BJC's Charles Henson Headlines Diversity Event
Kathy Bretsch
/ Categories: Campus Renewal Refresh
Dec 2023

BJC's Charles Henson Headlines Diversity Event

November 2023 - A story of persistence, fortitude and determination captivated an audience of several hundred as Charles Henson, BJC senior manager of diversity for Planning, Design & Construction (PD&C), recalled his early career challenges during a keynote speech at MOKAN’s 49th Anniversary and Annual Awards dinner on November 17.

MOKAN’s annual event recognizes individuals and organizations who work to expand diversity and inclusion in the construction industry. Henson was asked to address industry leaders, small business owners and awardees, which included The Cordish Companies and St. Louis Cardinals, Hillsdale Demolition Contracting, LLC, and Enterprise Bank & Trust and Lindell Bank. BJC PD&C was one of the event sponsors.

Yaphett El-Amin, MOKAN executive director, says, “These honorees embody the mission and values of MOKAN especially in the area of dedication and commitment to diversity in the workplace and inclusion of MBE/WBE businesses.”

Henson’s recalled that when he graduated from Washington University with a degree in architecture, he had entered a field in which very few people looked like him and mentors were hard to come by. His career path included a variety of roles from architect and project manager to business owner and project director for the Minority Business Development Agency. His passion to realize equity in the planning, design and construction industry landed him at BJC in 2017.

While the design industry has diversified tremendously since the 1980s, he sees parallels of his own path with the construction industry today. He credits BJC and its work with organizations such as MOKAN as being catalysts in the education and growth of businesses owned by minorities and women, as well as the construction workforce.

“BJC relies on the expertise of union trades men and women in constructing, renovating and maintaining all of our facilities,” says Henson. “We have a duty to support the efforts of MOKAN, including its 10-week pre-apprenticeship program that provides comprehensive training to minorities, women and others.”

Mike Hayes, BJC vice president of PD&C, says, “I think Charles truly inspired everyone in the room to renew their commitment to developing and helping one another to succeed, whether as a small or large business or consumer of design and construction services, such as BJC.”