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ElevateHER Past Projects

ElevateHER Past Projects

The founding goal of the ElevateHER® program is to create actionable plans that address and solve the problems underpinning the AEC industry’s ongoing struggles with the recruitment and retention of talent.  Each new cohort is organized into teams, and these teams work together to create programs that do just that.  The results of these projects are tangible, and teams have found no limit to their creativity in past years.  Here are some of the industry-changing ideas that were formed at previous ElevateHER events that are continuing to shape the AEC industry:

We Are AEC (2022)

Problem:  When one googles “architect” or “contractor,” the images that appear don’t represent the diversity of the various professions.  For instance, women are more than 35 percent of registered architects and 20 percent of firm leaders, yet less than 2 percent of images of architects feature women.  The situation is much worse for engineering and contractors.  While some may feel the imagery depicts the current reality, they don’t, and they certainly don’t reflect the reality of the future.

Thesis: We Are AEC expands the awareness of the AEC industry within the general public through imagery, reinforcing the premise that people from many different walks of life can find fulfillment within these careers.

Proposal:  Super Bowl ads are a major premise that reaches a wide range of people, but they are very expensive.  To raise funds, Team We Are AEC proposed to sell t-shirts that say “We are AEC | Architecture | Engineering | Construction and “I am…” with the options to insert a label including careers such as marketer, drone driver, data analyst, CFO, etc.

To encourage knowledge of the project, we’ll ask everyone who receives the T-shirt to post a video of themselves on social media stating “I am…” and sharing what they like best about that career.

Once enough funds are raised, We Are AEC will create a Super Bowl ad that is a compilation of the “I am…” videos with additional professional content.


Amanda Prosser, PLA

Christina Turner

Karen Purcell, PE

Kim Pham, EIT

Misela Gonzales-Vandewalle, AIA

Nicole Morris Dress, AIA

Empower Space (2022)

Thesis: Due to fear of speaking up, people are finding increased job dissatisfaction leading to people exiting the workforce and not moving up to higher level roles.  Self-advocacy, confidence, and assertiveness are meaningful tools that everyone can use to increase their job satisfaction by being an active contributor to their own success.  Unfortunately, the opportunities to learn these skills are not evenly distributed in the workforce.  By creating an easily accessible space that is curated to address the common issues and provides an opportunity for mentorship when you need it, more people can learn to speak up.  By building off MentHER Match and Elevators, we intend to provide internet and media options to help employees not feel alone and gain real world examples of finding their voice.  

Objectives: Provide testimonials and additional resources to navigate some of the most common stressful situations that underrepresented professionals are facing within their career.

Long term objectives:

  • Collaborate with other organizations to increase their resources, access to mentorship, and testimonies by either including them in this program or linking their program to this one
  • Grow podcasts each month to include new episodes and topics that can be searched by date, subject, or name
  • Create a plan for the ideas and concepts developed by the Empower Space team to be sustainable and carry on in the future


Hillary Crabb

Kristin Worrell

Melissa Frausto

Michele Spinowitz

Rachel Paterno

Sam Collins

Tasha Bolivar

Jessica Schmidtetter

Tony Casagrande, PE

Well Engaged (2022)

Thesis: A confluence of factors is impacting our AEC workforce.  Taking care of people, finding people, and retaining people are challenging the industry like never before.  The challenges show no sign of letting up and likely will continue to influence our industry.  We believe wellness is a sound way of thinking about and addressing challenges.  Simply put: healthy people for a healthy business.

What is wellness?

Wellness is a holistic integration of all aspects of the human experience.  It is an active and intentional endeavor to achieve health in many dimensions including, but not limited to, physical, emotional, spiritual, environmental, and social.  We believe wellness programs that are long-term and people-oriented not only create healthy employees but also produce benefits such as preventing burnout, reducing absenteeism, mitigating turnover, aiding in recruitment and retention, and proving productivity.  All add value to organizations and produce well-engaged people.  Our team will deliver tools, demonstrated benefits, a financial comparison, and a way to get wellness started if you haven’t already.


Ana Ramirez

Chris Haas

Christine Sheng

Dathan Gaskill

Emily Waldenmeyer

Emily Winfield

Kim Thompson Smith

Kristen Jacons

Scott Tanner

Breaking Bias (2022)

Mission: Create gender bias awareness at all levels of an organization by developing a survey along with engaging activities based on research and statistics, that break down defense barriers by using an approach that incorporates psychological safety, humor, and competition that will inform, educate, enlighten, and create a culture committed to breaking bias.

Values:  Our vision is that this awareness goes beyond an organization and becomes a global movement of #BreakingBias where people can share their stories, inspire change, and support each other as we do the work to break biases.


Carrie Casillas

Carrie West

Jenny Thomason, AIA, NCARB

Jen Harkleroad, PE

Lauren Kirschbaum, EIT

Vanessa Davis, PG

TeacHER (2022)

Thesis: Many AEC firms are struggling to hire due to a shrinking workforce.  In addition, there is a lack of awareness and interest about the AEC field in K-12 students.  The teacHER group is hoping to combat this challenge by creating resources for AEC professionals to go out into K-12 classrooms and after-school programs and get students excited about opportunities in the AEC inclusion.  Our goal is to close the gap and increase diversity, equity, and industry industry-wide.

Target Audience:  Teachers, parents, and members of the community who want to do outreach for K-12 students and want pre-developed curriculum and presentations.


  • Create a calendar of important dates for AEC outreach (i.e. Engineers Week, Women in Construction, etc.)
  • Create a map of AEC experts through the ElevateHER network that are willing to present to K-12 classrooms
  • Create a database of existing resources/curriculum for AEC activities for K-12 students


Andi Vicksman Godfroy

Anne Brummett

Brittany Boyle

Jennifer Llop-Noy

Laurel Stone

Michelle Huber

Route DEI (2021)

Diversity is not just about race and gender.  Having a DEI program is not good enough.  It is a start, but not the solution to addressing the problem.  Training is educating.  Transparency and authenticity are integral aspects of communication.  Encourage employees to come together to engage and inspire.


Ana Maria Collins

Mickey Garcia

Lisa Huddleston

Rob Matthews

Will Schnier

Elevators (2021)

Thesis: The Elevators believe AEC firms require a significant lift (hence the team name) to improve in areas of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.  We are in the most competitive recruitment and retention era we have ever seen.  Firms must pay attention to DEI for hiring top talent, sustaining growth, and fostering innovation.

But, it can be overwhelming to find the tools and resources to feel knowledgeable and confident about DEI issues.  Our project aims to make the resources easier to locate, thus resulting in increasing knowledge and action around these issues.

Result:  The Elevators created a centralized, online portal of DEI resources on the ElevateHER website, so anyone–from employees to firm leaders can: 

  • Access resources that strengthen individual skill sets
  • Foster diverse and inclusive workplaces, or
  • Demonstrate a commitment to prioritizing DEI initiatives

The portal includes books, articles, podcasts, and a database of knowledge experts/speakers on topics including: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Data and Statistics; Human Resources; Multi-Cultural Awareness; Workplace Culture; and Leadership.


Alixandria Henley

Amy Jones

Rathi Perumal

Lauren Waldon

MentHER Match (2021)


Christine Manhart

Caitlin Pennington

Jonathan Postell

Julia Jack

Lauren Lint

Maria Lucio

Stephanie Teetes

The Right Fit (2021)

An online toolkit that empowers employees within the AEC industry to advocate for better “work-life fit” policies within their own firms. In 2021, team The Right Fit developed a toolkit to help AEC professionals advocate for a better work-life fit within their own firms. The toolkit included a self-assessment, a policy hub, and sample pitches to help others draft their own asks.


Erin Conaway

Katie Batill-Bigler

Susan Dawson

LaTonya Whitfield Horhn

Returnship: She is Welcome Here (2021)

Accelerating the connection between employers & returning talent through a back-to-work program.


Heather Calvert

Jayna Duke

Julia Passalacque

Kaley Konecny

Katie Goodman

She Belongs Here (2020)

There is a proven leaky pipeline of girls and young women falling away from AEC career paths.  Biases start when we categorize children by gender, race, and ability, which kids usually begin to experience when they enter the education system.  Throughout their lives, they are taught or exposed to biases, consciously or unconsciously.  These gender stereotypes and biases often lead to girls thinking they cannot do or be certain things–like architects, engineers, or construction managers.  In order to provide a real solution to the leaky pipeline, we need to start exposing all children to the wonderful world of AEC. #SheBelongsHere


Shibani Bisson

Melanie Nelson

Angel Farley

Drive- Diversity, Real, Inclusivity, Value, and Equity (2020)

We want our industry to strive to have performance best practices that have beneficial impacts on our communities.  As industry leaders in the built environment, we want to create a world that is representative of the communities we serve in order to better serve them.  That’s why we’re committed to building a certification program that recognizes effort and success, measures inclusion adequately, and strives for continued advancement of inclusive projects to meet the needs of our diverse 21st century world.


Andrea Dumont

Jennifer Ridd

Mary Heath

Maryanne Wachter

Shannon Acevado

Thy Daniels

Carrot (2020)

Data proves the lack of intentional diversity initiatives is negatively impacting recruitment and retention.  Team Carrot believes that an award program will incentivize firms to deliberately change their practices.


Liz Bartell

Kristan Greene

Aaron Tippie

Fred Vinciguerra

WeRise (2020)

Team WeRise focused on employee experience and on creating a culture where employees want to stay.  The WeRise deck features a series of discussion opportunities to engage with underrepresented demographics, as well as reassess, evaluate, and improve workplace culture.

This deck provides valuable recommendations that will impact employee satisfaction and retention.  Use these for self-reflection, or as conversation starters with groups or outside the workplace.  Get creative and get talking.  We’ve all heard the adage “we rise by lifting others,” and Team WeRise believes that.  Lift those around you and further the discussion today with this fun and easy-to-use tool.


Blake Calvert

Dara Davulcu

Elide Pantoli

Ginger Lacy

Jacqueline Devereaux

Janki DePalma

Jason Pereira

Jennifer Porter

Susan Dawson

Susan Osterberg

Veronica Porter

Redefining Success (2020)

The current vision of career progression in AEC firms needs to be redefined in order to attract the top talent to our industry and then retain that talent through their entire career.  The new vision of career progression will include: clear and transparent career pathways, focus on empowering the employee to take ownership of their career development and define their own career success metric, progression that is both vertical (promotion) and horizontal (acquisition or expansion of skills and experiences), and the ability to accelerate or decelerate rate of progression to fit with changes in life outside of work.


Alicia Eikenberry

Dawn Kopecky

Cindy Sachnoff

Maggie Snape