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2023 ElevateHER Cohort and Advisors

2023 ElevateHER Cohort and Advisors

Adrienne Taylor

Division Manager, SSOE Group

17 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

During her nearly two decade career in the AEC industry, Adrienne Taylor first found success by developing her technical skills and knowledge, which was a catalyst for early advancement.  After moving into a personnel management position, Adrienne began thinking more about her team, and this shift in mindset has led her to challenge the problems in the AEC industry that restrict advancement for women.  These issues, which are restricting innovation and efficiency according to Taylor, can be solved with improved education, providing opportunities, and following through.

Alejandra Ruiz

Senior Staff Engineer (Civil), LACO Associates

3.5 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

Alejandra Ruiz is passionate about creating an AEC community that is equitable and diverse–seeking to improve as a leader, coworker, and individual to create more opportunities for women.  Alejandra is interested in learning about procedures and policies that can increase diversity and lead to equitable opportunities for marginalized communities.  Using her experience as a civil engineer and bilingual Mexican American woman, Alejandra is constantly engaged in improving the understanding and knowledge about the needs of these communities.

Alicia Albini

Director of Large Scale Residential, WithersRavenel

27 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

Alicia Albini’s path to professional success was a difficult mountain to climb, and her non-traditional path led her to develop a customized approach to assisting coworkers, other leaders, and employees with their projects, challenges, and professional development goals.  This approach involves adopting a growth-based mindset and a change in perspective–allowing people to become comfortable with being uncomfortable and opening doors to opportunity, achievement, and positive change.  Alicia’s approach is a customized strategy towards recruitment, inclusion, and retention in the AEC industry that involves a combination of a strength-based approach to professional development, mentorship, proper workload planning, and fostering team cohesion.

Amanda Hartman

Business Development & Marketing Lead, PK Electrical, Inc.

7 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

Amanda Hartman joins the 2023 Cohort from PK Electrical, Inc., a female-founded and owned electrical engineering firm with offices in Denver, Colorado and Reno, Nevada. Amanda draws inspiration from the founder and CEO of the firm, and has found a passion for promoting and providing resources for women of all ages to pursue a career in STEM.  She has also developed a unique perspective of the AEC industry–providing soft skills and relationships in support of a technical firm–which allows her to bring more minds to the table when solving issues.

Amanda Roehl

Owner, Chief Idea Generator, Pixels and Ink Studio

25 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

Amanda Roehl possesses a wide range of skills and marketing knowledge, using them to operate a female-owned and staffed firm that serves dozens of AEC and B2B clients throughout the United States as a Drop-In Marketing Team.  Amanda believes that many firms are overlooking the best and brightest talent and customers because they don’t fit the stereotypical AEC persona from previous decades.  She strives to use her marketing skills to discover ways to connect leaders with the resources and tools to affect change.

Amanda Thomas

Civil Engineer, ISG

6 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

Amanda Thomas has a unique approach to conversations that drive the AEC industry forward, seeking not to be the smartest person in the room but rather learning about people’s experiences and backgrounds to foster new ideas and perspectives.  Amanda’s industry experience has given her the adept ability to communicate technical language to non-technical professionals, which is invaluable when communicating across several disciplines working on the same team.  Skills such as these can be taught to young professionals as a way to build confidence and self-esteem in the workplace.

Amy Kunselman

Sustainment Logistics and Technical Writer, QTEC Aerospace

15 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

Amy Kunselman has spent most of her working career in male-dominated fields, which has led her to seek ways to address the behaviors that are holding women back professionally without alienating others to the point that they are not willing to listen and learn.  Amy’s perspective has changed significantly throughout her life–professionally and personally–and she has experienced the different ways in which women and men are treated or valued based on their work status.  She is particularly interested in advocating for the LGBTQ+, who she believes are still not given a fair and safe environment to live and work in.

Andrea Narendorf

Director of Business Development, Flatiron Construction

17 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

Andrea Narendorf’s experience in the AEC industry has developed into a key understanding of the challenges women face when it comes to recruitment, retention, and diversity.  This experience led Andrea to seeking a network of women within the industry who face challenges head-on to find actionable solutions that will continue to build momentum and increase the participation and success of women.  Andrea further believes that exposing girls and young women to individuals who look like them and are successful in the AEC industry will serve to increase not only the number of women in the industry but also their diversity.

Carmen Pemsler

Structural Project Engineer, Tamarack Grove Engineering

1.5 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

During her professional career, Carmen Pemsler has grown into an advocate for people who are not often prioritized and has worked with several professional development groups, such as serving as the Vice President of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), During her time at Boise State University chapter.  Working with these professional organizations and attending their conferences, Carmen recognized the benefits of the tools and connections being provided and seeks to develop those resources for others.  She is passionate about giving back to her community and frequently volunteers as a mentor to help move students towards careers in STEM.

Chad Coldiron

Principal & Director of Executive Search, Zweig Group

6 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

Chad Coldiron has spent the last 6 years of his career in the AEC industry in recruiting and executive search and has worked internally within Zweig Group to build a diverse and knowledgeable team.  Chad leverages his robust industry awareness with an expert understanding of both recruitment and retention as well as strategic planning and budgeting to generate change and elevate the AEC industry.

Emily Havelka, MBA, MA, CPSM


Corporate Communications Leader, HED

10 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

Emily Havelka joins the 2023 Cohort from HED in Southfield, Michigan. An accredited professional services marketing practitioner, Emily is passionate about using marketing and communications as a means to elevating the voices and issues that create positive impact and systemic change within the AEC industry.  

Hannah Barlow

Director of People, Axiom PLLC + Evolve Steel

3.5 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

Hannah Barlow has cultivated a professional and personal interest in creating healthy, resilient, and curious communities, and she has committed herself to learning, sharing, and applying evidence and brain-based models that allow teams to show up more fully in their humanity at work and drive engagement.  Hannah believes that the AEC industry is deeply in need of this knowledge and practice to combat the systemic burnout and inequity that plague it.  She strives to use these practices to improve her own firm and team and hopes to share it more widely and collaborate with others in the AEC industry to make it a norm.

Jessica Bazan

Central Texas Business Development Leader, O’Connell Robertson

15 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

15 years as a Marketer and Business Developer in the AEC has given Jessica Bazan a unique insight into working with firm leaders, marketing teams, and design professionals to cultivate and support relationships across all markets.  Jessica uses this insight to work towards empowering women to build careers in an industry where they comprise a small percentage of full-time salary workers.  This has driven Jessica to dive deeper into recruiting and retention challenges, focusing on internal professional development programs and promoting diversion and inclusion.

Kara Koenig

Interior Designer, Hoefer Welker

3 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

Kara Koenig comes from an AEC industry background, with her grandmother, grandfathers, and father having careers in different fields within it. From an early age, this immersion in the industry meant that Kara was keenly aware of the lack of opportunities for women, young professionals, and people of color. She believes that more opportunities must be created for historically marginalized groups to bring meaningful change to the AEC industry. This includes implementing DEI initiatives, ensuring women are given equal access to promotion and retention opportunities, providing salary education and transparency, and encouraging self-advocacy for minorities.

Katie Fitzpatrick

Marketing & Communications Coordinator, Galloway

1.5 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

Katie Fitzpatrick is a marketing professional with a wide range of experience from graphic design to event production.  Katie recently began working in the AEC industry and is immersed in gaining the knowledge and tools needed to tell the story of women in the AEC industry.  By learning about the hardships and experiences of women from all different backgrounds, roles, and stages of their AEC industry careers, Katie hopes to tell their stories and use her marketing skills to advocate for women in the AEC industry with the goal of continuing to improve and broaden the influence of women in the industry.

Kellie Delaney

Director of Marketing, HP Engineering, INC

1 Year of Experience in the AEC Industry

Kellie Delaney’s first year in the AEC industry has been spent soaking up information and knowledge in the pursuit of legitimizing and promoting her firm’s fantastic work.  In these pursuits, Kellie is focused on leveraging her skillset and education to create meaningful recommendations, training, and toolkits for decision-makers in the AEC industry.  Kellie believes that it is the responsibility of the AEC industry to help prepare the next generation of workers while not sacrificing the retention of the current workforce, and it is up to us to set the environment where these changes can thrive.

Laci Budd

Senior Marketing Specialist, BHC

5 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

Laci Budd is constantly challenging herself, and has recently done so by spending the last year completing a professional services marketer certification along with co-chairing BHC’s employee-led DEI committee.  These experiences have changed Laci’s corporate views and expectations in order to better serve those around her.  In challenging herself and expanding her mindset, Laci is constantly striving to bring a voice and encouragement to those who may be struggling in their career while also educating those around her to seek equality for all.

Lalitha Benjaram

Diversity & Inclusion Program Manager, Mead & Hunt

8 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

Lalitha Benjaram studied Civil and Environmental Engineering in school, and spent the first 8 years of her career working in Mead & Hunt’s Water Resource Group before becoming involved in their Employee Resources Group (ERG) in 2018 and quickly discovering her passion for DEIB initiatives.  Lalitha moved to the role of ERG Program Manager in 2022 and is focused on developing strong programming internally and externally so that her company–and the AEC industry overall–is an environment where currently underrepresented groups feel included, valued, and empowered to stay and take on leadership roles.  She believes that DEIB is a collaboration that can only work by getting people in the AEC industry to work together to improve our approaches.

Laura Morton

Senior Associate, SSOE Group

12 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

During her time in the AEC industry, Laura Morton has seen four substantial projects through every phase from design to construction, allowing her to develop a well-rounded perspective on the architecture profession.  Laura’s experience has led her to the understanding that buildings and spaces should be designed by architects and engineers that represent the user, drawing from a place of shared experience, culture, or background.  Morton also believes that we can nurture a pipeline of young women, LGBTQIA+ people, and minorities into the design and construction world by providing STEM exposure and the arts, giving us a chance at reaching a more equitable future for the AEC industry.

Lawson Picasso

Communications & Public Involvement Manager, San Antonio Lead, WSP, USA

3 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

Lawson Picasso’s professional and personal life experience have allowed her to develop a keen understanding of the challenges and needs for benefits that support individuals impacted by social and economic disparities.  Lawson’s professional approach towards diversity and inclusion comes from her background in strategic planning and community-designed engagement.  This approach allows Lawson to foster conversations about addressing equality in the AEC industry. 

Maria Jackie Chang

Senior Project Manager, DBR

11 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

During her time in the AEC industry, Maria Jacqueline Chang has worked regularly with project owners, architects, engineers, and contractors from the design phase to construction, which allowed her to develop a strong set of communication skills.  Along with being a professional engineer with extensive knowledge in mechanical, electrical, and plumbing as well as experience designing complex systems, Maria is passionate about helping other AEC professionals navigate and work through the challenges they face.

Michele Ouimet

Marketing Director, Colliers Engineering & Design

23 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

Michele Ouimet has over 25 years of design, communications and marketing leadership experience. Through her proven ability to lead, manage and motivate marketing teams, she has successfully established herself as a leader within the marketing industry. Experiencing the challenges women face firsthand, Michele is passionate about creating a workplace environment that supports woman and provides opportunities for them to grow into leadership positions. To this end, Michele co-founded the firm’s Women’s Organization, an internal initiative that aims to educate, engage and empower its female workforce while developing a stronger identity within the firm and the surrounding communities.

Sarah Welsh

HR Manager, L.A. Fuess Partners

14 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

Being a woman who has spent nearly the entirety of her working career as a support professional in the AEC industry, Sarah Welsh has a unique perspective of the challenges women face in the industry.  Sarah has been an active member in two different chapters of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC), serving on the board of directors and chairing various committees.  Her participation in this association and their outreach programs demonstrate her continued passion for promoting STEM and construction careers for women.

Shelby Harvey

Talent Development & HR Lead, BHC

6 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

Shelby Harvey inhabits several roles for BHC in Overland Park, Kansas, managing their internship and college recruiting as well as co-leading their DEI committee.  Harnessing her passion for ensuring equitable access to opportunities, Shelby uses her position as an HR professional to serve her coworkers, organization, and community.  Using objectivity and empathy, Shelby constantly strives to improve upon ideas, which is only strengthened by her desire to elevate others.

Stephanie Putzke

Principal, Director of Interior Design, Cyntergy- Tulsa, OK

13 Years of Experience in the AEC Industry

In her career in the AEC industry, Stephanie Putzke has learned that the best way for a leader to grow and affect change is to have external support.  Stephanie has repeatedly demonstrated the courage to speak up and suggest change, leaning on her own experiences to shape policy suggestions.  Stephanie seeks to create a platform to share ideas and ask questions that would benefit not only her own leadership skills but also her team and firm culture as a whole.

2023 ElevateHER Advisors

Advisors serve a special role in the ElevateHER program.  Advisors are made up of individuals who have already been through the cohort process.  These advisors work closely with new cohort members, providing guidance, support, and mentorship as they develop new projects that will positively affect the AEC industry.

Christina Turner


WeAreAEC 2022

Christina Turner has always been passionate about helping those around her reach their full potential, especially when it comes to supporting women in the workplace, building their confidence, and sharing growth opportunities.  To this end, Christina has several notable achievements including establishing a Women’s Employee Resource Group that fostered a diverse inclusive workplace aligned with the organization’s mission, values, and goals.  She views the ElevateHER movement as a way to bring positive change to the AEC industry for all individuals regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.

Dathan Gaskill

Zweig Group

Well Engaged 2022

Prior to Dathan’s role at Zweig Group, he was the CFO of Garver, LLC where he helped develop and was the executive sponsor of Connect–Garver’s professional women-based mentoring and support group.  During his long career in both the finance and AEC industry, Dathan has repeatedly demonstrated himself as both a team player and a team builder.

Dawn Kopecky


Redefining Success 2020

Dawn Kopecky is passionate about attracting younger people to the profession, believing that, for young people to seriously consider a career in the AEC industry, the culture must be more amenable to their value system.  Dawn believes this will make the AEC industry a better place to work for the next generation, helping it become more inclusive, compassionate, and accepting.

Lisa Huddleston


RouteDEI 2021

Lisa Huddleston’s experience in the AEC industry spans not only two plus decades but also the entirety of North America, with experience in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.  In recent years, Lisa has been focused on leading young professionals and developing greater DEI efforts in the AEC industry.

Emily Waldenmeyer

HP Engineering

Well Engaged 2022

Emily Waldenmeyer has repeatedly demonstrated her tremendous design experience at award winning firms, and has also been instrumental in building from the ground up.  Emily leads from the trenches–teaching, leading, and empowering her team to surpass their goals.  These experiences allow Emily to deliver creative solutions to both complex and simple challenges.

Carrie Casillas

Forensic Analytical

Breaking Bias 2022

Carrie Casillas has over 20 years of experience in managing Human Resources and has served as a coach and advisor to leadership teams in her various roles.  Currently, she manages every aspect of the Company’s employment needs and ensures that all Human Resources initiatives are strategically aligned with the vision, mission, and core values of the organization.

Jennifer Ridd


DRIVE 2020

Jennifer Riss has over 17 years if experience in structural engineering design and project management.  She believes the ultimate goal of creating an industry-wide culture where individuals of all backgrounds can thrive is important–not just to the individuals, but to the whole industry.

Karen Purcell

PK Electrical

WeAreAEC 2022

Karen Purcell is the founder, owner, and president of PK Electrical, Inc, and she boasts more than 30 years of experience in the design and project management of electrical systems, serving on the Nevada State Board of Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors since 2015.  Karen authored Unlocking your Brilliance: Smart Strategies for Women to Thrive in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.  Using her experience working through the challenges of working in a male-dominated industry, Karen is committed to encouraging women and helping them follow in her footsteps.

Laurel Stone

StoArc Studio, LLC

TeacHER 2022

Laurel Stone has built an impressive career in the AEC industry, now serving as the Founding Principal of StoArc Studio, an architectural design and project management consulting firm based in Dallas.  While building her career, Laurel has been able to pursue her passions of mentoring emerging professionals and advocating for the career advancement of women in architecture.  These passions are demonstrated through Laurel’s continuing work with various local professional organizations such as the Texas Society of Architects.

Mickey Garcia

SilverEdge Systems Software

RouteDEI 2021

Mickey Garcia has held many roles since joining BHC in 1997 and is currently focused 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 has earned several designations and degrees including an MBA with a project management focus in 2019 and a Women in Leadership course in 2020. 

Misela Gonzales-Vandewalle

O’Connell Robertson

WeAreAEC 2022

Misela Gonzales-Vandewalle professional vision is to lead talented teams of problem solvers in designing buildings that enrich the lives of the people they serve.  Coupled with her experience as the daughter of bilingual educators, Misela has shaped her career around education and the shaping of educational environments.  Using her knowledge and expertise, Misela provides students with access to the tools necessary to create a future with greater possibilities, influencing her personal mission to be instrumental in cultivating a more diverse future for the AEC industry.

Stephanie Teetes

Underground Support Services

MentHER 2021

Stephanie Teetes is the founder and President of Underground Support Services, LLC (UUS), leading the day-to-day operations of USS staff in three states.  Stephanie has also successfully navigated the processes for diversity certification, earning USS numerous designations.  Stephanie is a champion for women in business and believes we all benefit when we work together and help one another.