William R. Bryant, MCP, CBO

Bill Bryant 2012 When Bill Bryant applied for the position of Plan Reviewer for Anne Arundel County, Maryland, it started him on a lifelong mission to create an atmosphere of cooperation and common sense with one goal in mind: “Keeping people safe.”

After a few years of observing code development from the industry point of view, Bill Bryant thought it might be time to try the regulatory angle.

By that time, he already had taught construction technology at the high-school level and was overseeing all phases of product design for a major commercial modular manufacturer, a job that required him to work on compliance with building codes throughout a 15-state region.

“I thought, ‘If I can do it on one side of the fence, I can do it on the other,’” said Bryant, who was elected an ICC Director-at-Large during the 2012 Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon.  He was elected President of the ICC Board at the 2018 Annual Conference in Richmond, Va.

When he applied for the position of Plan Reviewer for Anne Arundel County, Maryland, in 1989, it started him on a lifelong mission to create an atmosphere of cooperation and common sense with one goal in mind: keeping people safe. Today, he is the Assistant Director of Inspections and Permits for Anne Arundel County.

Bryant helped to shape the consolidation of the three model code groups that resulted in the ICC.  He was serving on the BOCA Board of Directors during the late 1990s, when he was named as one of ICC’s first board members.

Bryant remembers the move toward the consolidation as “painful at times. We all knew what the end result was supposed to be. We had to just keep our eyes on that as we trudged along. Each organization had its own way of doing things. There were so many compromises.  There also was a lot of thought that went into each decision and a lot of gut feeling. But I think we came up with something pretty special.”

He said he ran for election to the ICC Board for the same reason he got into the business in the first place: He saw a need to find a way to make the codes even better so people can be safer.

“These are really challenging times,” Bryant said. “There is a great need for some clear thinking. We need to revitalize the membership. We have to find out what they want; what they need. We may not be able to give them everything, but we can at least give them an answer.”

The economy has hurt the construction industry and the regulatory industry as well, Bryant said. He remembered bringing co-workers with him to code hearings, “and they loved it. They ask if we can go back. And I have to tell them no, there’s no money.

“We are seeing fewer and fewer people at the code hearings. But when we get the new cdp ACCESS going, everybody will be on the same level playing field. Leading up to the votes, they will see all the documentations and arguments. And then they will be able to vote from wherever they are.

“Now, we have people who just buy the code books every three years. But with cdp ACCESS, they will have the opportunity to get more involved. They won’t be able to say, ‘How did that get in the code?’”

Code hearings often seem to be where building officials and others in the industry discover the fire in their belly that will drive them in their careers. Bryant was no different. Working for a modular manufacturer, he often attended code hearings in various states and for the various legacy organizations.

While he was working for Anne Arundel County, Bryant was mentored by Paul Radaskus, then Director of Inspections and Permits for Anne Arundel County and a BOCA Board of Director member. Paul demanded all management members of the department get involved with the Code Development Process of become a member of a committee. Bryant took those words of advice seriously.  Several years later he was approached by then-BOCA Board President Paul Myers, who would become the ICC’s first Board President.

“He said he had seen me at some of the code hearings and on committees,” Bryant remembered. “He liked my passion, my leadership and technical expertise. He said, ‘I think you need to run for the BOCA Board.’ Already I had had some officials tell me that if I wanted to grow professionally, being involved in BOCA or another such organization is the way to go.”

So Bryant, who also served as the President of the Maryland Building Officials Association, was elected to the BOCA Board. After he helped guide ICC, as he says, through the “trials and tribulations” of the consolidation, he became one of the ICC’s first dozen certified Master Code Professionals (MCP).

Bryant wants to have that kind of effect on younger people in the industry. “You don’t see the younger people at code hearings,” he said. “You only see the core group. But with cdp ACCESS we will have the capability to reach out to them on their level through social media.”

Ironically, helping his son ultimately earn a Boy Scout Eagle designation years ago rekindled a passion he had put aside for many years: scuba diving.  Now, he’ll dive around Florida for fun, or maybe up the coast a bit closer to home.

Out of the water, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Sherri, and his son and daughter, as well as fishing, hunting, shooting and his true passion: year-round barbecuing.

“I am a barbecue aficionado,” Bryant says with a smile. “When we had those big snows a few years ago, I dug a trench to the grill and around it to keep going all year.  A guy has to eat, after all.”

Greg Wheeler, CBO

wheeler-1 Greg Wheeler learned he could be part of a code process that would ultimately help create a safe built environment not only in the United States, but throughout the world. That’s what he hopes to do as a Director on the Board; help people from throughout the country realize the codes are there not only to help, but to challenge them to improve the codes through strong involvement.

Greg Wheeler was working with an engineering firm at the Dallas-Ft. Worth Airport in the early 1980s when his bosses literally threw the book at him– the 1982 edition of the Uniform Building Code.

That was on a Friday. They said, ‘Read this over this weekend. On Monday, you’re our building inspector,” Wheeler said with a smile.

That weekend crash course helped start him on a road that led to his current post as Chief Building Official for the City of Thornton, Colorado, and to his initial election as an At-Large Director on the International Code Council Board. At the 2018 Annual Meeting, Wheeler was elected Vice President of the ICC Board. Before serving on the ICC Board, Wheeler had already served on and/or led a multitude of ICC committees, including the Codes and Standards Council, Chair of the Board of International Professional Standards, Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee for the International Existing Building Code and Chair of the International Building Code Council.

wheeler-2He is a charter member and former president of the Colorado Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, a liaison to the Colorado Municipal League Policy Committee and a recipient of the Beryl Wallace Award.

An ICC legacy organization, the International Conference of Building Officials (ICBO), is where Wheeler cut his teeth on involvement in the code development process, courtesy of a man who would go on to become his mentor. But it wasn’t an easy sell at first. There were repeated attempts to get Wheeler to become a member of ICBO. ICBO sent one of their most effective advocates, who just happened to be in Wheeler’s area, to talk about the value of the membership.

“So the guy calls me and says, ‘I’m Bob Fowler and we need to talk,’” Wheeler said. “And I fell hook, line and sinker. What Fowler, the first Chairman of the ICC Board of Directors and the visionary behind the consolidation of the model code writing industry, told Wheeler stuck with him to this day. “He told me that being part of ICBO meant that you had help from all over the country whenever you needed it.”

Likewise, Wheeler learned he could be part of something as well;  a code process that would ultimately help create a safe built environment not only in the United States, but throughout the world. That’s what Wheeler wanted to do initially as an ICC board director, and now executive officer; help people from throughout the country realize the codes are there not only to help, but to challenge them to improve the codes through strong involvement.

“That especially goes for code officials,” Wheeler said. “Eighty percent of code changes come from industry and others not responsible for enforcement of the codes,” he said. “Only 20 percent come from code officials. The code process takes a lot of time. Chapters can have four or five meetings with anywhere from 20 to 40 people involved reviewing the proposed code changes to develop positions on each proposal.”

wheeler-3The time is well spent, though, Wheeler advises. It prepares one for those code action or final hearings where, “you can have input in the code development process by testifying on code proposals and submitting modifications yourself or on behalf of your chapter.  If you’re not at the hearings, other people are driving change that you will have to specifically address locally.”

And there are so many ways for members to be involved, Wheeler said, especially with the creation of the Membership Councils and use of social media. “My generation isn’t a blogging group,” Wheeler said. “But there are a lot of young people in the workforce who use social media as a primary communication tool and we need to continue to find ways to reach that very important segment of our membership.”

An Oklahoma native who attended Louisiana State, Wheeler admits to having divided college football loyalties. But his workplace focus always has been how to make things better. As an insurance inspector, he had an interest in the design of structures he was inspecting, so he started coursework in engineering. Those courses, combined with his weekend with the ICBO code book, motivated him to take on a 160-hour course on Building Inspection and Plan Review through Texas A&M.

From that point on, Wheeler couldn’t get involved enough in the code process or learn enough about the industry. He was recruited to be the Engineering Technician/Building Official for the City of North Richland Hills, Texas, just outside of Fort Worth, where he helped oversee a suburban sprawl that doubled the population to 40,000.

In 1987, it was on to the City of Grapevine, Texas, where he served as Building Official until moving on to his current post in 1994 with the City of Thornton, a suburb of Denver. When he’s not leading the department, Wheeler enjoys golfing, hiking with his wife Renee, hunting, and shooting trap and skeet. He and Renee also train Pointers and Labs, and they enjoy spending time with their grown children and grandchildren.

Cindy Davis, CBO

Cindy Davis “Building Officials and Code Officials don’t get as much awareness as police or firefighters who are recognized for ‘responding,’” she said. “Code Officials are proactive, reducing the need for response, keeping people safe and providing a resilient built environment for the community..

In fewer than five years, Cindy Davis has managed to have a major effect on the Virginia code world. Now, recently elected to the ICC Board at the Annual Business Meeting in Kansas City, Mo., she’s ready to help do that for the International Code Council and its 64,000 Members.

Davis, Deputy Director in the Division of Building & Fire Regulations for the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, started in the business when codes were put down on paper.

Although that’s changing, she said it needs to change more quickly to keep up with a new generation of code officials who will be depending even more on technology.

“The ICC needs to be more technology-focused,” Davis said. “All of these code books are on paper, but the future of printed publications is limited.”

To that end, Davis spearheaded a move to reconfigure ICC’s cloud-based code process, cdpACCESS, to cut through a lot of the cumbersome paper documents stakeholders in Virginia had to wade through.

What cdpACCESS allows ICC members to do at a national level – view a code development process and any changes right at their computers – could be done at the state level, as well. Called cdpVA, the process is working well so far, with Davis, ICC’s cdpACCESS technicians and stakeholders very happy with the results.

In fact, Davis was proud when her department was honored at the 18th annual Commonwealth of Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium (COVITS) for helping to develop cdpVA.

“It has been going phenomenally,” Davis said of cdpVA, which the ICC hopes to roll out to other jurisdictions in 2018. “It just keeps getting better.”

The COVITS award was the most recent  for Davis, who also earned the Governor’s IT Award – Government to Business in 2016 for cdpVA; the 2011 Planning Leadership Award from the Pennsylvania Chapter of APA;  the Commonwealth Building Officials Code Official of the Year Award in 2002; and she is an Honorary Member of ICC.

Davis also is honored to have been the only woman elected to the BOCA International Board, serving from 1998 to 2003, before it consolidated with the other legacy organizations to form the ICC.

No way did she see all that coming as a self-described stay-at-home mom living just outside of Pittsburgh in the 1980s. She debated before taking a part-time job with the local fire marshal’s office, because, literally, “I didn’t see where it was going to go.”

But soon her career became a blur of advancement: becoming full-time, shadowing the inspectors, earning certifications, taking some civil engineering classes. Not long after, she was hired as Building Official/Zoning Officer in Pennsylvania’s O’Hara Township, where she updated paper permitting and inspection processes to new computerized systems,  trained office staff on software she had researched and purchased, implemented “walk-in” permit program every Friday for small weekend projects and updated the fire inspection program for the community.

During her 13 years there, she also led efforts to update the municipal zoning ordinance and helped update the Subdivision and Land Development ordinances.

She came full circle at that point when she took a job at Butler Township, where she began as a part-time secretary, to become the Building Official/Zoning Officer there.

Davis said she has been blessed to have the support there and from other employees and employers throughout her career. That includes all the friends and mentors she met working through BOCA.

Now, she also serves on the board of the National Institute of Building Sciences in Washington, D.C., among others. But that was after the Commonwealth of Virginia came calling in 2012 with an offer to become Director of the State Building Codes Office.

“I was and am proud to be in Virginia, which has been a leader in code development,” she said.  “To have the opportunity and fortune to have worked for Emory Rodgers for several years prior to his retirement was an honor.  He is a true icon of the profession and has provided me with invaluable insight and guidance.”

In that post, Davis helped develop and involve stakeholders in the 2012 Virginia Codes, negotiated a publishing contract with ICC that made it more cost effective for members to buy books, and, for the first time, new electronic products with access to resources not previously available to stakeholders.

In addition to helping to develop cdpVA, Davis is proud of a design competition she developed with other stakeholder groups as part of the annual Governor’s Housing Conference. Winners are selected  for creating the most affordable, energy efficient, code compliant and accessible housing design.   Habitat for Humanity donated their services to build the first house through “Homes for Heroes,” which provided a new home to a disabled veteran and his 9-year-old daughter.  The next round of competition is currently underway.

Davis hopes such programs help get the word out about what code officials and building officials do every day:  That they are an invaluable resource and should be used as such. Whether a major developer or a DIY homeowner, the building department is your “go to” experts for guiding you through the process.  She’ll be making that part of her platform as an ICC Board Member.

“Building Officials and Code Officials don’t get as much awareness as police or firefighters who are recognized for ‘responding,’” she said. “Code Officials are proactive, reducing the need for response, keeping people safe and providing a resilient built environment for the community.”

Jay Elbettar, P.E., CBO, LEED AP, CASp

Jay Elbettar I still have a lot to learn,” said Elbettar, building safety manager for the City of Lake Forest, Calif. “There are always more certifications and such you can achieve. … I want to help the members know that those opportunities are available to them … to help make them better code officials for their municipalities.”

As an engineer early in his career, Jay Elbettar was impressed with code officials and with the seemingly limitless knowledge they had on many topics, from adding a screened-in porch or to safety guidelines for a 45-story building. He is a registered professional engineer in the states of California, Georgia, Florida, Colorado, Tennessee, Nevada and Texas.

Looking at his vast resume, one can see Elbettar’s growth as a code official is linked to the experience he has gained in the years since. Elbettar, the ICC’s 2010 Code Official of the Year, is ready to use his considerable expertise to help members.

And to learn even more himself.

“I still have a lot to learn,” said Elbettar, building safety manager for the City of Lake Forest, Calif. “There are always more certifications and such you can achieve. … I want to help the members know that those opportunities are available to them … to help make them better code officials for their municipalities.”

Elbettar recently came to his position with the City of Lake Forest. When he was Mission Viejo’s building official, Elbettar managed and directed the operation of its building division through Charles Abbott Associates. He oversaw plan checks, inspections, counter operations and permit issuance.

Plan checking is where Elbettar began his code career in 1990 with the city of Glendale, Calif. Before that, the graduate of the University of Baghdad and the University of Southern California who  was always amazed at how structures were built, focused on engineering. Born in Michigan, he followed his father, a professor of linguistics, to the Middle East, where he obtained varied educational and work experiences, including a stint as a construction engineer with the Greek firm Helliniki Techniki S.A. in the Middle East.

During nearly a decade with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Elbettar often was amazed at code officials’ comprehensive knowledge. “It wasn’t like you focused on one project and knew the codes for that,” he said. “You had to learn them all over again for a new project. [Code officials] knew them all.”

With the diversity of projects in Glendale, counter work was an eye-opener, Elbettar said, personally and professionally. “With the Army Corps, you really didn’t know the people,” he said. “At the counter, you got to see the homeowner with their plans, as well as the developers. It was very rewarding.  I learned to be more tolerant, more patient.”

While in Glendale, Elbettar became involved with the International Conference of Building Officials, an ICC legacy organization. Once he saw the expertise of the committee members, he said he wanted to join them. He did, and eventually served as co-chair of the ICBO Orange Empire Chapter Code Development Committee; and as Treasurer, Secretary, Vice President, President, and Past President of the Orange Empire Chapter. He also was a two-time chair of the county-wide code uniformity adoption effort with the ICC.

In 1997, Elbettar moved on to Newport Beach, Calif., where he spent 14 years as Director of Building and Safety, and Chief Building Official and Director of a full-service department composed of three divisions, including plan review, permit issuance, inspection and building code enforcement.

Though smaller in population than Glendale, Newport Beach provided more extensive experience for Elbettar, including overseeing more high-rise buildings, dealing with a major fault line, coastal erosion and landslides, and keeping an eye on seven islands.

Impressed with the ICC during his service on many committees, Elbettar said he decided to run for the ICC Board after several people urged him to do so. “You don’t get a lot of opportunities … so when some Board members on the West Coast (had terms expire), I thought I would go for it. … It’s an honor to be considered for the Board, let alone be elected. I’m very thankful.”

As a result, Elbettar is focused on letting members know of the opportunities the ICC offers to enrich themselves personally and professionally. Because whether as a code official, basketball player (years ago), lifelong stamp collector, or husband to Tess and father of four children, Elbettar said he wants to do his best. He wants to enable others to do their best also.

“I firmly believe that if a person does their best, they will achieve success, whatever definition they have of success,” he said. “I always try to do my best, and I try to get that across to others.”