top of page

MASCI Executive Board

Lee Graham-photo.jpg



Operating Engineers 324 

Executive Director LMEC

Lee Graham is the Executive Director of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 324 Labor Management Education Committee.  Lee, a 29-year member, has served a variety of leadership positions during this time including Trustee (12 years) and Apprenticeship and Training Director (9 years) before his current role


Lee oversees and directs Operating Engineer 324’s considerable recruitment outreach, as well as many of their community improvement volunteer efforts.  He has been a strong advocate for pre-apprenticeship programs and workforce development, with a particular focus on urban areas.  He helps guide curriculum and projects for several programs. He is also a tireless advocate and subject matter expert for skilled trades apprenticeships adhering to the US Department of Labor Registered Apprenticeship model and regulation.


In addition to his duties with OE324, Lee serves on many prominent boards in the industry, including as Chairman of the Michigan Apprenticeship Steering Committee, Inc. (MASCI), on the Advisory Board for the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT–OJT), Governor’s Talent Investment Board (GTIB), MI Stem Advisory Council, Michigan Urban Search and Rescue (MUSAR), Michigan Safety Conference and Southeast Michigan Workforce Development Boards, among several others.



Vice Chairperson


Commissioner, State of MI Transportation Commission

Rita Brown brings 30 years of experience, as a structural/misc. steel detailer and construction-related small business owner. Her experience was earned through boots on the ground hands-on work punctuated by management and education initiatives; the construction industry has provided a strong path to professional success and her work continues to influence the process and priority of an evolving industry landscape.

Brown serves as a State of MI, Transportation Commissioner and owns her own consulting and services company which includes detailing, industry business consulting and commercial/industrial energy and EV installation services.


In a volunteer capacity, Ms. Brown currently serves as NOW State of Michigan President [National Organization for Women], is a founding member of North American Professionals in Building and Infrastructure, serves as National Director for Project Accelerate [Women’s Career Development and Exposure], served as the AGC National D&I National Chairwoman [Assoc. Of General Contractors]; she is a former AGC MI Board member and current DEI MI AGC and AGC National Specialty Subcontractors Committee member. She serves as Vice President for MASCI, a registered apprenticeship collaborative in the state of MI, and is a member of GLFEA [Great Lakes Fabricator and Erectors Association], NAWIC, NABWIC and a number of industry organizations. She also serves on Lawrence Technological University’s STEM Advisory Board and Wayne State University Susan Harwood and CET Work Zone Safety Training Grants Advisory Committee

Howard Hipes.JPG



Director of Training

Michigan Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers Training Center

Mr. Hipes is the Apprenticeship & Training Coordinator for the Michigan Bricklayers & Allied Craftworkers (BAC) Apprenticeship & Training Fund covering 79 counties in Michigan.  He is responsible for the apprenticeship programs of multiple crafts, continuing education for journeyman, mentor coordination, recruitment, and course instruction.  He is a Bricklayer and 29-year member of BAC Local 2.  Formerly as a foreman, Mr. Hipes was responsible for the coordination of masonry construction on multi-million dollar masonry projects.

He is the Program Coordinator of Michigan Apprentice Readiness; a seven week program to prepare minorities & under-represented populations to apply to the MI Building & Construction Trades.  He is a Board Member of the Michigan Apprenticeship Steering Committee and Genesee Shiawassee Tuscola (GST) MiWorks! Workforce Development Board. 

He is a graduate of the International Masonry Institute’s Instructor Certification Program and co-authored an article, Skilled Trades Mentoring, published in 2005 in The Benefits Digest of the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP).  He has been a presenter in several sessions on Best Practices in Recruitment & Retention for the IFEBP, State of Michigan Governors Conference & Apprenticeship Learning Network, and several workforce development workshops. 




Direction by Design

Cynthia Scherphorn is a Michigan native and worked as a member of the educational field for over 30 years. Her career includes supporting students' educational and career journeys in elementary, middle school and high school both at the district level and Oakland Schools ISD.


Her professional goals always center on students and their success while building access with equity. Her compilation of work includes building opportunities to connect industry leaders with K-12 education, building networks for work-based learning experiences and creating the “Pathways to Apprenticeship - STW Summer Program” in partnership with the LiUNA Construction Laborers of Michigan.


After her decision to retire from education in 2022, she chose to move toward the construction industry sector to continue building a bridge of service between industry and education partners. She is now the Owner and Founder of Direction By Design, LLC., providing consulting services to support program development, student preparation and partner engagement to connect youth to the Registered Apprenticeship System. She has collaborated with all of the unionized construction skilled trades training members and finds assisting individuals toward a “Living Wage” opportunity to be very rewarding.


Cynthia holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from Cornerstone University and a Global Career Development Facilitator Credential from the Center for Credentialing in Education. She is trained in Leadership Development and Career Pathways through the National Career Pathways Network; is also a graduate of Leadership Oakland - Cohort LO-XXV and Project Accelerate - Women in Construction. She holds to a practice of continuous learning; through guided instruction, personal reflection and interactions with those she encounters on a daily basis.

Wanda Bigelow.JPG



Apprenticeship Manager

GST Michigan Works!

Wanda Bigelow has a decade of experience in workforce development. Wanda commenced her professional journey with GST Michigan Works! as a Career Coach, consistently working with apprentices who sought assistance. Wanda is the Apprenticeship Manager at GST Michigan Works!

collaborating with numerous partners within the apprenticeship system to expand apprenticeship programs across six counties, including Genesee, Shiawassee, Lapeer, Tuscola, Huron, and Sanilac. Wanda is dedicated to promoting an awareness of the advantages of Registered Apprenticeship Programs among high school students, job seekers, and employers. Additionally, she is devoted to furnishing resources to existing apprenticeship programs to aid in their expansion.

Wanda recruits, interviews, and instructs portions of the Michigan Apprentice Readiness, an intensive eleven-week initiative designed to equip minorities and under-represented populations with the skills and knowledge necessary to successfully apply to the MI Building & Construction Trades in Genesee County. She serves as a member of the Michigan Apprenticeship Steering Committee Board.

In December of 2021, Wanda organized the submission of standards to the US Department of Labor, Office of Apprenticeship, on behalf of GSTMW! In July 2022, Wanda was recognized as an Apprenticeship Ambassador because of her dedication to apprenticeships. She aims to revolutionize Registered Apprenticeships by enhancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility to apprenticeship programs. She aims to create apprenticeship programs in new and emerging sectors and expand pre-apprenticeship programs, youth apprenticeships, and degree apprenticeships.

Tod Sandy-photo.jpg



State Director of Training

Michigan Statewide Carpenters and Millwrights JATF

Tod Sandy is the State Director of Training for the Michigan Statewide Carpenters and Millwrights Joint Apprenticeship and Training Fund. Representing the training needs for the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, Tod is actively engaged in optimizing training operations for Carpenters, Floor Layers and Millwrights. An Instructor and Coordinator for over 15 years, Tod has had the honor and privilege to open two of the Carpenters’ new training centers, and is currently working on the design of a new, state-of-the-art training facility in Detroit.

Ken Meerschaert.png



Regional Operations Director at Michigan CAT

Michigan CAT

Kenny Meerschaert is a Regional Operations Director of Product Support for Michigan CAT.  He is responsible for the financial and operational performance of the Parts and Service organization in his region including employee development, training, safety, and performance.  Kenny’s previous roles at Michigan CAT included Store Manager, Product Support Sales Representative and Shop Supervisor.  He holds a Bachelor of Science and Administration Degree from Michigan State University.

Kenny is highly engaged in finding ways to attract and obtain employees of the future, including apprenticeships and sponsorships.  Kenny currently serves on the Advisory Board of several colleges and vocational schools and has partnered with local schools to promote the construction trades.  He played an active role in securing Michigan Marshall Plan grants awarded to several school districts.

Kenny is married to his wife Michele, a nurse.  They are proud parents of their two children, Mackenzie and Jacob, who are both looking to give back to the community by obtaining roles in human services.  When Kenny is not working, he loves spending time in the Upper Peninsula every chance he gets.

bottom of page