Meet our Board of Directors
The Construction Allies in Action Board of Directors helps guide the organization, as well as the Strong Foundations Program, to help create generational change for underrepresented contractors in Michigan.
Nate was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is one of five siblings – all engaged in social enterprise and community development work in Grand Rapids. Nate has been married to his lovely wife for 10 years and has four children ages 13, 7, 4, and 1.
As CEO of Building Bridges Professional Services and Rising Grinds Cafe, two social enterprises a part of the Grand Rapids Center for Community Transformation network, his role is to be the visionary and drive results through leadership development, key stakeholder engagement, and new business development. Nate is passionate about developing and providing opportunities to indigenous entrepreneurs and incubating and operating transformational businesses that seek impact outside of just profits. Nate also serves as co-chairman of the West Michigan Minority Contractors Association where he advocates for equity and diversity in the construction industry across West Michigan.
In Steve Huizinga’s youth, he was known primarily as the son of the founder of one of Michigan’s leading mechanical contractors. He began working in the family business at the age of 13 but deeply struggled to find his place. He found it eventually, but it came after years of stumbling through addiction and the legal system, working through sobriety and recovery, and learning to live by more sustaining principles of life: how to admit struggle and weakness, ask for help, and that true strength comes from humbling ourselves and admitting our failures.
His career in leadership grew quickly on this foundation, and his passion for building up woman- and minority-owned businesses led him to Freedom Construction, where he is committed to changing people’s lives through employment with empathy.
Steve Huizinga is a recognized leader in both the construction industry and the diversity and inclusion space, directing over 350 employees and four subsidiaries in his previous role as president of Allied Mechanical, one of Michigan’s largest mechanical contracting firms. During his 30+ year history in commercial and industrial construction, he has also served on the board of directors for the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, West Michigan Construction Institute, and Associated Builders and Contractors Western Michigan—the latter of which conferred him the National Diversity Excellence Award in 2019.
Jason is an experienced coach, mentor, and consultant in the construction, design, and real estate industries in Metro Detroit for the past 35 years. Starting off as a sales and marketing director for 20 years in the family business, in the early 2000s, Jason supported the $1.2 billion Wastewater System Upgrade project (PC744). They were awarded $3.6 million for his role in project management to maintain clean drinking water for The City of Detroit. Upon the downturn of construction projects during The Great Recession of 2008, Jason transitioned into association management, organizing more than 10 member-based, nonprofit organizations, offering: professional, industry networking; small, minority business advocacy for obtaining and maintaining government contracts, sponsoring, and fundraising for related youth programming as well as campaigning for economic equity for minorities in the architecture, construction, and engineering (ACE) sectors.
Tom Cizauskas is the Purchasing Manager for the Gerald R. Ford International Airport Authority. He is charged with ensuring all procurement activities comply with professional codes of ethics as well as established Authority policies and procedures. He manages procurement operations associated with the Airport’s vehicle fleet and oversees all Authority purchases of goods and services. In the 5 years Tom has been with the Authority, he has streamlined the procurement process by creating guidelines and facilitating the bidding process in-house, saving time and money. Tom also created the Authority’s Vendor Equality/Inclusion Policy and guarantees its compliance. Prior to Tom joining the GFIAA team, he rose up the ranks in the purchasing division of the County of Kent where he gathered much hands-on experience. Tom earned his MBA from Cornerstone University and holds a B.S. in History from Grand Valley State University.
Terrell is the owner of Modern Fire and Security Services, a low-voltage fire and security solutions company located in Grand Rapids.
James Peacock III
James Peacock III is a Grand Rapids, MI native who is passionate about his community. In September 2021, James began his work with Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., as the Economic Opportunity Organizer. In this role, James is essential in leading the workforce development strategies for the Lyon Square project. He is a champion for diversity of people and thoughts.
Outside of his day job, James is the Founder of Grand Rapids Community Work, a local nonprofit committed to making sure men in the community have resources and everyday opportunities. James also enjoys spending time with his kids, puppy, and beautiful wife, Janielle.
Courtney Howe is the President of The Yellow Umbrella Creative, a Grand Rapids-based website design and marketing agency that specializes in serving the small business community in West Michigan and beyond. She is passionate about empowering women, the LGBTQ+ community, and all underrepresented groups to grow their businesses through organic marketing practices and meaningful connections.
Elizabeth Bovard Strong
Elizabeth Bovard Strong is the Executive Vice President of the Builders Exchange of Michigan, a construction association and online plan room that connects its members to projects and other contractors to establish strong relationships within the construction community. She is a problem solver with a wide range of experience managing people, projects, and products. Elizabeth is passionate about creating generational change for underrepresented contractors within the construction industry through actionable items and transparency. She places high importance on giving back to the community, by donating proceeds from events to impactful local organizations like Guiding Light, Mel Trotter Ministries, and The Deborah House.