Summary: Creating a work environment that prioritizes work-life fit, and happier employees, as a result, equals increased performance, productivity, and ultimately a stronger bottom line for the company.
Director of Market Development American Institute of Steel Construction Denver, CO
Erin Conaway is a Director of Market Development for the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC). AISC is a non-partisan, not-for-profit technical institute and trade association established in 1921 to serve the structural steel design community and construction industry in the United States. Erin leads a team of Structural Steel Specialists committed to helping the AEC community achieve better building project outcomes by leveraging the structural steel industry’s expertise to employ innovative and curated structural steel solutions that are domestically produced and fabricated.
Erin has worked for over 19 years in the building design and construction industry for various companies in the eastern and western US as both a Structural Design Engineer and Technical Sales Engineer. As part of her industry outreach with AISC, Erin serves as the Steel Industry Representative on the STRUCTURE® magazine Editorial Board. Erin is a graduate of the Oklahoma State University Architectural Engineering (Structures) program in Stillwater, OK. She is a licensed Professional Engineer in the states of Arizona and New York.
Katie Batill-Bigler is the Marketing Director for Patel, Greene and Associates (PGA), a transportation engineering and planning firm based in Central Florida. Katie has spent the past five years in Tampa supporting marketing and business development for firms in the AEC industry. She is an active board member for SMPS Tampa Bay and sits on the Public Relations Committee for ACEC-FL. In her role at PGA, Katie oversees a strong staff of marketing and graphics professionals that manage the firm’s project pursuits, collegiate recruiting, internal and external relations, as well as the website and social media. Prior to her move to Florida, Katie gained extensive experience in myriad communication fields including advertising and broadcast news. She holds a B.S. in Journalism from Ithaca College, an M.S. in Environmental Studies from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, and an M.S. in Public Relations from Syracuse University. Katie is also a proud new mother of a beautiful baby girl. She and her husband enjoy playing softball on the weekends and her personal goal for 2021 is to learn to speak Spanish.
Susan Dawson, LEED AP BD+C is a skilled A/E/C Marketer with more than twelve years’ experience successfully increasing revenue for major general contracting and engineering firms in the Washington DC Metropolitan Region. Since joining the industry in 2008, Susan has empowered teams and led change initiatives at several large construction firms, including DAVIS Construction and Grunley. She is an enthusiastic leader of teams with a passion for employee engagement. Susan is committed to building an exceptional, diverse and inclusive work culture at GHT Limited, a consulting MEP engineering firm headquartered in Arlington, VA since 1965. She is responsible for all internal and external marketing communications activities for the firm, from thought leadership and advertising to employee satisfaction and talent development. She lives in Annapolis, Maryland with her husband Chase and two dogs Winston and Teddy; when she’s not working, she enjoys hiking, kayaking and true-crime documentaries on Netflix.
LaTonya is the new College Project Director at Los Angeles City College located in East Hollywood. She is responsible for directing and managing the Construction Project Team with oversight of the design and construction of all projects on the campus ranging in value and complexity from $10 million to $140 million LaTonya has been a practicing Architect for over 22 years. Her diverse portfolio of projects includes K-12 and Higher Ed Facilities, Mixed-Use Developments, Multi-Family Residential, Commercial Office Buildings, Airport Support Facilities, and Healthcare. LaTonya also has extensive experience in sustainability consulting, specializing in the LEED Rating Systems for Core and Shell, New Construction and Major Renovations (including LEED for Schools), and the TX-CHPS (Collaborative for High Performing Schools) Rating System.
LaTonya received her Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Notre Dame and a Master of Community Development from Prairie View A&M University. In her spare time, she enjoys binge reading on her Kindle, cooking down home southern comfort food, and has been experimenting with gluten free baking for the last 10 years with the hope of one day starting a revolution in the prepared foods industry with her tasty, gluten free baked goods.
Building bridges between women in the AEC industry and the mentors who want to see them succeed.
Christine is a Certified Hydrogeologist and lead LACO’s Geology Practice Area. I’ve been working in the industry for about 15 years, with a break along the way. I’ve worked primarily in northern California except for a stint in rural southwest Virginia (go Hokies!) I left the AEC industry for awhile during the 2008 economic crunch and ended up becoming a massage therapist and running that business for 5 years. After returning to California in 2014, I wound up back at LACO where I worked in the early to mid-2000s, which was a lot like going home. In addition to work, I am on the Board of Directors for both a local land trust and our county Resource Conservation District. In my off time I dabble in various fiber arts (mainly weaving, knitting, and dyeing) and help put on our local Natural Fiber Fair, which is going virtual again in 2021.
“The future of the AE industry begins with the next generation, and I’m passionate about building awareness for young students at any early age about the world of opportunities the AE industry has to offer.”
For almost ten years, Caitlin Pennington has served in Human Resources, uplifting the AE industry and building connections. As a recruiter for Garver, she supports hiring needs across the firm’s multitude of business groups. She also serves in a leadership role for Garver Connect, a group focused on increasing involvement and supporting the firm’s employees through professional development and beyond. In 2020, Caitlin’s unique dedication and leadership took center stage when she was recognized as a finalist for the Spirit of Garver, the company’s highest employee honor. Caitlin regularly spends her time volunteering, through GarverGives, the firm’s corporate giving program, as a Junior Achievement classroom volunteer, and as a board member for the Southern Arkansas University Alumni Association. Outside of the office, she is a devoted wife and mother of two.
Lauren Lint, CPA (inactive) joined The Thrasher Group, Inc., a multi-disciplinary engineering firm with 8 offices in 5 states, as Vice President of Finance and Accounting in April 2018. She has nearly 20 years of experience in a combination of industry and public accounting for non-public clients largely concentrated in construction, services, and manufacturing. In her previous roles, she has overseen acquisitions, turn-arounds, troubled debt restructurings, treasury, financial reporting, lean process/internal controls, software implementations and the traditional finance and accounting functions. In her time at Thrasher, she’s been involved in geographic footprint strategy, implementation of a new cloud-based ERP system, the push for a paperless firm, overhead analysis and significant cost-savings undertakings, financing strategy, implementation of some significant new accounting standards, and many process improvements as well as managing the day-to-day responsibilities of the F&A function.
In every role she’s held, she’s been vocal about the need for continued improvement with regard to diversity and flexibility and worked to create a positive culture. She’s experienced the full spectrum of success, losing out on promotions because she chose to be a mother, but also having the most wonderful male mentors who catapulted her career and even pushed her to spend less time at the office and more time building a fulfilling life with her family.
Of all the industries she’s been involved in, the AEC industry is, by far, her favorite. She loves the creativity her colleagues display and the tangible impacts to the communities where her firm has completed projects. That’s part of why she’s so passionate about diversity in the industry – she hopes to stay in the AEC space for the remainder of her career and wants to forge a path for other less traditional leaders to join her.
When she’s not working, you’ll catch her hanging out with her husband, 14 year-old son, 12 year-old daughter, husband, 3 dogs, bird and hamster. She also loves Legos, chilling with her neighbor friends, all things Harry Potter, and participating in ridiculous sporting events (like Ragnar and Tough Mudder) just to prove she can.
Julia Su. Jack is a, self-proclaimed, daughter of diversity. She is the second child of two West Indian immigrants who, decades ago, left their beautifully hot island for the frozen splendor of Canada. Her parents would eventually leave that cold place for a temperate region in the United States.
Raised in a neighborhood in Connecticut, where there were very few families that looked like hers, she accepted that she was born for diversity. But what she could not predict is that her career would follow a similarly unplanned and non-traditional path.
Graduating with a Bachelor of Architecture degree, her career started out traditionally as she went straight to work in an architectural firm. But the tide would turn after she took a leave of absence from work to focus on her growing family. When she returned to her career, circumstances would take her through many different professional roles in a variety of sectors across the AEC industry. She worked in interior design, pre-construction management, and non-profit construction employment management, project controls in the transportation sector and more, finally landing as a Architect for Connecticut’s Capital City.
As a result, Julia brings to her work and her business a wealth of knowledge and a unique viewpoint that only that type of fluctuation of experience could produce; including an understanding of how companies and people work, how different people and generations think, how they process information, and how structures are built and delivered from all different sides of our profession.
She would claim that her most empowering and lifechanging experience was in her work at Capital Workforce Partners, in collaboration with Habitat for Humanity, where she endeavored to engage young men and women in the fields of construction. With such a growing, yet still small, pool of female constructors she felt immeasurably passionate about her work.
“I have always wanted to change the world for the better. As a younger woman, I thought changing the world could only be done by selling everything and taking to the streets with only a pair of sandals on your feet and a satchel on your shoulder. But, because of my experience with Capital Workforce Partners and Habitat for Humanity I have come to understand that we canchange the world by using our professional experience, sharing our knowledge, mentoring, and understanding the needs of people, populations, and our industry.”
Julia is an Architect with a passion for generational, ethnic, racial and gender diversity within our industry that goes beyond mandates and monetary gain. She is eager to join the conversation and even more ready to be an agent for real, positive change.
Julia Su. Jack holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Howard University and a Masters in Construction Management from Central Connecticut State University; she is a National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) Certified Registered Architect and a Certified PMI Project Management Professional.
Assistant Marketing Director LJA Engineering, Inc.
Maria Lucio serves as Assistant Marketing Director for LJA Engineering, Inc. She is responsible for managing the daily workload and the coordination and organization of the firm’s Marketing Department. In her role, she oversees the Sales, Client Management and Marketing/ Branding groups. Her 20+ years of experience includes collaborating on internal and external communications, proposal coordination and support, as well preparing and communicating marketing plans. One of Maria’s focus and goals is to develop platforms for the future women leaders of LJA to further build on LJA’s ‘Employees and Clients’ core foundational principle. Outside of LJA, Maria is involved in educating and promoting engineering studies and AEC careers. She has participated and volunteered in LJA’s Annual Science Night at Houston ISD Briarmeadow Charter School for the past 5 years. Maria earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Houston. She is actively involved in The Chinquapin Preparatory School’s Alumni Association providing mentorship and sharing information on educational and career opportunities in the AEC industry.
President/Owner Underground Support Services Dallas, TX
Stephanie Teetes is founder and President of Underground Support Services, LLC, (USS) a professional services and construction materials firm. Services include cost estimating and constructability consulting for the tunnel and underground construction industry. USS materials focuses on geotextiles and concrete accessories for the transportation sector. Stephanie leads the day-to-day operations of USS including staff in three states, and clients and projects around the nation. She has successfully navigated the processes for diversity certification, earning USS numerous designations through six different agencies and multiple states, including DBE, SBE, WBE, ESBE, EDSBE, WOSB and TxHUB. USS is the recipient of the Regional Hispanic Contractor’s Association’s 2019 LUNA Rising Star Firm Award. As a nominee for the 2019 WBE Advocate of the Year award by Women Business Council Southwest, Stephanie is a champion for women in business and believes we all benefit when we work together and help one another. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University and an alumni of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. Stephanie resides in Dallas with her husband of 25 years, two teenage children, and one mischievous bird dog.
Advisor, Mergers & Acquisitions Zweig Group Dallas, TX
“As someone who considers themself as a champion for the undervalued, overlooked & disenfranshised, ElevateHer movement inspires me to continue in the same light. Society has often put forth the false notion that if you do not fit the status quo, then you are not of great value. I want to change the narrative for future generations, that no matter who you, greatness is inside of you. you are not powerless and need no ones permission to be great.”
She is Welcome Here
Accelerating the connection between employers & returning talent through a back-to-work program.
Having mentors who help guide your career is essential, and in Kaley’s case, she chose to enter the field of human resources because she had an amazing boss and mentor who she respected immensely. In her role at CORE, Kaley contributes daily to the growth of the firm and maintaining CORE’s culture as a great place to work! She enjoys resolving workplace issues and serving as a resource for the firm’s employees. Kaley’s goal is to represent the best interest of each employee – which is bolstered by CORE’s leadership team who she believes truly wants what’s best for each team member.
Kaley and her family embrace the outdoors spending time hiking, biking, fishing, and running. Going to kid’s sporting events and visiting favorite local breweries also get much-needed time in the rotation.
“I’ve been fortunate to be involved in all sides of the insurance business, which has many similarities to the AEC Industry”
Heather originally chose the commercial insurance path because it provided her endless opportunities to learn about a variety of businesses. The bulk of her career has been spent in leadership positions, and she truly loves the continuous self-improvement element of participating in leadership. She has a long track record of solving business problems and creating high functioning teams. As COO at CORE, she’s involved in many aspects of the firm’s strategic business decisions and appreciates the impact her industry knowledge and management experience bring to the table.
Heather is inspired daily by her purpose-driven co-workers who she witnesses regularly practicing kindness. She is passionate about her family and friends, the environment, travel, and continually seeking opportunities to learn. Heather is a nature lover and can be found hiking, gardening, and spending a little “me” time planning a trip or reading (mostly about trips she wants to take). Her goal is to leave the world a little better than she found it.
Whether Heather is problem solving or hitting the trail for a run, her keen sense of adventure keeps her looking for that next great challenge.
Associate Principal O’Connell Robertson Austin, TX
With over 14 years of experience, Jayna Duke has been designing Education and Healthcare environments that positively impact our communities. Through creative problem solving and design, Jayna crafts spaces that foster learning and provide healing. Her passion is to design educational environments that empower teachers to be more effective and students to be more engaged; to create healthcare environments that enable medical professionals to excel in their duties and patients to feel reassured by their surroundings; and to envision work environments that are as much about community as productivity.
Over the last three years, Jayna has been vital in the growth and expansion of O’Connell Robertson’s Interior Design Department. Surrounded by a team of talented designers they work together to create impactful spaces. She believes a broad range of empathy is crucial to being able to hear clients and develop a vision that is truly built for their unique needs.
It is this belief that inspired her journey to ElevateHER. She knows design is a team sport, and a team requires a great range of skills and viewpoints to be successful. Her time as top level beach volleyball player taught her the need to rely on others, ability to set people up to make the whole team successful, and the benefits of hard work, dedication, and living your passion. Outside of the office you can find Jayna enjoying the outdoors or travelling to see the built and natural world across the globe.
Structures Division Manager Mark Thomas Sacramento, CA
Julie Passalacqua is the Structures Division Manager at Mark Thomas, where she leads a talented team of bridge engineers working to improve the transportation infrastructure throughout California. For the past 18 years, she has been focused on the design of highway related structures such as bridges, culverts and retaining walls. Julie works closely with public agency staff to deliver projects that support the communities in which they serve. Julie is a registered Professional Engineer and holds a M.S. degree from University of California, Davis and a B.S degree from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in Civil Engineering.
Katie Goodman is the Director of Leadership Programs at the American Council of Engineering Companies in Washington, D.C. In her role, Katie organizes and oversees ACEC’s three major leadership development programs, including its capstone program, the Senior Executives Institute. Prior to her role in leadership development, Katie was the coordinator for ACEC’s Coalition programs. She has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Public Policy from Syracuse University and lives with her husband and son in Hyattsville, MD.
Head of Global Marketing and Communications IPS-Integrated Project Services
Ana Collins is the Head of Global Marketing and Communications at IPS-Integrated Project Services. She is responsible for the strategic direction and execution of IPS’ global brand of Knowledge, Skill & Passion. Ana’s oversight includes marketing, advertising, business development, corporate communications, employee engagement, and client experience activities, with an overall focus on propelling IPS’ reputation as a trusted partner and knowledge leader supporting the life sciences industry.
Ana’s background includes 20+ years of experience successfully working in a fast-paced business-to-business Sales and Marketing environment. She’s lead global sales and marketing teams, focused on advancing client relationships and growing business in diverse markets.
Ana is a graduate of Temple University’s Fox School of Business in Philadelphia. She is an active member, sponsor, and special events contributor to The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia, Women in Bio, the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering, and the Society for Marketing Professional Services. She is also involved in local school district initiatives to bring awareness to the vast diversity in her community.
Will is the Chief Marketing Officer for WGI. In his role at WGI, will leads WGI’s award-winning nationwide branding and promotion functions. Will is the former CEO and founder of BIG RED DOG, a Texas-based consulting firm that grew to over 110 professionals and was acquired by WGI in January of 2019. Will has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Purdue University and is a licensed professional engineer in 32 states.
Project Accounting Supervisor and Project Management Analyst BHC Rhodes
Mickey Garcia currently serves as the Project Accounting Supervisor and Project Management Analyst at BHC, a civil engineering and surveying company headquartered in Overland Park, KS. Mickey has been with BHC since 1997 and has filled many roles during her tenure. Her current role focuses on leading a team that supports the market segments through project set up and invoicing, as well as providing project management training, guidance, and support to the various segment leads, project managers, and project teams. Mickey earned her PMP in 2018, an MBA with a project management focus in 2019, and most recently completed a Women in Leadership certification course through eCornell in late 2020.
Mickey has five children and five grandchildren, with a sixth arriving in late May. She enjoys spending time with each of them. She and her husband have a Harley Davidson motorcycle they love to ride during the warmer months, as well as a big vegetable garden that keeps them both busy and happy.
Rob Matthews, president and founder of Matthews Design Group, has built a thriving company by establishing solid, long-term partnerships with his clients through integrity, honest communication, and dependability. Earning a master’s degree in civil engineering from Clemson University in 2001, Rob has gained experience in all phases of land development, civil engineering, and environmental and regulatory permitting. Rob believes “the heart of any company is its people. We are creating a company culture that makes Matthews Design Group a professional yet fun spirited place to work where employees feel valued, respected, and empowered.” He also donates his time on the Service Board for Flagler Hospital, as Chairman of the Economic Development Council for the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce, and as Board President at The Arc of the St. Johns. Rob is known for his project management and public outreach abilities. The commitment and dedication to his employees and the community, along with quality designs and service contribute to Matthews Design Group’s solid reputation.
Lisa Huddleston is a Certified Strategic HR Business Partner with 20+ years of experience in HR Management, Business Management, and Operations. Her experience with the AEC Industry is spread across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. She is currently the Talent Development Manager at BHC, a Civil Engineering consulting firm in Overland Park, KS, and has served as a member of the Senior Leadership Team since joining the company in April of 2014. Lisa also has 15 years of sales experience, which has enhanced her focus on proven profitability and ROI of her HR Team.
Lisa Huddleston is currently the HR Business and Talent Development Director at BHC, a Civil Engineering consulting firm in Overland Park, KS, and has served as a member of the Senior Leadership Team since joining the company in April of 2014. Lisa is a Certified Strategic HR Business Partner with 20+ years of experience in HR Management, Business Management, and Operations. Along with 15 years of Sales experience Lisa is also a certified CliftonStrengths Coach which has enhanced her focus and increased collaboration for her HR Team. For 2021 Lisa’s main focus is young professionals and developing greater diversity, and inclusion efforts in the workplace. Lisa is married to her loving husband with combined 7 boys and 3 grandchildren. Her favorite place to visit with her husband is Key West Florida.
This group was critical in helping to develop the concept and intial details for the ElevateHER resources page.
With a combined background in Clinical Social Work and International Business Management, Alixandria is clinically trained to examine systemic issues contributing to pay inequity, gender inequality, and strategies to advocate for workplace improvements. Alixandria has 4 years of professional experience in the AEC industry in conjunction with lifelong exposure to the construction industry from relatives in the field.
Rathi has her Bachelor’s degree from India, in Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering and a Master’s degree from University of Windsor in Electrical Engineering.
She has several years of experience, working as a controls designer, a programmer, an automation designer and an Electrical Engineer in India, Canada and USA and has extensive experience travelling throughout North America troubleshooting stamping presses and other machinery, some in Mexico. She has collaborated with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change to scale up an R&D facility invested in alternative fuel.
She is deeply invested in ensuring Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging are the norms in a company’s culture and has experience motivating peers to be comfortable having tough conversations.
She currently volunteers as the Co-Chair in Her Power council, a function of a non-profit organization named We Build a Dream based out of Windsor, Ontario.
O’Connell Robertson is a mission-driven architecture/engineering/interior design firm based in Austin and providing the highest quality professional services and problem solving for healthcare and education facilities throughout Texas. Amy became the Firm’s fourth president, and the first woman to serve in that role in the Firm’s 70-year history, in 2016. She has been with O’Connell Robertson for almost 22 years and has been a Principal and Shareholder since 2004.
As President, Amy leads corporate strategy & vision, guides talent and people issues, and manages operational activities with the Firm’s Senior Leadership Team. Throughout her career at O’Connell Robertson, she has been involved in and led the Firm’s marketing and business development team and served in a project executive role for various clients. Amy’s focus on client relations, business development, strategic partnerships, and community engagement has provided a strong foundation for the Firm’s growth over the last decade.
Throughout her career, Amy has been engaged in regional organizations and issues supporting youth and education, providing leadership to several local boards, committees and campaigns. She is currently a member of the Austin Chamber’s Education and Talent Council; Austin Ed Fund board of directors (Past Chair); Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas Advisory Council; and a member of the Austin Area Research Organization (AARO).
Amy is a past board member for the Association for Learning Environments Southern Region and Austin Chapter and has been active in other community and professional organizations, including serving as past President of the Austin Chapter of the Society of Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) and a Leadership Austin alumni.
A graduate of The University of Texas at Austin, Amy has a Bachelor of Journalism degree and completed the UT Austin Continuing Education Marketing Certificate Program. She and her husband Ken have two sons, Matthew and Josh.
Associate Director of Marketing Society for Marketing Professional Services
Lauren Waldron is the Associate Director of Marketing of the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS), where she manages the marketing and communications strategy for the association’s programs. Ms. Waldron has a certificate in Digital Media and Marketing from Duke University and has a B.A., cum laude, in Political Communication and American Government from George Mason University. Lauren resides in Old Town Alexandria with her West Highland Terrier “Westie”, Mr. Henry, and her three guitars (two acoustic//electric and one electric). She is also a member of the Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) and actively writes and performs Country Music songs as well plays guitar.
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Our cohort members promote inclusion by developing strategic steps and tools! We are grateful for their dedication and commitment to advancing firms across the United States.