As part of the premier issue of ENR Midwest, we set out to identify the rising stars in construction. We asked readers to nominate talented young professionals who were aged 40 or younger and based in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, or Wisconsin. From a field of 40 highly qualified up-and-comers, an independent panel of judges selected the top 20 on the basis of professional excellence; leadership in their company and profession; service to their profession and community; honors and awards they earned and their involvement in landmark projects. Once ratings were compiled, the 20 candidates with the highest scores were named ENR Midwest’s Top 20 Under 40.

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ENR Midwest's 2011 Top 20 Under 40

The Candidates

The nominees ranged in age from 27 to 40, with a median age of 36. Industry experience ranged from four to 22 years. The field included nine women and 31 men, some of whom work for enterprises with only a handful of employees and others who work for companies that employ hundreds. Twenty are LEED-accredited professionals. The Chicago area led the field with 19 entries, while St. Louis, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Madison, Wis., and other locations put in strong showings.

Thirteen candidates work for architectural firms, 10 for engineering firms and 17 for construction firms. All nominees can be proud of their contributions.

The Judges

We owe a special thanks to our judges. They include James Arends, vice president and business development manager, Gilbane Building Co., Chicago, Ill.; Warren Hill, chairman, Hill Mechanical Group, Franklin Park, Ill.; Dennis Lavallee, president, St. Louis Council of Construction Consumers; Walter D. Street III, senior architect, Johnson & Lee Ltd. Architects/Planners, Chicago, and 2010 president of AIA Chicago; and Leonard Toenjes, president AGC of St. Louis.

In alphabetical order, we present ENR Midwest’s Top 20 Under 40 for 2010.

Fred Biermann
Fred Biermann Jr.
His skills have helped cement lasting relationships with clients
30, Director of Pre-Construction
Kozeny-Wagner Inc.
Arnold, Mo.

Since Fred Biermann joined general contractor Kozeny-Wagner at age 26, his technical and project skills have helped win over clients, as has his honesty, creativity and positive attitude. These attributes have moved him into Kozeny-Wagner’s core management group. The firm’s negotiated work has climbed by 60% in the past 24 months.
Thomas M. Collins
Thomas M. Collins
He’s dedicated to the growth of his company and budding engineers
37, Construction Group Manager
Collins Engineers Inc.

In just eight years, Tom Collins, construction group manager for Collins Engineers, Inc., Milwaukee, has grown the firm’s construction-management services group from a single employee to a team of two dozen engineers. Although he manages construction teams of up to 40, Collins takes time to mentor professionals and students alike.
Jean Dufresne
Jean Dufresne
Fearless architect innovates while giving voice to small practices
36, Principal
SPACE Architects + Planners
In 2003, Jean Dufresne and business partner Jay Keller formed SPACE Architects + Planners, making an immediate impact on Chicago architecture, colleagues say. Dufresne soon emerged as a voice for sole practitioners and small firms in Chicago’s design community. He is a LEED-accredited professional, certified interior designer, and self-certified professional with the City of Chicago.
Stephen W. Fort
Stephen W. Fort
Navy veteran is one of Turner’s youngest general managers
40, Vice President and General Manager
Turner Construction Co.

After seven years serving in the U.S. Navy’s Civil Engineering Corps, Fort joined Turner Construction Co. in 1999. Just four years later, he was named vice president and general manager of Turner’s Chicago business unit, serving as one of the company’s youngest professionals in that role. In June 2010, he was named vice president and general manager of Turner’s Great Lakes region, including its Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Toronto offices and an attendant construction volume of more than $850 million. In addition, Fort finds time to lead the Turner School of Construction Management and the Turner Charity Foundation.

Ashley Z. Hand
Ashley Z. Hand
Believes that enriching her world enriches those who dwell in it

32, Associate
Kansas City, Mo.
Ashley Hand is fascinated by the ways the built environment affects and reflects how people live and work. Her strong desire to enrich the surroundings of others prompted her to assist in developing revitalization plans for communities destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. While working for AECOM in Los Angeles, she and her husband Gunnar co-founded a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting integrated intermodal transportation. After relocating to Kansas City, Hand was named liaison for associate architects by AIA Central States, which includes Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
Sarah Hempstead
Sarah Hempstead
Interest in environmental design led her to the rainforests of Africa
35, Principal
Schmidt Associates
Sarah Hempstead’s longtime interest in sustainable architecture prompted her to earn degrees both in architecture and environmental design. At Schmidt Associates, she heads the firm’s higher-education and urban environments studios. In December, the LEED-accredited professional traveled to the continent of Africa to create a master plan for a self-sustaining campus for African University, located in a rainforest in Cameroon.