Dan Lester Sr.
Director of Field Diversity, Inclusion and Culture
St. Louis, MO
Ladue Horton Watkins High School
Missouri University of Science & Technology, Business & Management, Information Systems
Minor: Information Science & Technology
Construction Owners Association of America
St. Louis Council of Construction Consumers
(Associate Member, Diversity Committee member, Cultural Competence sub-committee Chair)
American Contract Compliance Association (Member, Master Compliance Administrator certification)
LEAP HR: Construction
Tuskegee University Construction Science and Management Industry Advisory Board
In short, what do you do?
In my role, I work with the entire Clayco enterprise to shift the culture of the construction jobsite through the implementation of innovative programs, inclusive processes, training, and development. One of the most exciting branches of my role is the support from executive leadership to create custom solutions that address the specific goals and objectives of each company through the lenses of diversity and inclusion on the project site. My role affords me the opportunity to interface with our office staff through recruiting, training, development opportunities, and retention efforts.
Tell our readers about your Field Focus program and some of the success stories:
Clayco’s Field Focus program was brought forth as a solution to create a jobsite culture on all projects that celebrates the existing workforce and also supports the future and safety of the construction industry through Training, Retention, Investment, and Promotion (T.R.I.P.). While Field Focus serves everyone on the project, my office places a special emphasis on the growth and development of minorities, women, and apprentices. The collaboration of Clayco field leadership and the risk management, alongside our subcontractor partners use Field Focus to bring awareness to mental health and suicide prevention practices on Clayco's projects - helping to increase worker psychological safety and mitigate risk factors directly tied to the safety and productivity of our most valued assets, construction tradespersons.
One success that sticks out, is a young lady who came to Clayco through an outreach event as a journey-level laborer unable to find sustainable employment. She met our CEO Bob Clark and within a matter of days she was working. In a few short years, she has moved off of her friend’s couch into her own place, purchased a new vehicle, and as a testament to her hard work and dedication has recently been promoted to assistant superintendent.
Much of your duties relate to mentorship of young people. Tell us more about your involvement and affinity for fostering success in the next generation.
My amazing parents W. Frank and Odessa Lester modeled the importance of mentorship, giving, and selflessness for my brothers and me. I am blessed to work in an organization that shares my personal core value of mentorship. When I began my tenure at Clayco, the conversations of what is now called CCDI, Inc. (Construction Career Development Initiative) had just begun. I was able to pair my values and experience as an educator to help develop CCDI. I sit on the executive board and chair the mentorship committee. We currently have 34 high school students being mentored, along with several college and tradespersons being mentored as well. Through the CCDI program, I personally mentor one high school student, and one tradesperson who also attends community college; I also mentor a couple of students in the Brentwood school district. I follow the tutelage of my parents, Dr. Ed Johnson, and Dr. Derrick Wallace, who all set aside time for me as a young man – I currently have several industry mentors like Sandra Marks, Tom Sieckhaus, and Jesse Sanders, to name a few, who all make time to invest in my professional development.
What are your top three most-used apps?
My top three app are the Youversion Bible, LinkedIn, and Asana.