Stories of empowered women executing complex and technical projects



May 31, 2017

Celebrating Women Who Build: Lisa Lingerfelt

Lisa Lingerfelt
Photo courtesy of David Galen

Lisa Lingerfelt’s first project when she returned to work from maternity leave in 2006 was her first as a project manager (PM). A defining moment in her 15-year career, Lingerfelt led the construction of a $60 million ground-up lab facility for the University of Virginia (UVA), then a new customer for DPR. The team needed to exceed expectations, and rose to the occasion. Lingerfelt still takes great pride in how the team turned over the facility on time, under budget and with no punchlist items at substantial completion.

It was on that project as a PM where Lingerfelt grew both her leadership and technical skills, learning the difference between managing and leading, and technical knowledge ranging from the complexities of geopiers to comparing the aesthetics and spec requirements of welds on an ornamental stair.

Today, Lingerfelt is a Business Unit Leader for DPR’s Mid-Atlantic region, supporting operations throughout the Northeast. As DPR has grown, she has grown with it. She was named to ENR’s Top 20 Under 40 list in 2013, and was recognized as a leader in the industry on Constructech’s Women in Construction list in 2015. 

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Lingerfelt was named to ENR’s Top 20 Under 40 list in 2013, and was recognized as a leader in the industry on Constructech’s Women in Construction list in 2015. Photo courtesy of David Galen

Early in her career, even after she earned a B.S. in engineering and a master’s in construction management, Lingerfelt struggled with self-confidence. She joined DPR in 2002 as a project engineer, and felt young and inexperienced in a complex, technical world. On one occasion when she was the lead project engineer on the Virginia Capital Square Renovation project, Lingerfelt was standing with her team during a press conference. A visiting politician mistook her as the daughter of one of her colleagues and asked her if it was “Bring Your Daughter to Work Day.”

It took time for her to find her voice and speak up more in meetings, but she soon realized that the key for unlocking her inner confidence was experience and expertise. She was someone who grew the most when she was outside of her comfort zone—challenging herself to persevere and develop her capabilities.

“Once I had the experience and expertise, my confidence grew and the more I spoke up, the more I realized that my voice did make a difference and had an impact. It was not easy. I worked hard, and always in the best interest of our projects and company,” she said. “And in turn, DPR has believed in me and recognized me for my accomplishments and skills.” 

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Lingerfelt thrives on problem-solving and teamwork, and particularly enjoys the unique challenges of healthcare facilities. Photo courtesy of David Galen

Lingerfelt loves how every day is different in her role at DPR. She knows our core value of enjoyment is about how the people who work at DPR find their work intrinsically satisfying, are passionate about what they do, and love being a part of the DPR family. She enjoys coming to work every day–no matter how early, and no matter what challenge is ahead of her.

She thrives on problem-solving and teamwork, and particularly enjoys the unique challenges of healthcare facilities–the emphasis on patient care, rigorous cleanliness standards and the challenge of keeping an occupied hospital up and running during construction. She has led notable projects including the renovation of VCU Health Medical Center, which is located in a congested downtown area, surrounded on all sides by active medical facilities and expected to be completed in 2018.

While the UVA project, her first as a PM over a decade ago, was a defining moment in her career, Lingerfelt’s proudest moment is when she comes home and realizes that as a working mom, she is a role model for her two kids. She is showing them by example, that they don’t have to give up their professional aspirations to be a parent.

And whenever she tells her 11-year old daughter or her 9-year old son that she is proud of them, her heart melts when they smile and respond that it is her that they are most proud of.

May 14, 2017

Thank You, Working Moms!

In honor of Mother’s Day, we wanted to recognize and celebrate our working moms–women who build, lead and inspire us today and every day.

We asked moms of DPR: what does being a working mom mean to you? The answers we received were moving, and we wanted to share them with you below. To our everyday heroes–thank you for all that you do as we continue to celebrate #WomenWhoBuild. 

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May 5, 2017

Celebrating Women Who Build at ENR’s Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference

In San Francisco this week, over 300 women gathered for ENR’s 14th Annual Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference (GWIC). Builders from all over the country came together to discuss, ask questions and promote change in a traditionally male-dominated industry that is only 9.3% women (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

The issue of the dearth of women in construction–as well as many other STEM fields–is complex, nuanced, and there is not one simple answer. A confluence of factors ranging from unconscious bias learned at an early age, to a lack of women in the STEM pipeline, to recruiting, retention and development of women in technical and leadership positions will not likely be solved by any one quick fix.  

What GWIC provided was a much-needed starting point for a room full of builders–strong women who build great things each and every day. Industry speakers discussed the business case for diversity, ways to achieve buy-in from leadership, achieving parity in salaries and attracting the next generation of builders. 

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In her keynote address at ENR's Groundbreaking Women in Construction conference, Kinsella shares her personal career journey. Photo courtesy of Haley Hirai

Diversity is more than diversity for “diversity’s sake,” it is about driving business results and efficiency:

  • Gender and ethnically diverse companies are respectively 15% and 35% more likely to outperform their peers. (McKinsey)
  • Companies with higher female representation in top management outperform those that don’t by delivering 34% greater returns to shareholders. (Catalyst)

DPR’s Gretchen Kinsella delivered an inspiring keynote address about her personal story and career journey. Gretchen is DPR’s youngest project executive in Phoenix, managing the largest project that we have ever built in the area—the $318-million renovation of Banner University Medical Center Phoenix (BUMCP). On the last day of 2016, she gave birth to her daughter in one of the very same rooms she built back in 2004.  

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DPR colleagues congratulate keynote speaker Gretchen Kinsella at ENR’s Groundbreaking Women in Construction conference. Photo courtesy of Kevin Halter

Gretchen’s story about how she found her voice and embraced who she is has resonated with readers across the country. The responses she has been getting since her story was published by ENR online in March and in the publication in April have been unexpected, inspiring and continuous. She receives emails every day from people who are still reading her story, people who identify with her challenges and victories and who are thankful to find someone who shares the same experiences that they do. 

The attendees at the conference experienced what others in the industry may feel every day–a sense of belonging with your peer group, a feeling of being accepted for everything you are and are not, and a refreshing knowledge that there are so many other builders out there like you, committed to creating a strong, supportive environment where everyone can thrive. 

April 28, 2017

Celebrating Women Who Build: Vic Julian

Vic Julian Main
Photo courtesy of Everett Rosette

Every part of Vic Julian’s life has come together to set herself up for a successful career in construction. Before she became DPR’s first female superintendent, her work as an interpreter for the deaf and hard of hearing taught her to listen to the whole room and pay attention to many different styles of communication. Her natural talent for drafting and sketching helps her visually translate complex, technical concepts to her teams. And her past experience teaching helps her view everything through the lens of training and mentoring.

Coming from three generations of carpenters–her grandfather was a founding member of Local 180 in Vallejo, and her father later became a member as well–Julian joined DPR in 2000 as a walk-on carpentry apprentice. Her technical expertise continued to develop and grow as she became a foreman, assistant superintendent and superintendent. She now specializes in managing ground-up construction and large corporate campuses across the Bay Area. 

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Vic Julian specializes in managing ground-up construction and large corporate campuses across the Bay Area. Photo courtesy of Everett Rosette

Julian prides herself on never missing a schedule, even while remaining flexible to changes in scope. “To be a superintendent, you have to be comfortable speaking your mind while listening to others. You must be willing to stand by your decisions, because you are responsible not only for schedule, but cost, quality and safety. To do this, you earn people’s respect, and own who you are,” she said.  

During her first performance review as a foreman, her superintendent told her, “Stop calling yourself a carpenter; you are a builder." Soon after, she led the challenging build of a boiler plant at a biotech campus, something she had never built before. The steam and condensate required a 420-ft. bridge atop the campus ridgeline to reach the new build, as well as three massive boilers shipped in from New York.  After its successful completion, Julian realized she could handle anything with her training–no matter how difficult it may seem.

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Julian has successfully led technical, challenging projects, including ground-up corporate and higher education campuses. Photo courtesy of Everett Rosette

Since then, Julian has led technical, architecturally demanding projects, including ground-up corporate offices and higher education campuses. The more challenging they are, the better–she welcomes occupied buildings, hazmat removal, or anything else that comes her way.

“I grew up with a mother and father who taught me that I could do anything, and at DPR it was the same,” she said. “I love to build. I love building at DPR. We have amazing mentors who taught me how to handle complex, technical projects. It is the great people who have kept me here for almost 20 years. We are a family.”   

She loves “every piece” of building, just as construction provided the perfect confluence of every piece of her prior experience. She no longer wonders if she is a builder. She is a builder, she can build anything, and she builds great things each and every day.

March 16, 2017

Celebrating Women Who Build: Gretchen Kinsella


We are proud to kick off our Celebrating Women Who Build blog series with the story of Gretchen Kinsella. Gretchen is DPR’s youngest project executive in the Phoenix region, managing the largest project that we have ever built in the area—the $318-million renovation of Banner University Medical Center Phoenix (BUMCP).

Starting at DPR in 2002 as an intern, Gretchen found herself assigned to a project that didn’t offer the challenges she was looking for in her internship. She was honest and candid with her intern mentor; she wanted more challenges, responsibilities, problems to solve. She wanted to build great things.

Gretchen was moved to another project. “If you want to be heard, you need to continue to speak up and be confident in your own capabilities, whether you’re a 25-year veteran or an intern in your first week on the job,” she said.

Gretchen’s story continues to be one pushing limits. Her first full-time project at DPR was Banner Good Samaritan Hospital (now BUMCP, the project she is building today). She was given a lot of responsibility, because she asked for it. She continued to raise her hand for challenging projects as she progressed to becoming a project engineer, project manager and project executive.

And 15 years later, she chose an OB/GYN that delivers at BUMCP because she felt there was no better place for her personally to bring her daughter into this world. She was coming full circle, with the child she gave birth to at the site of the project she helped create (in one of the very same rooms she built back in 2004).

Read Gretchen’s full story, “How to Ask for What You Want and Find Your Voice in a Male-Dominated Industry,” on ENR.

March 7, 2017

Celebrating Women Who Build, Today and Every Day

This spring, in honor of International Women’s Day, International Women’s Week, Women in Construction Week and Women’s History Month, we wanted to celebrate the achievements made by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries, communities and fields of work.

  • If every woman in the workforce did not work for 24 hours, it would put a $21 billion dollar dent in country's gross domestic product—without factoring in the economic value of women's unpaid labor. If all that caretaking work were factored into GDP, it would surge by more than 25% (Center for American Progress, Bureau of Labor Statistics).
  • Profitability increases by 15% for firms that have at least 30% female executives versus firms with no women in the top tier positions (Peterson Institute for International Economics and EY). 
  • As of 2016, there are 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., employing 9 million people and generating an astounding $1.6 trillion in revenues. Between 2007 and 2016, the growth in the number of women-owned firms has outpaced the national average by five times and business revenues have increased at a rate that’s 30% higher than the national average during this same period (Fortune). 

As we celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women across the world, we at DPR want to recognize the women who lead and inspire us every day. Construction is a traditionally male-dominated industry that is only 9.3 percent women (Bureau of Labor Statistics). We want to spotlight the women who are paving the way and are proud to announce the launch of a monthly blog series called Celebrating Women Who Build, dedicated to sharing stories of women who build great things not only at DPR, but across the AEC industry.

Celebrating Women Who Build tells stories of empowered women, who are successfully executing complex, technical projects. We want to connect, inspire, develop and advance women in the industry as they build meaningful careers—whether it’s as a PE, a PX, an architect or an owner.

As we continue to share our Celebrating Women Who Build profiles once a month, please join us in creating a strong, supportive environment where all builders can thrive–today, and every day. 

Celebrating Women Who Build Blog Series

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Photo courtesy of Gregg Mastorakos

Gretchen Kinsella
We kicked off the Celebrating Women Who Build series with the story of Gretchen Kinsella. Kinsella is DPR’s youngest project executive in Phoenix, managing the largest project that we have ever built in the area—the $318-million renovation of Banner University Medical Center Phoenix (BUMCP). On the last day of 2016, she gave birth to her daughter in one of the very same rooms she built back in 2004.  

Vic Julian Main
Photo courtesy of Everett Rosette

Vic Julian
Vic Julian, DPR's first female superintendent, joined the company in 2000 as a walk-on carpentry apprentice. Her expertise continued to develop and grow as she became a foreman, assistant superintendent and superintendent. Julian now specializes in managing ground-up construction and large corporate campuses across the Bay Area, embracing her identity as a builder to lead challenging, technical projects. 

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In her keynote address at ENR's Groundbreaking Women in Construction conference, Kinsella shares her personal career journey. Photo courtesy of Haley Hirai

ENR Groundbreaking Women in Construction Conference
After her story was published by ENR, Gretchen Kinsella shared her personal/career journey in an inspiring keynote address at ENR's Groundbreaking Women in Construction conference in San Francisco. 

Lisa Lingerfelt
Photo courtesy of David Galen

Lisa Lingerfelt
Early in her career, Lisa Lingerfelt struggled with self-confidence, but challenged herself to develop her capabilities through experience and expertise. Today, Lingerfelt is a Business Unit Leader for DPR’s Mid-Atlantic region, supporting operations throughout the Northeast. As DPR has grown, she has grown with it. She was named to ENR’s Top 20 Under 40 list in 2013, and was recognized as a leader in the industry on Constructech’s Women in Construction list in 2015.

(Updated May 30, 2017)