Awarding Pioneers

We identify those who share our passion for innovation.

The Ellipse Award, founded in 2007, is bestowed annually to a community member who has improved the quality of life through pioneering or innovative approaches to civil infrastructure development or redevelopment. Infrastructure design directly impacts how a society operates through everyday structures and facilities.

2020 Recipient: 

Norman Mineta, former U.S. Secretary of Commerce and U.S. Secretary of Transportation

Mr. Mineta was appointed Secretary of Commerce by President Bill Clinton in 2000. During that time, he was known for his work on technology issues, achieving international cooperation and intergovernmental coordination on complex fisheries issues and for streamlining the patent and trademark process. In 2001, President George W. Bush appointed Mineta Secretary of Transportation, where he served until 2006. Following the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, he guided the creation of the Transportation Security Administration. 

2019 Recipient: 

Bill Shuster, former Congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives 

As a congressman serving Pennsylvania’s 9th district from 2001-2018, Mr. Shuster recognized the direct link between America’s infrastructure and the strength of our economy. He immediately sought to serve on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and became Chairman of that Committee in 2013. Mr. Shuster spearheaded laws for much of our nation’s infrastructure, including the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act, the Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act, the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 and multiple Water Resources Developments Acts and authorizations of the United States Coast Guard. 

2018 Recipient: 

Dana Redd, former Mayor of Camden, NJ

As Mayor for two terms, Ms. Redd was the catalyst for the ongoing revitalization in the City of Camden. This included a developmental resurgence with billions of dollars in public and private investment, a construction boom brought on by companies moving from the suburbs, massive developer projects, and expansions by longtime institutions Cooper University Health Care and Rutgers University. During her tenure as mayor, a specific focus was placed on new development throughout all Camden neighborhoods and the continued redevelopment of the Camden Waterfront, which is now home to a mix of companies in various industries.

2017 Recipient:

John Grady, President & CEO, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC) 

Mr. Grady is responsible for the PIDC’s efforts to develop and implement collaborative strategies designed to drive economic growth to every corner of Philadelphia. He leads the efforts to strengthen relationships with the public, private, and philanthropic sectors to deliver capital to growing businesses, promote investment, and energize the development of the city’s workplaces of the future. Mr. Grady joined PIDC in 1998 and has been its President since 2011 after serving in a variety of senior leadership positions, including overseeing PIDC’s city-wide real estate development activity and its acquisition and redevelopment of The Navy Yard.

2016 Recipient: 

American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), Report Card on America’s Infrastructure

ASCE stands at the forefront of a profession that plans, designs, constructs, and operates society’s economic and social engine while protecting and restoring the natural environment. Every four years, civil engineers provide a comprehensive assessment of the nation’s major infrastructure in ASCE’s Report Card. Since 1998, the grades have been near failing, due to delayed maintenance and underinvestment across most categories.

Thanks to the ASCE’s 2013 Report Card, conversations on infrastructure were placed at the forefront of national debates in 2016, highlighting the critical impact that our infrastructure systems have on the health, safety, and quality of life enjoyed by all Americans.

2015 Recipient: 

Ray LaHood, former U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary

Secretary LaHood served as the 16th Department of Transportation Secretary from 2009 to 2013. His tenure was marked by landmark efforts to improve safety in every mode of transportation, from aviation and rail to pipelines and automobiles. Under his leadership, improvements to America’s infrastructure included building or replacing 350,000 miles of highway, repairing 20,000 bridges and renewing or constructing 6,000 miles of rail track. Secretary LaHood also achieved more stringent fuel efficiency requirements from automakers, took steps to address airline pilot fatigue and turned the problem of distracted driving into a national concern.

2014 Recipient: 

Gerard H. Sweeney, President & CEO and Trustee of Brandywine Realty Trust

Mr. Sweeney has served as President, CEO, and Trustee of the company since 1994 and as President since 1988. He has overseen the growth of Brandywine to over 33 million square feet and a total market capitalization of approximately $4.6 billion. The local infrastructure surrounding their projects is improved each time Brandywine completes one of their signature buildings. Brandywine has made a company-wide commitment to create and maintain sustainable environments for their stakeholders. Brandywine is helping to lead the revitalization and professional repopulation of Philadelphia’s urban areas, while leveraging Philadelphia’s transit resources leading to greater density, walkability, and vibrancy in the areas surrounding local rail hubs.

2013 Recipient: 

Bud Shuster, M.C. (Ret.), former Congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives 

As a congressman serving Pennsylvania’s 9th district from 1973-2001, America’s infrastructure was of paramount concern to Mr. Shuster, and PA’s infrastructure has him to thank for the funding of numerous projects that improved the flow of commerce across the state, including Interstate 99. He was the principal author of much of the transportation, infrastructure, and economic development legislation during his terms, including the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century and the Aviation Trust Fund. These historic pieces of legislation unlocked the federal transportation trust funds to improve America’s transportation systems, as well as the Everglades Restoration Project, the largest environmental restoration project in history.


2012 Recipient: 

Walter D’Alessio, Principal of NorthMarq Advisors

Mr. D’Alessio has over 45 years’ experience in planning, developing, financing, and managing major real estate projects in Philadelphia. Mr. D’Alessio can be credited with helping shape some of the most notable and influential developments in the City including The Gallery at Market East, Franklin Town, Society Hill, and Independence Mall. He has worked to keep universities growing in the City versus moving to the suburbs. Infrastructure was a clear winner as a result of Walt’s success. From the Commuter Rail Tunnel at Market Street East to the transformation of the Navy Yard into a thriving business center, the progress that Walt championed during his career has led to the development and redevelopment of hundreds of millions of dollars in civil infrastructure.

2011 Recipient: 

Denis P. O’Brien, Advisor to the CEO

Under Mr. O’Brien’s leadership as former Senior Executive VP of Exelon Corporation, and President and CEO of PECO, the company launched PECO Smart Ideas, a suite of energy efficiency programs which has saved customers more than $199 million in energy costs. This energy savings has the same environmental impact as reducing driving by about 457 million miles or planting nearly 440,000 trees. The company also launched an initiative to preserve the environment through the greening of its own operations which includes installation of a green roof, new LED Crown Lights system, and transitioning the company’s fleet of vehicles to include hybrid, bio-diesel and electric vehicles. The company has received LEED certification for 5 of its buildings and is working to add certifications for 5 more. 

2010 Recipient: 

Nicholas DeBenedictis, Chairman Emeritus of Aqua America, Inc

As former Chairman and CEO, Mr. DeBenedictis led Aqua in fulfilling its mission to its customers: the reliable delivery of quality drinking water and the environmentally responsible disposal of wastewater. Aqua’s commitment to providing quality water and wastewater services and the capital investment in key water and wastewater infrastructure have thrived under Mr. DeBenedictis’s stewardship. He considers the health of our nation’s infrastructure to be a top priority, and has led Aqua to invest more than a billion dollars to improve its plants, tanks, distribution systems and other infrastructure. His vision is of a world where everyone has access to clean drinking water and good sanitation and he has the ability to lead change to make that vision a reality.

2009 Recipient: 

Pasquale “Pat” T. Deon, Sr., Chairman of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA)

Mr. Deon is a proven leader in the growth of transportation infrastructure and service throughout Pennsylvania. He has overseen the completion of dozens of major initiatives, such as SEPTA’s rebuilding of the Market Street portion of the Market-Frankford Line, the purchase of new Silverliner V Regional Rail cars, and implementation the new fare system as part of the New Payment Technology program. He is a champion for infrastructure reform having served as a member of the PA Turnpike Commission since 2002. During Mr. Deon’s tenure as Commissioner, the Turnpike constructed 40 new miles of highway, made unprecedented investment in rebuilding its roadway and bridges, and improved service to its customers.

2008 Recipient: 

William P. Hankowsky, Chairman, President & CEO of Liberty Property Trust

Mr. Hankowsky was appointed CEO and elected Chairman of Liberty’s Board of Trustees in 2003. Under his leadership, Liberty has become among the nation’s leading commercial developers of high-performance green buildings. With each new project comes the improvement of infrastructure in the community around it and an improvement to our future. He has the ability to embrace change as an avenue to improvement, and the recognition of the importance of improving our infrastructure to make our planet one that we are proud to pass along to future generations.

2007 Recipient: 

Edward G. Rendell, former Governor of Pennsylvania

After 34 years of public service, including 24 years as an elected official, Governor Rendell continues to pursue many of the same issues he was passionate about while serving. His commitment to making America a cleaner, more efficient place, and to fostering investment in our nation’s crumbling infrastructure is as strong as it has ever been. His dedication to living his values has been a true inspiration, and his ability to communicate ideas and inspire cooperation has led to significant success in improving and preserving our precious infrastructure. As Governor, Rendell was committed to making government more responsible and responsive to the public’s needs, and he successfully cut wasteful spending and improved efficiency leading to savings of over $1 billion.