ENR Southeast's Top Young Professionals
As Southeast construction activity remains robust, up-and-coming industry professionals are making valuable contributions on jobsites, at their companies and within local communities
At the beginning of each year, ENR Southeast recognizes some of the regional construction and design industry’s up-and-coming leaders. Initially launched as the Top 20 Under 40 program, ENR has changed the name of the competition to Top Young Professionals. But the goal remains the same: to recognize young professionals who represent the “best-of-the-best” in their respective construction and design careers and who strive to give back to their companies, industry and communities.
The program has delivered another class of emerging leaders who are collectively setting a high standard for not only their careers, but also in assisting and supporting others. Readers will notice that several of this year’s honorees feature backgrounds in health care construction. Considering the relative boom in such projects that has been going on throughout the Southeast over the past few years, it’s not surprising to see tomorrow’s leaders emerging from this demanding construction sector.
This year’s group of honorees includes project managers, engineers, architects, entrepreneurs as well as experts focused on such fields as project scheduling and sustainable construction and development. Their extracurricular efforts—a criteria for the Top Young Professionals program—also vary, with many volunteering at a wide range of charities and organizations.
Serving as judges this year were Marlene Velez, vice president of human resources with St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Power Design, and Tim Sandberg, one of last year’s honorees and a senior project manager with Woodstock, Ga.-based Primus Builders.
This year’s honorees—listed below—come from across the Southeast region, which includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Puerto Rico. ENR Southeast invites readers to check out this year’s Top Young Professionals featured in the following pages.
Congratulations to all!
Laser-like focus on health care construction
39, Construction Manager
Dedicated to hospital construction since entering the industry in 1997, Adams has managed several health care projects that have been valued at more than $100 million, including the 511,000-sq-ft Gateway Medical Center in Clarksville, Tenn., which was completed in less than two years. His current project, the $147-million Alabama Medical Center in Florence, is also his largest. He also oversees multiple health care projects throughout the U.S., from the earliest proposal stages all the way through final closeout. Adams helps recruit for Layton’s Nashville office. In addition, he also serves as a team leader for the ACE Mentor Program, where he leads six mentors and a team of 22 high school students who hope to pursue careers in the industry.
Shares industry research, takes part in humanitarian efforts
25, Water Resources Engineer-in-Training
Gresham, Smith and Partners
Few young professionals better represent engineering in the information age than Blissit. Along with co-authoring reference chapters and research papers on wastewater treatment for the Water Environment Federation, Blissit keeps Gresham, Smith and Partners’ water resources staff abreast of the latest water quality trends through periodic technical presentations on process design. Blissit is also committed to using her skills for humanitarian needs. Last year, in association with two international charities, she led a team of professionals to a remote village in Nicaragua, where they assisted in constructing a much-needed 90-ft-long footbridge. In support of that project, Blissit co-chaired the Georgia ASCE Section’s charity golf tournament, raising more than $14,000 to help offset the cost of bridge materials and transportation.
Health care veteran helps lead Nashville office
37, Vice President/Group Manager
JE Dunn Construction
Buck spent the first nine years of his career overseeing a variety of projects for some of the nation’s health care providers. The inherent complexities of health care construction—particularly that work occurs in facilities that remain fully operational during construction—proved to be an ideal training ground for Buck’s professional development, enabling him to focus on skills and insights necessary to take on challenging project assignments and assume a greater leadership role within JE Dunn. That includes successfully managing the responsibilities of business development by overseeing a number of high-profile Nashville projects, such as 222 2nd Avenue, an $89-million, 25-story, mixed-use office tower.
Expert in design of sustainable buildings, infrastructure
32, Vice President, Sustainable Operations
The Spinnaker Group
Burgess is an expert in the design of sustainable buildings, infrastructure systems and communities. One of the state’s first professionals accredited in LEED for Neighborhood Development, Burgess has since collaborated with numerous developers and designers to formulate comprehensive strategies for preserving the delicate balance between the built and natural environments. His portfolio of sustainable successes includes a mixed-use Miami neighborhood redeveloped from what had been a 30-acre brownfield. As a Collaborative Facilitator for the Living Building Challenge, the world’s most ambitious green building rating system, Burgess is helping foster interest in the use of more ambitious building strategies and net-positive solutions for energy, water and waste. An adjunct professor at the University of Miami’s School of Architecture, Burgess teaches a graduate-level course in sustainability issues.
Works to enhance productivity, quality
39, Area Manager
Gilbane Building Co.
Ted Cava’s career has been on the fast track since his first days at WG Mills, which was acquired by Gilbane Building Co. in 2011. His initial assignment was serving as the project engineer responsible for expediting completion of a 150,000-sq-ft office building designed for resiliency under the most severe weather conditions. Since then, enhancing productivity and quality have been of particular interest to Cava, whether it’s streamlining preconstruction and estimating processes or developing new approaches to building envelope management. In his current role as area manager for southeast Florida, Cava has helped secure multiple high-profile projects, including the Norton Museum of Art in Palm Beach and the Proton Therapy Center at Baptist Health South Florida’s Miami Cancer Institute.
Health care project executive also promotes affordable housing efforts
32, Project Executive
Over the past 10 years, Clark has managed the construction of more than $1.2 billion of technologically advanced health care facilities across South Florida. They include Memorial Regional Healthcare Systems’ Joe DiMaggio Children Hospital in Hollywood, Indian River Medical Center’s Scully-Welsh Cancer Center in Vero Beach and, Clark’s current assignment, the $150-million, 212,000-sq-ft advanced pediatric care pavilion at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami. Also, as a member of the Affordable Housing Advisory Board for the city of Sunrise for the past four years, Clark helps manage programs that support low-income families.
Had led a wide range of health care projects
39, Construction Vice President
JE Dunn Construction
With the demand for quality health care facilities on the rise, Countryman’s expertise has never been more valuable. She has directed or participated in a wide range of projects, from hospital renovations in underserved rural communities, to massive, state-of-the-art facilities that provide comprehensive services to an entire region. Her portfolio includes the recently completed $104-million Veterans Administration Health Care Center in Charlotte and ongoing renovations to Greenville Health Systems’ intensive-care unit in Greenville, S.C. Countryman also lends her support to strengthening and advancing construction education in her community. Her involvement includes the ACE Mentoring Program and South Mecklenburg High School’s IDEA (Innovation, Design, Engineering and Art) Academy.
Transportation engineer assists with massive projects
For nearly a decade, Edwards has engineered transportation projects for Florida municipalities and statewide transportation agencies. The experience gleaned from each one contributed to the development of Edwards’ technical and leadership skills, allowing him to take on increasingly complex assignments such as the multibillion-dollar Wekiva Parkway and I-4 Ultimate projects in Central Florida. In addition to mentoring Atkins’ younger professionals, Edwards is national coordinator of the firm’s graduate development program, which provides training in highway engineering, project management and the business aspects of engineering.
Providing leadership at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium project
34, Project Manager
As project manager for the Atlanta Falcons’ Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Fannéy is tackling the technical challenges of constructing a massive multipurpose facility in a constrained site while applying her collaboration skills to integrate the stadium into the city’s urban profile. That includes everything from crafting an innovative solution to a tricky stormwater management issue to synchronizing multiple utility relocations, including an adjacent light rail system. Her leadership in navigating both public- and private-sector projects led to her appointment to the city’s Technical Advisory Committee for permitting. Fannéy is also actively involved in the Urban Land Institute.
Helped transform contractor’s regional office
38, Group Manager, Operations
JE Dunn Construction
Gamble’s surname may suggest a measure of risk, but from his first project with JE Dunn—a 498-unit, multifamily high-rise residential building—he has demonstrated an ability to thrive in circumstances demanding organization, adaptability and leadership. In the middle of the recession, Gamble assumed responsibility for the Charlotte office’s preconstruction efforts. Despite limited business development opportunities, he built a strong backlog of projects that helped position the office for better economic times. Gamble’s next stop was Nashville, where he helped transform that office’s profile from a health care specialist into one of the city’s top commercial contractors.
Responsible for field engineering at Plant Vogtle project
35, Field Engineering Area Lead
During and immediately after earning his bachelor’s degree in construction management from Michigan State University, Hall worked as an ironworker welder, connector and rigger. Motivated to understand the entire industry by mastering numerous disciplines, he’s earned multiple craft certifications and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in international construction management. Early in his career, he served as a construction engineer on two major refinery expansion projects and then as a piping superintendent and systems completion engineer. He was then assigned as Fluor’s site engineering lead for its ExxonMobil project in Russia, where he also managed survey teams and 12 field services companies in a remote, harsh environment. In his latest assignment with Fluor, on Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion project, Hall is responsible for field engineering and survey oversight for Turbine Island Unit 4.
Rising star leads contractor’s newest regional office
36, Operations Manager
Hoffine has risen quickly at Hensel Phelps, where he’s become one of the youngest operations managers in the company’s history. In his 14 years with the firm, Hoffine has been involved with numerous landmark projects. Over that time, he has accumulated more than $800 million in construction manager at-risk and design-build experience, including on such projects such as the $283-million U.S. Southern Command Headquarters in Miami, the $160-million Benjamin P. Grogan and Jerry L. Dove Federal Office Building in Miramar, Fla., and the $68-million U.S. Federal Courthouse in downtown Orlando. In 2015, Hensel Phelps selected Hoffine to open and manage the firm’s South Florida office, where he oversees all active Southeast projects and procurement efforts and manages 350 employees.
Meredith G. Kinkle
Schedule management guru guides transportation projects
33, District Scheduling Manager
PCL Civil Constructors Inc.
Time is rarely on a contractor’s side, but Kinkle has a knack for making it less of an enemy. Her first schedule management project for PCL—construction of five bridges as part of the expansion of Interstate 275 in Florida—finished 200 days ahead of schedule. Subsequent early-completion successes led to Kinkle’s promotion to district scheduling manager for PCL’s transportation infrastructure group, giving her oversight of planning, scheduling, forensic analysis and quality schedule audits for all U.S. transportation projects She also helps expedite the availability of housing through involvement in groups such as Habitat for Humanity.
Created software that streamlines green building compliance
Green Badger LLC
Documentation, long the bane of LEED construction compliance, has been made significantly easier to manage thanks to Linstroth and his innovative technology product, Green Badger. Linstroth drew upon his involvement in more than 80 LEED projects to create a software tool that streamlines the process of recording and validating compliance with green construction standards. Used by many of the nation’s top contractors, Green Badger complements Linstroth’s other ground-up green building venture, Trident Sustainability Group, a Savannah, Ga.-based consulting firm. Linstroth has also applied his knack for innovation to community service. He founded and chairs Sustainanativity, a nonprofit that directs funds to other area nonprofits for use in sustainability projects.
Has helped engineering firm grow, evolve
Tower Engineering Professionals
In just 12 years, Martin has risen from student intern to president of Tower Engineering Professionals. Along the way, his contributions in various project and administrative leadership roles have helped fuel Tower’s evolution from a small, single-office structural engineering consultancy to a $55-million, multidisciplinary firm with a nationwide presence and more than 300 employees. Among Martin’s priorities as president has been raising Tower’s community service profile. In addition to participating in Habitat for Humanity building projects, the company hosts semi-annual blood drives through the American Red Cross. Tower also sponsors an annual employee-client golf tournament and cookout that benefits the local ALS Association, honoring an employee recently diagnosed with the disease.
Melissa L. Pomales
Leads international firm’s global water business
35, Global Lead Water Program Management
Arcadis U.S. Inc.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Over the past two years, Pomales has served as president of Arcadis Caribe, a role that she grew and transitioned into after serving as project engineer, senior project engineer and leader of the firm’s San Juan office planning and business advisory team. More recently, Pomales moved into a global role within Arcadis, serving as global lead for water program management. In this capacity, she is responsible for driving the firm’s global business line strategy for water and defining and deploying program management value propositions across North and Latin America, the United Kingdom, Central Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Australia-Pacific region.
Highly regarded architect advocates for historical preservation
35, Architect V
BRPH Architects-Engineers Inc.
In just four years working at BRPH’s Melbourne, Fla., headquarters, Ramsey has earned a place as one of the firm’s most highly regarded architects. Including her previous stint as a staff architect with Cooper Carry in Atlanta, Ramsey has worked on a diverse set of project types, including commercial, aviation, aerospace, industrial, hospitality, mixed-use, interiors and historic preservation. In addition to her regular duties with BRPH—including her highly praised efforts overseeing day-to-day construction activities at Northrop Grumman’s B229 facility—Ramsey has served as a member of the local historical preservation board.
Aviation engineer leads global firm’s Jacksonville office
35, Vice President, Office Executive
Michael Baker International
An early passion for aviation engineering has lifted Russell in more ways than one. A variety of facilities and airside projects at various Florida airports helped hone his management and technical skills, resulting in Russell’s appointment as vice president in charge of Michael Baker’s Jacksonville office in 2014. Since then, Russell has presided over the office’s growth, including the addition of four new business lines. Russell is a frequent presenter at professional engineering conferences.
Started his own construction firm in midst of recession
Foresight Construction Group Inc.
Amid the gloom of the recession of 2008, Segarra saw a silver lining—the opportunity to start and lead his own construction firm, Foresight Construction Group Inc. Applying the same determination he had used to learn the business while working for other contractors, Segarra gradually built Foresight into a 32-employee operation with three offices across Florida. The firm has a project portfolio that includes work for federal clients, universities and public school systems. Determined not to leave his employees vulnerable to the whims of the economy, Segarra has bolstered Foresight’s long-term sustainability by optimizing its structure and processes.
Star manager now leads special projects division
37, Vice President
Accent Construction Services
After nearly 15 years of working in various roles with Brasfield & Gorrie, Cox Schepp Construction and The Strauss Co., Torrence joined Accent Construction Services, the special projects division of EMJ Corp., as construction manager in 2013. He quickly earned accolades, including being named two years in a row as the most outstanding project manager among EMJ’s family of companies, which includes more than 400 employees. Promoted in 2015 to vice president from his role as senior construction manager, he now provides day-to-day leadership related to Accent’s strategic vision, philosophy, mission, culture and policies. Away from the office, Torrence serves as a director for the East Tennessee chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation and also serves as vice president of the Miracle League of Chattanooga, a national organization that helps more than 200,000 physically or mentally disabled children play baseball.
Launched real-estate company at age 24
34, Founder and CEO
Though Yidios knew at an early age that he wanted to work in real estate, he also recognized that success would take a lot of hard work. Fresh out of college, he used his savings to purchase a four-unit apartment complex in Miami Beach. After renovating the units, he sold each one for roughly the same price he had paid for the entire building. That set the stage for the then 24-year-old Yidios to launch Ytech International, a fully integrated Miami-based real estate investment and development company. A decade after Yidios first founded the company, Ytech boasts a diverse portfolio valued at $300 million. True to its roots, Ytech has focused on multifamily apartments, providing housing for more than 20,000 residents. Since its founding, the company claims to have created more than 1,000 jobs.