As aging Baby Boomers continue to retire, young design and construction professionals are gaining greater opportunities for advancement and stepping into key roles at firms in the mid-Atlantic region. From accomplished associates to outstanding executives, ENR MidAtlantic recognized 20 of these rising stars in its annual Top 20 Under 40 competition. Some are focused on using their skills to improve their communities, while others offer their assistance to projects overseas.
After reviewing dozens of submissions, an independent panel of judges selected this year’s honorees. Judges evaluated each candidate on work experience; career and industry leadership; and community service.
ENR MidAtlantic’s Top 20 Under 40 contest was open to eligible candidates working in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
This year’s panel of judges included:
- Mark L. Baughman, president, SKB Architecture and Design
- Sonya Brown, vice president of marketing and business development, Grunley Construction Co.
- Gregg Metzinger, senior vice president of global recruiting, Hill International
- Bob Miller, executive vice president, L.F. Driscoll
- David Varner, office director – Washington, D.C., SmithGroupJJR
- Tim Williams, principal, ZGF Architects
Read on to learn more about the region’s Top 20 Under 40 class and the contributions that the honorees have made to the design and construction community.
‘Plangineer’ from Afghanistan to Arlington, Va.
37, Senior Project Planner, Engineer
From Afghanistan to Arlington, Va., Baker’s 13-year career is highlighted by professional achievements. Baker recently started his civilian career as a “plangineer” with AECOM after completing a master’s degree in urban planning from Harvard University. He previously served nine years as a civil engineer officer in the U.S. Air Force before transitioning to the reserves, where he now holds the rank of major and serves as a joint engineer planner.
Baker’s notable positions include: project manager for the development of Virginia’s VTrans2040 Corridors of Statewide Significance Needs Assessment; infrastructure and project development specialist for a development program in Haiti; and chief engineer for U.S.-led provincial reconstruction teams in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Since early in his career, he has made it a personal priority to bridge the gap that can exist between engineering and urban planning. At AECOM, Baker works to improve interaction between offices and integrates projects across multiple disciplines within the mid-Atlantic region and internationally.
Tapped as future leader within her firm
31, Civil Engineer
Michael Baker International
Moon Township, Pa.
At the age of 31, Berrill has already established herself as an emerging leader at Michael Baker International with her expertise in highway and railroad engineering and design. In 2015, Michael Baker selected Berrill as one of 30 employees from across the firm to participate in its project excellence program. The initiative targets employees at various stages in their careers who are primed to be the firm’s future leaders.
She has also been instrumental in improving business processes for the company, including discovering a more efficient method within its software design platform to improve the design of curb ramps that comply with Americans with Disabilities Act standards.
She is an active member of the American Society of Highway Engineers Pittsburgh chapter and a founding board member of Women’s Transportation Seminar Pittsburgh-area chapter.
Passionate engineer and volunteer
Blasetti was one of the first winners of Thornton Tomasetti’s purpose and values award in 2015, receiving recognition in the “we are passionate about what we do” category. He joined Thornton Tomasetti in 2006, specializing in the structural analysis and design of educational facilities, residential buildings and high-rise, mixed-use developments.
Currently, he is working on the Comcast Innovation and Technology Center, which, when completed, will be the tallest building in Philadelphia. Blasetti is also involved in the construction of Tower C in the Hudson Yards Development in New York City.
In his spare time, Blasetti interacts with college students who are pursuing degrees in engineering, helping them understand the profession they are about to enter and serving as a mentor. He has been involved with the ACE Mentor Program for several years. He also volunteers as a member of Villanova University’s Civil Engineering Advisory Board, which helps guide the department in preparing students to become engineers.
Enables walk- and bike-friendly transportation
39, Senior Project Manager
Boenau helps communities improve their livability and vitality by focusing on walking and bicycling as fundamental modes of transportation. He helps guide engineering teams to apply best practices on urban street design and bicycle infrastructure in his role as urban planning practice leader at Timmons Group.
He managed design and public involvement of Richmond’s first bike boulevard project. It is the first in a series of projects that seeks to turn concepts in the city’s bicycle master plan into reality.
Boenau has spoken around the country for the Congress for the New Urbanism, American Planning Association, Urban Land Institute and Institute of Transportation Engineers. He is active with bicycle/pedestrian groups and committees. He introduced Park(ing) Day to Richmond—a global event that encourages people to re-imagine the possibilities of public space. He created the Urbanism Speakeasy podcast and Walk Lobby TV original video series.
Raymond R. Carney Jr.
Taps federal demand for owner’s representative services
36, Vice President
Falls Church, Va.
A founding associate of Markon Solutions, Carney has pushed for adoption of owner’s representative services by federal government clients in defense, intelligence and civilian sectors. Carney perceived that many of the agencies he supported were looking actively for project leaders with specific architecture or engineering backgrounds, though the real skills required were those of an owner’s representative project manager.
Since founding the firm in 2007, Carney today leads its client delivery efforts. During its first eight years, Markon Solutions grew to more than 150 employees from nine and has contracts with 16 federal government agencies.
Carney led multiple government programs, including a $400-million, 29-acre, 800,000-sq-ft campus under a two-phase design-build procurement strategy. He also led commercial interior programs on behalf of the federal government, including two $35-million, 100,000-sq-ft commercial leases and a $15-million, 88,000-sq-ft retrofit commercial lease.
Chad R. Davis
Successfully leads a diverse practice
36, Assistant Vice President
Michael Baker International
Moon Township, Pa.
As the operations manager for one of Michael Baker’s most diverse practices, Davis’ team has grown by 30% over the past two years. He is responsible for the operational management of the firm’s civil, environmental, geographic information systems and survey departments in the Pittsburgh office. He oversees a staff of 180 professionals and manages all project contractual matters; project performance; resource planning; operational business planning; and talent recruitment, development and retention.
Davis has led multidisciplinary teams on multimillion-dollar projects, including dam rehabilitations, levee assessments, flood protection studies, stormwater authority establishments, regional/county-wide stormwater management plans, land developments and stream and aquatic ecosystem restorations across the U.S. He has worked on projects ranging from planning and studies to final design and construction-related professional services.
Recent marketing and business development initiatives helped his team expand its services to include environmental remediation and operations and maintenance services for oil and gas facilities.
Expert in innovative project delivery
38, Project Manager
Tysons Corner, Va.
With expertise in program and quality management on major design-build and P3 projects in highway, transit and land development, Donovan has brought a strong background in innovative delivery methods to Parsons. She has been with Parsons’ transportation group for six years, managing and supporting several significant projects, including the Silver Line Metro project in northern Virginia and a $200-million highway interchange project in Utah. That project included the first new diverging diamond interchange in the U.S. and the use of accelerated bridge construction as an alternative method to traditional bridge building.
In 2014, Donovan was selected as employee of the year for her contributions to team success and her support for leading the team in innovative solutions to projects and programs. She was one of 16 employees in the 15,000-person organization recently selected to participate in a one-year accelerated leadership program at Parsons that targets high-performing employees with the potential to be successful in an executive leadership role.
Christopher L. Dudding
Leads State Dept. building efforts across the globe
32, Construction Management Branch Chief, NEA-SCA
Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations, U.S. Dept. of State
At 32, Christopher Dudding has risen quickly through the State Dept. ranks, with three promotions in eight years. He joined the department in 2004 as a foreign service construction engineer and served in Kabul (2005-2007), Brussels (2007-2010) and Dakar, Senegal (2010-2013).
In 2005, Dudding was selected one of the youngest Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations project directors on an embassy project, completing the $183-million embassy compound project in Kabul. He now is a senior construction executive and branch chief, responsible for billions of dollars in active construction. In that job, he supervises project directors and construction managers who serve overseas at their projects. OBO’s largest construction branch, with $3.8 billion in active projects, reports to him.
As acting branch chief for the Eastern Asia/Pacific branch in 2013 and 2014, he oversaw construction of the Vientiane, Laos, new embassy compound—winner of ENR’s 2015 Global Best Project in the government category.
William Gregory Off
Bridge engineer focused on quality
39, Structural Engineer, Project Manager
With more than 16 years of experience in the structural analysis, design, inspection and rehabilitation of bridges, Off today focuses much of his attention on his responsibilities as quality officer for AECOM’s Conshohocken, Pa., and Burlington, N.J., offices, as well as for the construction services group in AECOM’s Philadelphia office. In that role, he is responsible for: coordinating and reporting on compliance with the company’s quality principles and guidelines; overseeing nine department quality representatives; performing project audits and reviews; and educating workers about AECOM’s quality-related policies and procedures.
Off recently served as project manager on the $42-million Penrose Avenue Bridge Rehabilitation project, a 93-span steel girder and through-truss bridge over the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.
Off says he considers his work as project engineer on the design of the Schuylkill River Park Trail Boardwalk—a 22-span prestressed concrete bridge constructed in and along the east bank of the Schuylkill in Philadelphia—as his most notable achievement to date.
Recognized for producing outstanding pavement
36, Senior Plant Manager
Virginia Paving Co.
Hired by the The Lane Construction Corp. in 2001 and assigned to its Virginia Paving Co. business unit, Horton has proven himself a successful leader. In 2008, he was named the plant manager at Virginia Paving’s Alexandria, Va., facility—one of its largest asphalt plants.
In 2009, the plant was named a national finalist for National Asphalt Paving Association’s Ecological Award. In 2012, the Alexandria operation was accepted into the Virginia Environmental Excellence Program. It was the first asphalt plant and only the second construction-materials operation to achieve that recognition. In 2013, Virginia Paving’s operations under Horton’s guidance were recognized as Outstanding Pavement of the Year by the Virginia Dept. of Transportation.
In 2012, Horton was accepted into Penn State’s World Campus iMBA program. He earned his MBA while maintaining his manager position and graduated in fall of 2014. In recognition of his achievements, Horton was promoted to senior plant manager in 2015.
Rising star quickly gains invaluable experience
27, Project Manager
Quandel Construction Group
While still in high school, Knehr got her first taste of the industry, working as a paid intern at Harrisburg, Pa.-based Quandel Construction Group.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in architecture, she returned to Quandel in 2012 as a project engineer. Now just 27, Knehr has quickly risen through the company’s ranks, starting as an assistant project manager and now serving as a project manager.
With her educational background, Knehr also manages design services for one client, serving as corporate lead for all planning and design matters.
Through her project management assignments to date—including a $70-million hospital—Knehr gained experience with design-build delivery, building information modeling, integrated project delivery, design-assist subcontracting and lean construction.
Outside of work, Knehr contributes her time to the ACE Mentor Program for Central Pennsylvania, where she currently serves as a team leader.
She also helps lead the local U.S. Green Building Council’s Emerging Professionals Program.
Program manager tracks environmental compliance
33, Senior Management Consultant
Virginia Beach, Va.
In Murthy’s role with Arcadis’ water business line, the 12-year industry veteran focuses on operational optimization, strategic planning, best-practice implementation and program management for utilities, financial institutions and energy companies.
Murthy is certified with Lean Six Sigma credentials and is an Envision Sustainability professional. Murthy’s contributions proved valuable in helping Arcadis win a competitive re-bid of a business intelligence program for a multinational client. As the business intelligence program manager for Arcadis client Bank of America, she has helped establish frameworks for tracking environmental compliance for more than 200 facilities globally.
Murthy is a leader of the firm’s business transformation and technology services community of practice, championing development of systems for integrating environmental compliance and health and safety. Murthy serves on the steering committee for the firm’s women’s network mentoring program. She also holds a leadership role within the Virginia Water Environment Association.
Finds common ground among stakeholders
32, Project Architect
In his role with JDAVIS Architects, Pastva has served as lead architect on every project to which he’s been assigned, including the recent redevelopment of a historic theater in Center City Philadelphia. Pastva led the project through a complex approval process—which required presentations to the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, the Philadelphia Historical Commission and numerous community meetings—ultimately earning unanimous approval at the local level and approvals from all city agencies. The effort showcased his ability to find common ground among multiple stakeholders.
Since 2011, he has served in various roles with the American Institute of Architects at local, state, regional and national levels. He currently is communications director for the National Young Architects Forum; serves as editor-in-chief of the nationally syndicated YAF Connection; and organizes and disseminates information through the national network of Young Architect Regional Directors across 19 AIA regions. Pastva also is a member of the 2015 Future Title Task Force, organized by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.
Advances use of firm’s 3D civil engineering technology
29, Associate, Civil Engineer
Pennetti, 29, has already spent more than a decade with Dewberry, where he began interning in 2005 while studying civil engineering at the University of Virginia. Since earning his bachelor’s degree in 2007, Pennetti has become a vital team member, demonstrating talent for project design and exhibiting strong professional leadership, especially with the firm’s use of 3D design modeling techniques.
As a civil engineer on Dewberry’s recent water reuse pipeline project for a pollution control plant in Fairfax County, Va., he directed the use of 3D civil engineering technology to model existing conditions within the corridor in order to create the initial alignment studies. According to the company, Pennetti’s direction of advanced GIS and 3D modeling platforms has proven instrumental to numerous project successes.
He also champions and leads the firm’s “ideas lab,” a program that employees use to communicate and vet process improvement ideas, which have numbered more than 85 since its inception in 2012. In addition, Pennetti has worked closely with software firms to evaluate new products. For example, he serves as a member of the Autodesk Infrastructure Participatory Design Council, where he takes part in software feedback workshops and new platform beta tests.
Makes diverse contributions to infrastructure engineering
38, Lead Engineer
As a lead engineer in the transmission and civil engineering department of Pepco Holdings (PHI), Shi’s responsibilities include developing practice standards and guidelines for transmission engineering projects and revitalizing the 500-kV line emergency restoration engineering plan.
Shi also is working with industry peers from across the country to develop best-practice standards and guidelines that are aimed at improving the economics and reliability of the nation’s transmission system.
Before joining PHI, he served as a senior engineer with a design/engineering research group, where he led the analysis, design, simulation and experimentation related to infrastructure retrofit projects and the development of anti-terrorism barrier technologies.
Earlier in his career, Shi worked extensively on hurricane protection barriers and became knowledgeable about advanced marine structure design and construction. He applied that background to numerous multibillion-dollar projects, including the Panama Canal Expansion and the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal protection barrier in New Orleans.
Shi also lectures at the Catholic University of America’s School of Engineering.
Earned national recognition for floodplain mapping projects
35, Senior Project Manager
While earning his bachelor’s degree in urban geography from the University of Maryland, Skinner joined Atkins as an intern. The young honors student—who also was an officer of the university’s National Society of Black Engineers chapter—quickly turned the internship into a co-op, and then into a full-time position, all while continuing his education.
He started in the firm’s floodplain hazard management division, quickly advancing from technician to scientist and senior scientist.
During that time, Skinner worked for the Georgia Floodplain Mapping Program project, serving as outreach coordinator, earning national recognition for the company’s outreach efforts and ultimately managing more than $14 million in flood study work for the state.
Skinner now heads Atkins’ Calverton, Md., office and leads the firm’s East water resources division, covering 21 states in the mid-Atlantic region. In addition, Skinner was one of only 30 employees nationwide selected to participate in Atkins’ 2014 leadership program.
Skinner is a founding member of the Maryland Association of Floodplain and Stormwater Managers.
Third-generation builder is firm’s second president in 50 years
Owings Mills, Md.
The leader of one of the Baltimore area’s most honored construction companies, Tate, a third-generation builder, joined family-owned Lewis Contractors in 2007 and quickly moved up the ranks to vice president in 2011. Two years later, he was promoted to president, becoming only the company’s second full-time president in nearly 50 years.
Under Tate’s leadership, the contractor has increased its revenue while undergoing a reorganization of its operational structure. In 2015, the company won the Maryland Minority Contractors Best Practices award for economic inclusion and the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation’s Perfect Practice Award for community support.
Recently, Tate has facilitated student tours of some of the contractor’s active projects in Baltimore, such as the historic Washington Monument at Mount Vernon Place and The Maryland School for the Blind.
Outside of the firm, he volunteers in multiple capacities for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Additionally, Tate serves as vice president and chairman of the Maryland Historic Tax Credit Coalition, part of Preservation Maryland.
Peggy Van Eepoel
Recognized as a national expert on blast-resistant design
37, Associate Principal
Educated as a structural engineer, Van Eepoel now is an associate principal in Thornton Tomasetti’s protective design practice, where she established and now heads the blast analysis and design group in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office.
Van Eepoel has provided expertise to numerous public and private entities—including the U.S. State Dept., General Services Administration and the Depts. of Defense and Veterans Affairs—in developing design solutions to protect facilities from explosive threats. In that role, she has contributed to the design of more than 100 blast-protected structures, including embassies, courthouses, military buildings, government headquarters, laboratories, hospitals, clinics and museums. Van Eepoel has authored numerous articles and technical papers related to blast design and has presented her insights before a variety of national organizations.
She has served on the boards of the Structural Engineers Association of Metropolitan Washington and the Dept. of Homeland Security’s Explosives Standards Working Group. Recently, she was selected to participate in the National Academy of Engineering’s U.S. Frontiers of Engineering Symposium.
Manages major flood contracts with FEMA
33, Project Manager
Michael Baker International
During her 11-year career with Michael Baker, Westlund has held roles of increasing responsibility, working with federal and local government agencies in locations nationwide. As a project manager for the firm’s Alexandria office, she leads portfolio management for the national community engagement and risk communications team supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Risk Mapping, Assessment and Planning program.
Westlund has provided technical and program operations support to FEMA Region V during flood map modernization and contracts across multiple locations under Michael Baker’s risk MAP production and technical services contract with FEMA. The contracts ranged from $130 million to $750 million.
As lead review engineer for FEMA Region V during its flood map modernization, a billion-dollar presidential initiative to update the nation’s flood hazard maps, Allison led the coordination and reviews with state National Flood Insurance Program coordinators and local floodplain administrators for flood insurance rate map revisions.
April M. Yorkonis
Keen eye for bridge inspection
37, Structural Engineer III, Bridge Inspection Team Leader
Attracted by forensic engineering while earning her master’s degree in civil engineering at Villanova University, Yorkonis has become a leader in structural inspection at AECOM. She began her career as an intern at AECOM (then Fredric R. Harris) and worked in the structures department on design and analysis of bridges and other transportation structures. After joining the firm’s developing structural inspection group, she quickly became an integral part of the growth and success of the inspection department.
Over the years, she has worked on a variety of structures, from the most complex bridges to the smallest of tunnels. Her experience includes a variety of landmark projects—from the routine biennial inspection of Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Bridge to running the inventory inspection of the Indian River Inlet cable-stayed bridge in Sussex County, Del. For more than 11 years, she was a primary member of the team inspecting the Chesapeake & Delaware Canal cable-stayed bridge in St. Georges, Del.