The Top Young Professionals competition honors talented employees in the construction industry. Formerly known as Top 20 Under 40, the program recognizes employees who already have compiled impressive résumés in their short careers.
The winners also volunteer their time and skills to improve industry organizations and their communities.
ENR MidAtlantic received 40 entries for this year’s competition from across the region, which includes Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia.
To be eligible, entrants had to be younger than 40 as of Jan. 1, 2017. Entrants also had to submit online forms that sought information about their industry experience, education, career and industry leadership and community service.
Narrowing down such a deserving field was a challenge for this year’s group of independent judges, who included: Andrew Blasetti, senior associate, Thornton Tomasetti; Mark Baughman, president, SKB Architecture; Barbara Mullenex, principal, Perkins Eastman; Dr. Jonathan Dougherty, director corporate knowledge, DAVIS Construction; and Henry Lucas, president, ECS Corporate Services LLC.
The judges selected 22 leaders who have more than made their marks on the industry and their communities.
This year’s honorees displayed outstanding leadership on projects of all types and sizes, across all sectors, including transportation, green building and traffic engineering. The winners also spent a considerable amount of time volunteering on industry boards and showed commitment to their communities. Several of this year’s Top Young Pros have dedicated themselves to mentoring disadvantaged youth through a variety of different programs, including ones that expose students to the construction industry.
Continue reading to learn more about these exceptional young leaders.
Congratulations to the winners.
Civil engineer leads transit projects
Civil Department Manager
In 15 years in the industry, Birks, 38, has held leadership roles on many roadway and transportation projects for clients such as the Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and the Delaware River Port Authority. For the past three years, Birks has managed AECOM’s 20-person civil department in the firm’s Philadelphia office. He is currently working on several large projects, including the I-80 project in Stroud Township, Monroe County, Pa. The estimated $450-million project includes reconstructing and widening a stretch of Interstate 80 to six lanes from four.
Birks also developed a co-op program for his AECOM civil group as well as a job-shadowing program for inner-city youth and minorities in Philadelphia.
Environmental engineer manages risky remediation projects
Certified Project Manager
Arcadis U.S. Inc.
Crone, a supervisor in Arcadis U.S. Inc.’s Millersville/Hanover, Md., office since 2007, oversees 10 scientists and engineers who work on some of the firm’s highest-risk environmental remediation projects. The 38-year-old has successfully managed environmental restoration projects at seven federal installations with a total contract value of more than $140 million. When he was just 25, Crone was the onsite engineer and manager for the successful closure of six landfills at a U.S. Army installation in Kansas. From 2009 to 2012, he managed operations for excavating, transporting and disposing of waste from a 10-acre landfill at an Army base in Maryland.
Crone has managed project teams exceeding 300 people in 12 locations. Crone, who grew up on a farm in Ohio, also supports his wife’s nonprofit organization, which helps low-income families get access to local and healthy foods.
Power plant project manager has rare skill set
Construction Site Manager
A mechanical engineer by trade, Easler now is focused on power plant project management, handling engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning. He has worked on projects such as the Bear Garden Power Station in Buckingham County, Va. Easler has spent the last year as the construction site manager for a more than $1-billion U.S. combined-cycle project.
The project requires him to manage a workfore of more than 500 people, which will grow to nearly 1,500. Easler has held positions in engineering, project controls, sales, project management and construction site management on projects in the life sciences, chemicals, manufacturing and mining sectors.
Easler, 38, is actively involved in the United Way as part of the Palmetto Society and Young Philanthropist programs. He has also helped construct more than 10 homes for Habitat for Humanity.
Project manager juggles multiple responsibilities
Project Manager | Director of Building Information Modeling
SK&A Structural Engineers PLLC
Farster’s project portfolio ranges from structural-engineering analysis and design to project management, construction coordination and contract administration for new structures and renovations. Her work has included several building types, such as office, residential, mixed-use/retail, academic, recreation and health care.
Farster, 36, oversaw construction of Ballou Senior High School, the largest new high school built in Washington, D.C., to date. She successfully administered structural services for the $124-million project. Recently, Farster has worked on such D.C.-area projects as Barry Farms Recreational Center, the Army Navy Country Club, 77 H St. NW, 1200 North Irving St., Northgate at Falls Church, Union Place and the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Parklawn Office Building.
Farster’s community work includes the ACE Mentor Program and others that encourage students to pursue engineering. She also has volunteered for a weekly after-school arts organization in southeast D.C.
Transportation specialist inspects bridges and tunnels
Foley, AECOM’s transportation department manager in Norfolk, Va., holds leadership positions for bridge and tunnel inspections. He also designs bridge replacements and rehabilitations as well as tunnel rehabilitations and safety upgrade projects. Foley also leads tunnel inspections and performs risk assessments for complex transportation facilities.
Foley, 29, recently headed the Midtown Tunnel inspection in Hampton Roads, Va. The concrete immersed tunnel was part of a $2-billion, public-private partnership and was the first new tunnel in the U.S. to be inspected under new federal standards. Foley helped shave six months off the schedule. He was also the task manager for a risk assessment for every state-owned movable bridge and tunnel in Virginia.
In 2013, Foley received the American Council of Engineering Companies’ Rising Star award. He is also involved with regular roadway cleanups through AECOM’s Adopt-a-Highway program.
Project-controls specialist commits herself to industry causes
Senior Project-Controls Specialist
Working for general contractors and consultants, Forbes has more than 16 years’ experience on government, education, municipal, commercial, industrial and residential projects. She also is president of the AACE International Virginia Chapter as well as the organization’s recommended practice coordinator for the scheduling and planning subcommittee.
Forbes, 39, received a leadership award while serving as secretary on the Hampton Roads Green Building Council’s regionalization task force. Outside of the industry, Forbes volunteers for the Hampton Roads Community Foundation grant-making committee. Each year she visits and interviews nonprofits to help allocate $250,000 in member-donated money. Additionally, she assembles “care kits” for women in shelters through the Norfolk chapter of NobleWomen.
Manager focuses on environmental and military work
Project Manager/Principal In Charge
Arcadis U.S. Inc.
Newport News, Va.
Herbert has had a big impact in her firm’s Newport News, Va.-based environment practice group, focusing on environmental compliance programs for stormwater, audits, spill prevention and control. She also works on military munitions response, assisting the Dept. of Defense in maintaining active ranges and helping clients manage environmental liabilities. In 2015 alone, Herbert managed 25 projects. She is currently managing the firm’s A/E contract with the Virginia Port Authority. For that project, she supervises a team that provides a wide range of environmental engineering and consulting services, including energy efficiency, environmental compliance, permitting and training.
Herbert volunteers on two Society of American Military Engineers boards in southeast Virginia. She is webmaster for the group’s Peninsula post and volunteers as the community outreach chair for the Hampton Roads post. In that role, Herbert organizes an all-day event to clean up trash and other debris from the Chesapeake Bay. She also organizes food pantry donations as well as toy and cash donations to Toys for Tots.
Civil engineer gives his time
Homer has handled a wide range of tasks, including refining budgets and schedules, value engineering, procurement strategies, contractor selection and developing contract documents. He also has negotiated final pricing and claims, provided construction oversight and coordination, coordinated with local officials for permitting and inspections and been responsible for quality, schedule and cost control.
Homer, 35, is actively involved in or serves on several boards, including for the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, Washington Builders Congress and Associated General Contractors.
He has also helped design and implement several projects for Engineers Without Borders, including a piped water distribution system for more than 200 homes in Santa Clara, El Salvador, and helped build several U.S. and international projects for Habitat for Humanity. Most recently, he helped construct an apartment building in Arlington, Va., for 12 low-income families.
Oversees firm’s bridge department
Whitney Bailey Cox & Magnani LLC
Izzo, who focuses on bridge design, analysis, rehabilitation and inspection, has led his firm’s bridge department since 2013. During that time, the firm has worked on several high-profile projects, including the replacement of Potomac Hollow Road over Moores Run in Allegany County, Md., and the replacement of the Frederick Avenue Bridge over Gwynns Falls and CSX tracks in Baltimore.
Izzo, 35, also leads WBCM’s quality assurance/quality control committee and is responsible for developing and maintaining its quality assurance manual. He takes part in his firm’s mentoring program for younger design engineers and is active in its Day with an Engineer program, which encourages high school students to pursue engineering. Izzo has also coached high school varsity basketball.
Thomas W. Julian Jr.
Attorney has construction background
Corporate Counsel and Risk Manager
Centennial Contractors Enterprises Inc.
After working for several years as a civil engineer specializing in water, wastewater and other public works projects, Julian decided to go to law school. In 2007, he graduated with a J.D. from George Mason University.
After law school, Julian joined Centennial Contractors Enterprises Inc. as the firm’s only attorney. Julian, 39, manages the company’s risk by improving subcontracting processes, evaluating and enhancing Centennial’s and its partners’ insurance programs and counseling all of the company’s employees about risk mitigation.
Julian also supports the company’s compliance and employee relations efforts.
In 2014, Julian served on a Virginia Legislature subcommittee that recommended revisions to the Virginia Public Procurement Act. He also takes part in Centennial’s volunteer efforts to support the Carpenter’s Shelter in Alexandria and its mission to serve the homeless.
Army veteran uses leadership skills
Civil/Pipeline Discipline Lead
Kearney was an infantry officer and U.S. Army Ranger for four years, serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004 to 2005. He commanded between 45 and 200 soldiers in direct combat during his tour. Kearney received the Bronze Star and ranked as the top junior officer in his battalion.
In 2006, he brought his leadership skills to STV, where he works in the energy services division. From 2012 to 2015, Kearney led pipeline engineering services among six STV offices on design and construction of a 160-mile pipeline project in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Heading a 67-person team, he helped meet the project’s tight time line. Kearney, 37, co-authored two papers related to the project, both of which are under consideration for the American Society of Civil Engineers Pipelines 2017 Conference. He recently was lead engineer on the 2.5-mile, 24-in.-dia Brunner Island Gas Supply Pipeline project in East Manchester Township, Pa.
Transit engineer rises through the ranks
Associate Vice President; Transportation Engineer
In the 19 years since beginning as a summer intern at Dewberry, Kuntz has worked his way to associate vice president, focusing on roadway design, including horizontal and vertical alignments, geometry, drainage design, maintenance of traffic design and cost estimating. The 39-year-old has handled some of the firm’s largest transportation projects, including the I-66/Route 29/Linton Hall design project, which was the overall winner at the 2016 Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance Transportation Engineering Awards.
He has partnered with the U.S. Dept. of Transportation to build projects such as the Route 1/Telegraph Road and Fairfax County, Va., Parkway. Kuntz also serves on his church’s capital campaign committee. An Eagle Scout himself, he is a Cub Scout leader for his two sons.
Engineer has passion for sustainability
Principal Environmental Engineer
Arcadis U.S. Inc.
McDonough focuses on the environmental remediation of contaminated soil, groundwater and soil vapor. He specializes in designing, implementing and troubleshooting in-situ physical, chemical and biological treatment strategies that are more sustainable than conventional remediation practices.
At Arcadis, McDonough, 33, has contributed to implementing industry-leading remediation hydraulic principles. He supports the ongoing evaluation of poly- and perfluoroalkyl substances and was the co-author of a remediation engineering textbook. McDonough’s Penn State University graduate school research on culturing bacteria was nominated for best thesis at the school in 2006. McDonough’s research resulted in four peer-reviewed journal articles.
McDonough has worked as a volunteer high school football coach and academic tutor. He also actively participates in two mentorship programs for recent engineering graduates.
Justin J. Mendinsky
Project manager designs complex water and wastewater solutions
Herbert, Rowland & Grubic Inc.
Mendinsky, who oversees $1.5 million in water and wastewater engineering services annually, is responsible for all of the firm’s engineering work associated with Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission water and wastewater facilities.
He was responsible for his firm’s Milton Regional Sewer Authority’s wastewater-to-energy project. Mendinsky, 36, led the design of the complex $55-million facility upgrade so it could more efficiently serve six municipalities in Pennsylvania as well as ConAgra Brands, which produces such well-known food brands as Chef Boyardee and Healthy Choice. Mendinsky became well-versed about the facility’s state-of-the-art technology, which will eventually produce 100% of its energy from its own wastewater-treatment process.
Mendinsky chairs the Pennsylvania Water Environment Association’s engineering and construction committee. He is also is involved with local chapters of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and American Cancer Society.
Executive expands firm’s revenue
The Rhodes Group
Since Modar was named a Rhodes Group vice president in 2013, he has helped double the firm’s revenue and extend its geographic reach and service offerings. Rhodes Group also has worked on more international projects since 2013 than it did in the previous 14 years combined. Modar assisted in creating the firm’s project alignment service group, which provides schedule and cost-risk management. Besides his operational responsibilities, Modar, 39, continues to consult on large projects around the world.
After obtaining his teaching certification from the University of Pittsburgh, Modar worked part-time at the Rhodes Group and taught science at a public school, beginning in 2008. He also coached track and swimming at the school before returning to Rhodes Group full-time in 2011. Modar continues to mentor high school interns and also served as a judge for high school seniors’ graduation projects. He has been a judge for the Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science for more than 20 years.
Multi-talented manager gives back
Gannett Fleming Inc.
Moguel worked his way out of Belize by winning a scholarship to the University of North Florida, where he earned a civil engineering degree in 2007. After working as a Gannett Fleming design engineer for almost nine years, Moguel became a project manager two years ago, serving as the resident engineer on a $5.5-million project.
He showed his versatility on a $1.2-million pump-station project, obtaining a NACE certification so he could install the project’s coating system himself, saving his firm $70,000. Moguel, 33, is also helping Gannett Fleming expand into Belize.
Moguel is an active Virginia Water Environmental Association committee member, helping to set policy for stormwater management, planning conferences and volunteering to clean up the Chesapeake Bay. He also volunteers at a local elementary school and sponsors five kindergarten appreciation events each year, providing the children with presents and food at his own expense.
Joseph Platt Jr.
Traffic specialist aids firm’s growth
Senior Project Manager
Traffic Planning and Design Inc.
West Chester, Pa.
Before his seven-month co-op stint at Traffic Planning and Design Inc. was complete, Platt was offered a full-time job and joined the firm in 2001. Platt, now the firm’s traffic engineering services department manager, has experience in projects involving transportation planning, highway design and traffic-signal system design. He is responsible for growth and development of those services for eight offices in the MidAtlantic region and also leads a 10-person design team.
Platt serves as traffic engineer for many Delaware Valley municipalities, identifying grant opportunities, preparing capital improvement plans and prioritizing projects. In 2014, Traffic Planning and Design’s board of directors named him a shareholder and member of the firm’s management committee.
Platt is a past president of the American Society of Civil Engineers Philadelphia section and has held other ASCE regional and national leadership roles. He also was recently appointed to his township’s zoning hearing board.
Engineer leads at firm and beyond
Terpak, an AECOM data management deputy task lead, is responsible for coordinating infrastructure asset-management activities to support an ongoing assessment of the condition of 200-plus miles of sewer infrastructure. She handles municipal outreach, data coordination and evaluation for the project and helped identify approximately 70 miles of sewer lines to meet criteria for transfer to the client beyond the initially assessed 200 miles.
Terpak, 36, has held several positions with the American Society of Civil Engineers Pittsburgh Section, including a three-year term as head of its board of directors. Terpak helped her section win the 2015 ASCE Section and Branches top diversity award and helped secure a partnership with Leadership Pittsburgh Inc.
VDC expert started as high school draftsman
Virtual Design and Construction Manager
Barton Malow Co.
Todd joined the industry as a draftsman in high school and worked his way up to become VDC manager at Barton Malow Company in 2010. He is responsible for project start-up and the authoring of BIM execution plans and also oversees his firm’s BIM coordination processes. Todd, 36, leads training that focuses on leveraging technology in the field and develops client-tailored BIM protocols and strategies for facilities management teams. He works with project teams and clients to determine best uses for technology such as virtual reality, mixed reality and bubble cameras. He is working with Penn State University on using eye-tracking technology to improve construction site safety.
Todd has been a guest lecturer at the University of Virginia and Penn State and Morgan State universities. He is the co-organizer and a board member for RevitRVA, a Richmond-based group that aims to improve collaboration among Revit users.
Todd was the Jubilee Support Alliance’s auxiliary board chair when he lived in Washington, D.C. The organization provides subsidized housing for low-income residents.
Ryan S. Townsend
Electric power specialist draws on military background
Kenny Construction Co.
Townsend, Northeast regional manager for Kenny Construction’s power division, supervises more than $2 billion in transmission and substation projects. The 2002 West Point graduate draws on his experiences as an Iraq War veteran and U.S. Coast Guard reservist. His focus areas include construction of electricity transmission and distribution systems, substations and controls.
Townsend, 37, is program manager for a large multi-year transmission and substation program in Pennsylvania. He also oversees a construction-management staff of more than 45 people, serving multiple clients throughout the region. He is active with the American Society of Civil Engineers, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Project Management Institute and West Point Association of Graduates. He has presented at industry seminars that include ASCE Electric Transmission and Substation and EUCI.
Senior project manager shows breadth of experience
Senior Project Manager
Specializing in site plan and utility design services, Wehunt also oversees design and preparation of construction plans, stakeholder coordination and work sessions, representation at public meetings and construction support services. She has worked on combined sewer piping and regulator design, urban infill site plans, large commercial site plans and stormwater master planning for site-scale and locality-scale projects. Wehunt, 31, has also done stormwater regulatory compliance work for local governments, private entities, colleges and universities.
Wehunt is secretary of the Virginia Water Environment Association Stormwater Committee. In that role, she organized a seminar focusing on bringing stormwater professionals together statewide to discuss and learn about current stormwater compliance challenges and potential solutions. For five years, she has served on the board of directors for Commercial Real Estate Women’s Richmond chapter, which seeks to advance women in the commercial real estate business and related industries. In 2015, the organization chose her as one of their Top 25 Women to Watch.
Traffic engineer makes roads safer
Senior Traffic Engineer/Associate
As the head of STV’s Mid-Atlantic traffic engineering department, Young has experience in all aspects of traffic engineering design, including traffic signals, highway signs, roadway lighting and pavement markings as well as crash analysis, roadway safety and efficiency improvements. Large projects on his résumé include the $800-million Betsy Ross Bridge interchange in Philadelphia and a major pedestrian safety initiative at the University of Maryland’s main campus in College Park.
The university project followed a series of pedestrian accidents there, including some that caused fatalities. Completing most of the work in 12 months, Young’s team added pedestrian-activated crossing signals, countdown timers and improved pedestrian warning beacons with brighter LED lighting to increase pedestrian and driver safety on campus.
Young recently served as director of Baltimore’s local chapter of the Washington, D.C., section of ITE. In that role, he worked to arrange meetings among local transportation professionals and organized technical presentations in conjunction with local students.