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March 7-13, 2021
We recently invited women across the AEC industry to talk about working in construction.
President & CEO | Julie Cromwell & Associates, LLC
As President and CEO, Julie leads all core business operations for the company including project management, structural engineering, quality control, business development, marketing, employee relations and accounting. Before founding her own company, she built an established career as a civil engineer and served as an owner for a premier structural engineering firm.
Site Safety Manager | RUKCO
Kelly Fisher is a site safety manager for RUKCO who helps keep tradespeople safe on jobsites. Before becoming a safety leader, her construction career began in the field, first as a glazier then as a Division 8 estimator and detailer.
Project Manager | Pepper Construction
AnnMarie Gal is a Project Manager at Pepper Construction. She graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor’s degree in Construction Management and began her career at Pepper as a Project Engineer in 2017. After three years in that role, AnnMarie was promoted to Project Manager. As a Project Manager, AnnMarie contributes to the overall management of the budget and schedule, and communicates construction progress and costs with all involved on a project. Her focus is the healthcare market and she is currently working at the UI Health Outpatient Surgery Center & Specialty Clinics in Chicago. AnnMarie enjoys networking with others in the industry and is excited to help transform the future for women in construction.
Laborer | Pepper Construction
Pam Genus is a Pepper Construction laborer responsible for demolition, moving materials and cleaning on jobsites. She was inspired to join the industry after seeing women in the field, and hopes to see others do the same, in part so more women can be promoted to field leadership positions.
Director of Projects | Converse Electric
As Director of Projects for Converse Electric, Natalie manages all the project managers and field electricians for the company. She was introduced to the construction industry through serving in the United Stated Air Force for 6 years as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer and working with Otis Elevator in Chicago as a Project Manager and Supervisor for nearly a decade.
Project Manager | Hackman Capital Partners
As Project Manager, Lisa serves the role of the owner's representative for Hackman Capital Partners in facilitating the company's construction projects. She was introduced to construction through her work in facility operations and planning and development for Paramount Pictures where she worked for 18 years.
President | American Floor Company
As president of American Floor Company, Barb Kidwell serves as "conductor of the orchestra" to lead her teams through projects. She first entered the construction industry doing administrative work for a residential builder in the 1980s. After her family and a friend started American Floor Covering in 1996, Barb worked as a bookkeeper until she became co-owner five years ago.
Senior Designer | Design Collective
As a seasoned professional with over 30 years of industry experience in working with corporate clients, Deb has a mission to improve all types of work environments through design. She also contributes to the management side of the firm, from business development to recruiting and mentoring.
Regional Director of Planning, Design and Construction | Advocate Aurora Health
As the Advocate Aurora Health’s Regional Director in the Planning, Design and Construction Department, Victoria Navarro provides strategic direction and oversight to both system-wide and regional based capital construction projects for the 9th largest integrated not-for-profit health system in the United States serving communities in both Illinois and Wisconsin. Victoria has delivered more than $1 billion in forward focused capital projects. She is a Founder and Leader of the Lean Construction Institute Milwaukee Community of Practice, an Editorial Advisory Board Member for Healthcare Design Magazine, an Advisory Board Member for She Builds, a Board Member for Acts Housing, a Board Member for Dancing with the Brokers, a 2019 recipient of the MVP Leader Award for Advocate Aurora Health and a 2019 recipient of the Lean Construction Institute Chicago Community of Practice’s 3rd Annual Bob Krier Award. She has a Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Management from Loyola University of Chicago and a Bachelor of Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Senior Superintendent | Pepper Construction
Mary O'Malley has spent her 31-year career with Pepper Construction, starting out in the trades as a carpenter and working her way up to Senior Superintendent. On every project, Mary supervises jobsite personnel, maintains schedule and budget and implements Pepper standards for safety and quality. Mary's vast experience includes commercial interiors, K-12, higher education, healthcare, residential, retail and religious markets.
After more than a decade of working for nonprofit organizations, Caitlin Poe joined Pepper Construction in April 2019 as a project coordinator. She is dedicated to connecting and educating women in the AEC industry and serves as a director on IndyNAWIC’s executive board.
Senior Project Coordinator | Pepper Construction
As president, Andrea is responsible for the overall leadership and direction of GroundBreakers. She is focused on growing existing client relationships and identifying other opportunities that align with their core strengths. Andrea is committed to fostering an inclusive, team-oriented culture that is the cornerstone of what make GroundBreakers a leader in the industry. She was introduced to the industry during her time working with the Indiana Department of Veteran Affairs, where she connected military servicemen and women with career opportunities throughout the state of Indiana.
President | GroundBreakers
Scenic Artist | Cost of Wisconsin
Anna Tribbett has been a traveling scenic artist for Cost of Wisconsin, a theme and specialty contractor, for seven years. She focuses on creating artificial rockwork, trees and other elements for nature exhibits in zoos, botanical gardens, aquariums, parks and more. Anna is currently working on the Pepper Family Wildlife Center at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. Other recent projects include the Avatar Exhibit at Disney's Animal Kingdom, the Branson Aquarium and the Stone Zoo in Boston.
Explore their journeys
Enjoying work in construction
"No project is the same and I love the collaboration aspect of working with contractors and architects and other engineers so we can holistically look and tackle the problem and contribute to how we can help solve that issue."
Julie Cromwell, Julie Cromwell & Associates
"We can really have the opportunity to positively affect people's lives."
Deb McLaughlin, Design Collective
There are a variety of job offerings throughout construction. Our colleagues across the AEC industry share what they do and what they consider to be the best parts of their jobs.
Meet the inspiring women that we interviewed.
Everyone's path is unique. Whether they were always interested in construction or had a different career, these women share how they got their start in the industry.
"The expectation was I was a girl, I wasn't going to be able to do anything, I wasn't strong enough to do anything, but I had [foremen] who said, 'You can do this…'"
Kelly Fisher, RUKCO
Working in a male-dominated field comes with its own set of challenges. Our AEC colleagues share how they've overcome barriers and raised expectations.
"The path has not been easy. There's always been times where it seemed to me like I've had to, as a woman, go over and beyond to demonstrate and prove my industry expertise."
Andrea Sloan, GroundBreakers
"There's a spot for everybody. Some women do some of the tasks better than men do."
Mary O'Malley, Pepper Construction
"I would love to see more people in the skilled trades industry be female."
Natalie Hansen, Converse Electric
An estimated 10% of the construction industry's workforce is comprised of women. These leaders share their reactions and ideas to attract talent.
With growing opportunities for women over the last several decades, these leaders share advice for women considering a career in construction.
"There's so much talk and proof that diversity is beneficial to an overall company's growth and success."
AnnMarie Gal, Pepper Construction
"If you're going to come into the construction industry, sometimes you can feel at a disadvantage because you're a female and you shouldn't feel that way."
Natalie Hansen, Converse Electric
"I believe we should share knowledge. Knowledge is not meant to be something you hold on to and keep for yourself. Knowledge was given to you and you should pass it on to other people."
Anna Tribbett, Cost of Wisconsin
A network of support
Women share the support they feel throughout the AEC industry and how to fix existing silos.
"That's something I endeavor to do… How can we make everyone feel welcome, empowered and like they belong?"
Caitlin Poe, Pepper Construction