As broad as the construction industry itself, ENR’s Top Young Professionals competition annually recognizes individuals with a collectively diverse and wide-ranging set of work experiences and backgrounds.
This year’s class is no exception. Represented herein are executives and project engineers, superintendents and office managers, project managers and company section leaders. The world of construction academia is represented, too, with an assistant professor from the University of Florida’s Rinker School of Construction Management included among the young leaders from the Southeast region honored here.
The career experience and resulting expertise developed by each of this year’s Top Young Pros varies significantly, but with some common traits present. Several military veterans made the cut, for instance, and mentoring and recruiting others was another common trait.
And though all honorees work within the region, their collective work product spans not only much of the U.S., but other locations around the globe.
Sorting out the most deserving of this year’s nominees were three judges previously recognized with this honor: Edward Ambler, president of AM Trenchless, Lake Mary, Fla.; John (Mac) Caddell, executive vice president with Caddell Construction Co., Montgormery, Ala.; and Joshua Mauney, CEO of Paragon Safety Group, Raleigh. Brent Darnell, president of Brent Darnell International—also served as a judge.
Read on to learn more about this year’s Top Young Professionals.
Advocates for pedestrian and bicyclist safety
36, Senior project engineer
Coral Gables, Fla.
In his 13 years working in the field of transportation engineering, Benitez has focused on improving the safety and accessibility of Florida’s transportation networks, with an emphasis on transportation planning, traffic and safety engineering and bicycle and pedestrian mobility projects. Considered a rising star within Stantec’s South Florida offices, Benitez is a fierce advocate for improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety, and he specializes in traffic operations and safety. He has helped plan and implement pedestrian crossing improvements in the city of Miami’s “health district” area and has led safety and pedestrian mobility studies for the Florida DOT and the city of Oakland Park. In 2018 and 2019, he represented Stantec in the Safe Streets Summit in South Florida, a combined effort of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
A leader of successful, high-profile projects
36, Division manager
Brasfield & Gorrie
Since first joining Brasfield & Gorrie as a co-op student, Foushee has gone on to work on many of the contractor’s most significant mixed-use and hospitality projects, including 1075 Peachtree, Loews Atlanta, Omni Nashville and Omni Louisville, with the combined value of his projects totaling $1.9 billion. Now overseeing the Atlanta office’s commercial/hospitality division, he is responsible for securing the division’s work and supporting its project teams from an executive level. Foushee also mentors younger employees and, outside of the company, serves as an active member of the Clemson University Construction Science and Management (CSM) advisory board and CSM building committee, sometimes speaking to students about the construction industry.
Engineer has wide-ranging expertise
38, Vice president and Tampa office leader
In his 15-year career, Fusco has earned a broad range of experience, including in building design, renovation projects and forensic investigations. He also provided leadership for a range of project types, including commercial, education, health care and laboratory facilities, both within the U.S. and internationally. Fusco is a graduate of Rutgers University’s School of Engineering, where he also participated in its concrete materials testing lab. Fusco counts among his career highlights his work as project engineer for the 160,000-sq-ft Innovation, Science and Technology building at Florida Polytechnic University. He is currently serving as structural engineering consultant on the St. Pete Pier project in St. Petersburg.
Researcher seeks to improve construction safety
35, Assistant professor
The University of Florida
An assistant professor in the University of Florida’s Rinker School of Construction Management, Gheisari has focused on theoretical and experimental investigations of human-computer/robot systems in the construction industry, having served as lead principal investigator on projects funded by the U.S. Dept. of Labor, the National Science Foundation, the Center for Construction Research and Training and the National Electrical Contractors Association. At UF, he leads the human-centered technology in construction research group, where he has advised and mentored more than 40 graduate and undergraduate students on research topics related to technology integration in construction. With the goal of making construction jobsites safe, he has worked with construction safety experts to develop immersive digital environments to help educate workers and professionals about jobsite safety challenges.
Natural leader excels in various roles
33, Project manager
McCarthy Building Cos.
After earning her degree in construction science from Texas A&M University, Griffin went to work as a facilities project manager for the University of Houston. In 2015, Griffin joined McCarthy as the cost project manager for a nearly $1-billion health care project and quickly proved herself by helping bring the project out of the red. A member of the Texas Air National Guard prior to college, Griffin deployed to Kuwait in 2018, where she led a squadron of 150 airmen charged with maintaining eight C-130 aircraft. Back in Atlanta, Griffin’s leadership continues, as she heads the office’s participation in McCarthy Partnership for Women, an internal organization charged with engaging and empowering women in construction as well as recruiting women into the industry.
Savvy engineer leads in multiple ways, areas
36, Principal engineer, highways technical leader
CHA Consulting Inc.
Joining CHA in 2018 as highways group technical leader, Iqbal now manages roughly 65 professionals involved with more than 100 projects across nine of the firm’s locations. Iqbal also provided support with CHA’s acquisition of Wolverton & Associates and leads internal technical training sessions and workshops. Heavily involved with the American Society of Highway Engineers, Iqbal recently served as director of the Georgia section. Due to his service to the engineering community, the American Council of Engineering Companies Georgia named Pervez its 2018 Young Engineer of the Year.
Strong leader within his company, community
37, President of Florida operations
Judd’s career with Wehr Constructors has ascended quickly. After starting off in the company’s Louisville office, in 2013 he was named vice president for the Tampa office. Since that time, Judd has risen from vice president to senior vice president, principal of Florida, and now serves as president of Florida operations. Judd has helped grow Wehr’s Florida operation from a total of nine employees to the current total of more than 40. In 2019, he became an honorary commander for MacDill Air Force Base, helping improve the facility’s relationship with the city.
Budget expertise nets successful projects
36, Vice president and regional preconstruction director
Brasfield & Gorrie
In his 12 years with Brasfield & Gorrie, Keller’s involvement with more than $1 billion worth of projects has enabled him to become a recognized expert in developing accurate construction budgets. Having first joined the company as a co-op student while pursuing an engineering degree from Georgia Tech, Keller has risen steadily through the ranks, gaining experience in project management and estimating. Now focusing on mixed-use and commercial projects, Keller’s portfolio of successful projects includes 725 Ponce and the Chick-Fil-A College Football Hall of Fame, among others. An active member of the Georgia Tech Civil and Environmental Engineering Advisory Board, he also offers guidance to students.
Kevin J. Kelly
Construction lawyer is now company leader
Civil-engineering studies at the University of Illinois eventually led to interest in becoming a construction lawyer, a role in which Kelly flourished during four years with the Walsh Group in Chicago. After moving to Jacksonville and serving as Sauer Inc.’s general counsel for four years, the company named him vice president and general manager in 2018, and in 2019 promoted him to president. With an understanding of the early miscommunications that can lead to costly disagreements, Kelly is implementing lean construction processes at Sauer.
Expert in remediation work
Geosyntec Consultants Inc.
A practicing environmental engineer for more than 10 years with Geosyntec Consultants—and one of the firm’s youngest principal engineers—Klinger has served as the engineer of record and project manager on the cleanup of more than 25 sites contaminated by solvents, petroleum, metals and pesticides throughout Florida and the Southeast. Klinger has designed remedial solutions for multiple private and public utilities, the state of Florida and the Environmental Protection Agency, with one of her projects winning a grand prize award at the American Academy of Environmental Engineers and Scientists’ Excellence in Environmental Engineering and Science Awards Competition in 2016. To date, she has participated in more than 10 technical state, national and international conferences.
Leadership extends far and wide
36, Vice president
Clark Construction Group
In addition to currently overseeing the $1-billion Nashville Yards project—a joint venture between Clark Construction and Bell & Associates that will be the city’s largest private development—Lamson has helped grow Clark’s Nashville presence. It’s his latest stop in a 15-year career with the contractor, having also worked on projects in Virginia, Connecticut, Illinois and Washington, D.C. Lamson has also taken part in some of Clark’s national initiatives, including working in the contractor’s national operations group, where he helps track and improve the company’s management of risks and opportunities enterprise-wide. He’s also a member of Clark’s strategic investment committee, which seeks to innovate business practices, and serves on its project management steering committee, which aims to improve resources made available to project teams.
Gaël Le Bris
Seeks to improve aviation safety, operations
33, Senior aviation planner and technical principal
With two master’s degrees—one in aviation engineering and economics from the National University of Civil Aviation in France and another in airport development and management from the Florida Institute of Technology—Le Bris has put his education to work. From 2011-2016, while working for Groupe ADP, he served as airside development manager of Paris-Charles de Gaulle International Airport. In 2017, Le Bris joined WSP USA, where he was awarded the title of technical principal for aviation planning, engineering and safety—a first for WSP to recognize a member on numerous technical domains. Committed to advancing airport engineering and aviation safety, he is a member of two standing committees of the Transportation Research Board and sits on two panels of the FAA-sponsored Airport Cooperative Research Program.
Born into construction, leader is now rising fast
30, Senior project manager
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Born and raised into the construction industry, Little became intrigued with the field as her father took her to jobsites at an early age. Fascinated by the “constant state of change” that defines the industry, Little headed to the University of Florida, where she earned membership in the building construction honor society. Upon graduation, Little joined Baker Concrete Construction, first as a project engineer before working her way up to project manager. Now, at 30, a senior project manager at Moss Construction—where her father also works—Little has successfully managed numerous high-profile projects and was recently selected as one of five up-and-comers to be mentored by Scott Moss, president of Moss.
Focused on grid modernization
36, Grid modernization and distribution planning lead
1898 & Co., part of Burns & McDonnell
As a leader in the field of modernizing the U.S. power grid, Nichols seeks to share his knowledge to advance the industry. An instructor for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, he leads workshops on distribution planning and grid modernization and has organized panel sessions for a modernization conference. At 1898 & Co.—part of Burns & McDonnell—Nichols is helping grow the firm’s consulting business via planning studies and consulting efforts for utilities around the Southeast
Leader in industry associations
39, Office manager
Terracon Consultants Inc.
Over the course of his career, Parrish has advanced through the ranks of project engineer, department manager and now office manager, overseeing 15 staffers in Terracon’s Sarasota , Fla., office. A senior associate, Parrish also sits on the Terracon Foundation’s board of directors. Outside of the company, Parrish keeps just as busy, most notably through his involvement with the Florida Engineering Society. He first became involved with that organization in 2007, through the local FES chapter, where he served terms as secretary, treasurer, vice president and then chapter president for two terms. He then joined the FES board of directors as a state director from 2013 to 2018 and currently serves as vice president, an executive position, for the association’s Southwest region of Florida. Parrish is also an active member in the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Transportation, city planning expert recognized for her leadership
With master’s degrees in civil engineering and city and regional planning from Georgia Tech, Pastore is one of Kimley-Horn’s recognized leaders. As both a transportation planner and a traffic engineer, she has led the development of comprehensive transportation plans for several Atlanta-area municipalities and managed the development of Gwinnett County’s $12-billion transit plan. She also served as the technical transportation lead for the development of the state of Georgia’s strategic transportation plan. Her leadership extends to serving as a board member for the Kimley-Horn Foundation, which advocates for and funds volunteer programs. Most recently, Pastore was appointed to the inaugural advisory board for Georgia Tech’s School of City and Regional Planning and to the Georgia steering committee for Million Women Mentors.
Engineer is a company leader
37, Senior engineer
Geosyntec Consultants Inc.
In her 12 years with Geosyntec, Rhonehouse has continually proven herself, earning four promotions. In 2019, the firm chose her to open and also manage the firm’s Wilmington, N.C., office. In this role, she manages staff engineers and geologists in both Raleigh and Wilmington while also overseeing projects throughout the U.S. involving environmental due diligence, compliance, remediation and redevelopment, among others. Rhonehouse also serves on an internal steering committee that helps oversee quality control during due diligence projects and volunteers on the steering committee for the North Carolina Manufacturers Alliance, an organization promoting the interests of the state’s manufacturing industries.
High-profile projects are his specialty
37, Senior project manager
JE Dunn Construction
Since transferring from JE Dunn’s Atlanta office to Nashville, Simonetti has helped lead numerous high-profile projects, including a portion of the development of the technology-focused community known as OneCity. He’s also served as project manager for the 26-story 222 2nd Avenue South office tower in downtown Nashville and is currently leading the 20-story Hyatt Centric hotel. A previous participant in JE Dunn’s Leadership 300 training program, Simonetti now participates in the Nashville office’s commercial leadership group, which surveys in-progress projects in order to generate new ideas and approaches.
Bobby Teachey II
Project manager helps others in many ways
36, Project manager
Brownstone Construction Group
As a project manager for Brownstone Construction Group, Teachey is now helping lead construction of the $65-million International African American Museum project in Charleston, S.C., which is just the latest in a long list of projects he’s overseen with the company. The accomplishments of the 15-year construction industry veteran—who served in the military in Iraq—are extensive. At Brownstone—which was named the U.S. Black Chamber’s Business of the Year in 2018—Teachey helped developed the Brownstone Institute, providing workshops for minority-owned construction firms on such topics as joint venturing, bonding and risk management. He also wrote and implemented a diversity and local participation plan for the SWMBE subcontracting community. Describing himself as dedicated “to improving and providing opportunities for those less fortunate” than himself, Teachey has been involved with the National Society of Black Engineers, ACE Mentors and the National Association of Minority Contractors.
Ryan Van Dyke
Health care builder naturally seeks to mentor
Robins & Morton
After initially studying medicine in college, Van Dyke switched to the field of construction. Now a project superintendent with Robins & Morton, one of the country’s biggest health care contractors, he has spent his entire construction career building health care facilities. For much of his career, Van Dyke has sought to mentor others through informal relationships with onsite personnel. In 2017, Van Dyke assisted with the founding of Robins & Morton’s Rocky McMichen Field Leadership Program, a 15-month, hands-on and classroom training program for the advancement of craft employees. After first encountering the lean construction method in 2011, he has since become a leader in the contractor’s Building Forward program, which promotes lean construction practices.