A talented group of young leaders with diverse expertise is making a major contribution to technically challenging design and construction projects across New England and beyond. Each one of this year’s ENR New England Top Young Professionals has developed multi-faceted strengths that are benefiting the industry as well as the communities in which they live.
This year’s honorees—all of whom were under age 40 as of Jan. 1—were selected from more than 30 entries from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. The panel of industry judges considered each candidate’s experience, education, leadership and community service. This year’s judges were: Karen Bala, director of design at Dyer Brown Architects; Julie Janiski, principal at BuroHappold Engineering; Ben Markham, director, architectural acoustics group at Acentech; and Julia McFadden, associate principal at Svigals + Partners.
The judges were impressed with this year’s winners, including Mark Costa, a senior water resources engineer at VHB who is involved with a broad range of environmental organizations. As a steering committee member of the UMass Boston Sustainable Solutions Lab Climate Adaptation Forum, he helps organize quarterly forums that generate thought leadership on adaptation to climate change for environmental and energy professionals, policy makers, municipal officials, NGOs and practitioners.
Under Michael Fish’s leadership, Dellbrook|JKS—the company he co-founded with his father—has grown into one of New England’s largest building contractors. In 2017, he received the NeighborWorks of Southern Massachusetts Good Neighbor Award for his commitment to innovative leadership and affordable housing. Fish was also recently named to ENR’s national Top 20 Under 40 list, along with Adrienne Nelson, an architect and associate at Pickard Chilton in New Haven, Conn.
Parke MacDowell at Payette volunteers at local schools to support digital arts and robotics enrichment programs and is active with his neighborhood advisory committees. He believes physically making things creates a connection between the mind and the hand, “especially valuable in today’s hyper digital world,” he says.
At Elkus Manfredi, Hal Munger, through a United Way program, facilitated the company’s involvement in the first-ever AEC Boston Public Schools Teacher Externship in 2019.
Kent William Collier of Greyling Insurance Brokerage has been involved with insurance claims consulting related to the sinking Millennium Tower in San Francisco. His efforts resulted in the resolution of many insurance coverage issues and contributed toward a tentative global resolution of the case.
Continue reading to learn more about this extraordinary group of emerging leaders.
Amanda Bazinet, 34
Transit leader earns recognition
Bazinet has gained recognition for her responsive, communicative and innovative approach to client engagement that assists municipalities and other clients who want to improve their transportation systems.
Bazinet, who designs roadway infrastructure for vehicles, bicycles, pedestrians and buses, served as VHB’s deputy project manager for the Route 9 (Main Street) redesign in Spencer, Mass., before being promoted to project manager. This $3.1-million project, substantially completed in fall 2017, aimed to improve traffic flow, corridor aesthetics, pedestrian safety and accessibility.
Over the past decade, Bazinet has worked on several projects for the city of Worcester, Mass., including the $7.5-million Blackstone Canal Streetscape improvements project completed last year. For the $1.7-million Harding Street improvement project ongoing since 2012, Bazinet served as project engineer and, by design completion, as project manager and client manager for design of the roadway, intersection and traffic control improvements.
VHB says her responsibilities have grown from solely focusing on design to client management and maintenance, public speaking at town meetings and the financial side of projects. She serves on the finance committee of the American Public Works Association and volunteers to help plan young professional events. She is involved with VHB Cares, which raises money for local charities, and she also helps VHB improve sustainability of firm operations.
Kent William Collier, 38
Insurance expert manages risk
Client executive and professional services risk consultant
Greyling Insurance Brokerage, a Division of EPIC
Cumberland Foreside, Maine
From an early age, Collier dreamed of being an architect, but as a student at the University of Virginia, he realized his skills were better suited to becoming a lawyer. Currently serving as an insurance broker and attorney, Collier is focused on representation of design firms and construction professionals in the insurance marketplace.
Collier has assisted designers and contractors with practice and project-related insurance placements and risk management. His proactive consulting has helped firms settle millions of dollars in design-related construction claims and earned him respect for his ability to advise on major issues affecting design firms’ enterprise risks.
Collier has been involved with the ongoing litigation surrounding Millennium Tower in San Francisco and closely engaged in claims consulting resulting in resolution of many insurance coverage issues and contributions by a few parties related to the tentative global resolution of the litigation.
Collier also helps international refugees legally find safety in the U.S. He assisted a Pakistani doctor, whose life was threatened, in seeking asylum and moving to Maine. He also helps refugee families with donations and essential needs as they work to assimilate in the Portland area.
Mark Costa, 34
Collaboration serves engineer
Senior water resources engineer
From his start in VHB’s land development department to his current work in the water resources practice, Costa has risen to the position of senior water resources engineer and project manager, managing both projects and employees.
Costa is involved with a broad range of organizations, including the Environmental Business Council (EBC) of New England and the New England Water Environment Association, and he serves on the Steering Committee for the EBC and UMass Boston Sustainable Solutions Lab Climate Adaptation Forum. As a member of the forum’s steering committee, he helps organize quarterly forums that provide thought leadership on adaptation to climate change.
Costa’s experience includes coastal and riverine flood modeling, which uses future climate conditions to evaluate flood impacts. He specializes in surface hydrology, riverine and coastal hydraulics, stormwater climate change adaptation, resilient design and permitting for land development, energy, municipal and transportation improvement projects.
Currently, he is managing the Suffolk Downs Redevelopment Resiliency and Climate Change Adaptation study and the $1-billion Beacon Park Yard and West Station Improvement project.
His community service work ranges from volunteering at the local food pantry to Charles River cleanup events. He also managed the firm’s relationship with the Watertown Food Pantry for five years.
Rachel Dooley, 31
Driving program boosts career
Work on the Rhode Island Wrong Way Driving Mitigation Program exposed Dooley to many aspects of transportation engineering, propelling her from entry-level sitework and research to project management. Working on the program, Dooley helped inventory more than 200 off ramps throughout the state and spearheaded design plans that brought all wrong-way signage into compliance.
She also managed the design of ITS applications, installed in more than 20 high-risk locations, which alert the driver as well as authorities and the public to wrong-way drivers.
Since implementation, the new system has detected some 100 wrong-way maneuvers with none leading to a crash. Dooley is now at work identifying high-risk locations and designing geometric improvements for wrong-way driving prevention and advising other states with the design of similar programs.
As a part of VHB’s traffic design group, Dooley has a diverse skill set and is willing to tackle tasks such as performing traffic counts and serving as the task lead on a complex bridge or traffic signal project, according to her firm.
As chair of VHB’s charity committee since 2013, Dooley broke the firm record in 2018 for money raised in a single year with more than $10,000 in donations to Hasbro Children’s Hospital and Joslin Community Center. She also volunteers with Mobile Loaves and Fishes, distributing food, clothing and hygiene products to low-income and homeless people, and mentors middle school girls at Del Sesto Middle School in Providence about engineering and career opportunities in the STEAM field for women.
Michael Fish, 37
Leader prioritizes employees
President and CEO
Dellbrook | JKS
Under Fish’s leadership, Dellbrook|JKS has grown into one of New England’s largest building contractors. Fish co-founded the company with his father, the late Edward A. Fish, after graduating from Colgate University in 2005. Five years later, he became Dellbrook president and CEO following the acquisition of JK Scanlan, a Cape Cod construction firm.
Fish is heavily involved with the firm’s day-to-day operations, but colleagues say he has an open-door policy that makes him approachable. Employees must be a priority regardless of company size, he says. Dellbrook’s annual volume recently reached $400 million in annual volume.
Fish developed a learning and development program for upgrading employees’ skills, including management training, communication workshops and the Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment. Under his guidance, Dellbrook has also implemented a construction immersion program for college graduates that cultivates a new generation of leaders.
He has also helped the firm diversify from having a majority of business in housing to 50% housing and 50% in other markets to protect the firm in the event of a downturn in any particular market.
Fish uses his leadership platform to better the Massachusetts community. In 2017, he received the NeighborWorks of Southern Massachusetts Good Neighbor Award for his commitment to innovative leadership and affordable housing. The nonprofit Preservation Massachusetts honored Fish with a 2013 Tsongas Award that recognizes Dellbrook|JKS’s commitment to historic and cultural preservation. For the past two years, the firm has been honored by the Boston Business Journal at its Corporate Citizenship Awards.
Fish’s work also won him a spot on ENR’s national Top 20 Under 40 list.
Parke MacDowell, 35
Designer bucks business as usual
Fabrication manager | associate
MacDowell leverages his background in construction to inform design and project management. He joined Payette in 2015 with expertise in computational design and digital fabrication, soon creating a new position for himself as an architect, builder and self-described “provocateur.” Challenging “business as usual” helps him position the firm to be agile and responsive to evolving aspirations, he says. And sharing knowledge freely with peers in architecture and allied professions helps lay the groundwork for elevating the industry.
After establishing Payette’s in-house design research facility, which uses conventional and digitally controlled tools to enhance design for wood composites and metals, he created a curriculum and culture with the goal of embedding this approach as a requisite within every project team.
In the recently completed $39-million Northeastern University Pedestrian Crossing project in Boston, which links the Huntington Avenue campus with Columbus Avenue, MacDowell proved that best value for the owners was supported by a direct relationship between the architect and the builder.
MacDowell is deeply invested in knowledge sharing within the industry through international lectures and exhibitions and involvement with local industry chapters. In 2018 he founded MKR/MGR, a Boston Society of Architects committee for the development and enhancement of fabrication studios at design firms and related industries.
In pro-bono and outreach initiatives, MacDowell is active with his neighborhood advisory committees and volunteers at local schools to support digital arts and robotics enrichment programs.
MacDowell says physically making things creates a connection between the mind and the hand, a skill that is “especially valuable in today’s hyper digital world.”
Hal Munger, 35
Architect tackles diverse projects
Elkus Manfredi Architects
Munger, a fourth-generation architect, has contributed to a diverse array of building and master plan designs at Elkus Manfredi. The firm says he is known for his nimble ability to transition between different-scale projects, including large, high-profile new construction and small-scale preservation projects, always knowing what’s needed.
He is currently working on a proposed 545,000-sq-ft development called Parcel 12 in Boston’s Back Bay. He is designing the new signature bus shelter and a head house for the project that will span the Mass Pike and knit together several neighborhoods with street-level retail and office/residential space.
In addition to master planning for the 2024 Olympics in Los Angeles and Port Covington in Baltimore, Munger is working on permitting for the Boston Landing neighborhood in Boston’s Allston/Brighton neighborhood and doing design work for the New Balance headquarters.
Munger has also introduced diverse communities to architecture and design, including groups that may not have otherwise had such an opportunity to learn about the profession. Through a United Way program, Munger facilitated the firm’s involvement in the first-ever AEC Boston Public Schools Teacher Externship in 2019. The program involved a group of 6th-to 12th-grade teachers from schools across the city for two weeks of intensive hands-on learning about architecture, engineering and construction.
Munger was instrumental in establishing a firm-wide, skills-based community service program by harnessing the many talents of the firm through design-driven volunteer opportunities, giving and community outreach.
Adrienne Nelson, 34
Leader commits to professionalism
Architect and associate
New Haven, Conn.
Nelson has gained recognition as a passionate leader and mentor within the architecture, engineering and construction community, according to her colleagues. Notable projects now under construction include Google’s new 375,000-sq-ft headquarters tower in Cambridge, Mass., and a 400,000-sq-ft heavy timber next-generation office building in Denver.
Nelson finished work on a 40-story, 1.2-million-gross-sq-ft Class A office tower in Denver in 2017, the 293,000-sq-ft Minnesota Senate Building in St. Paul in 2015 and the ATCO Commercial Centre, a 434,000-sq-ft heavy timer corporate campus in Calgary, Alberta, in 2018.
An active member of AIA Connecticut, in 2018, Nelson served on the AIA board and is now serving a two-year term as co-chair of the Emerging Professionals Community. Before joining Pickard Chilton in 2013, Nelson worked at Substance Architecture in Des Moines and was active with both AIA Iowa and Iowa Women in Architecture. Projects for which Nelson has been a key design team member have attained some 3.5 million sq ft of LEED Gold certification.
Upon joining Pickard Chilton, Nelson began mentoring with the New Haven Chapter of ACE Mentor Program. She also served as the leader of the Pickard Chilton ACE team, personally mentoring 40 students in her four-year tenure. She remains an active member of ACE and serves on the board of ACE New Haven. Nelson’s accomplishments also earned her recognition on ENR’s national Top 20 Under 40 list.
Ryan Sauer, 38
Laborer to construction executive
South Burlington, Vt.
Sauer began his construction career at age 14 as a residential construction laborer for Murdock Trucking Inc. in his hometown of Inlet, N.Y., before becoming an equipment operator and foreman. The experience provided him with hands-on experience from the ground up and gave him the financial means to attend college.
Since joining PC Construction as project manager in 2013, Sauer has overseen projects in New Hampshire, Vermont and New York, drawing on his 15 years of industry experience. He was promoted to construction executive in 2017, and in the past year, has taken executive oversight over all work in the firm’s Poughkeepsie, N.Y., office.
Two projects under Sauer’s leadership won ENR New England awards of merit: the $8-million Green Mountain Transit Downtown Transit Center in 2017, and PC’s $19-million portion of the $80-million Ben & Jerry’s Project Extra Chunk in 2018. Currently, Sauer manages multiple projects simultaneously from preconstruction to completion and serves as owner liaison.
As a graduate of PC’s two-year advanced leadership program, Sauer focused on how to foster other leaders and develop quality leadership skills throughout the organization. He is the executive sponsor of the company’s corporate safety department, analyzing and making recommendations for the company-wide safety program.
Sauer also participates in the firm’s lean leadership group, creating a culture of continuous improvement. Sauer also leads PC Construction’s recruiting efforts at his alma mater, Clarkson University. Sauer is a co-founder of ASCE’s Construction Institute Young Professional Council and gives back to the community as a volunteer firefighter.
Jessica Yeager, 34
Engineer helps contaminated sites
Geosyntec Consultants Inc.
While earning her bachelor’s degree at Harvard, Yeager took a month-long research trip to Sao Paulo, examining the sustainability of ethanol production in Brazil, the world’s second-largest producer of ethanol fuel. For her senior thesis, she developed a website comparing performance indicators of ethanol produced by Brazilian firms.
For her masters in civil and environmental engineering at MIT, she conducted bacteriological studies of surface water in Singapore, where she collected samples of surface water within stormwater drains leading to the Kranji Reservoir.
Yeager specializes in remedial design and implementation of cleanup measures for contaminated industrial sites, including remedial systems for high vacuum extraction (HVE), enhanced in-situ bioremediation (EISB), Liquid Boot sub-slab vapor intrusion mitigation, air sparging, sub slab depressurization and other systems for clients including many Fortune 100 companies and commercial real estate developers. Recently, she has been concentrating on innovative remedial systems for brownfield redevelopments in the Boston area, including vapor intrusion evaluation and mitigation.
Yeager has authored or coauthored 13 professional presentations or peer-reviewed scientific publications, including “Three Years of Reductive Dechlorination at a Chlorinated Solvent Site” and “Vapor Intrusion – Reducing Uncertainty in Investigations, Mitigation and Transactions – Tools for the Toolbox.”
As a member of the Society of Women Engineers in Boston, she has co-chaired the group’s involvement in the Cambridge Science Festival for more than five years. This included building small engineering toys, such as robots with some 200 students.