Chosen from more than 40 submissions, the winners of ENR New York’s Top 20 Under 40 competition are a diverse and dynamic group of individuals working in design and construction across the region. The career accomplishments of this year’s honorees are numerous: Many have led teams on large projects across the globe, while others have mastered cutting-edge technologies that enable work to reach new levels of innovation. All of those selected also spend time sharing their skills and time with charitable organizations in their communities.
The competition accepted entries through an online system for those based in New York or New Jersey who were under age 40 as of Jan. 1, 2016. Submission forms asked nominees to provide information about their industry experience and education as well as career and industry leadership. Candidates were also asked to explain why they chose particular organizations for community service involvement.
An independent panel of three judges evaluated the contest entries: Jenna McKnight, senior US editor of Dezeen, an online architecture publication; Bruce Ross, owner of consultant Bruce Ross Associates Inc.; and Joan McDonald, a consultant and former commissioner of the New York State Transportation Dept.
Read on to learn more about ENR New York’s Top 20 Under 40 honorees—some of the region’s most promising young men and women moving up in the construction sector.
Senior project manager leads team to success
Arthur Alzamora Jr.
37, Senior Project Manager
Langan Engineering & Environmental Services
As a senior project manager, Arthur Alzamora supervises a team of more than 30 engineers on Langan Engineering’s more complex jobs such as the new Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island. Alzamora has published papers at many national and local technical engineering conferences and in peer-reviewed journals.
A graduate of Manhattan College, he also serves as an adjunct professor at the college, teaching geotechnical-related courses at the undergraduate and graduate level. Alzamora has previously won recognition as a rising young professional from other industry groups and is a board member of the Alliance for Lupus Research.
Aviation expert designs airports across the globe
Indhira Figuereo Blaney
39, Associate Vice President
A native of the Dominican Republic, Indhira Figuereo Blaney moved to the U.S at the age of 18 knowing no English. Even so, she enrolled in the City College of New York, gaining an engineering geology degree and landing a job at AECOM.
Now as an associate vice president and operations manager for aviation in the firm’s New York metro region, Figuereo Blaney has worked on projects that include the LaGuardia Airport Central Terminal modernization as well as several others in Australia, Trinidad and Tobago and Dominican Republic.
Despite a busy schedule, Figuereo Blaney is an active member and frequent featured speaker for the American Society of Civil Engineers, Professional Women in Construction and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. She also volunteers with the March of Dimes and Alzheimer’s Association.
Design leader recognized for industry achievements
37, Senior Associate & Brand Design Director
Brian Brindisi is already filling multiple leadership roles as senior associate and design director at Gensler. He leads the architect’s brand design studio, managed its website and runs its digital media design task force. The stable of projects that Brindisi has managed for domestic and international clients include Brookfield Place in Manhattan and INCAE Business School in Costa Rica.
Brindisi also finds time to teach a design and visual communications course at his alma mater, the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and was named one of Graphic Design USA’s People to Watch. He shares his design talents by doing pro-bono work for the Hudson County School of Technology Foundation in Jersey City and with Our Lady of Grace Church in Hoboken, N.J.
Infrastructure manager mentors next generation
39, Department Manager - Site/Civil Infrastructure
A 17-year industry veteran, Paul Brueck was project manager for one of New York City’s first traffic calming projects, on which he led design work at more than 100 locations in downtown Brooklyn. Brueck now is a company infrastructure manager and deeply involved in mentoring the next generation of engineers dedicated to improving urban infrastructure.
Brueck is project manager for the Jamaica Bay Green Infrastructure project in Queens. In his spare time, he serves as a mentor through the nonprofit organization Stoked, which helps struggling students feel success and joy beyond the classroom through action sports.
Engineer finds success in transportation design
31, Highway Engineer 2
Over the past seven years, Aritra Chakraborti has managed transportation design projects for such clients as the New York City Dept. of Transportation, Metropolitan Transit Authority and Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Most recently, he was project engineer on several New York City Dept. of Design and Infrastructure projects and part of the design team cited by the city’s Public Design Commission for the Montefiore Plaza Project in the Hamilton Heights area of Manhattan.
Chakraborti now works as design engineer on a design-build project for MTA’s Metro North Railroad Hudson Line project. Outside of his work at AECOM, he tutors high school students, preparing them for New York State Regents and SAT exams, and has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity.
CEO creates technology for efficient communication
While working as a project manager, Doug Chambers often witnessed communication breakdowns on jobsites due to insufficient mobile technologies. To fill this gap, he co-founded in 2011 FieldLens, a construction-focused mobile communication platform. As CEO, Chambers oversees a staff of more than 35 across the country.
Prior to founding FieldLens, Chambers was a senior MEP project manager for Tishman Construction, where he was involved in work for World Trade Center Towers 3 and 4. The technology maven is a mentor for Metaprops, a New York real estate technology accelerator. He also is a mentor for New York Venture Fellows, a leadership program that links entrepreneurs with experienced business owners. He also was a recipient of one of the group’s fellowships in 2014.
Project manager champions STEM education
36, Project Manager
DeSimone Consulting Engineers
Damayanti Chaudhuri’s engineering journey has taken her from Jadavpur University in India to the University of Connecticut, where she earned a master’s degree. In her current role at DeSimone Consulting Engineers, she supervises project teams and leads design activities for jobs in Brooklyn, Manhattan and New Jersey as well as internationally.
Chaudhuri is on the board of Mali Nyeta, a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to education and infrastructure construction in Mali, West Africa. A staunch supporter of STEM education for the next generation, she also serves as an ACE mentor in New York City, where she teaches students the basics of structural engineering.
Young professional embraces construction through legal field
Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP
For more than 10 years, Lawrence Dany has served the New York construction industry’s legal needs, now as lead construction partner at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP in New York and a member of its crisis management team. His career includes serving as a law clerk to Judge Maurice M. Paul of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida.
Dany is active in industry and legal groups. He also provides pro-bono counsel to the YWCA of Brooklyn.
Group manager finds success leading large projects
38, Vice President, Group Manager
Jaclyn Flor joined T&M Associates in 2001 and quickly became an invaluable member of the firm, where she now heads a number of large projects. These include a 111-acre redevelopment in the heart of Jersey City that will convert 17 industrial blocks into residential and commercial sites.
In 2009, Flor’s management of key portions of the Jersey City master plan helped it win recognition from Hudson County and the American Planning Association. She is also a member of T&M’s Young Professionals Group, a career development program for young engineers and environmental professionals. She has been a guest lecturer at Columbia University and Rutgers University, and she has served as a judge for the Stevens Institute of Technology’s Innovation Expo.
Structural engineer drawn to bridge designing
35, Structural Project Engineer and Squad Leader
Robin Lee was drawn to bridge engineering because “it seemed like the perfect combination of architecture and physics.” She has helped design several significant spans, including the Lake Champlain Bridge connecting New York and Vermont—for which the final design was delivered in only 10 weeks. Lee also was involved in the Portsmouth Memorial Bridge between New Hampshire and Maine as well as the $500-million Kosciuszko Bridge replacement in Brooklyn. Her role at HNTB has also expanded into management of project delivery, client relations and budgets.
Lee has also volunteered as a mentor for Engineers Without Borders, working with Columbia University students in Morocco to build a pedestrian rope bridge over a flood-prone creek.
Electrical engineer takes lead on post-Sandy projects
28, Senior Systems Engineer
Cara Levy’s new position, which she assumed in January, follows a three-year career at STV that saw her become one of the firm’s top electrical engineers. “I observed how Cara takes control of situations and achieves desired results,” says Earl Fish, STV associate and her former supervisor. “She is always willing to take on a new responsibility or challenge.”
After Superstorm Sandy in 2012, Levy was heavily involved in STV’s flood mitigation projects, most notably New York City Transit’s Rockaway Park Yard in Queens. She has gained attention for expertise in power traction systems design related to storm hardening and resiliency. As a former STV participant in the ACE mentor program, Levy mentored high school students to help them pursue careers in engineering. She also volunteers for Big Brothers Big Sisters in New York City.
Water expert fulfills aspirations that were formed in childhood
33, Senior Project Engineer
Arcadis U.S. Inc.
Vanessa MacPherson credits her interest in engineering to growing up in the area near New York’s Croton reservoir “and from a young age [having] a sense of how impressive the foresight and technical expertise associated with creation of the New York City water supply system was,” she says. MacPherson joined Arcadis as an entry-level engineer and now has a management role in the firm’s water pollution work in Hartford, Conn.
MacPherson also is a mentor for Arcadis’ aspiring project managers and is a founding member of People First, a group in the firm’s water business unit that works to ensure employee satisfaction.
An engineering graduate of Manhattan College, she is the long-serving president of its environmental engineering alumni club and also has been recognized by local and state chapters of the National Society of Professional Engineers.
Young engineer makes her mark in New York City
29, Assistant Project Manager
Since jointing STV’s construction management division, Malory Nguyen’s projects in New York City include serving as procurement and finance manager on post-Superstorm Sandy damage restoration for the Housing Authority.
Nguyen is now assistant resident engineer for a portion of the LaGuardia Airport redevelopment project, where she supervises a team replacing runway lighting.
Nguyen is a co-creator of the Construction Management Association of America student chapter at her alma mater, Manhattan College, and last year was recognized by the Women’s Builders Council as an outstanding Woman of the Year.
“Malory has gained the utmost trust and respect from our client at [the airport],” says Michael Flaherty, STV vice president and project executive. “Also mindful of developing staff, she takes a special interest in mentoring and guiding younger people toward success.”
Helping others is main attraction for senior engineer
33, Senior Engineer and Project Engineer
“I’ve always had a passion for designing and building things, and I’ve always wanted to work in a field focused on bettering lives and positively shaping communities,” says Dan Postlewaite. “Engineering is a good medium between both of those desires.”
Postlewaite has worked as a senior engineer, operations engineering manager, contracting agent and owner’s representative at Holtec since 2013. As a founding member of a plant design services group in the company’s nuclear plant division, he specialized in design and construction of spent fuel storage facilities.
Currently, Postlewaite is Holtec’s owner’s representative for a $260-million redevelopment in an economically depressed area of Camden, N.J., where he works with community outreach programs and municipal officials.
In his spare time, Postelwaite volunteers for Upward Bound, an organization in Delaware that tutors high school students in math and science during the summer months.
Architect on LEED Gold project gives back to the community
34, Junior Architect
Steven Preston’s diverse education and work experience prepared him well for his current role at architecture firm GLUCK+ and his work on the first LEED Gold high-rise residential project in Philadelphia.
Preston earned a bachelor’s degree and a master’s in structural engineering from the University of Wisconsin and received his master’s in architecture from MIT. As an architecture student, he completed internships at Kohn Pedersen Fox, Machado and Silvetti Associates and spent a year working at Uni-Systems as a structural engineer and designer before joining GLUCK+ in 2011.
A diagnosis of lymphoma a decade ago and subsequent treatment prompted Preston to volunteer with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, an organization dedicated to ending blood cancers. He has also donated time to the Big Brothers and Sisters of America and is a tutor at the East Harlem School, a nonprofit that helps middle school students from low income families.
BIM manager excels in large redevelopment projects
Dareen M. Salama
28, Assistant Project Controls Manager/BIM Manager
A graduate of the American University in Cairo, Dareen Salama joined STV in 2012 and was promoted to project controls specialist in her first year with the firm. Currently, she is the assistant project controls manager and BIM manager for the STV|Tishman joint venture team for the LaGuardia Airport redevelopment program.
Salama “possesses extraordinary skill sets and brings a multifaceted contribution to the development and implementation of our BIM delivery platform,” says Christopher Bailey, STV’s national director of project controls.
An active member of the Construction Management Association of America, Salama earned its Distinguished Young Professional award last year. She also is a board member of its national emerging technologies committee. Salama also stays active in Engineers Without Borders and the Society of American Military Engineers. Additionally, she is a visiting assistant professor at Pratt Institute.
Design expert shares knowledge through teaching
33, Senior Associate and Director of CORE Studio
Jonatan Schumacher joined Thornton Tomasetti as director of advanced computational modeling in 2010. Now, as a senior associate and director of its CORE Studio, the firm-wide virtual incubator of ideas, he supervises research initiatives and software development to automate design workflow. Among his notable projects, Schumacher co-designed performance-driven ceiling panels for Columbia University’s cafeteria to reduce solar radiation while maintaining a high quality of daylight. He was also involved in the Basrah Stadium in Iraq.
He has been an adjunct professor at Pratt Institute and Stevens Institute of Technology and, for the past three years, the primary organizer of the annual AEC Technology Symposium and Hackathon—an event that allows industry professionals interested in technology, research and computation to exchange ideas.
Civil engineer does ground-breaking research
Vatsal Atulkumar Shah
28, Associate and Senior Project Manager
Hatch Mott MacDonald
During his tenure at Hatch Mott MacDonald, Vatsal Atulkumar Shah founded and led a geotechnical group that successfully completed work on more than 200 projects. His expertise ranges from tunneling and bridge-related geotechnical and structural engineering to underground storage tank and site remediation environmental design.
While earning a doctorate in civil engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology, Shah discovered a more realistic and accurate way to estimate gas produced from landfills. In 2012, he was chosen as an ASCE New Face of Civil Engineering and serves as vice president of the New Jersey Society of Professional Engineers and is a member of the Solid Waste Association of North America and the ASCE Geo-Institute.
Army veteran leads damage repair following hurricane
Frank E. Townsend III
39, East Coast Area Manager
Frank Townsend’s construction career began with nine years of active duty in the U.S. Army, with his service including power distribution systems management for the Corps of Engineers during three hurricanes.
Townsend went on to lead Hurricane Katrina damage repair at Conti Federal Services. Later, he joined Tutor Perini and became East Coast area manager for its Superior Gunite unit three years ago, where he has been involved with New York City projects such as East Side Access, the World Trade Center and Hudson Yards.
Townsend has been a volunteer ambulance worker and EMT for five years and is a board member of the American Shotcrete Association.
Structural engineer finds success in transportation
35, Project Engineer
An Australian native, Michael Voorwinde moved to New York nine years ago and since then has been instrumental in several of AECOM’s signature transportation infrastructure projects. He was lead structural engineer for two mined cavern stations during construction on the first phase of the Second Avenue Subway in Manhattan and was responsible for engineering design deliverables associated with 11 new cut-and-cover metro stations on the Riyadh Metro in Saudi Arabia.
As lead writer on three technical papers on the Second Avenue project, Voorwinde has given presentations at multiple industry conferences. He has also volunteered for Upwardly Global, a nonprofit that assists immigrants with resuming professional career paths in the U.S.