Brad Erwin


A childhood event inspired a career devoted to designing safe rooms
35, President, Principal Architect
Paragon Architecture
Springfield, Mo.

In 1990, Brad Erwin witnessed the effects of an EF-5 tornado that killed 29 and injured 353 in his hometown of Plainfield, Ill. Today, he and colleagues assist communities in securing grants to construct safe rooms, their mission being to ensure that every school district in Missouri is protected from injury or loss of life in the event of severe weather. To date, Paragon has helped secure grants for more than 40 safe rooms, some as large as gymnasiums. His firm, founded in 2010, provides design services for municipalities and school districts across the region, including Joplin, Mo., where an EF-5 event occurred in 2011. Under his stewardship, Paragon's staff has grown fivefold since the firm's founding.

Valerie Greer


She brings a wealth or real-world experience to classrooms
37, Project Manager
St. Louis

Throughout her career, Valerie Greer has bridged industry and academics by practicing architecture while teaching at St. Louis-based Washington University, where she received her degree. Greer has a wealth of experience to impart to students. Five years after receiving her degree, she served as a core design team member for Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, a 5.5-million-sq-ft campus designed and constructed in fewer than 28 months. Since then, she has worked on the 800,000-sq-ft Parkway Novena Hospital in Singapore and the ConocoPhillips Alternative Energy Campus in Louisville, Colo. Greer regularly takes students to project sites and HOK offices, where she facilitates real-world design reviews.