Women in Design+Construction Building Together

2019 CONFERENCE SPEAKERS

Rachel Birnboim, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
Senior Associate, Perkins Eastman

Rachel Birnboim, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, a Senior Associate and Senior Project Manager at Perkins Eastman, focuses primarily on healthcare architecture. Her repertoire also includes multifamily housing, collegiate student life, senior living, and K-12. Rachel's 21+ years of experience, include zoning and code analysis, concept planning and programming, project management, documentation, consultant coordination, and construction administration. Growing existing client relationships through exemplary performance, achieving excellence in design execution and project delivery, and developing new client relationships are her foremost priorities. Rachel is passionate about design and the collaborative process, advocates for professional growth and development of both herself and her colleagues, and is a proud member of the Advisory Board of the WiD+C Conference.

Laura Davidson
Senior Project Manager, Solutions Delivery, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)

Laura Davidson has held many roles (and, usually at the same time!). She has facilitated training and executed projects for Coca-Cola, Georgia-Pacific, AT&T, the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations and currently works in IT Security at IHG in Atlanta, GA. Laura is a champion for the end-user delivering quality end products through effective communication, efficient processes; and, her own form of edu-tainment. Having served as Past President of PMI (Project Management Institute) Atlanta, she is also honored to be a graduate of the global PMI Leadership Institute Masters Class. Laura currently serves as a senior global volunteer with the PMI Chapter Member Advisory Group; guest ambassador for the Georgia Aquarium, and as President of the National Speakers Association Georgia.

Carol Doscher
President, Chief Encouragement Officer, Graceworks

Carol Doscher, President & CEO (Chief Encouragement Officer) of Graceworks, has been captivating audiences since she performed in Broadway's "Sweeney Todd." For this former actress turned trainer and coach, it's not so far from the boards of Broadway to the boardrooms of America. Since founding Graceworks in 1995, she's trained thousands of design and construction professionals globally to make that vital human connection in sales presentations, client meetings and lectures. Featured in The New York Times and on "Bloomberg Television," Carol also has published numerous articles on presentation and communication skills. Prior to her current work, she marketed professional services for many years. Responding to the growing need for the human connection in the corporate world, Carol is a certified practitioner of Whole Brain® Thinking — a great tool to help people understand and leverage their own thinking preferences.

Kelly Farrell, AIA
President and CEO, CallisonRTKL

As President and CEO, Kelly sets the strategic direction for CallisonRTKL and has ultimate responsibility for the strength and health of the practice. A consummate leader who has mastered the lost art of getting things done, she has earned the respect of her colleagues and clients over her 20+-year career by being genuine and honest. She joined the firm in 2004 and has served as the Workplace Global Practice Group Leader and, more recently, Executive Vice President for Projects and Partnerships. She has been a member of the firm's Executive Committee since 2016, where she has helped CRTKL navigate through a series of management changes and transitions. As a practitioner, she developed a reputation for working closely with her clients to generate solutions that are forward-thinking, sustainable and pragmatic. She is passionate about design and the impact it has on the world, the environment and, most importantly, the community.

Mary-Jean Eastman, FAIA
Vice Chair, Perkins Eastman, Managing Principal, NYC Studio

Vice-Chair and Co-founder of Perkins Eastman, Mary-Jean Eastman plays a key role in the overall design direction of the firm while also carrying the responsibility as Managing Principal of the New York Studio. Mary-Jean is involved in the firm's healthcare, higher education, public building, and residential design practices. Integrating architecture and interior design to create significant spaces and humanizing institutional environments are central to Mary-Jean's professional practice. With a career spanning more than 40 years, Mary-Jean has concentrated particularly on designing patient-focused environments for healthcare clients, working with numerous top academic medical centers and healthcare institutions worldwide. Mary-Jean's design innovation and sensitive approach have redefined "state-of-the-art" in her specialty areas, and have been recognized with nearly every major award for design excellence, enhancing the firm's reputation as a leader in the design of programmatically complex buildings. Mary-Jean is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and a member of the International Interior Design Association. She has been active in the New York Chapter of the AIA, serving as a Director and member of the Nominating and Honors committees. She is a board member of the New York Building Congress, the Salvadori Center, and the Ace Mentor Program.

GINGER S. JOHNSON, AIA, LEED AP BD+C
Architect, Cherokee Nation Businesses, Principal, Founder, GSJohnson PLLC

Ginger Johnson is a talented masterful architect. In her over 26 years' career, she has managed projects for both the public and private sector. Her body of work includes diverse architectural experience with complex renovations, rehabilitation, and new building construction projects. She has designed and managed projects focused around commercial offices, private K-12 schools, gymnasiums, retail, restaurant, religious institutions, and multi-family housing projects. Her skill set includes expert professional design for many architectural types that are often found in mixed-use developments. Many of these projects involved urban infill redevelopment, of which, minimized the impact to the environment and adjacent properties, while providing neighborhood improvements and job opportunities to underutilized areas. Ms. Johnson's expertise goes beyond her work as a superior designer. She is also experienced in a variety of management techniques and procurement methods, including Design/Bid/Build, Design-Build and GMP; and she excels in the production of Schematic Design, Design Development, Contract Documents, Bidding/Negotiation as well as Construction Observation. While Ms. Johnson's impressive experience, as a designer and project manager in the Design and Construction profession is a statement in itself; she also enjoys development of project leadership through speaking to and mentoring emerging female professionals within the STEM related professions.

Catherine Meng
Architect, DLR Group|Kwan Henmi, Creator and Host, Design Voice Podcast

Catherine Meng is an architect at DLR Group|Kwan Henmi and the creator and host of the Design Voice Podcast, which seeks to elevate and amplify the voices of women in the architecture, engineering, and construction professions. Over the course of 26 episodes, she has had the opportunity to interview many of the leaders in these fields—gathering their lessons, learning about their struggles, and sharing their triumphs. Catherine will share some of the common lessons and themes she has gathered from deep conversations with these women who exemplify what it means to achieve and succeed in our line of work.

Tammy Miller
Outgoing CEO, Border States Electric

Miller has served as CEO and board chair since 2006 at Fargo-based Border States, the seventh-largest electrical distributor in North America. She joined the employee-owned company in 1991 as the accounting manager and has served in a variety of roles including corporate controller, vice president of finance, executive vice president, general manager for the southwest region and president. Under Miller's leadership, the company experienced a fivefold increase in annual sales to nearly $2.5 billion, the number of employee-owners increased from 744 to more than 2,600, and the number of branch locations increased from 24 to more than 100 locations in 22 states.

Barbara Mullenex, AIA
Managing Principal, Washington, D.C., Studio, Perkins Eastman

For more than 30 years, Barbara Mullenex has focused her career on people, an attribute that embodies the Perkins Eastman manifesto of Human by Design. Recognized for her unique contributions to hospitality, residential, mixed-use, and workplace projects, her professional legacy will be one of passion for mentorship, inclusion, growth, and change. Barbara joined Perkins Eastman as a studio leader in Washington, D.C., in 2013 bringing with her an expertise in strategic planning, organizational strategy, talent development, and outcome-based management for projects of all scales. In 2015, she joined the firm's Board of Directors, and is now the Managing Principal in Washington, D.C.—Perkins Eastman's second largest office. As a local and international leader, she is responsible for actively supporting and strengthening the firm's mission and values through consistent communication and participation with clients, support organizations, and philanthropic associations. Through her collaborative leadership approach, Barbara has maintained a focus on producing creative and innovative solutions for her clients. She builds inter- and intra-organization teams that effectively work together to share information, make decisions, and solve problems to achieve mutual goals. Barbara has led the design and management of numerous high-profile projects for clients such as Marriott, WeWork WeLive, Global Holdings, and World Bank. From large, complex projects to the most intimately scaled spaces she brings clarity of vision, consistency of intent, and focus on purpose.

Sheryl Van Anne
Project Executive, Mortenson

With more than 20 years of experience in the construction industry, Sheryl Van Anne serves as a project executive in Mortenson's Chicago office with a primary focus on the higher education market. Since joining Mortenson in 2003, Sheryl has managed numerous large-scale projects throughout the Chicagoland area, including the College of DuPage Berg Instructional Center & Student Resource Center, the Harper College Wellness and Sports Center, and the North Airfield Project for United Airlines. Sheryl earned her B.S. in Civil Engineering from Missouri Science & Technology. She is a member of the Society of College and Urban Planning (SCUP) and has presented multiple times at the Illinois Community College Chief Financial Officers (ICCCFO) conference. In 2016, Sheryl was selected as one of Building Design+Construction's 40 Under 40 and was recently named to Constructech's 2018 Women in Construction.

Sarah Weissman Dirsa
Associate, Project Manager/Project Architect, KG&D Architects

Sarah Weissman Dirsa is an architect and Associate with KG+D Architects in Mount Kisco, NY. She specializes in school architecture with a focus on Next Generation Learning. Prior to joining KG+D, she was an Associate at HOK where she co-founded HOK IMPACT and served as the first ever Global Chair of Social Responsibility. Ms. Dirsa is the recipient of several awards including the 2015 AIA Young Architects Award, the 2015 ENR Midwest 20 Under 40 Award, and the 2013 BD+C 40 Under 40 Award. She is licensed in New York and Missouri.



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