human capital sectors. Some of her more recent work included investment fiduciary reviews for socially responsible investments, and drafting sociodemographic equity policy summaries for state-wide clean energy transitions via decarbonization. She has presented or worked with local, county, state, and federal legislative bodies and their respective agencies on a variety of topics within the environmental engineering, socially equitable development, and education spaces.

Dr. McPhail earned her PhD in Environmental Engineering from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Rice University, where her dissertation research focused on the environmental and economic impacts of waste-to-energy technologies. She earned her BSE in Chemical Engineering and Masters in Environmental Engineering, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Dr. McPhail is a Ford Foundation fellow, US EPA Science to Achieve Results Fellow, Clare Booth Foundation fellow, and a Joseph B. and Florence V. Cejka Scholar. She currently holds her accredited investment fiduciary designation through Fi360, and has previously held Financial Industry Regulatory Authority security licenses.

Currently, she is vice president of the board for Families of Color Seattle, a nonprofit focused on the social networking and community needs for all families of color through community building and parenting resource sharing. She also serves as chair of the equity and inclusion committee of her child’s school, and is the president of the board of her local homeowner’s association. Previously, she served on the board of Acta Non Verba, a local Oakland, CA based youth farm project focused on fresh, healthy food options and economic independence for inner city families.

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