Ávila Leading Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

WSP USA engineer brings more than two decades of transportation experience, community involvement, as chairman of statewide business organization.

Marco V. Ávila, P.E., a project manager and senior supervising engineer in the Baltimore office at WSP USA, was recently named chairman of the Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (MDHCC).

“In my new role, I am very excited to be able to create new programs that will make a difference in the Hispanic small business community,” Ávila said. “With the help of our new board of directors, I intend to focus on keeping our members beyond satisfied and introduce new programs that can benefit our members … small minority businesses.”

For more than 30 years, the Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has promoted the establishment, growth, prosperity and retention of Hispanic businesses across the state.

Since assuming the role as the Chamber’s chairman earlier this year, Ávila has been busy with expanding the organization and its influence, including a goal of increasing its membership from 274 to 1,000 members over the next three years.

As part of his duties as chairman, he was the featured guest speaker for the Maryland Department of Transportation’s National Hispanic Heritage Month observance, “Hispanic Americans: A History of Serving Our Nation” on Sept. 16.

Ávila also founded the new Maryland Hispanic Chamber Foundation (MDHCF), which will provide annual scholarships to Hispanic students in high school, college, trade schools and in support of humanitarian projects.

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©2019 PHOTO COURTESY OF MDHCC

Marco V. Ávila, P.E. (fifth from left) hosted the MDHCC Legislative Reception in April. It was his first speaking engagement as the organization’s chairman.

Promoting Diversity

Ávila said that his transportation work has given him valuable experience that is an asset to his leadership role with the statewide organization.

“Working at WSP for over 21 years, as well as getting involved with many committees, helped me gain experience in the industry, collaborate with people, learn to be a good manager, a good listener and address the issues,” he said.

Ávila serves as program staff in a variety of roles on several mega projects for WSP, including:

  • Purple Line Light Rail Transit Project. WSP serves as program management consultant for a $5.6 billion, 16-mile light rail project north of Washington, D.C. It is the second public-private partnership (P3)-funded transit project in the U.S.
  • The Interstate 495/Interstate 270 P3 Project. WSP is working with the Maryland Department of Transportation on a $9-$11 billion project to upgrade more than 70 miles of highway along Washington D.C.’s notoriously congested Capital Beltway.
  • Harry Nice Bridge Replacement. WSP is the general engineering consultant (GEC) on behalf of the Maryland Transportation Authority for the replacement of a 75-year-old, two-lane bridge crossing the Potomac River between Maryland and Virginia. Work on the $765 million 1.7-mile, four-lane replacement is expected to begin in 2020.
  • The Intercounty Connector (MD State Route 200). WSP in joint venture, provided GEC services to the Maryland State Highway Administration for an 18-mile east-west tolled highway north of Washington, D.C. completed in 2014.
  • Interstate 95 (I-95) Express Toll Lanes. Located north of Baltimore City, it was the second all-electronic toll facility in Maryland when it opened in 2015, bringing traffic relief to one of the most congested portions of I-95.

Beyond the transportation projects, Ávila is proud to be involved in initiatives at WSP that promote diversity. Once of those recent events was a roundtable, where WSP staff from several ethnic backgrounds was invited to come together and share their professional stories.

“At WSP we deeply emphasize diversity and inclusion,” Ávila said. “We take this very seriously to make sure we have diverse teams working together on our projects.”

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©PHOTO COURTESY OF MARCO ÁVILA

Marco V. Ávila, P.E. (right side, next to banner) is the CEO and co-founder of The Healing Hands Foundation, which leads two medical missions per year to countries like Ecuador and Guatemala.

The Healing Hands Foundation

Ávila was born and raised in Quito, Ecuador, but said his family roots extend to La Madre Patria, Spain. He is a graduate of the New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Newark College of Engineers with a civil engineering technology degree.

With a personal and professional journey that led from South America to the Northeastern U.S., the opportunity to help promote and encourage others who share a similar heritage has long been an important endeavor for him.

He also organizes two medical missions every year through The Healing Hands Foundation, an organization that he co-founded and currently serves as its CEO. The mission of Healing Hands is to provide free surgeries and dental work to children in need around the world. He donates his vacation time to participate in these missions.

Ávila also serves on the board of the Engineering Society of Baltimore and is a past president of the organization. He is a mentor for Baltimore-area high school students, encouraging them to stay in school. He runs an annual Engineer’s Week event for high school kids interested in an engineering career.

In addition to his work with the chamber, he has been involved in several leadership roles for other industry organizations, including a past president for the Chesapeake section of the American Society of Highway Engineers, past president of the Engineers Club of Baltimore, and a current committee chair for the Maryland chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies.

“These contributions have all helped me gain experience that is helping me serve the MDHCC,” Ávila said. “I have been grateful for the industry opportunities I have had, and that I have had been able to give back to our industry in every way possible.”

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