Stories of empowered women executing complex and technical projects



June 29, 2017

Celebrating Women Who Build: DPR SHEBUILDS

Photo courtesy of Rena Crittendon

It is pure dedication that drove Rena Crittendon to return to the home of an 88-year-old woman named Elnora after an all-female DPR team completed a series of home renovations as part of Rebuilding Together San Francisco's SHEBUILDS day. It is Crittendon’s pride in her work, as part Bay Area community initiatives champion, part field office coordinator (FOC), that challenged her to go back and stucco Elnora's house herself, furthering what she learned from her teammates that day.

When women unite, they can accomplish anything.

In launching the SHEBUILDS day this year, Rebuilding Together San Francisco not only highlighted the level of need among women in the community, but also showcased the ability of women in construction and design industries to assist and empower other women in their own backyard. And the need is real; Rebuilding Together points to statistics showing that more than one in seven women and one in five children live in poverty across the U.S. In 2015, 66 percent of the homes repaired by Rebuilding Together San Francisco were headed by a woman.

Arundhati Ghosh, a BIM project engineer with DPR, got the ball rolling on the SHEBUILDS project after hearing about the opportunity from a colleague. She had participated on Rebuilding Together projects in the past, but Ghosh said the prospect of an all-female team was intriguing. “The group I currently work with is all men,” she said. “It was interesting to me to see how it would be if it was an all-women's group with women taking the lead instead of men.”

The all-female DPR team completed a series of home renovations for an 88-year-old woman named Elnora. Photo courtesy of J. Rosenfeld

Ghosh reached out to Crittendon, and a team of nearly 40 of DPR's female employees, along with 10 women from other companies, joined together to tackle the much-needed home improvement project.

“There were holes in the ceiling and wall in the back bedroom behind the quilting room the woman uses, and a 10-ft.-long strip that was open to the elements. This was not going to be just a patch job,” Crittendon noted. Electrical and plumbing fixes were also needed. “We took several walk-throughs with an all-female team of experts, including a carpenter superintendent, structural engineer and others, and decided we needed more than one day to do the job.”

Finding the skilled trade workers to make up the all-female team seemed daunting, but the team ultimately secured several electricians, two skilled workers from DPR's self-perform demolition crew, a carpenter superintendent (Vic Julian, DPR’s first female superintendent), a plumber (the granddaughter of the homeowner), and many others. When planning the build day with the team, some people questioned, “can we pull this off? Can we do this with only women?” Crittendon’s answer was, “hell yes!” 

The DPR team was made up of different experts, including a carpenter superintendent, structural engineer and others. Photo courtesy of A. Fortune

In addition to the 430 total hours of planning and building invested in the project, the DPR-led, all-female team brought a strong sense of collaboration, an innate trust in their teammates, and support for fellow team members' input and ideas. “The camaraderie was amazing,” Ghosh said. “It was really high energy all day, and it was extremely collaborative.”

Additional comments from the women who participated and were surveyed at project completion included one who said, “I gained invaluable hands-on experience with construction. I love that our community initiative activities help our employees grow their skillsets as builders.” Another commented that the personal reward was “some really great teamwork and knowing we really improved the quality of life of the person we helped.”

It is the “awesomeness” that comes out of each event that grows Crittendon’s passion for helping others even more. “The women who helped us build over the course of the two days are smart, strong and technical. They inspire me every day, and they taught me so much about building. I feel so much more confident now in my own abilities because of them,” she said.

During the first half of 2017, Crittendon (pictured) has organized community events in the Bay Area that impacted 600 under-resourced youth who learned about construction skills and careers through education modules, mentoring and career fairs; 25 staff members at local nonprofits who participated in professional development with DPR's training staff; and one individual—Elnora—who was impacted through DPR's expertise in facility construction and renovation. Photo courtesy of Everett Rosette

Similar to how a project team builds the right relationships with the right partners (architects, owners, subcontractors) at the beginning of a job, Crittendon in her community role strives to form the right partnerships with the right organizations so DPR's employees can serve them in the best ways they know how: facility construction, career/educational opportunities and operational support. 

For Crittendon, it’s all about the long-term impact, the people who come out to volunteer, and the people they are serving. It’s the women she works with, who build great things and inspire her every day. It’s showing her kids that she can be a full-time working mom, handling two different roles at DPR while still managing to coach her daughter’s travel softball team. She is more than just passionate about all she does–she is proud.

So are we. 

May 31, 2017

Celebrating Women Who Build: Lisa Lingerfelt

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. 

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.” 

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. 

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 percent 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. 

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 percent and 35 percent more likely to outperform their peers. (McKinsey)
  • Companies with higher female representation in top management outperform those that don’t by delivering 34 percent 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.  

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

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. 

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.

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, DPR Construction launched a monthly blog series dedicated to sharing stories of women who build great things at DPR and across the AEC industry.

  • 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 percent (Center for American Progress, Bureau of Labor Statistics).
  • Profitability increases by 15 percent for firms that have at least 30 percent 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 percent higher than the national average during this same period (Fortune). 

Construction is a traditionally male-dominated industry that is only 9.3 percent women (Bureau of Labor Statistics). The Celebrating Women Who Build blog series tells stories of empowered women, who are successfully executing complex, technical projects for some of the world's most progressive and admired companies. The goal is to help 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, join DPR in creating a strong, supportive environment where all builders can thrive–today and every day. 

Celebrating Women Who Build Blog Series

Photo courtesy of Gregg Mastorakos

Gretchen Kinsella
The Celebrating Women Who Build series kicked off 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 to date—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.  

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. 

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. 

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 manages large-scale, multi-phase projects in a senior leadership role in DPR's Mid-Atlantic region. As DPR has grown, she has grown with the company. She was also 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 Rena Crittendon

SHEBUILDS Team
DPR’s Rena Crittendon and Arundhati Ghosh organized an all-female team of builders, engineers and trades to complete a series of home renovations for an 88-year-old quilter named Elnora, as part of Rebuilding Together San Francisco's SHEBUILDS day.

Photo courtesy of Brandon Parscale

Andrea Weisheimer
A project executive in Austin, Andrea Weisheimer is passionate about balancing the structural design complexities of tall buildings with creating cost efficiencies for her customers. Growing up with a penchant for painting and design, Weisheimer now mentors a high school intern who shares her interest in art. 

Photo courtesy of Brilliance Photography/Bob Hughes

Lauren Snedeker
Lauren Snedeker, a project manager in Atlanta, is managing University of Georgia’s design-build improvements to the west end zone at Sanford Stadium, the tenth largest college football stadium in the country. Passionate about developing the next generation of builders, Snedeker aims to be the strong mentor her interns and project engineers can turn to–a role that was missing from her life early on in her career when she was unsure what she wanted to do. 

Photo courtesy of Amed Aplicano

Deepti Bhadkamkar
A project manager specializing in complex MEP systems across core markets, Bhadkamkar’s passion is figuring out ways to make laboratories, data centers and hospitals smarter and more efficient for the people who will eventually occupy them. She most recently managed MEP systems for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford, a new 521,000-sq.-ft. building that opened in December 2017 and more than doubled the size of the existing pediatric and obstetric hospital campus in Palo Alto, California.

DCI Engineers' Janki DePalma has helped DCI triple its office size and secure projects that have changed Austin’s skyline. Photo courtesy of Russ Rhea

Connecting and Inspiring Women Who Build in Austin
As part of a Celebrating Women Who Build panel in Austin, Melissa Neslund, Armbrust & Brown; Janki DePalma, DCI Engineers; Katie Blair, Charles Schwab; Pollyanna Little, STG Design—along with DPR’s Weisheimer and Bryan Lofton discussed how 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.

Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Whitney Dorn
A project executive leading a 73-acre corporate campus project in Irvine, California, Whitney Dorn sees trust and respect as the foundation for any highly functioning team. She hopes to help the next generation of builders see themselves in this industry, picture the career paths ahead of them, and know that building great things is what they want to do for the rest of their lives. 

Photo courtesy of Mickey Fender

Kali Bonnell
After starting her career at DPR as an intern, Kali Bonnell grew both her skills and confidence in DPR’s flat organizational structure. Each opportunity helped build her experience to prepare her for the Boca Raton Regional Hospital Christine E. Lynn Women’s Health and Wellness Institute project, her first job as a full-fledged project manager. The 90 percent female design-build team of architects, designers, builders and owner’s representatives shared a vision for creating the 45,800-sq.-ft. comprehensive women’s center with the patient in mind.

(Updated February 12, 2018)